Friday, January 18, 2008

a scientist turned assistant walks into a bar ...

I was walking along on my way home when a man on the street entreated me to come in and see a "free" comedy show. And being in a wandering aimless no plans on a Friday night out-of-towner state of mind I agreed to check it out.

It was one of those two drink minimum shows where they only listed the expensive drinks.

I have always heard that comedy is hard. And I have never doubted that this is true. Mostly because while life puts me in many situations that I find hilarious and I find the antics, theories, and stories of many of my friends to be hilarious, the incidents in which a stranger or a professional comedian make me laugh are rare. Very rare.

There were six comedians and one MC. They got worse and worse as the show progressed and didn't really start out all that funny. There were some laughs, though. I laughed at all the science jokes. Because, if you think about it, science is pretty damn funny.

The first comedian told a story in which a crazy person was shouting at him and another person while brandishing a plastic dinosaur. He said that he and the other person were afraid of the harm that the plastic dinosaur might do them until he realized that it was a brachiosaurus, which is a herbivore - they really had nothing to fear.

The third comedian, a young man from Tennessee, had two science jokes. The first was about how they are now using dogs to detect cancer and this was the clearest of signs of how busy doctors are and how much worse it must be to find out from a dog that you have cancer.

His other joke was about how he didn't believe in evolution because if he did he'd have to believe that our DNA sequence is 98% the same as monkeys. He said the 2% of his DNA that was different was his favorite piece of DNA. (and up until now it had never occurred to him that he had a favorite piece of DNA!) If he ever has to go in for DNA surgery, he would beg the doctor not to touch that 2% of his DNA.

DNA surgery! OMG! DNA Surgery! He was my favorite comedian of the evening. He had the most jokes. They were smart and observant and funny. But he needs to work on his delivery and timing.

Many of the other comedians had the delivery of a person about to say something funny but no jokes. Or, no funny jokes.

The MC came up and gave me a hard time for not buying his DVD after the show. He had a routine about how we were all the lucky sperm that made it and then described the misfortunes of the sperm that did not. And so when he got up in my grill I laughed and said, "I am not sperm! I am the union of an egg and sperm and so are you!!!"

I was just reading about this kind of thinking in the Promiscuity book. Long ago scientists believed that each sperm was a little human being. And that they fused with the egg to get nutrition and protection. But really, the sperm was where the action was, the soul, the mind, the person. Ah, that men could be so self-centered.

If this was true, the next realization was that there were millions of little people who died with every ejaculation which was morally unsettling.

A man could not justify ejaculation without reproduction. How could you justify spanking off, if it meant that each orgasm led to the death of millions? If that was the case a man of good conscience would have to give it up and "other" activities to prevent mass murder. Who could live like that? So in the interest of pursuing higher truth (among other things) further research was done on this question. And eventually the sperm-is-human theory was refuted.

Is it too much for me to ask that a comic on Friday night in the Village be well informed enough to also refute this? Perhaps.

The MC observed at the outset that it's really hard to get up in front of a crowd of people and make strangers laugh.

I imagine that it can be downright terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

1 comment:

eh said...

Reminds me of Jon Stewart's comment that there's a big difference between being funny in everyday life and being funny on stage or on camera. When you crack jokes about what's going on around you, life provides the material and you're just reacting. However, when it's just you on an otherwise empty stage with a microphone, you have to take the initiative and make funny out of nothing, which is quite daunting... and explains why most comedians suck.