Humor is a weird thing to think about. I consider myself a connoisseur of comedy and anything relating to it. I like to laugh. I have learned to laugh about completely inappropriate things as a survival mechanism.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about friendships and conversations about comedy.
I guess it all started with a Christmas present. For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law got tickets for us to go see Stephen Lynch at Foxwoods.
Tangent – I love a live comedy show. I’m not that big a fan of a concert because there is that nasty habit of people around you singing along loudly to the songs that you’ve heard a thousand times. The thing is… I didn’t pay to hear them sing it. I paid to hear the artist sing it. If I wanted to hear someone next to me belt out Bruce Springsteen, I wouldn’t have spent $160 to do so. I would’ve spent $7 for a drink at a karaoke night.
I was absolutely tickled when Stephen announced that he was working on new music and he played EIGHT NEW SONGS! People were assholes shouting titles of old songs. I got so fed up I ending up shouting “SING SOMETHING NEW!” and when he did, I felt like a wizard.
Here’s where I get to the actual reason why I’m posting.
Over the last few years, a friend rediscovered her love of her faith. I didn’t have a problem with it… except that I didn’t get to see her as much. That’s not to say it’s her fault that we don’t hang out regularly. I tend to forget that there are people that like to hang out with me.
Let’s not talk about those issues (I can touch upon those later if need be). The reason that is relevant to the conversation is that one of Lynch’s new songs was a comedy bit about a friend being “born again”. As he was singing it, I listened and smiled to at the words. As it concluded, I clapped until I realized that my friend didn’t look amused.
Immediately I worried that I had offended her by finding humor in the bit. Since the show I have been thinking about how I approach comedic appreciation with many of my friends. In an era of hypersensitive flowerchild mentalities, it turns out that I unconsciously had been filtering my humor with her.
I don’t believe that I am intentionally stereotyping someone by doing this because other times, I’m completely freaking oblivious.
I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s podcast WTF? I listened to some of the back catalog and settled on the Patrice O’Neill episode. I laughed my ass off and thought “man… I know my buddy is gonna get a kick outta this.” So I queued it up and started to play it for him. He was silent during parts that I thought were really funny and I found my head cocking to the side. After awhile I asked him what the issue was.
He told me that he kept saying the word “fag” or “gay” and it started to bother him. He actually got a bit angry with me for introducing him to a comedian that obviously rubbed him the wrong way. He asked why I would’ve played something like that for him as he’s been out and proud for many years now.
I thoroughly apologized and turned it off. I didn’t think of him as my homosexual friend. He’s just… him. It’s never been a character definition when referring to him. “This is my gay friend. Ask him about your pants.”
Tangent – Those are words that will NEVER come out of my mouth when doing a first time introduction. Yes, it’s a part of him but it’s not the only part of him. I love that part of him, but that’s not why we’re friends. I’m not filling a quota. I’m pretty sure that if someone introduced me as their “often mental friend” I would shake someone’s hand and then burst into tears and make them hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay.
So I shouldn’t have introduced him to Patrice O’Neill through a conversational interview with Maron. I found it absolutely fascinating, but now I fear that he won’t watch any of Patrice’s comedy specials… and I feel like he’ll be missing out.
One of the benefits of comedy is that it is entirely subjective. It’s also a detriment.
I have a completely warped sense of humor and when I try to share it with some people their reaction shows me that they are not appreciative of it. That’s fine. However, I think that I limit many of potentially warped conversations with people that I have thrown into a “relatively virtuous” stereotype.
Without realizing what it is I’ve been doing, if I am having a conversation with someone I don’t necessarily hold back but I do try to gauge someone’s comedy/pain threshold. Some people may consider me disingenuous when my humor runs the gamut. I think it has a lot to do with being raised in a political family.
You’d think that would have taught me NOT to judge someone’s humor from a person’s façade. My family puts up with a lot of stuff that I do and say, and most of the time it’s with a laugh and a positive response.
Some people in my family love dick jokes