Well, I’m not at all sure how to feel right now.
On Monday night, I performed my latest standup set at a little bar called the Cantab Lounge, not far from my office. I’d been there before, and I thought I got through my stuff pretty reasonably, especially given the 3-1 comic to audience member ratio in the crowd. I went on first, and then sat down with a beer to watch the rest of the show.
Next up was a girl I went through standup class with — the only other one in the dozen or so students who’s stuck with it. And she gets to way more shows than I do. I need to catch up, frankly. I’m falling behind.
Anyway, next up was a special treat — Rich, who taught that class a year ago, was in da house, hanging around and catching up with some of the comics. He’s been on ‘the scene’ for many years, so he knows — or knows of — just about everyone who’s been doing standup in Boston for any significant length of time. And usually, if he stops by the Cantab, or one of the other open mic rooms, the host will have him get up and tell a few jokes. Monday was no different, in that regard.
However, it was a little different in this way — when Rich got to the stage, he didn’t launch into crowd work, or jump right into a joke. The first thing he did was look over at me, pause, and say — now, keep in mind, this is the person who’s probably seen more of my material than anyone else:
‘You know… I think if Garrison Keillor told dick jokes, that would be Charlie.‘
And… now I’m not sure how to feel. I mean, I think he meant it in a good way. He even said it again later, as we were talking after the show:
‘Yes. You’re the Garrison Keillor of dick jokes. Oh, yeah.‘
It’s a little strange, though. Not exactly how I expected to be known, but I think I can roll with it. And I finally have something real — tangible and genuine — to put on the dust cover of my book, assuming I ever get around to writing one. Which is good — before this, I was thinking I’d have to rely on those Simpsons quotes for feedback, and someone would see them, and I’d get sued… it was gonna be a huge fricking mess.
But now — now! — I know I’ve got at least one solid, real, honest quote, even if it does call into question exactly what talent I might or might not have. And I can use this in my everyday dealings with people, too — even if I don’t exactly understand the implications.
See, when people find out I do standup, the first question they always ask is, ‘What kind of comedy do you do?‘ And dammit, I hate that question — though I do appreciate their interest — because I don’t really have a name for the crap I do onstage. Some of it’s self-deprecating, parts of it are making fun of other people, a little bit’s observational, I guess — most of it is just silly. And yes, I suppose peniseses get mentioned, every now and again. But that’s a whole lot of explaining to have to do, and I can tell by the blank looks I get that people still don’t really understand. Many of them probably doubt that I do comedy at all. I’m not much of a ‘believable character’ in general; let’s face it.
But thanks to Rich, all of that is behind me now. Now, I’ve got a short, quick, simple — if not necessarily straightforward — answer:
‘What kind of comedy do I do? Well… I’ve been called the ‘Garrison Keillor of dick jokes’. I think that pretty much speaks for itself.‘
Never mind that I don’t actually know what it means. It’s all about pulling it off with attitude. I’ve just got to convince people who ask that they wish — that everyone wishes — they could be the ‘Garrison Keillor of dick jokes’. And if anyone does call me on it, and asks, ‘What the hell does that mean?‘, I’ll just answer with more subterfuge:
‘Well, it’s a little like being the ‘Redd Foxx of iambic pentameter’. Or the ‘Maya Angelou of dirty limericks’. Obviously.‘
Yeah, I don’t know what those mean, either. But if I can get someone to call me those, too, then I can finally write that book! Who wouldn’t read a book by a guy with those kinds of credits, eh? Yeah, baby.
Unfortunately, just at the moment, none of you are able to bask in the pseudo-Keilloryness around here, as I’ve failed miserably to get the computer with my standup clips on it back online. But if you’re interested in a first-hand look — and you’re in the Boston area this Labor Day — stop by the Comedy Connection in Fanueil Hall on Labor Day night, the 6th. I’ve got a spot in the ‘Monday newbie showcase’, and it’d be cool if the room were more than a quarter full. Honestly, people. You wouldn’t expect Garrison to play to an empty room, would you? I need a crowd in the room for the ‘Lake Weewee-Gone Days’ stuff to work. So come on down!Permalink | 3 Comments