A steadfast rule of writing comedy is to write what you know and on who you are. So, it has been interesting for me to observe a common theme among comedians. Maybe it’s just me (by the way, the answer to that is usually “yes, it is just you, Marc”) but it seems like so many podcasts I listen to, articles I read, stand-up routines I watch has some guy talking about growing up and his escapades with friends acquiring alcohol underage, evading police, blacking out from drugs, flailing around in school and having tons and tons of one-night stand sex.
Would I like to try and be this guy in my next life? Of course! Why not? My first choice is to come back as Samuel Jackson but if that doesn’t work out, a drugged out sex stud just might be a welcome respite from all those past exciting afternoons of eating Fruit Roll-Ups and trying to understand Dungeons and Dragons.
Was I really the only guy that had a more boring, or let’s says “stable” and “monitored” childhood?
I agree that these drug and sex induced memories are often times transformed into hilarious outtakes for the rest of us to enjoy. The thing that gets me is that it just seems to be so normal. As if I didn’t feel like I already had the most boring adolescence on the planet, along comes even the most unassuming of comedians who share their escapades and add to the collective and none-too-subtle position that “it was one hell of a ride” and despite our youthful stupidity, “we are still here.”
Don’t get me wrong. I did plenty of stupid things growing up: playing “Love on the Rocks” as a 12 year-old in the talent show; using Vaseline as hair gel when the Dippity Doo didn’t get me the exact look I was going for, sneaking my mom’s menthols downstairs with air freshener and Bianca breath spray for me to hide the odor, cutting my hair with clippers and forgetting to put on the attachment so I ended looking like Howie Mandel but only from the earlobe through the temple. All in all – pretty innocent stuff. I am not judging here but am I the only guy on the planet that never managed to get a fake ID in high-school?
I lived in a pretty small house where you could see everything that was going on from just sitting in the kitchen. We had one hallway, like an airplane aisle, and my mother and father were pilot and flight attendant in residence 24/7, often rotating roles. I lived next door to my grandparents. My mom taught in the same school district that I was a student in. How many other ways can I say that I didn’t get away with anything? And people are worried about Obama reading your emails? Try having your mom “clean the phone” for an hour from the other room while you’re trying to talk to your friend.
I am eternally grateful for what my parents did and gave to me, one of those things being a pretty decent sense of humor (and the motivation to get the hell out of town by 17). All the mischief in the world can’t compare to the reams of material I got from growing up in that house with that crazy family. Maybe this is why I am attracted to comedians like Ellen DeGeneres and Gary Gulman, not to mention others who have such a hilarious take on self, circumstance and awkwardness.
All of a sudden, it seems almost cool to be a “geek” or a “nerd.” I don’t know. I was really that guy. It sucked, too – for a long time. But it was mine and I owned it and now I’d like to cash in. So, here’s the deal – if you got to do tons of drugs or have tons of sex in high school – go with it. Get up in front of the mic and do your thing. But unless you, yourself, were a card carrying member of the Nerd Brigade – that belongs to me and the original geeks. We earned it.