Monday, May 13, 2013

Be Careful Where You Point Your Googy Goos


As a thing to do with your time, there is almost nothing in the world more awful than improv comedy. Actually, stand-up comedy might be worse. That’s pretty much what the rivalry consists of between practitioners of those two slightly different yet awful things.

“My awful thing is more fun to do, even when I’m terrible at it,” say the improv people. “My awful thing is less awful of a thing to inflict on people once we learn how not to be terrible at it,” say the stand-ups. “Us too, but less, but still us too,” the improv people respond. “Fuck off, you guys are lame, only bad things happen when you put comedy in the hands of theater people” say the stand-ups. “Sorry to make you jealous of our ability to enjoy other human beings,” the improvisers respond. “You people are NOT human beings,” say the stand-ups. It goes on like this forever, both sides making good points, while the rest of the world gets a fucking life.

What do the two factions have in common? Everybody is miserable and everybody spends all their time in darkened rooms and everybody has a drinking problem and everybody has totally stunted their ability to form and keep meaningful relationships and/or generally develop into a balanced, actualized person. But they are, when tolerable, funny. That’s the trade off. It’s totally not worth it. It sucks.

But hey, sometimes comedy is a thing you do with your whole life. What are you gonna do? Get two lives? Nope. You are not. You’re gonna sit there and be 33 years old and you’re going to be good at this one thing because you spent over ten years doing it. Let’s say you don’t even really like this thing or see the point of it anymore, and you sort of wish you’d done something more tangible with your time like learn how to do money things. Too bad. You’re stuck with this skill and how you can apply it to anything else you might do. It’s not a fate worse than death. Making people laugh is a universally helpful tool.

I did an improv comedy festival this weekend. It’s like regular improv comedy, except it’s in a different town than the one you live in and you call it a “festival” and people from that town who like improv comedy get more excited than usual about improv comedy. I led a workshop about how to do improv comedy which operated on the assumption that improv comedy is an okay thing to do. There were some college kids in this workshop who later said that it was helpful to them, because they want to do improv comedy, and they said my workshop helped them think of some good ways to do that. They are fucked.

Later after the workshop I did an improv comedy show with some other people I’m in an improv comedy group with. The show went well. We have been doing improv comedy together for almost ten years. We are relaxed and comfortable when we do it. We are barely trying. We are almost bored. That is our secret. When we do a show, what we do is we just kind of sit there and don’t work too hard, and that way we have a decent chance of being able to pay attention to everything we’re doing, and then it’s much easier to put things together, thus making it look like we knew what we were doing the whole time even though we had no fucking clue. This is the whole magic trick of improv comedy. I am not going to explain it with any more specificity than that because it is boring and horrible and talking about it makes me want to die.

After the show the people there at the festival were very nice to us about what we did on stage. It was nice. They were all nice people. On some level, they give a shit about improv comedy. So: they are fucked. Giving a shit about it is not how you do it. I was talking to college kids about improv comedy. Their pupils were too big, and not from drugs. You can tell when a college kid is on drugs. This was not drugs. This was just regular Googy Goo Eyes.

If those eyes could talk, they would say, “Googy Goo, I'm an idiot. I'm actually impressed that you know about improv comedy. I don’t know as much as you about improv comedy, but I want to do it and know it as much as I possibly can. I give way too much of a shit about it. It will take me years of dedication in order to learn not to give a shit about it anymore, at which point I’ll have a chance of being good at it, but not before I no longer give a shit about the one thing I have spent ten years trying to get good at. In other words I am completely fucked, and I’m looking at you, and my Googy Goo Eyes are expressing admiration rather than the more appropriate contempt because I don’t yet know there is no practical difference between a 33 year old who is good at improv and a loser. Googy Goo. FYI, you could have sex with me if you wanted to spend the next two hours convincing me that it would be a good idea. I’m that malleable. Googy Goo.”

It is heartbreaking.

I would not go back and be 20 again if you gave me a million dollars.

Like if you wiped my brain clean and I had to have a 20 year old brain, no way. If I could be still me with a 20 year old body and a million dollars, I’d probably take that. Maybe. If you gave me a million dollars and I was 20 again with my own brain that remembered everything and also it was 2000 all over again, I would be all about that because I could buy a house and invest in Apple and just relax for the rest of my life. But if it was “start over again as a 20 year old, same brain, million dollars, but it’s 2013,” no dice. I’m totally fine with not having a million dollars and being 13 years closer to dying. Being closer to dying is actually a bonus. It’s taking fucking forever.