A Shared Experience

by Matt Brousseau

(From 02/2013)
I had been performing stand-up comedy on and off for almost three years at this point. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but had my first extended interaction with an audience member.
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     A couple weeks ago, after an open-mic, I ambled over to the bar for another of many post-set drinks. If I can’t get laughs the least I can do is get drunk. As I sat there, clearly in deep thought (“Is that smell from my pants or my shoes?”), a new comedian walked to the bar with an audience member. They sat beside me.

The audience member, let’s call him Steve. I can’t remember his real name (see above: drinking). Steve complains to the New Comedian (NC). He doesn't like some of the jokes he heard, especially jokes regarding race, homosexuality, and gender. “They’re easy jokes,” NC responds. Steve, who sat through my set with the expression of someone trying to remember their grocery list, asks me to explain why comedians feel “the need” to joke about these subjects.

The bar must be empty if I am assumed to be an authority on anything other than my mental state. Even then, I’m only ever half-right about my mental state. “Let me call Chris Rock,” is what I should have said. I could have pretended to make the call then walked outside, bummed a cigarette, and left. Instead, I attempt to explain that not only are these subjects common to many people, but it is an Open-Mic. A comedy Open-Mic. The one with the joke attempts, not the music butchery. To which NC again says they’re, “... easy jokes. What’s the point?” My brain, against the wishes of my liver, demands I imbibe to wash away this foolishness. I finish my beer.

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