People are always telling me I'm "funny." Even when I'm not trying to be funny which, depending on the situation, can end up being hurtful, awkward, scary, tragic, or (less often than you'd think) a pleasant surprise. Usually when somebody says "That's funny!" after I've said something I'm completely serious about, I try to replay it in my head to figure out where I went wrong... but I can never figure it out. Maybe it's just my face that makes things be funny? You got me.
This morning somebody I hadn't seen in a while asked me how I've been doing. "Oh. I've been sick with a cold or a flu or something awful, so it hasn't been a good time to be me lately. How have you been?" They laughed like I told them the funniest joke ever, said "You crack me up!," then went on to tell me about planting their vegetable garden. I replied with "I don't think I eat enough vegetables that I'd want to try growing them, but good luck with that." More laughter. Apparently not eating my vegetables is comedic gold.
I wish I could be that kind of effortless funny when I'm actually trying to be funny.
When I wrote something just in case I had to speak at my friend's memorial service (spoiler alert: I did), I wanted it to be at least a little funny so maybe everybody could remember him with a smile on their face... even for just a moment... at a time of total sadness. It was hard work. I had to edit and rewrite stuff and everything. But I think it made everybody happy and lots of people came up and told me they liked it or that I was a "funny guy" afterwards, so it was effort well-spent.
Even if I didn't know whether or not people would think it was funny when I wrote it.
But it's always been that way for me.
Years and years ago when I was working in L.A. for weeks at a time, I was encouraged to try open-mic stand-up comedy because the people I was working with thought I was a "funny guy." And so I did. I wish I could say that I totally killed it (I did not) or that I was booed off stage so I could get some sympathy (I was not), but the truth is that I was just average. People laughed, but not in a way that made me think "Holy crap! I should totally do this for a living!"
Probably for the best though. Trying to be funny on purpose is tough. Trying to be funny on purpose for a living must be excruciating.
One of these days I need to see if I can find the little Mead memo pad I bought to write jokes in. You'd think it would be a easy to find given that it's bright red like this...
The only difference being that my red Mead memo pad has "DAVE'S JOKES" written across the front in black ball-point pen. I think I even double-underlined "JOKES" so, if I lost it, anybody reading out of the thing wouldn't be left thinking "What is this crazy shit?" Well, it's jokes. It says so right on the front. Did you not see the underlines?
I can't remember what any of the jokes were, mind you. About all I do know that none of them were about L.A. traffic. That's because I decided I wanted to be "fresh" and not tell jokes that had already been done to death. Since most of my time in L.A. was spent sitting in traffic, I figured it had probably been covered already. How could I make that funny?
"I'm from a small town in Washington State, so you can imagine how shocking it is for me to be in L.A. right now. Everything here is shocking to me. Like the traffic. We don't have traffic where I live. So after I looked at a map to figure out how I was going to get to work, I estimated it would take about 20 minutes to get there. It took me 90 minutes. Ninety minutes! When I showed up for work an hour late, everybody comes rushing up and says 'We were worried that you got lost!' I didn't want for everybody to think that I was an ignorant hayseed who didn't know how a big city works, so I decided to make up a lie to explain why I was late. So I told them that my condom had come off during sex and I had trouble finding a vet with an appointment available to retrieve it from the sheep."
Of course, that joke wouldn't work now-a-days when we have Google Maps and Waze to tell us how long it takes to drive places... but back then? Hilarious!