Michael said that this title was “too clever.” Which I think was his way of saying “too hokey.” But I don’t care – I’m doing it anyway! (Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It, get it?!? Na na na na nana.)
Annnnyway, where was I. Right, schticky. This has become something of a joke between me and my husband, because I can always tell the moment he turns from having a normal conversation into trying out one of his new bits. His voice and demeanor change, and he goes into “performance mode” – complete with pauses for laughter.
He’ll usually do this if someone has already started laughing at some casual jokes (a captive audience!), which is great for providing him with affirmation that he’s a funny guy and belongs on a stage making people laugh. Comedians often seem to have underlying insecurities and constantly need this reassurance – especially if they’re in a rut and aren’t getting the kinds of laughs at open mics that they think they should be capable of. At least this applies to my husband. Whenever Michael is feeling down about his comedy, he gets a boost from situations like these – like a hit of a drug. (A drug called laughter!) Recently, we ran into some people I knew on our way home after dinner, and Michael made them laugh for about ten minutes straight – just one joke after another. After we said goodbye, he was like, “I loved them! We should all meet up sometime. Should we go have a drink with them right now? Should we go live with them?”
Sometimes he’ll also do it if he’s bored at some party I’ve dragged him to and he’s trying to amuse himself, which can get dicey (mostly for me). He will go to GREAT lengths to amuse himself, and doesn’t care if others don’t find him funny – or, worse, find him incredibly strange. The reactions vary widely in this situation. Occasionally, there’s big laughter (good potential bit); sometimes a couple chuckles (this one may need some work); and other times people look at him like he’s nuts or nervously shuffle away (probably not a bit that should ever be surfaced again). But does that stop him? No. He just considers it a challenge to rework for the next social situation in which he’s bored. One time, we were at a dinner party, and I heard him say, “I think domestic violence is hilarious!” My head spun around in horror to see two people staring at him with mouths agape. “Wait, hear me out…” His point was that he can’t imagine a world in which the person you love makes you so mad that you actually hit them. I might have used the word “unbelievable” instead of “hilarious,” but comedians don’t always play it straight – they go for the punch. And for Michael, it may not even matter if that punch isn’t accompanied by laughter, because sometimes he just likes to get a reaction out of people. I think it’s the theater minor inside him, going for dramatic effect. He wants laughs at the end of the day, of course, but some of his “comedy” is just for him.
Occasionally, there’s a third scenario: he starts getting schticky with me at home, which can turn dirty fast. Get your minds out of the gutter – what I mean is that if I don’t laugh at a joke, he can get offended. Or if I find it amusing but just say, “Oh yeah, that’s funny” instead of actually laughing, he can get offended. And if I like a joke, but offer up suggestions that I think will make it better, he can get offended. So I’m pretty much screwed unless my reaction is simply big, genuine laughter. Ho ho ho, that’s HILARIOUS, Husband! Tell me some more!
People always ask me if my husband is funny and if it’s so much fun to live with a comedian. Um, I hope so – otherwise, what the hell am I doing with my life?! He is, of course, very funny and he makes me laugh REALLY hard at times. But to me, he’s funniest when he’s just being his goofy self and not trying too hard. Being the “potential audience member” at home isn’t always that much fun and can actually be a lot of pressure at times. But watching him dance in front of a mirror and make crazy faces and sing impromptu jingles in silly voices? A nonstop riot.