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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Several Occupational Hazards of Being a Wise-ass

Several Occupational Hazards of Being a Wise-ass

—Cracking yourself up when you are by yourself in a public place. Most of the time it isn’t anything that another person would find even remotely humorous. If you have ever seen anyone laughing uncontrollably in public, the last thing that you think is that he or she must have a great sense of humor. I don’t know about you but the first thing that I want to do is throw a net over them or shoot them with a tranquilizer dart and ship them back to the zoo.

—Being completely aware that it is not humanly possible that anyone else on the planet could think that you are as funny as you do. I think that I am finally at peace with this realization so I can laugh about it now.

—Spending at least an hour each day searching desperately for something that will make you laugh. It is like having an addiction to comedy and by feeding it on a daily basis you develop a resistance to normal humor. The stronger your resistance becomes, the more you are likely to fall for increasingly twisted and cruel forms of mirth. What started as a polite chuckle when Dick Van Dyke tripped over an ottoman festers until the only thing that will bring a smile to your face is wholesale death and destruction—but in a funny way.

—Trying to impress women with your wit only to have them stare at you blankly as if you were speaking in a foreign tongue. Women all say that the most important thing to them is a guy with a sense of humor but mine has never gotten me very far. Good for me I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of show tunes and a voice like an angel. Women won’t admit to it but that is what they are really after.

—I have a really annoying compulsion to try to make complete strangers laugh. In this aspect I have become my father. As a kid I remember being embarrassed half-to-death by my father because he, too, would say things to strangers. I felt like my dad’s Ed McMahon, the straight man in his act, the un-funny Marx brother. I remember being a rather shy 8 year old kid and thinking to myself, “Dad, can’t we just buy the goddamn golf balls and get the fuck out of here like the last people in line?” That wasn’t dad’s plan. He had to tell a joke and people always laughed. I don’t think they laughed because they thought that he was funny, I think that they were physically intimidated into laughing by the 6’4,” 240 pound wise-ass gorilla that had spawned me. Years latter you can subtract seven inches and about 60 pounds and the wise-cracking guy goes by the name Leftbanker. My father has risen from the grave and now inhabits my body. Someone please stop him.

Back in the days when I was the class clown it was all about trying to impress the hot girls. Although it is still a nice thing to make a beautiful woman laugh, I get just about the same kick from cracking up senior citizens or children. I have probably mentioned that I live only a few blocks from the Space Needle. I pass by this Seattle icon quite often and one of my favorite gags is to approach a group of little kids and ask them if they can tell me how to get to the Space Needle. Five and six year old kids will absolutely scream at me, “IT’S RIGHT THERE! What's wrong with you?” When I feign not to see it they lose their little minds and laugh at my stupidity.

I have nothing to gain from making children laugh or cracking up some old woman at the supermarket by examining a strange vegetable as if it were a spare part left over from a car repair job that I thought I’d finished, only to have her tell me, “It’s called a chayote squash.” Or when some old lady apologizes because her dog jumps into my lap when I bend over to pet it and I ask her if she’s tried hitting him with a board with a nail sticking out of it to make it obey.

Just this second a kid about 8 walked into the coffee shop here with some funky science project thing under his arm and I told him to use it for good, not evil. His mom is pretty nice looking but that’s not why I said it. I don’t know what makes me do it. Probably low self-esteem, or high self-esteem, or just the perfect fucking amount of self-esteem (combined with a foul mouth which seems to be a vestigial organ of my military days when profanity was the lingua franca).

On a positive note to all of this, I am able to entertain myself rather thoroughly.

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