My name is Marc and I’m here to make you uncomfortable
Disclaimer – this entire post may be a subconsious decision to post a picture of one of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken.
My comedy ‘career’ has really felt more real this past year than ever; not in a way that I think I have “made it” or am even close but in a way where I don’t feel like I don’t belong in the room anymore. I have spent a lot of time writing and listening to people I trust – other comics who have told me to take risks and be true to who I am and what I am going through.
It was only this past November that I even started talking about divorce in my routine. This is incredibly uncomfortable – for me and the audience. Every time I bring it up, I can feel the energy in the room stiffen up (or maybe that is just me). I have spoken about being awkward, a fat kid, struggling with Judaism, parenting, my height, my looks and even a couple of embarrassing health issues but talking about going through a divorce has been a whole different ball game.
For all the apparent acceptance of different types of relationships in this country and even divorce, it still feels, at least to me, like a difficult thing to introduce into a comedy routine. Once I do, I have some jokes, most at my expense, that explain what it feels like to be in this weird place in my life and I am able to get laughs. Getting there, though, is so painful.
It has been interesting for me because there are two schools of thought that seem to keep surfacing about comedy. The first is that when you have an audience, you have an obligation to entertain and make them laugh. That’s the metric by which you are judged and deemed worthy or not. On the other hand, there is the school of thought that says it is ok and even more responsible to be true to who you are and if the audience is uncomfortable and does not laugh, then you are doing exactly what you should be doing as an artist – pushing the envelope.
I am not interested in pushing the envelope in a “Miley Cyrus twerking” type of way but I do subscribe to the school of thought that mixes both of those two together – entertain with respect but do not cheapen out the art form by going for hacky laughs and not really showing them who you are.
For me, I am still going through it and when any type of “tragedy” occurs, the general rule of thumb is to not talk about it until it is well over. However, selfishly, it has been a great coping mechanism for me – to come out and admit that I am going through a divorce and not hide from it and to also try to find the humor in an otherwise unfortunate circumstance.
I have a ton of insecurities and probably always will. The difference this time is that I really do care more about what I think about myself than what others think of me. That sound very noble but when you’re actually in it, it can get really uncomfortable.
Until next time,
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