Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"I Never Wanted To Be A Comedian"

I wanted to be a successful comedian.

This is akin though not identical to the old dictum:

“You don’t want to write.  You want to ‘have written’.”

In both cases your desire leaves something out:

The expressed effort required getting there.

In the old dictum, however, leapfrogging the required effort – that’s all that’s about.  You want to look at the pages and see words there, rather than enduring the process of filling them up yourself. 

That’s like “You don’t want to take your car to the case wash.  You want to ‘have taken’ your car to the carwash.  You want the clean car.  But without sitting on those uncomfortable benches, reading a “throw-away” newspaper while you wait.

By the way, the old dictum ignores the quality of the work.  Nobody dreams about “having written” abominably. 

“You don’t want to write.  You want to have written pure garbage.”

That is definitely not the idea.  Better a legacy of blank pages than a completed opus of literary awfulness.

(Maybe it is simply assumed that if you “have written”, the inevitable outcome is wonderful.  It is not “You want to ‘have written’”; it’s “You want to ‘have written’ beautifully.”  Though that may be inherent in the dictum and I mistakenly missed the assumption.)

Anyway, that – and my apologies for the meandering – is not the same as “I wanted to a successful comedian.”  It is not about skipping the effort. 

Or maybe it is. 

We’ll see.

First, though, even “successful comedian” is insufficiently accurate, as I would not want to be a successful “Insult Comedian”, a successful “Foul-Mouthed Comedian”, a successful “Stupid Comedian” or a comedian who scores big smashing a watermelon with a sledgehammer, spraying the front rows of the audience, provided with cheap raincoats to avoid lawsuits.

I want to be a successful comedian like Jerry Seinfeld. 

I recently watched a Netflix

Wait.  I forgot to add this:

And it is not about the money.

I think that needs to be said.

So I’m saying it.

It is not about the money.  Pondering my desire to be a successful comedian, the money, it’s, like, seventh on a list of reasons I would want to be a successful comedian.  Not that watching a successful comedian like Jerry Seinfeld performing in some massive auditorium I never considered how much he made for his hour of work while I watched an old episode of Gunsmoke, making nothing. 

Is it normal to think about that, watching a successful comedian’s comedy special? 

Hard to tell. 

I have always only been me.

Okay, back to where I left off.

I recently watched… you know what?  Let’s forget about that.

I see a successful comedian working before a worshipful audience, comfortably at ease, garnering big laughs – sometimes, it appears, more for being a successful comedian than for “That joke was hilarious” – his seamless delivery built from years of honing his material, his onstage persona, and well-timed delivery, making a King’s Ransom from an hour-rerun-length’s effort – okay, it’s the fifth thing I think about; sue me for exaggerating by two – walking offstage to tumultuous applause.  Forget “walking offstage.”  I would kill for the applause Seinfeld receives walking onstage.

It sounds like a good job, being a successful comedian.

Unfortunately, you cannot get that job.

There is no job, “Successful Comedian.”

Apparently – he said ironically – you have to work your way up.

Hmm.  Maybe this is about wanting to “have written.”
No, wait, it isn’t.  And I’ll explain to you why.

Being painfully honest with myself, if I could be a successful comedian without working my way up, I am not sure I would want to be a successful comedian anyway.
In fact, I am almost certain I wouldn’t.

So what is this about?


When my daughter Anna was four, she requested that we order her a hugely expensive hamburger from Room Service at a luxury hotel in New York and when it arrived she ate none of it.

“Anna”, I inquired, trying not to sound angry, “why did you ask for the hamburger if you weren’t going to eat it?”

To which four year-old Anna replied,

“I didn’t get it to eat, Daddy.  I just got it to look at.”

Similarly, it comes down to I don’t want to be a successful comedian.

I just like thinking about it.

1 comment:

JED said...

Wasn't there an episode in The Twilight Zone or similar series where a guy wishes he was a comedian and suddenly, everything he says makes people laugh? Of course, it doesn't work out when no one takes him seriously anymore. Or something like that. The hidden side effect is one of the requirements for this kind of story.