De-Scrambling With Jokes

A shoutout to Neal Brennan’s 3 Mics for explaining something I’ve struggled to.

Neal Brennan’s 3 Mics is a great exploration of the art of stand-up. The former Chapelle Show writer has three different mics set up for three different types of jokes – one for one-liners, one for traditional standup, and one for “emotional stuff.” It’s interesting to see how the three different sets interact, and how stand-up can be in many different forms.

Brennan brings up something at the end of the show while at the “emotional stuff” microphone that really resonated with me and the rush of making jokes.

“You know, sometimes the world can feel like a room that’s filling up with water. And…for me to be able to think of a joke, it’s like an air bubble. And I can take the oxygen I get into my lungs and it can carry me forward.

Like things can be overwhelming, and scary, and hopeful, but thankfully my brain can de-scramble things and form a joke. Like just for one second, things slow down and I can win. I can beat life.

It’s the best. And it’s so personal. And it’s something I’m so grateful for.”

Sometimes I don’t know where the jokes I make come from. They just appear, like Brennan says. They just click and then come out of my mouth. When that happens, and the laughter hits, I get a high like dopamine.

The first joke I ever remember telling was to my Mom’s friend Victor. He still to this day owns my favourite pizza place in history. The deal was if I had a joke ready for him when I came in, I’d get a free square slice. The first joke I used was this:

What did the ocean say to the shore?

Nothing, it just waved.

Wocka Wocka!

The importance of jokes in my life has always been there. My family can all recite our favourite comedian’s monologues. Life can always be explained by a comedian according to our household. Being able to make jokes makes some of the mundane of day-to-day even better.

I’ll always be grateful for this ability, and even more for my family’s emphasis on the importance of jokes in life as well.

Tell me your favourite terrible joke next time you see me. Guaranteed I’ll laugh at it.

Another Stand-up Set

More jokes! So many more jokes!

Hey! It’s another day and another stand-up set from me.

The end of the last joke gets cut off (damn iPhone storage limits) but know that the punchline is me hitting my friend with a phone book and covering the rock. Paper covers rock, ya know?

Check it out! Thanks to Meg for filming.

We Laugh Because It Helps

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we can laugh. That may be when we need it most.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel okay to laugh. After a difficult time, it can be a long time until things make you laugh.

A conversation with my best friend recently had us reflecting on where we turn to when things don’t make sense. Saturday Night Live, hosted by Dave Chapelle, was the first time both of us had laughed hard in that week.

Actually, on the Wednesday I watched an 18-minute compilation of Vines of toddlers doing dumb things. I laughed at that. But SNL was the first time I had laughed at what had happened. Time had passed, and some of the brightest minds in comedy made it all make sense.

If you don’t know me well, comedy is one of my “things.” You know how people have things? Like knitting, or curling, or making macaroons? Mine is comedy, same as my best friend. So we know something is off when it’s hard to laugh.

So in times of need, we look to the best. (You may have different bests. Please tell me who they are, I love learning more comedians. But these are some of mine)

George Carlin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Louis C.K., Robin Williams, John Mulaney, Hannibal Burress, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock. In another medium, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Fallon. All different, all geniuses, and all able to do something wonderful: cut through the noise of every day life and explain what is happening in the world around us, and why it’s still okay to laugh.

Dave Chapelle reminded me it’s okay to laugh. He managed, through skits and his monologue, remove a lot of the noise. Chapelle used his voice, ideas, and humour to make things clearer. He didn’t fix anything. He just reminded us that we’re people, and it’s okay to laugh when we’re scared.

We laugh because if we don’t, this world will eat us, spit us back out, and go for seconds.

I like comedy. It is to me, one of the weirdest and most pure things imaginable. Take a microphone, your brain, your body and your words, and go make people laugh. Being successful at it and making someone laugh after a tough day, or letting someone forget their problems for just a moment, is like heroin.* It is the best feeling on the planet, and one I hope to keep doing forever in some capacity or another.

*Mom, I have no idea what heroin is really like. It’s just a saying.

I’ve read here that in America post-election, comedy clubs are becoming less and less “funny” and more of a political discussion. That’s not what I’m here to defend, or attack. What I am saying instead is to remember to laugh. Things are scary, confusing, and dark at times. But laughter really is somehow the best medicine.

Find the funny. Maybe not in what scares, concerns, or frightens you. But at least find it in vines of kids being dumb. The world has, and always will, need to laugh.

An Ode To Cyclists While I’m Driving – A Poem

“But really, what are you doing?”

Bro, really?
Come on man.
I need you
to make
a single decision.
Are you
or are you not
a vehicle.
You obey some laws.
And then not some laws.
really bro?
You have wheels.
And your hand signals
just don’t help at all.
Either get off the road
or get off your bike.
And walk.
Thanks bro.

Oh also,
if you put
a hockey card
in the spokes,
you go like
so much faster.
You’re welcome.

My Most Awkward Moment: Greyhound Busses

Two words I uttered on a bus trip that haunt me to this day.

Oh Greyhound busses. You’re a guarantee of going away to school, much like awkward frosh week friendships and believing for a long time that beer cans make for great interior decorating.

I took a Greyhound a few days ago. It was an overnight bus to get me back into North Bay, and it was long. Long but not awful. At least not as awful as most of my bussing experiences.

There’s a weird fun of the bus that you don’t get with other modes of transportation. It’s a game called “Pick A Bus Buddy,” which boils down to getting on the bus and deciding which stranger looks least likely to smell your hair while you’re sleeping. Sadly, you can’t go back either. If you’re walking down the aisle hoping for something great at the end, then you’re most likely out of luck. There’s no awkwardly turning around and going back to that decent seat. You’re stuck.

Once I was on a bus heading from Ottawa (where I had just spent a weekend going to concerts and discovering what a Four Loko is and how it can single-handedly destroy your insides) to Cambridge. I had a bus buddy who was probably the best bus buddy I could hope for: a fellow student. I didn’t know her, but she seemed nice.

As you may know, people fall asleep on busses. My bus buddy was no exception. About an hour into our trip, she began nodding off.

The issue was she was nodding off towards me.

Yes, her head kept lilting off to the side. My side. Which left me with one of two options:

  1. Let her fall asleep gracefully on my shoulder, like some white knight of public transit. It’d potentially be awkward for both of us, but whatever. We’re tired students.
  2. Wake her up before she hits my shoulder. While that would be weird and make me seem rude, it would spare the embarrassment.

While I was mulling over my options, a third option came up. She fell asleep quickly and all at once, like people apparently fall in love in John Green novels. And when she did, I reacted by moving out of the way.

As I dodged her incoming upper body, she kept falling down. Down until she came to an abrupt stop with her head hitting my upper thigh. Obviously she woke up, and was confused.

Now I’m in a more awkward space. This strangers head has just hit my leg, and she’s staring at me because well, that’s not something that most people have happen on busses.

I’m at an important cross road, because I need to say something to make the situation less awkward. I could have gone with “Are you okay?” or “I’m sorry,” both great potential answers. Since it is me though, I didn’t. Instead, I simply said:

“You’re awake!”

Which when you look at it, is in the top five creepy/awkward things to say in that situation. It haunts me to this day.

So there it is. My most awkward moment happened on a Greyhound bus. I’m so thankful she got off at the next stop because any more sitting next to her and I’m fairly certain I would have combusted from pure strangeness. I’m reminded of that moment every time I board a Greyhound bus.

I think I need to buy a car.