How'd i fail to see this little bed time tale was funny?
I could cry to think of all the irony I've missed!
What an unusual twist
Right at the end of it
Who could see that this pathetic scene would be
Once you strain to find the grain of humor
Life double crosses with style
Forcing you into a smile
So it can kick you in the teeth
We can all laugh till it hurts
At my expense
I'm accustomed to working on "spec"
I always pick up the check
I think it's funny
Who could top or make this comic op'ra more
You could weave in some deceit to even up the
You'd have us all on the floor
That would be roaringly funny
Sad enough my life's a joke that suffers in the telling
Just another hoary chestnut from the bottom drawer
I've heard so often before
That i can't laugh anymore
-- City of Angels
Music: Cy Coleman
Lyrics: David Zippel
Book: Larry Gelbart
I don't know why I should expect any different. As long as it's funny, it's okay, right? Well, sometimes I'm sick and fucking tired of being funny. There's more to my personality than that, but too few people seem to give a shit about the other parts. At one point in my life I mentioned that I was going to try to stop being such a smartass, and someone I considered to be a very good friend told me, "But if you did that, then you'd be boring."
It seems that's how most folks view me anymore. I'm the confetti popper, or the balloons falling from the ceiling. Something to momentarily entertain and be swept out with the trash later. It feels like I get invited to parties and social events not because I'm nice, or because I'm cool, but because I'm funny. "Make sure Clay comes, he's funny." Someone actually told me I was requested at their birthday party by one of the other guests. It's like I was a booked act.
Is it too much to ask that sometimes I get to be not funny? Sometimes I get to actually exhibit a part of my personality that doesn't make people laugh? That maybe I can express an opinion that isn't considered a joke, or isn't responded to with jokes?
Whenever I tell people what I do, the first thing they say is "Be funny" or "Do something funny" or "Make me laugh." No questions about the work, or about how it happens, it's always "Put on a show monkeyboy! If you're funny, then you owe me laughter." When I find out that you're a computer programmer, or a novelist, or a mechanic I don't say "Write me some software!" or "Throw together a book for me!" or "Fix my car!" I ask you ABOUT your work, and what you like and dislike about it, and if it satisfies you. I don't make you prove that you do what you say you do.
It makes me feel like a vibrating bed in a cheap motel, sometimes. I'm a novelty that everyone wants to experience briefly, and when it's done they move on without a second thought -- except that I'm not getting quarters for my work.
I'm actually scared to consider how many people like me ONLY because I'm funny. It a good icebreaker, sure, it gets people talking to me, but how many people even give a shit that there's more to my personality than that? It's probably why I've been single so long. No one bothers to try to see past the funny, so they can't see that there's anything else there of value.
I wish that it wasn't so important to me. I wish that it wasn't such a big part of my life and what I'm doing right now. I'd like to give it up for a while just to see what happens. But I've put myself in a position where I can't do that.
I guess if you have to be stuck with something, funny isn't a bad thing to be stuck with, but it overwhelms everything else. It blinds people to everything else. It's like I'm always on stage. Communicating with the audience, but in a detached, solitary way, because if I break that fourth wall, it stops being funny and becomes real. And who wants reality?
I guess I do.