Saturday, March 3, 2007

Funny as a Dead Body

I guess there's an open call today in dowtown Chicago for the next funny woman in America. The Shelarious competition.

A friend of mine said he thought I should go to the audition.  He came up with this brilliant idea two days ago.  He thought it would be easy enough for me to come up with two minutes of material that would wow the judges and start me on my new career in stand up. As what? The new Phyllis Diller. I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm immensely flattered that someone thinks I'm funny enough at this age to consider going to the audition -- however misguided, drunk, or insane my friend is.

He even offered to come with me, probably to keep me from chickening out, assuming I actually got into my car and drove in the direction of the club where everything is happening.

There was a time when making people laugh was something I tried to do every day. Ever since I got laughs in eighth grade at a summer camp talent show. It became my surefire way of getting attention in high school, since I wasn't short, blond or a cheerleader.

But chasing after a show biz career at this late date isn't going to happen. At 62, wait, I'm 63, I don't feel like having hundreds of pairs of eyes staring at me in disbelief as I toddle out on stage. Or worse, only one or two pairs of eyes staring at me from somewhere in a darkened auditorium while I stand up like a dufus mumbling jokes about what?  The hair growing on top of my big toes? Eating dinner at four in the afternoon to avoid acid reflux. Trying to convince your doctor that you remember sex.

Unfortunately, I'm at the age where I can only make you laugh at me, not with me. In fact, I think my friend is suffering from "I knew you when" syndrome. People who knew you back in the day have a knack for remembering you as you were, not as what you've become. There's an expectation of continuity. Once you were funny, you're always funny.

I once ran into a guy I had dated in college when I was in my thirties. I was also pregnant at the time and my sense of humor was  seriously impaired. His only comment was a clearly disappointed, "I knew you when you were zany."

I think something like that is happening this time. My friend remembers all those times I made him laugh. A lot of that was by making faces and doing physical schtick. I used to take a drink of water and let it dribble all over me. Big yucks. Or trip on my way out of a room. Huge. And boy could I stumble on the stairs. Killer.  Some of it was funny because I looked like a model and no one expects Tyra Banks to do sight gags. Not that I ever looked like Tyra Banks, but you get the idea. If I did any of that stuff now people would just call the paramedics.

I did allow myself a moment or two to contemplate what I might say, if I decided I would say something, even though I had no intention of saying anything. 

I'd drive out in one of those HoverRound things and say, "I'm here for the free Tampax." 

See what I mean.


lanurseprn said...

You could do a whole stand up routine on how you used to be funny, and it would be funny!  I say go for it!

screaminremo303 said...

"People who knew you back in the day have a knack for remembering you as you were, not as what you've become. There's an expectation of continuity."

Or in my case, a substantial disbelief in my arrested development.

You had me at Shelarious.