short stories

Almost Funny

I love the Internet. If the Moon landing was “one giant leap,” then the World Wide Web is warp drive for mankind.

There are drawbacks. Social media, for instance. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook are killing our attention spans. It’s like fastfood information digesting into empty calories on our overactive “mental”-bolisms.

Many of my ideas grow from this byte-sized sustenance. They don’t burn like light bulbs; they flash in the pan and fizzle.

Comedian for an hour

One such idea possessed me to pursue standup. Hannibal Buress had tweeted a link to a recent morning show appearance. Before long, I was YouTubing every clip I could find of his standup.

Things that I know about comedy: A lot of comedians usually sculpt their act over a period of time. They perform in many clubs, in front of diverse crowds, until they’ve perfected their jokes. Then, when they have a solid six minutes or so (and if they’re lucky) they’ll get the chance to appear on television—a popular late-night show, for example.

As I was watching several of Hannibal’s sets, I started to get the rhythm and delivery down. I marveled at the way his material unfolded. I recognized recurring jokes and how he developed them. He is truly a master of his craft. After about 40 minutes or so of watching 5-to-10-minute clips, I decided to end the YouTube session with his first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. After his 6-minute set, which he had perfected over the various clips I had just watched him perform, I thought, “Great execution. He’s made it.”

Good enough for me.

To this day, I have no idea what it feels like to tell a joke in front of a crowd. I realize that’s a copout. To launch my own standup career just seemed too rigorous for my flabby mind.

And now nagging thoughts distract me… I wonder what people are doing on Facebook…

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One thought on “Almost Funny

  1. Pingback: Fun with Twitter «

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