No one knows what it’s like for a joke to fall flat more than I do. Well, and anyone who’s ever attempted stand-up comedy, which sadly, also includes myself. My lone open-mic adventure happened in the late 80’s and concluded with me injuring myself on stage. “Man, I’m bombing. I gotta really sell this next joke,” I thought. So I tried to emphasize the physicality of the punch line by manhandling the microphone stand and shouting the words – Kinisonesque if you will – and with that, the mic popped out of its clip and torpedoed itself above my left eye. Like a battered champ, I powered through my material, gracing the crowd of 13 (5 employees) with what sounded hilarious in my bedroom earlier that day.
A dude in the front row interrupted my next awful set-up by calmly saying, “Dude, you’re bleeding.” I touched the back of my hand to the point of impact and the guy was right. I thanked them all for coming, as if they paid the $5 cover for my dreck, and walked off stage.
I remember looking in my mirror at home to survey the damage. The cut resembled a tiny red waffle fry, or to be more accurate, the grid-like design of the microphone’s head. A memento from a dismal evening. My last thought before drifting off to sleep was, “Nobody laughed. And my fivehead bled.”
Cut to 25 years later…
Ben and I are playing with all his Angry Birds Star Wars figures, and out of nowhere, I start doing comedy. Just ripping some ridiculous jokes off the top of my head:
What does Darth Vader like on his Greek salad? Boba Feta cheese.
Why did Luke Skywalker leave the band? He wanted to start a Han Solo project.
How do droids receive mail? They all have their own C-3PO box.
Why did Obi-Wan Kenobi put his wild pet on a diet? Because he preferred a light saber-toothed tiger.
The Comic Strip in Ft. Lauderdale wouldn’t pay me to tell these jokes, but you get the idea.
My new audience of one was loving it, just holding his stomach while he guffawed. Then suddenly, he jumped to his feet and proclaimed, “I got one, Dad!” So I stopped and waited as he quickly assembled the words in his mind.
“Why did Boba Fett go to outer space?”
“Why?”, I asked.
“To pee on his grandfather!”
Hmmm…now if my buddy told me that joke in a bar, I would say, “That’s fucking stupid. You’re a failure. Go to your room.” But that was far from my response with Ben. I just laughed. And hugged him. And high-fived him. And hugged him again. Sure, I didn’t get the joke, but so what. What mattered to me was that he just dove right in and went for it. Without missing a single beat. Without lackluster. Without fear.
A professional zinger slinger in the making? Perhaps. An astrophysicist? Or a urologist? Maybe. If he applies that same intrepid energy, he can do whatever the hell he wants.
On second thought, Sam might be the comedian.