Fundamentally, I am not funny. I have been described as a “bottom-tier” funny friend in most of my circles. Slow at crafting punchlines and foreign to even the basic principles of a good joke, I do not verbally convey events in a way that entertains a group. If I ever manage to “be funny” in front of you, assume I communed with the woods gods under a new moon and bartered one of the rapidly depreciating fragments of my soul in exchange.
Admittedly, for most of my life I have excelled at deploying awkward shock-value self deprecation. It’s a transparent weaponization of insecurities, AKA “If I hurt me first, nobody else can”. And it rarely makes anyone else laugh. Honestly, my testament to the existence of miracles is that I wasn’t institutionalized following every teenage exploitation of this “witty” faux pas. And as an adult I am trying to Knock It Off Already
[Trying. Success varies. I’m a hypocritical creature of habit.]
Regardless, a frequent experience of mine is finishing a story, and having my dearest friends step in to say “Maybe put that one in the ‘not funny’ box.”
[Even the smallest acts of courage are a public good.]
But having finished beating this well-deceased horse on today’s episode of “Dear Internet Diary”, I reach my point: Funny or not, I have chosen to train a set of skills that place me in the category of “entertainer”.
I do not make creative works for “a cause” or for “education” or with “a purpose” or with “community goals /engagement/ outreach/etc”. These are noble and even potentially useful endeavors. Instead I squirrel away in dimly lit rooms and oily workshops spinning stories and working images because of an inability to just go to law school already. Yet, I think I can say without fueling my already red-hot ego, that my colorful, angst riddled, scribbles somehow do something. To produce only indifference in an audience is failure. So as a result of successful creative work [even mine], *something* happens. And the definition I have ultimately come to ascribe to that *something*, only in regards to my creative production, is entertainment.
[Diversion, entertainment, distraction, escape, amusement, recreation, and any other synonyms you can spit out for “not necessarily creating any meaningful impact except hopefully providing something of value in someone else’s scant leisure time and avoiding doing harm while we’re at it”.]
It’s a category I’m perfectly happy operating in. But it means my twitchy, hairy, distant, awkward, insecure corporeal vessel must as a result be defined (in addition to other trade labels like “artist”, “writer”, “printmaker”, “painter”, etc.) as an entertainer. I am the clown. Behold and weep.
So what can we, the unfunny few who nevertheless can’t commit to doing unselfish work, do with ourselves?
My strategy, in writing anyway, seems to be acting Very Very Serious.
If this were a high school essay I would take this time to define melodrama. But that requires work and no one is grading me here. It suffices to say that I am and have always been a sucker for works grounded in swooping strings, wafting lace curtains, yearning, red lipstick, tears in the moonlight, and all that is so deeply Sad and Dramatic and Serious that you laugh so hard you cry. That level of #Intensity is a drug and if I could get it prescribed intravenously I would.
[Yes I did see Crimson Peak. Look at you, paying attention.]
What I’m trying to say is that I am an unfunny person who loves to laugh. So I am never more thrilled than one of my pieces of tragedy, blood, guts, and drama is not taken seriously, but taken #seriously.
And yes, this is another vague plug for the not-so-secret secret project that, if you know me in person, I will Not Shut Up About. Isn’t it nice having this backlog of digital ramble to hold me accountable with?
More updates to come,
Yours In Deepest Darkest Most Serious Sincerity.