Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How I Became Funny

I remember my first encounter with the world of comedy. I was four years old, and a clown came to the door of our house offering to wash our dog for food. I laughed at his funny red nose and bright purple wig, and then my father shot him, and that too was funny in its way. It was then I thought seriously about going into comedy myself, and by the age of five had written an eight-hour one-man show, entitled, "Laughter: The Harbinger of Death".

I performed this show daily in front of my parents for the next six years, and it was, I admit, a source of tension, argument and self-mutilation at the time. Nowadays we laugh about it, but at the time, the comedy was so bitingly real that my mother was at times moved to tears, and at other times moved to Calgary.

I gave up the one-man show at eleven, and began work on my sitcom. Amusingly, my dictionary was missing some pages, and so I gained a false impression of what a "sitcom" was. In fact, rather than working on a sitcom, I began working on a stegosaurus, which was a far more thankless task, and less funny than I had anticipated. It got even worse when the stegosaurus ate our gardener. I had thought stegosauruses were herbivorous, but then I found I had read the instructions wrong. It seemed that every book in the house was missing pages, and later on we found out my father had been eating them. I asked him why and he said he was trying to stop the cravings he had to eat the gardener. I suppose that in the end, my sitcom DID end up being quite successful, though not commercially.

In my teenage years, my love of comedy did not wane, but it did go in exciting new directions. I explored the possibilities of physical comedy, experimenting with comedic sexual intercourse and slapstick ethnic cleansing. But I soon grew tired of the cheap and easy laughs to be had by setting Koreans on fire, and by my graduation year was ready for fresh challenges and strange new worlds of humour.

It was at university that I began devising a surrealist, avant garde brand of comedy, beginning with jokes such as:

Q. What do you call a man with an octopus on his face?
A: Glenn

Q: How many ligtbulbs does it take?
A: Twenty-eight (laugh malevolently)

These jokes found great success among the cafeteria ladies, and emboldened, I set out to expand the themes I was working with, thus:

An Englishman, an Irishman and a rabbi walk into a bar. The Englishman says, I can't fall out of this plane, my goldfish are dead. How did the Welshman know?
A: The surgeon was his mother.

Sherlock Holmes and Watson are out camping, and Watson says, Why the long face, to which Holmes replies, I am a cocaine addict. He then makes Watson lick yoghurt off his violin until dawn. What does this tell you, Watson, he asks. Watson replies, Now comes the viola solo. (laugh malevolently)

Many people loved my new brand of comedy, and I found great acclaim among the Beat Generation, who were by then terribly old and mostly demented. However, the cultural elite did not, and there were calls in several thousand newspapers for me to be banned for life from all sporting events and chemically castrated. Years later I found out all of these newspapers were fakes printed on a home press by my mischievous prankster college roommate Fuzzy Slamwindow. How we laughed. But at the time I was most distressed and went into exile in Tibet, where I learned how to love again.

Upon my return, I set to work rehearsing for my most ambitious show yet, "Breasts: The Musical". The show consisted entirely of me standing on stage in a rubber catsuit showing slides of dead strippers and groaning rhythmically.

The show was a commercial and critical success, described by one eminent critic as "the funniest thing I have ever seen", and by another as "mmmmm". Although box office receipts were huge, I suffered from my poor judgment in signing a contract which guaranteed 80% of ticket sales would go to Richard Branson's Virgin Corporation, in return for which I would have a long needle inserted into my brain. Looking back, I'm not sure what I was thinking.

And so we come to today. I am not resting on my laurels, by any means. In fact, I just published my book, "Not Resting On My Laurels", which is a collection of humorous essays and line drawings of rabbit ovaries. I am about to release "Not Resting On My Laurels Too", a collection of the same humorous essays, but with a foreword by Kirstie Alley.

All in all, I have learnt a lot about comedy in my seven or eight years on this planet. What you need to remember is, it's all about the audience. You're not up there for your own glorification, you are up there to make the audience laugh, and if they don't laugh, to be honest, you deserve all the poisonous gases you get. So the lesson is: make them laugh at all costs. If that means that you have to take off your pants, or eat a small boat, or hang yourself from a tree, so be it.

Laughter is everything, and I assure you, when you hear a roomful of people laughing and clapping and gently tongueing your thighs, you'll know that it was worth it.


shellity said...

My laurels are dried out and prickly.

Doug Quixote said...

I suppose the 'humour' quoted is so bad it is good.

But don't expect me to do any thigh tongueing.