When I was a child I wanted to be a stand up comic. Then I grew up. (bah dum ching)
Okay, I still want to be a stand up comic, but I’m old enough to realize saying that is one thing but doing that is something else entirely. Firstly, to be a good stand up comedian you have to actually be funny. I am, just not always on cue. That hasn’t stopped a great deal of people from attempting to be comedians. Some people even figure out how to make a living as a comedian while not being funny. I didn’t wanna be one of those people. Secondly, you have to actually get up on that stage in front of people. Personally I don’t have a problem with that, but my mind and body seem to. They don’t discuss this with me until after I get up on that stage. My mind goes blank and my body passes out, and I’m like “why didn’t you tell me you were gonna back out on me now!?” Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, after you decide to be a stand up comic and before you actually try, it helps to have what is called “material.”
Material is a fancy word for jokes. It helps to have anywhere from ninety seconds to ten minutes of jokes memorized and ready to go at a second’s notice. It helps if these jokes are actually funny. It really helps if you wrote these jokes yourself and didn’t steal them from someone else. Now, I can recite other people’s jokes. For some reason, other comedians frown on that, even if you give proper credit as you go along. They don’t mind it so much if you ain’t getting paid, but once you get up on that stage, you gotta take the training wheels off. What you are reading now represents those training wheels. I’m a grown man and I’m still clinging to my training wheels like a security blanket, which makes sleeping difficult.
A very funny man named Gene Perret wrote a book once called The Comedy Writing Workbook. I have had a hard copy for many years that I bought in a place they used to call a used book store. You might find one in a building called a library, but you will have to exit your house and walk around your neighborhood until you find one. I’m not sure if they still exist, so you may want to check google maps first before you leave your computer. The Comedy Writing Workbook a great book filled with need ideas on how to stir the creative juices in the blanking brain, as well as golfing analogies that didn’t help me much but Perrret was the head writer for Bob Hope so to him it made perfect sense. If anyone could help me be funny, I figured it’d be a guy who helped make Bob Hope funny. I’ve started the workbook several times in the past few decades. I never finish it. I don’t know if this is me trying again now to finish the book, but what you are about to read is “Workout 1A.” Perret suggests collecting “25 jokes that you think are top drawer.” These may not be my absolute favorite jokes but they’re great examples of what makes me laugh; “good, solid jokes that you would have been proud to have written; jokes that you would like in your own comedy act” if in fact I could ever avoid the going blank and passing out bits. Below is the kind of humor I wish I could pull off on stage, and admire the heck out of people who already do that without batting an eye. Now, when Gene Perret wrote his book it was 1990, before the Internet became more common than a toaster oven, so he suggests in the book writing them down on index cards or clipping them out & stapling them to a sheet of paper, and then jotting down personal notes about why I think each joke is funny and why I like it. Isn’t that quaint? Back in the old days they used staple guns. I figured it’d be easier to just put them all in one blog post. I’ve done this before on the web. This ain’t the first time I’ve tried this but previous attempts either never get a full 25 (or more) or the blog service I used I no longer do. I woke up this morning and decided to do this yet again. It was either that or write a blog post about why I think the Oprah Winfrey Network is failing, and the latter idea just depresses me. This will be much more fun!
…okay, just noticed this description became way too long, and I’m too lazy to edit it. So let’s pretend this is just the introduction to a kinda ongoing project. I’m gonna post this now and then TOMORROW I’ll start posting jokes I find funny and why. Yes I’ll give full attribution and stuff. Wouldn’t it be funny if I forget and tomorrow I write about something else and never come back to this? I’ve started this workbook so many times I’ve lost count & I never seem to end it cuz I can’t end it in one sitting and I keep getting side tracked. By the time I actually learn how to be funny, I’ll be dead. They’ll wheel my casket onto the stage, but I’ll have them rolling in the aisles. It’ll be the best set in the world. I will kill that day. Just you wait. Too bad I’ll be too dead to notice.