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Friday, December 28, 2012

Hey There, Hot Shit

As I sat here staring at the blank Blogger template, I turned and looked over at my wife.  She sitting, just over there you know, doing some hand-work on some custom-made window shades for the living room. I waited till I'd caught her eye, and I lifted my left eyebrow, because I can't lift up the right.  She looked at me.

"Hey there, hot shit," she said.

I love being married-- and I love being married to a girl who says things like that to me.  I love being married to a girl who creates custom-made window shades for the living room, and who isn't afraid to cry in bed when the lights are off while she talks about therapy and her insecurities about who she is.  I love being married to a girl who likes to be held while she sleeps.  I once dated a girl who didn't like to be held in bed, didn't like to be spooned or touched.  I mean, what the hell was she?  A fucking Communist?

Our marriage is different now than it was when it started in 2006, and it's different now than it was in 2008 or 2010, too.  We don't spend as much time in theatres and concert halls and venues and the like as we used to, and that makes me sad, and I know it makes her sad too.  But we're parents times two now and something has to change-- some things have to change.  There are more arguments now, and I don't think that's because we're turning sour or something like that, I think it's because there's more at stake now, there's more important decisions that have to be made, daily, and the more things there are going on that carry gravitas, the more disagreements are going to happen.

It's inevitable, like graying pubes.  Sorry, sometimes I'm just twelve.  But you knew that.

My wife works very hard, and I don't just mean at work.  I mean at home too.  And, there is very little in her life or our lives that provides some sort of catharsis, but one thing is, was, and always has been a comfort is that, at the end of every day, we get to collapse in our nice (could be bigger) antique bed and hold the hell out of each other.  I think some of the fierceness with which we hug sometimes or cuddle sometimes comes out of a fear of life-- it's scary out there-- and about how, if you don't hang on, you might get swept away by it all.  Sometimes you need to hold on, very very tightly.  And sometimes that's okay.

I was talking about my wife's brain surgery to a colleague today, and remembering some of the details of that whole mess that I hadn't thought about in years.  I remembered the smell of her in the hospital-- disinfectant and matted blood and the cold, metallic scent of the staples was enough to make you sick.  But I still climbed into that Stryker bed with her and held on tight, because I was scared she was going to get swept away.  The only woman who really understood me, appreciated me, cared for me and allowed me to do all the same in return-- I let them wheel her away from me and put her in an elevator and cut her apart.

I still don't think I've forgiven myself for that, all these years later.

She's ironing the curtain behind me now.  There's one hung up in the living room-- and it's beautiful.  No.  Not beautiful...

Hot shit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ouch. That Smarts.

"You know," I said to a caseworker in the dictation room this morning, dead eyes meeting dead eyes, "I would never cheat on my wife, but this job can definitely suck my dick."

I've been trying to leave for maybe eight months-- maybe nine.  Maybe it's been since my kids were born, I don't know.  I don't remember.  I've sent out so many emails, it's disgusting.  I've been on so many times it's appalling.  Every time I attach another horseshit resume to another fantastically made up cover letter email, I want to shit studs and puke drywall.  It's repetitive and demeaning and unkind.

The rejection emails do not bother me, not even a bit.  I could care less.  I couldn't care less?  Who cares?

Not me!

I just submitted an excessively and predictably lengthy application to work for the V. A. as basically a mid-level bureaucrat, desk-jockey, paper-pushing, phone-weilding asstriloquist.  And, I've got to tell you, plate tectonics and priorities really must be shifting in this harried little head of mine, because I'm practically salivating at the thought of sitting at a desk all day, answering the telephone, talking to down-on-their-luck, washed up, beaten down, PTSD'd vets about the process of securing, exploring, appealing, and exercising their benefits and horning in on markedly more money than I'm making and sucking at the glorious teat of a federal pension.

mmmmmmmmmmmm...... suck suck suck suck suck suck suck................. moist

But, of course, I'm getting WAY ahead of myself.  The job was open from the 18th-20th, and there are fourteen (FOUR-FUCKIN-TEEN!) positions open in Philadelphia.  Now, because it's the government, they want to make sure you're nice and smart before they hire you, you know, so you fit in with everybody else already on the federal payroll, so you had to submit your transcript(s) in order to complete the application process.

This wasn't easy to accomplish when you work full-time, have two children, and only two days to accomplish this feat.

Muhlenberg, my undergraduate alma mater, made it pretty easy, and relatively inexpensive.  For an unofficial transcript, you fill out the form online, pay $7.25, ($5.00 for the transcript, $2.25 internet service fee) and they email you your grades in around 24 hours.  Done and done.

La Salle, graduate school and true to its staid Catholic roots, is a little bit more rooted in the dark ages.  After tithing $32.50 (don't ask me where they came up with that bizarre number) they will Express Mail you the transcript.  They don't do the eThing.  Fortunately, I had until 11:59pm on the 20th to fax the transcripts to the gub'mint, and I did it by 8:20pm.  And everything was going fine.  What wasn't going particularly fine was looking at my Muhlengrades, which I hadn't really thought about since I graduated back in 2002.

I graduated as prick # 211 out of 450 some other pricks and pracks.  Solidly middle of the pack-- indistinguishable, certainly academically, from one schlub to the next schmeck.  Sure, I wrote, edited, published, promoted and sold a book as an undergraduate, and I was in a lot of plays, and wrote a lot of plays and had one of those plays be a semi-finalist to go to the Kennedy Center, and I distinguished myself as the first Jew on our hallway to have sex with a Catholic girl, (I didn't even have to tithe) and I probably distinguished myself in other ways, too, but, academically, not really very much happening there.

I got a D in biology-- having sex with the Catholic girl didn't help like I thought it might-- and I guess that's because I never went to class.  I guess the biology class I took in high school, where we spent untoward amounts of time coloring in pictures of amoebas, talking about "Power Rangers" and watching "The Money Pit" didn't help like I thought it might.  A cold, hard C- in Critical Thinking, which I think, objectively and non-academically, is something at which I'm pretty adroit.  I bombed a couple other classes, too.  Oh, right.  Intro to Psych.  C-, which is kind of funny, considering that I work in an inpatient crisis psychiatric hospital and I supposedly know my dick from a mushroom.  I did very well in all my theatre courses, but I guess you'd have to be Nicolas Cage on ice and ether to fuck that up.

Joking aside (really, it's no joke: I hate that flat affect fuckstick) I was surprised at how saddened I was by my college grades.  I ended with a cumulative GPA of 3.302.  I looked at the scanned transcript and I was disappointed in myself, something I would have bristled at had it came from my parents-- but it never did.  At least, I don't remember them saying they were disappointed in my grades-- certainly not in college.  Where grades were held in extremely, I think excessively, high regard in my wife's family, in my own, they were not really relevant.  Far more weight was given to the overall experience.  I remember my parents being concerned for how I was doing in college on an emotional level, particularly since, mid-way through my sophomore year, I started going to the counseling center for once-a-week sessions and didn't stop until I graduated.  I had suicidal thoughts for the first, and only, time when I was a freshman.  Bullied mercilessly, lost and lonely, and stripped from the tender clutches of my once-adoring mother, I got very dark indeed-- and told no one.  Because, well, why would I?

In grad school, I ended with a cumulative 3.7, because, I guess, La Salle gives out A's like communion wafers.  I got tons of them, and never went hungry.

I guess, if I'd wanted good grades in undergrad, I would have, I don't know-- studied?  I didn't think you were supposed to study in college, so I didn't.  I never really knew how to study anyway.  In high school, I did my homework on the bus on the way to school, and I did fine, so I didn't really know what all those people were doing in the college library all the time.  I went there because there were hot girls there and I liked hot girls.  Now, when I got to the library, there's just mentally unstable people cursing under their breath and blowing air on their notebooks filled with religious ramblings.  I masturbated, a lot, in college-- and my eyesight was always poor and my palms are still hairless to this day, but I guess educational mediocrity is the price for my ambivalence and spilled seed.  And I suppose, in the end, I'm okay with that.

Especially if it gets me a comfy office chair and a G7 pay rate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Their Children, And Mine

My son crammed the cupcake full-on into his gob so hard I was worried he was going to suffocate himself.  That's how Jewish fathers think.  I guess maybe we shouldn't have gotten him a cupcake that was approximately the same diameter as his head.  My daughter wouldn't touch the thing, at least, not with her hands.  She held them up high at a dainty angle and licked her cupcake to a long, slow, moist death-- her tiny, flicking tongue the snake-like weapon in this dirty masquerade.

I told the story of my children eating their first cupcakes to approximately six different coworkers, at different times of the day, on Monday.  By the third retelling, the third "That's so CUTE!", I silently prayed the floor would open me up and I'd be sucking on Hades's dick with my hair and skin on fire by lunchtime.  

On Friday, twenty children fell to the ground-- their clocks stopped forever-- in a mindless, senseless, brutal and hateful act.  The next day, my two children turned one.  My wife said she was sad that their birthday will be forever linked to the calamity at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it wasn't something I had thought about until she mentioned it.  Maybe it will be, maybe not.  I don't know.  I'm like you in that, after Friday, I don't know anything anymore.

And I don't much want to.

I don't want to talk about it anymore than I want to talk about my children's birthday.  It happened.  Everything that can be said's been said.  It's been said on Facebook and on Twitter, from behind lecterns and on pulpits, on television and on the radio.  It's been said by the copy machine and at tables and on chairs, some that swivel, some that used to.  I've said everything that can be said about my twins' birthday.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.

You understand.

I don't want to go on Facebook-- ever again.  Some people are trite, some are sincere, but I hate them either way.  Some won't leave it alone, some post pictures of candles and say dumb things.  One idiot my wife went to school with said her cat "sensed something was wrong in Connecticut".  If you want to open up a discussion about mental health in this country-- start with her.  I want to delete my account entirely, but what about all the pictures?  Of my children and my wife and my life, and how will I ever secretly ogle the inaccessible girls I went to high school with?

Well, it used to be a secret.  Actually, probably not.

I guess I'm not very good at expectations.  I'm expected to talk about the shooting as much as I'm expected to talk about my children, but I resist.  I squirm.  I'm petulant and vague, always holding back.  Talking about the shooting makes me ill and talking about my children makes me uncomfortable.  I feel idiotic and small, silly and vain.  When I am badgered at work into showing pictures of them on my cellphone I get sweaty and hot-- it's not an enjoyable experience and, the louder the cooing, the more fervently I pray for that hole to open up below my shoes.

"You know," I said to the only real friend at work I'll ever have, "I really miss the time here when I was new and no one talked to me, and I just came in with my head down, did my job, and left unnoticed."

Now I'm expected to talk-- about... I don't know what.  People places and things.  About whatever.  And I can banter and make jokes and hold a conversation.  I can do that.  I'm just dying inside, or wishing I was.

I like to think I'm the kind of man who says what he thinks, who tells it like it is, who owns up to how he really feels, but I'm not.  I'm not that at all.  My father is, because he doesn't give a shit about what anybody has to say in return.  I'm obsessed with it.  I don't know how you get what you get from your father or your mother that way, but I don't think I got much from him except his body hair and his brown eyes.

I have things to say-- about their children, and mine-- but I don't know where to begin, or why I would.  I don't know who would care, and I don't know if I'd respect them very much if I found they did.  I have some things to say about the 2nd Amendment and mental health and masculinity and security and this country and our mentality and our tragic flaws and statistics and prejudices and I have some things to say about the new thing my son did today, or how my daughter looked in her gray hoodie, or the lump in my throat at this moment or that, about thus and so.  I have a song to sing, O.

But I don't remember the words.

Friday, December 14, 2012


"Well, do you have any time off?" said the therapist to his nail-bitten patient, who looked crumpled and harried in the thinly-padded black Ikea chair before him.

"Um, yes.  I suppose-- I think I do.  I do," muttered the $50 co-pay in corduroys.

"Then take it," replied the therapist, who isn't always so direct.

"Oh," the patient replied, tracing the top of his worn and scratched travel coffee tumbler, "okay".


Monday, the nanny came, and I left.  I was bewildered and stupid, like I was feeling up a girl for the first time and her bra was a combination of barbed wire and a Rubik's Cube.  I wandered out of my house and got behind the wheel of the CR-V.  I turned around and looked in the back and saw only two gigantic, empty car seats.

No babies.  I don't have to drive cautiously.  So I threw the column shifter down three notches and floored it.  As it's a CR-V and it drives like an old mail truck, not much happened, but it was still exciting to me.  I got its oil changed.  My old Israeli mechanic made fun of me.  I didn't care, because it was my week off.  Also, I was there for an hour-and-a-half, while he stopped changing my oil to answer the phone (six times) and to make coffee and to bullshit with random people dropping off keys and cars and was generally absent-minded, or maybe just ambivalent.  He also took time out to scream at some dissatisfied customer whose car was returned to him two days earlier, and died again.


Then there were some Hebrew epithets that I vaguely remembered my father shouting at slow-moving motorists when I was a boy.

After the oil change, I went to some hipster trendy emo annoying cafe to meet a friend of mine for coffee.  She's a flutist and she has a tattoo (I mean, I only know of one) and earrings made of petrified Alaskan something tusk.  Wolf ribs.  I don't know.  I have no business being friends with somebody this cool, but life's funny that way sometimes.  The flat-chested, nose-ringed crunchy Vermont-wannabee barista got me coffee in my worn and scratched coffee tumbler and it cost me $2.00.  My flutist friend got a for-here mug with endless refills and it cost her $3.00.  She insists she got the better deal.  I said you should be rewarded for bringing your own mug.  We talked about our various and sundry neuroses.  She can't go into a mainstream, big-chain supermarket with its floor-to-ceiling shelves and fluorescent lights without having a panic attack.  I hate myself.  So, it was like that.  She gets her packages delivered to the cafe.  I had half a bagel.  She took the other half home.  I thought that was funny-- it's something that someone who lived through the Depression would do.


The library was my next stop.  Time to renew my card.  It expired four years ago.

"There's a six dollar and fifty-cent fine, too," the librarian said, "would you like to pay that now?"

Of course, I thought to myself, then I'll gleefully slit my wrists with my newly-renewed library card.  I smiled at her.  My smile is solely meant to creep people out.

Off to the computers downstairs to search for a job.  Soul-deadening-- worse than making a sandwich for tomorrow's lunch-- sifting through the meaningless job descriptions the 4-6 years of experience necessary, the ambiguous non-profit titles that mean absolutely nothing: program manager, program specialist, program assistant, associate program specialist, program coordinator-- they all mean the same thing: you sit on your ass in some rented office, answer phones, write emails and newsletter articles, copy shit and blog and silently wish you and everybody you know would die emphatically and expeditiously.

I applied for three jobs Monday.  God, I hope I get it.  How many boys, how many girls.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was with the babies.  I really like being a father, but I don't really know what it means yet.  I have twins, and they have me.  That's about all I know.  And I make dumb voices and faces a lot, and it seems to do the trick.  They like the nanny better than me, though.  I always knew they would, even before we had a nanny.  Or kids.

Thursday I had the day to myself again, and it was largely a repeat of Monday, only without coffee-with-incongruous friend.  I got my eyes examined.  Got lenses installed into an amazing pair of antique glasses that I got in a dramatically-sniped eBay auction.  No, they're not Warby fucking Parker, they're REAL.  And I love them.  My prescription changed, and I'm still adjusting.  It feels like I'm looking at the world through an astronaut's helmet.

At therapy yesterday, I thought my therapist would congratulate me for taking his advice to skip this week of work, but he didn't, and I was pissed.  It was really hard for me to do, I had to challenge feelings of guilt and obsessiveness and love of routine and a feeling that I don't deserve to do anything nice for myself.  Instead, we talked about me going on anti-depressants because I made the mistake of saying "I don't enjoy anything" and "I don't really want to do anything-- I don't want to stay home, I don't want to call people and I don't want to go out and I don't want to go to work".

Whoops.  Guess that must have sounded off an alarm bell or two in his well-coiffed head.  Thing is: I've always been this way, and I don't know who I'd be if I wasn't, and maybe meds will make me feel better and maybe I don't wanna feel better.  Maybe I'm a big baby.


I don't know what I want to do for a job, and I don't know what I want to do when I'm not at my job.  And isn't my life terrible and hard!?  Aren't I just having such a rough time of it!?  Don't you just want run up and give me a big squelch and tell me it's all gonna be okay?  Give my hair a tussle?

Validate me.

Vindicate me.

Valorize me.

Save me.

The fact of the matter is that, a week away from an inpatient crisis psychiatric hospital is no small thing, whether you're taking the babies for a walk or getting new eyeglass lenses in an old frame. I think too much about things-- did you know that?   But it's Friday now and I return to work tomorrow morning for it to all begin again and anew.  I'm already fretting about who's been admitted, who's been discharged, what groups I'm supposed to run, how will it all ever be okay again and how did my babies get to be one year old?


I guess I should have written about that instead of this.  There's that judging mind that I can't seem to turn off.


"You know, a lot of people say that medication helps with that," the therapist said to the $50 co-pay.  He stared at him and crossed his legs tightly.

"Do they?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tab. BOO!

It's come to my attention recently that you can't make a joke about rape without getting flayed alive.

I guess that's because rape isn't funny.

Then again, who decides what's funny?  Individuals do, of course.  But then there's groups.  There's probably individuals out there who'd find poodle-in-an-electric-socket jokes funny, but I'm willing to bet that groups like PETA and the SPCA wouldn't-- officially and on-the-record.

Although maybe there's a quirky, young, just-a-bit-off SPCA intern out there somewhere pushing papers and trolling on blogs who'd laugh at a joke like that.  Just, you know, once he clocked out and got home.

Matthew Inman, creator of "The Oatmeal", a blog whose penis is a thousand times huger than this blogs'll ever be, made a rape joke.  And everybody freaked.  The joke, for the three of you who still read this blog and the two of you who haven't heard yet, featured a small F5 key running from a large and scary beast and the caption reads, "Every time the internet does not perform as expected, I rape the shit out of my F5 key".

I'm guessing nobody would have said anything if Inman had written I fuck the shit out of my F5 key.  Oh, words... you're so weird.

Comedy, which frequently uses (weird) words, is weird-- we learned that from my last post; 4 seconds, you know-- and it's also very, very dangerous.  It's much more dangerous than being serious, because being serious is just so obvious, it's so out in the open-- there's nothing more to being serious than being serious.  There's lots more to comedy.  It's loaded, and we all know loaded things are scary.  Don't point that rape joke at me.

A friend of mine showed me a clip from the Louis C. K. show where he's helping his young daughter brush her teeth in the bathroom.  The daughter innocently tells C. K. that she loves Mommy (they're divorced) more and likes being with her better.  C. K. appears wounded, but takes the insult in stride and continues helping her brush her little child-fangs, and then she rinses, spits, and leaves the bathroom.  When she does, C. K. angrily gives her the finger once she's safely exited and out of view.

It's funny to give your young daughter the finger, right?  No.  But I laughed.  And I don't even like Louis C. K.  I think he's obnoxious.  Still, I laughed.  So it must have been funny-- to me, anyway.

You might not have laughed at that, and that's fine, because a joke (whether it's a good one or a bad one or even an appalling one) gets sent out there into the ether and whomever reacts reacts the way that they do.  A joke can either be

1.) hilarious

2.) really funny

3.) funny

4.) kinda funny

5.) not funny

6.) in poor taste, but still kinda funny

7.) offensive

Do you have the right to get offended by something?  Sure!  It's America!  Let's put on our "Number 1 Dad" aprons, barbecue the shit outta some dead animals, crack open a beer and get offended!  Getting offended is our right, goddamnit!  But do we have to raise such ire, unleash such forceful condemnation that we lambaste some hapless schmeck who stuck his foot in his mouth-- should we be shaming and castigating and ending careers over this?

I kind of wonder about that.

I kind of wonder about people in glass houses and all that bit.  Who among us is without sin?  Who has never said something ill-conceived, or even ill-meant?  I wonder if the rabid denizens with the pitchforks and torches out there, broadcasting their righteous indignation to the wicked world are as lily white themselves as they purport to be.  Are we a bunch of tightly-corseted Victorian frailties crumpling down upon our tufted fainting couches?  Or are we big boys and girls who can see and hear something appalling, identify it for what it is, get out all that vitriol by penning a status update or two about it, and then move on to what's for lunch?

There's lots of things out there that I shouldn't find amusing, but I do.  Maybe my soul is as twisted as a barber's pole.  Maybe.  I don't really know what that says about me.  I don't know what it says about my upbringing or my parenting abilities or my effectiveness as a father or a behavioral healthcare provider or even as a human being.  What I do know is that, while my sense of humor may be as warped as old glass, I'm not the kind of person who would seek to couch my own inferiority and frustration and flaws by attacking some idiot behind a microphone or camera lens who said something cheap or dumb or disgusting.

Who cares?  Fuck 'em.

Remember-- you can always change the channel.  You can always set phasers on "Ignore".  You can choose to govern your own tongue so you do not commit such an egregious verbal solecism yourself.  Because, in the end, you're all you have any control over anyway.

All humor is derived from pain, it's just a matter of degree.  I suppose the only joke that doesn't hurt somebody is a knock-knock joke, and if that's the society we want to be, where we can only do what's safe, I guess comedy clubs and films and television are going to be replete with jokes about chickens crossing the fucking road.  I get taking out "redskin" in "Peter Pan", I get changing "nigger serenader" to "banjo serenader" in "The Mikado".  There is a difference, though, between hate speech (which, I hate to tell you, is as constitutionally protected as a game of peek-a-boo) and poor taste, and I worry that certain sectors of our society are equating the two, which is more dangerous than comedy itself.  Because then, if those two irrevocably different entities are equivalent, how will we truly ever know the difference?

Rape isn't funny-- but, in my mind, if you want to go ahead and do a dumbfuck thing like try to make a joke out of it: it's America-- go ahead.  The Holocaust isn't funny, and lynchings aren't funny, and, frankly, Polish jokes and blonde jokes aren't funny either, but the fact of the matter is this: you've said something horrible, you've written something disgusting and shameful and dreadful, whether you've done it in the privacy of your living room or on Myspace 9 years ago or at the dinner table and your father freaked, you've done it too, so, basically, have your reaction, get it all out so we can all move on, and while you're at it, shut the fuck up.   The other fact of the matter is yo mama's so nasty the deodorant threw up on her armpit and thought it was her pussy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

4 Seconds

Apparently, that's the secret.  That's what you need to know.  That's it.  That's all.

I don't know why it offended me the way it did.  I don't know why I was taken aback, soured, instantly priggish and resentful and almost insulted.  But I was.  I'm like that sometimes. 

I was at a rehearsal for a Gilbert & Sullivan roadshow.  I hate doing roadshows.  To me, they're like a pimple that becomes infected and then results in the immediate amputation of the affected body part.  Roadshows start out small, innocuous and barely problematic.  "Oh, it's just this and that and it'll be thus and so and then it'll be over."  And then it turns into more songs than you were comfortable with, songs you've never done before, then all of a sudden there's costumes and props and blocking and -gasp!- CHOREOGRAPHY.

(I don't do choreography.  Because it involves feet.  I do not have feet.  I have ankles, attached to biscuit-tins)

And then they tell you where the roadshow is.  It's in some godassfucked place you've never heard of and it's for a bunch of elderly people who'll be watching you while peeing in their pants, and not because they find Gilbert's searing humor funny.  They can't hear it anyway. 

And I know all this, but I agree to do roadshows because, well, I love G&S and I'd do it on the equator or inside a toilet bowl and because, you know, I'm an idiot. 

So, I'm at this rehearsal last night and a colleague of mine leans into me and proffers a tidbit of G&S trivia/advice after I'd just sung a patter song.  I guess I immediately got my back up because I don't like it very much when fellow performers give advice.  That's why we have directors, so other performers don't fillet each other in the dressing room.  Anyway, he was trying to be helpful, and I like him, so I suffered through the following well-meaning anecdote.

"You know, Kenneth Sandford said that in this moment onstage that he shared with Katisha in 'The Mikado' that if he waited four seconds before responding after Katisha said, 'My face is plain' with his line 'It is' that he got the most laughs.  So you should really wait four seconds before doing your bit in the 'Little List' song."

And I smiled politely and said that I would try it.  And I won't. 

I guess I just don't understand.  I guess I'm still a petulant, truculent, pain-in-the-ass boy who bristled at the Theatre Chair's suggestion that I go get an MFA in playwriting all those years ago.  ("Why should I do that?  Can't I write plays now?")  Don't give me advice, even if I love and respect you.  Your breath shall be wasted, I promise.  And don't tell me cute stories about world-renowned operetta stars, because I hate them-- the stories and the people-- because I will never ever come close to them, whether I wait four seconds or not.

Mediocrities everywhere: I absolve you.  I absolve you, all.

I suppose what annoyed me most was that, to me, comedy is so much more than that-- it's so much more than math.  Four seconds or three or six.  That's not comedy.  That's counting.  And I don't care if you're Kenneth Sandford or not but, if you're standing up there on stage going "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi" or whatever English people say when they're counting, you're not acting.  You're not in the moment.  You're not up there having a conversation with Katisha and regarding her face.  Likewise, comedy cannot be distilled that way-- it's cheap and it's false and it's crude.  It negates all the other work that a performer does-- what about the slight cock of the head, the crook of the neck, the barely observable lift of the left eyebrow?  The thinning of the lip.  The blunted smile, the sideways glance.  Inflection, nuance, tone-- there is so much more.  It's timing, not time. 

I can't explain it.  I can do it-- sometimes-- and sometimes I can't.  Some nights a moment gets a laugh and some nights the same moment doesn't.  Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't.  And what defines a moment "working"-- five people out there cackling hysterically for six seconds or a quarter of the audience tittering while others sit with a satisfied, knowing grin?  And others, still in the dark.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it.  Maybe I take comedy too seriously.  Maybe it's just a quaint anecdote tucked away in a G&S bible, oft repeated by the minions and the minyans.  And maybe I'm just jealous.  Because nobody is ever going to quote a passage from this blog to anybody else as an example of what one should think or say or do about comedy. 

No, I'm definitely jealous.

I suppose I'll grow up one day-- maturing, they call it-- and I'll forget what I know because I use it so infrequently, and I'll turn to the tomes to read about what others who came before me knew, and I'll quote their quaintness to young and lithe performers who will be my age now.  And I'll forget to trim my nosehairs, too, because that's the way these things go. 

1 Mississippi.  2.

Sometimes I'm sure I know what funny is-- I can make my wife laugh after nearly ten years.  I can make strangers laugh-- old friends who know the innuendo before I do, and newish ones, too, who are just figuring out my stilted, self-effacing delivery.  Sometimes the humor's Jewish, sometimes it's vulgar, sometimes it's in rhyme while I'm prancing around like the English prat I wish I could be and be paid for it.  Sometimes it's an accident. 

My face is plain.  And I want to ride the bike myself like a big boy.  Look, ma.  No hands.  Look at me go.

I know I'll never be as funny as Kenneth Sandford, or John Reed, or Martyn Green or George Grossmith-- and I guess I don't want to.  Because I don't listen to my elders, or yours.  I don't have four seconds these days anyway.

3 Mississippi.