Funny Business


(Sunday Paper, Volume III, Issue 3)

Here's something that may surprise you...and maybe I shouldn't admit.

But I'll tell you because we have a good trust thing going here.

I write stuff, you read it.

And I appreciate that about you.

So I'm going to go ahead and tell you this thing that could possibly be surprising to you:

I don't always enjoy watching comedy.

In fact, I rarely watch comedy.

But, this week, I watched a lot of comedy.


I told you I was going to do this - Kathy was away for a few days and I was stuck at home so instead of going to see and perform live comedy I watched some comedy specials on TV.

And that's hard for me.

It wasn't always like this - we grew up watching a lot of The Comedy Channel: Stand Up, Stand Up and the like. But at some point, mostly because I think I wanted to perform myself and got upset watching others performing, I stopped watching comedy.

But ever since I started doing comedy, I still haven't tuned into many specials.

I was trying to pin down exactly why I'm resistant to it, and this week I nailed down a few reasons. The main reason is it's just so much work for me. I watch specials and:

  • I get jealous of jokes that are really good - I sit there thinking I wish I wrote that.
  • I fear that I'll hear something that I did write (this has happened to me a couple of times and it's heartbreaking to kiss a joke goodbye the minute you hear someone else tell it on TV)
  • I'm slightly afraid something will sit in the corner of my brain and someday resurface and I'll think it's an original thought
  • I get anxious thinking that all the jokes have been written and there's nothing left to write about!!!!

Some of these reasons are why it took me so long to actually do comedy myself.

But often I'll get inspired watching a really good comedy special and that's the important part for me to remember because it is work I need to do. I need to watch the really good comedians do their work.

I'm not going to list for you the specials I've been watching this week because I'm making a conscious effort to give my brain a break and not keep track of the specials I'm watching. (But chances are within a month I'll have a spreadsheet with rankings and joke breakdowns.)

But I will tell you this - I watched Gary Gulman. It's the first time I saw one of his hours beginning to end. And it was great. It was amazing to see him with a polished final product, because for the past couple of months I've seen him just working stuff out on stage. And he looks different while he's doing it and it was just as important for me to see that one-hour special as it has been these past couple of months seeing him raw and unrehearsed live on stage.

So I'll continue to find a way to mix in these televised specials in addition to what I see when I'm out and about in the comedy world.

Because as a writer I'm always trying to make sure I read great writing.

I need to do the same with comedy.


*Slow week in comedy...I wanted to go to a couple of shows at the end of the week after Kathy got back but it was just a little too busy at home. We'll start all over again on Monday. (Not tonight because of the football games.) But - oof - I am itchy. It's like when I forget to have my afternoon coffee and hit a wall...if I go three or four days without doing comedy now I get in a really bad mood.

*Nothing much booked between now and the North Carolina Comedy Festival, but I'll be out as much as possible at shows and mics and I'm sure something will develop.


*The writing kept me busy this week, which is good because at least I didn't spend all week thinking about not performing...only the times I wasn't writing. 

What I've Been Enjoying

*I guess I'll shout out the new TV here. With the touch of a button I can access Amazon, where I finished watching 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' this week, or Netflix, on which I've been watching the comedy specials. I'm going to need to hurry up and figure out how to access my baseball package on the new TV...otherwise it's serving its purpose really well.


*One last thing about the comedy specials....THERE ARE SO MANY. How do you figure out what to watch?! Long-time readers will remember narrowing down a choice is not a strength of mine...and I've only begun to scratch the surface of what's on Netflix. So there's a long way to go, friends.

*Speaking of making choices, I finally pulled the trigger on some flights and I'm all booked to get to and from North and South Carolina next month. I don't know why I have such trouble settling on flights - it's very hard for me. But I did it. And I'm really looking forward to it.

*If you know anyone in North Carolina, let me know - especially if they'd be interested in seeing a couple of comedy shows. I'm Google Map-ping a lot of the state - a lot of the main cities are really close to one another. (Put this in the category of 'things other people probably knew for a long time but John is only finding out because in these cases he is a very experiential learner.') So it seems realistic that someone who lives in, say, Charlotte...or Raleigh...could easily get to Greensboro for a couple of shows. I'm also happy to take suggestions on other things to do while I'm there - looks like Kevin and I will have a pretty wide open Saturday in the Greensboro area.

*Happy to have the roof cleared of snow on January 21, after the way this winter started...but I kind of feel like it wasn't until February a couple of years ago that things got dicey up there and I guess all I'm saying is this will be a constant worry until April, probably.

*I have no real rooting interest in the football games today other than for the ol' new Super Bowl matchup. (Well, of course I'm rooting for Jacksonville, but I'm not getting my hopes up.) If Jacksonville somehow beats the Patriots, we'll definitely have a new Super Bowl matchup...if it's a Patriots victory I'll be rooting hard for the Vikings in the late game. But that's just me.