Thursday, June 26, 2008

NEXT Open Mic at the Worthen (...And this time I mean it!)

Well, this is the 3rd Thursday in a row I've meant to head up to the Worthen to witness the Thursday open mic comedy but it looks like it ain't gonna happen. I'm just meeting too darn early tomorrow with someone too far above me in the hierarchy, so I'll just stay in and rest up.

I have been thinking a bit about material, however (the idea still being I'd like to witness several iterations before actually gaining the gumption to get up there myself).

This next part may not be funny in the written format, but I think that with the right content tweaks and the right delivery, it has potential.

One thing I'm going to talk about is deadpanning. 'Deadpan,' of course, is already a real term, but my twist on it is the look I give someone when they make reflexive, knee-jerk, stock water cooler-type jokes.

"Would you like some pancakes with that syrup?"

"Would you like some coffee with that sugar and cream?"

"Are we keeping you up?" (Said reflexively after a yawn)

"Walk much?" (Said anytime someone bumps into anything)

"I would have nominated myself for the leadership seminar, but all I could ever lead was a drunk to happy hour." (Please reference my earlier post about overdone self-effacement)

"I don't know how many people it takes to defend's never been tried." (Editor's Note: The next time I hear that said, I will beat the speaker over the head with a world history textbook. Not only is it not funny, it's about as historically accurate as references to the Confederacy having won the American Civil War."

"They pretend to pay me...I pretend to work."

Or, of course, any reflexive, thoughtless ethnic humor, that -- political sensibilities aside -- is almost certainly unoriginal and not funny..."Hey O'Malley, go eat some potatoes!"

Well, you get the idea. You don't have to tell me, because I already know that there's someone you work with who just repeats these type of jokes and finds it hysterical.

Here's how I react to it:

When someone asks me if I want pancakes with that butter, I just stare back in the most blank, confused sort of way I possibly can.

Their inevitable reaction:

"Lighten up, man. It's a joke. Have a sense of humor."

The comedy-of-the-absurd here is that the speaker never stops to think that maybe the reaction is a response to the extreme lameness of the original comment, and not some kind of barometer on whether the listener does or does not have a sense of humor.

But if the speaker were keen enough to pick up on all of that, he probably wouldn't be walking around doing Austin Powers impressions and asking people, "How's your wife and my two kids?"

The general spirit of unawareness that drives that knee-jerk insta-humor in the first place feeds the response-to-the-response that I just wrote about.

And if I can somehow capture that in a routine, I think it could be pretty funny!


Matt said...

You could always do it Andy kaufman style -- actually BE the guy who thinks all those jokes are funny. All of your observations/bits are lame jokes. People will be confused at first but then maybe get into it.

The New Englander said...

You're right, and that definitely raises the art form up a notch or two..I think I would have to build up the courage to try something like that after first trying my "On Language" bits on their own.

It's not just the "here's stuff people shouldn't say.." but also other general stuff about slang expressions (inspired, yes, but not bitten off carlin).

Part of that bit includes teaching ESL to Cambodians, and trying to explain certain slang terms we take for granted but really make no sense. I just got inspired to do a "black market" bit...I'm sure it's been done before, but I think I can find my own twist..