My Comedy Uniform
No live bananas were harmed in the taking of this photo.
When I was a kid, I used to stay away from my mom when she had no make-up on and a rag in her hand. I knew that in her “cleaning uniform” there was probably a good chance she wasn’t going to be in the best of moods. And after spending a lot of time cleaning my own place in preparation for selling, I definitely understand why.
On the corollary, she had her “going out uniform”. That meant hair, make-up, nice clothes – it meant we were probably going shopping but out of the house anywhere where there wasn’t a laundry list of things yet to be done was a good thing.
I often categorized myself in the same way and for me, it was just normal, but I realized that it was a big reason when I went from “work uniform”, (clean shaven, decent outfit, quaffed hair to the best of my ability) to “home uniform”, (jeans, t-shirt, unshaven and unruly hair). This latter was what was to become my “comedy uniform” for better or for worse.
As much as I read about comics who stand apart with their wardrobes (Jerry Seinfeld, Sinbad, Amy Schumer), I haven’t exactly gotten to any other separate uniform for comedy yet.
Yesterday, I did an outdoor show in New Jersey. It was great. I had a great time despite being relegated again to the spot of going on first. I still don’t know if this is a compliment or a nice way of saying “we still think you’re funny but just in case…”. Anyway, it was great.
One of the best moments of the night, though, was talking with the comics after the show. I met a new comedian who, like me, has had a corporate career (and I still do) and got her MBA, as well. We were talking about how much more comfortable we are with other comics, how these are “our people”. It was so amazing hearing my thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth – from the perspectives that we have about being around people who claim to be self-aware but are anything but to living within the mental confines of suburbia. It was so refreshing.
It occurred to me on the ride home that I never really had a comedy uniform. My “comedy uniform” is really the authentic me. I have been wearing other uniforms – dad at the baseball game, dad at the school play, dad at the bus stop, husband, employee – you get the picture that were different than my real one.
The more and more I “do comedy”, the more I realize that this isn’t about an end game at all. It’s about wearing the uniform that fits me best. And it feels right. What’s your natural uniform?
Until next time,