Friday, May 17, 2013

Funny Makes the World Go Round

For the past hour at Starbucks I have been unintentionally sitting in on a meeting between two girls at a table  next to me talking about a project they are excitedly working on (and by girls I mean that they were roughly between the ages of 21- 23.) They seem to believe that their creation is a work of genius that deserves to be applauded, which for men over 40 is a feeling only expressed when one leaves behind a perfectly oblong football shaped BM in the bowl- laces included- and we feel a tinge of sadness that no one is there to confirm its majesty.

They seem to be writing something on women in comedy but they are terribly over-analyzing the sociological aspects of women in society and getting excited over the all the points they are hitting; such as expounding on the biology of the female body and its effect on women performing on stage; all in compiling their numerous theories on what goes into making female comedians funny.  I feel like they not only don't understand funny but they might not understand women either.

Funny is funny. You can debate whether women are funnier than men (they probably are- between shooting a human out of their birth canal and having to deal with the fumbling and pedestrian male body sexually, I’m amazed that every woman doesn’t think exactly like Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman); or whether female comedians have it harder than male comedians in terms of audience perception and less opportunities in a historically male dominated profession. What these girls don’t understand is that funny is funny.

Funny isn’t something that needs to be analyzed and put into a dissertation as if you were in a Women’s Studies course, which is what I hope they are working on.  Sure, being funny is a muscle that needs to be exercised and you don’t become as successful as Louis CK or Kristin Wig without the proper experience, just like Bruce Jenner didn’t win the decathlon without spending years running and training on the track.  (He also didn’t hold onto what’s remaining of his sanity this long without spending years on his couch tuning out his wife and family.)

There’s no mystery to unravel in why women, or men are funny and I would think looking at things from an analytical perspective doesn’t make for an entertaining read.  Comparing and contrasting Janine Garafalo’s stand-up-mannerisms with that of Ellen or Zach Galifianakis is not going to leave you with a mathematical equation solution to what makes women funny. E does not Equal Funny Squared, unless E is MC Hammer dancing, while on ‘e,’ in square pants.

I feel like women get this and most girls do too, funny or otherwise. It is just bothering me that these particular girls are so gung ho over all their Sociology 201 type theories. I really want to chime in and it’s not because one of them looks like she should be an intern at a fashion magazine. For one thing, I feel like I’m sitting in on their creative brainstorming session, which is always one of the weirdest things about being in a Starbucks, as they have become conference rooms-on-the-go for people.  Another thing is they don’t sound like they’re funny people, much less comedy nerds. They were researching the names of comedians that someone writing about comedy should know.

I remember the first time I saw George Carlin’s Carlin on Campus as a kid and it was like a light shown down on me sitting on the edge of my Formica coffee table in my family’s den, offering me another way to look at words and making me appreciate my dad’s sarcastic nature even more.  I must have worn out that homemade VHS tape like a broken cassette of Billy Joel’s Glass Houses that could be found in every home in 1982.

Unlike Billy Joel’s music, I never got sick of George Carlin’s comedy and I have thought of Carlin's brilliant use of language during everyday moments throughout my life (like when I googled synonyms for "shit" for this post which reminds me of Carlin's brilliantly hilarious point that "You don't take a shit, you leave a shit.")  So, the more I listen to these girls talk about comedy in an unfunny way, the more it’s beginning to bother me.  After an hour of listening to their theories notes and data compilation, I feel like Bea Arthur’s Dorothy in the Golden Girls after listening to one too many of Rose’s stories about St. Olaf. I wish I had “You’re killin’ me” tattooed on one palm and “Smalls” tattooed on the other.

 I want to hone my inner Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and ask them to step on their desks and rip out their Pritchard handbook to measuring comedic reasoning.  I want to ask them to close their eyes and imagine them waking up next to a strange guy in Brooklyn (whose hairy back is only surpassed by his hairy front) after a night of drinking and tell them how to quickly describe the scenario of finding their bra that’s disappeared into the abyss of the mess that is this guy’s bedroom; without waking him or his roommates up.

As they slowly describe a madcap walk of shame dash to find a cab, they begin to see the light and even ask me to pull their finger. To my surprise, this releases an End Of Days level air biscuit that rips across the Starbucks like a Tsunami knocking down the male barista with the goatee and no chin, sending his lip ring flying across the floor, like he was Naomi Watts on an Indonesian vacation.

 If I hear one of them say they are getting paid for their work and that this is going to end up in Teen Vogue  or Time Out New York or even Time Out West New York, I'm going to smash my underpaid hand on my desk, spilling my drink all over my crotch while whimpering like a frustrated child before running out of the Starbucks with my arms flailing in pure spastic (Phoebe from friends) style only to get sprayed by a puddle of  water from a passing bus that has Lena Dunham and the cast of Girls staring back at me in an ad on its side as it pulls away from my “New Girl in the City” momentary breakdown.  Now, that would be funny.

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