Jedis, Strippers, Whiskey, and WordsBy Slade Ham
November 02, 2010
“So the Death Star is the woman?” Sam asked.
“Yes!Finally!Someone else finally gets it.I’ve been trying to say that for half an hour,” the stripper said.She had to be a stripper.I had been passively sitting at a table in the back room of the Laff Stop, sipping on a Jameson and watching this nuclear winter of a conversation for the past twenty minutes.
The Laff Stop was legendary.Mitch Hedberg, Joe Rogan, Ron White, Louis CK, and Doug Stanhope all recorded classic albums there.Sam Kinison’s piano sat behind a curtain in that room, unplayed for years by anyone other than his ghost.Bill Hicks worked out the ideas on that stage that would ultimately make him famous.
Open Mic Night happened in the front lobby of the club on Mondays while the comedians cliqued up in the main showroom, waiting for their turn on a five hour night. It wasn’t just the pros; Monday nights attracted an entire circus wagon full of freaks, all determined to take their shot under the spotlight and loft their strangeness into a sea of unfamiliar faces.It was one of those nights that found me interjecting myself into a conversation I shouldn’t have been paying attention to in the first place.
The stripper was dressed to kill – and by kill, I mean if you looked at her too long you would probably catch some disease capable of ending your life.She fell out of her clothes haphazardly, her untoned rolls of flesh crawling out of a ripped pair of jeans designed for a much younger, much thinner girl.Her makeup had been applied with a paintball gun.
She had wandered in like she was looking for crack and had somehow signed up to tell jokes.In an effort to alleviate her fears, someone had told her that I was a first-timer too, but was in fact too scared to actually go up.Instead of bolstering her confidence however, she used that nugget of misinformation as a weapon.The only thing more amusing to a table full of comedians than watching a hopeful comedian attack a veteran is watching a hopeful comedian attack a veteran and then prattle on about their own brilliant comedic theories, ideas, and jokes.
And that she did.In between firing shots at me, she would explain to anyone that would listen how she had put order to completely unrelated event, the most current of which was her mission to explain the sexual intent of George Lucas in the Star Wars trilogy.It was definitely the meth talking.She was a drunken plane crash, and I was unable to look away as her engine sputtered and failed and a plume of smoke shot out of the back end of her descending aircraft.
“You’re an idiot,” I finally said.
“You’re not even supposed to be back here.This is for comics!” she yelled.“Go back out front with the rest of the audience.”
“And please stop showing everyone your underwear,” I added, ignoring her comment.“It’s not attractive.At all.To anyone.Really.”
“You’re a dick,” she said.“You’re more than a dick – you’re a fucking asshole.”
“Dude, that’s the longest a girl has had a conversation with you before she called you an asshole,” Sam interjected.
“Shut it,” I said.“Her vagina’s still hanging out.”I was talking indirectly about her, which I knew was only making her angrier.
“Fuck him.Seriously, why is he still back here?”
“Because I want to learn to be funny like you,” I said.
“You don’t have what it takes,” she shot back.
“You mean a prison tattoo on my stretch-marked hip that looks like it was drawn on a Magna-Doodle?Then yes, you’re right.”
Sam interjected again, “I think what he was trying to say is that the whole idea just isn’t funny.It needs punchlines.”
“Whatever.He doesn’t know anything about comedy.”
“You’re right.I don’t know anyth- Jesus Christ! What happened to your feet!?”Whatever point I had been trying to make was forgotten.Her feet looked like they had been bound and beaten.Red marks wrapped around the sides and her toes were crunched into a twisted point.It was confusing.
“I had to wear six inch heels for a movie shoot today,” she said.
“No.For your information it was about this party where the women are topless and -”
“Seriously.What do -”
“Seriously, what did happen to your feet?Your toes look like a T-Rex eating a pack of wieners.”
While normally content letting me pick my own fights, Sam could no longer keep himself quiet.“What’s worse than the Holocaust?” he asked.“Her feet.”
“For real.You look like you’ve been playing hackey sack with a bag of gravel.Is that frostbite?”
“Oh my god,” she said, staring at me with one of her crossed eyes.
“Here.Just take my shoes.You need them worse than me,” I said.I started to unlace them as she changed the subject.
“What were we talking about?”
“Star Wars,” Sam said.
“Right. So R2-D2 penetrates the Death Star with his metal ‘arm’ and then-”
“You guys really aren’t setting me up?” I finally asked, glancing around the table full of comics.“She’s real?”
“I know,” Sam replied.“I thought you were being Punk’d but you’re not famous enough.”
The stripper couldn’t handle the lack of attention.Positive attention anyway.“I’m STILL trying to make a point here!”
“Your feet STILL look like moldy ladyfingers.”
“Can we leave my feet alone?”
“Look, you wore the sandals,” Sam said.“You look like you were drunk and barefoot trying to outrun a weed eater.”The stripper laughed at his reply, exhibiting no anger at all.I was surprised.
“Really?” I asked.“Why doesn’t Sam get to be an asshole too?”
“Because he gets what I’m trying to say.”
“Uh huh.What exactly are you looking at anyway?”
“Your eye.Looking all this way and that.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my eyes!”
“Just one of them actually.It looks like it just kind of gave up.It has a look of complete resignation.”
“Good one.You come up with that all on your own?”As I asked, another one of the pros came into the back room, excited.
“Hey guys!” Ed said.He was clearly suppressing a smirk.“I just killed with this new bit about Darth Vader being a big penis and how the Dark Side represents the feminine spirit!”
“Oh my god!” the stripper said.“That’s brilliant!We were just talking about that!”
“Shut up!” said Ed.“Seriously?”I kicked him under the table.
“Yes.See?” she said, turning to me.”You’re the only one that doesn’t get it, you dick.I could have you thrown out if I wanted to.Maybe you should go back up front until you have the balls to go on stage.”
“And you should get a pedicure.And an eye patch,” I said back.
“Actually, I think you’re up next bro,” Ed told me.
“Enjoy your first time on stage,” Sam added.
“Yeah.Good luck, asshole,” said the stripper.“Now.Where were we?”It didn’t matter.The comics were already up and headed back into the lobby, leaving the frustrated stripper sitting at the table by herself.
* * *
The problem with comedy is that it is impossible to ever really understand it.All the science in all the books in the entire world means nothing when it comes to what truly makes another human being laugh.Videos of people getting hit in the testicles by baseballs or small children is always hilarious, but why?We have no idea.A good joke is misdirection; a good comedian can take you by the hand and lead you down a road, and then suddenly change course on you to elicit a laugh. But again, why?
I have bits that I think are incredible but I can’t figure out how to get them across in a way that works.On the other hand, I have lines in my own set that consistently do get laughs but I’m still not sure exactly why.How does it all work?
It’s sorcery, if you ask me.
My goal that evening, as a supposed first-timer, was to bomb.There are nights when even the best comic can’t manage to make it work with his absolute A-game, so eating it in front of people on purpose should have been simple.In the few minutes before I went up I tried to think like a rookie.Just do set ups with no punchlines, I told myself.Leave lots of silence.Die, on purpose.
“So wow.Black people and white people are really different,” I said, and then moved on, giving no evidence in joke form.“So, uh, what else is going on?”
Every intentional nose dive brought more chuckles from comedians that knew me, contradicting my attempt to flat line.The laughs grew exponentially.Damn, this wasn’t the plan.I fought to keep a straight face as I stared out at the crowd.“Blank CDs suck,” I pretended to stammer.“Especially on road trips.”It was abysmal, yet somehow hilarious.I stared blankly ahead as more laughs came.
The stripper had migrated back into the room and I could see her glare from the stage.She was furious.I was a bit mad myself, that I hadn’t been able to pull off the ruse.My fellow comics had failed to play along.I was killing with non-jokes.Every misdelivered bit elicited an even bigger response.I was crushing.I couldn’t have done that well if I’d actually tried.
I finished the set to applause and wandered off to the back room again, followed by a few comedians and the stripper. “There’s no way that was your first time!” she said.
“You really don’t get it,” I replied.
“Seriously, how’d you do that?”
“I wouldn’t tell you, even if I knew.”And the truth was, I didn’t know.Even after a decade, comedy still confuses me.It works when it shouldn’t and doesn’t sometimes when I need it to most.
“You’re such an asshole,” she said.
As I walked away I could hear her voice trail off in the distance, still searching for an audience.“So has anybody else here seen Star Wars?” she muttered as the showroom door closed behind me.
A T-Rex eating a pack of wieners.
TNB books, I’ll say it again
spend all your milk money
if you got to
& put out a Slade Ham book.
We can ride his coattail.
#1 with a bullet.
Ah, such happy thoughts, JMB… I’m afraid my coattails would be a horrible place to put your money. I seldom wear a coat. For that matter, sometimes I even forget to wear pants.
But a collection of stories one day? The thought of it does make me smile.
Say, you aren’t the decedent of
Mordecai Ham are you?
To my knowledge, no, though my lineage is fuzzy at best.
I just got a box of stuff that was my father’s though, and in it was a partial tracing of the family on my dad’s side back a few generations. I haven’t had a real chance to dig in yet.
If it turns out that I am, you’ll be the first to know.
Oh my Goodness but you tell good stories, Slade.
It sounds to me that you have the most fun of anyone in the world.
(But why oh why couldn’t you be carrying a camera, or at least a cell phone, to get an actual picture of her feet? Your metaphors are without peer, but I want to see them!)
I don’t think anyone can adequately explain why something is funny and something else is not, or, for that matter, why something is funny one day and not the next. It is a mystery.
But for whatever reason, you are funny.
Sam shot video actually. Or attempted to. It didn’t work. Wildlife does not like to be photographed. It gets skittish when you put a camera on it. All we managed to get was a blurry pixelated mess with muffled audio. Believe me, if I had shots of her feet they would have been on the net already.
I’m glad you dig the stories, Irene 🙂
It’s not just your stories I “dig.”
I “dig” your life!
a camera-shy stripper? what a rare bird!
Remember, she is only a stripper based on my best guess. She could have just been whorey for no reason at all. And there were no dollars flying – she had little incentive to play to the camera.
A stripper comedian? Oh to be a fly on that wall. Your stories make me laugh. There’s hardly anything better than Slade’s storytelling.
There are lots of things better. Believe me. I’ve heard them all 🙂
Awesome, man. So fucking funny.
“…sipping on a Jameson and watching this nuclear winter of a conversation for the past twenty minutes.”
“Her makeup had been applied with a paintball gun.”
I love the idea of killing with the non-jokes. I wonder if that worked possibly because it was so contrary to what the audience might have been expecting from a newish comedian. To me, all storytelling boils down to delivering the unexpected.
Although mainly I agree. Comedy and stories and all that…it’s sorcery.
It’s weird how it works sometimes, but you’re right… the fact that it was unexpected (though dying on stage IS somewhat expected at open mic, hahaha) probably had a lot to do with it. The other comics knew what I was doing, and their laughter certainly was contagious.
I should have known better than to post today, btw. You should have warned me you had a piece going up. I am off to Kinkos FINALLY to pick up that delivery, btw… then back to try to read yours. I need 28 hours in a day I’ve decided.
Ha. I almost didn’t post when I saw yours. But I was up pretty late working on it and I couldn’t help myself. Anyway there’s so much good material out there right now it’s difficult to keep up.
If those folks at Kinko’s try to give you a copy with a clear cover, make them go back and put the black one on. They never get that right.
They got it right for me..
Then again, I AM special.
They got it right for me too. I’m stoked. It’s gonna be raining and cold here tonight, and Rich just saved me the trouble of having to find a bookstore.
Slade, I want you on my side. With your slick jibes and your non-jokes, you could wipe any floor clean!
Your stories always give me laugh-out-louds… and I love that!
Just point me in the direction of a target, Jude 🙂
Thanks for laughing.
I’m way too tired to make a good comment—I’ve been sitting here laughing to myself and occasionally saying “Oh my god…” though. A nice break between getting off of work and beginning another 5 hours of writing my research paper.
Oh, and I’m seriously thinking Bucharest.
That’s the reaction I was going for. Exactly.
And really? Bucharest?
—you know me. You already know the answer. 😉
But you can look up Romania on Wikipedia if you’re feeling curiouser and curiouser.
No… I know. I don’t have to Google it.
You tell a very good story. Not only are you funny as hell, but you write dialogue in such a natural way. You are a pleasure to read, my friend.
I would hate to have an argument with you. You operate a scorched earth policy! That poor girl had no chance!
You are awesome.
P.S So the whole jet fighter through the maze and finally shooting up the Death Star is supposed to be sperm impregnating the egg, right?? Yuck. I won’t ever look at Star Wars the same way again.
Put me in the compound’s guard tower. I’ll make the enemies kill themselves 🙂
And despite all of the conversation surrounding the sexuality of Star Wars, I’ll never believe that that was Lucas’s intention. No egg, no nothing. Just a big, bad ass looking battle station. Suck it, conspiracy theorists.
I am so totally and completely with you on this one.
Man, there are so many great lines in this piece that I’m not sure where to begin.
Your 007 description of the stripper is classic! I bet those muffin tops were baked to perfection? Sounds to me like she had lessons on swearing from a trooper!
Slade, you have a unique gift of delivering the right line perfectly and on time. I wish I could think as quickly on my feet as you do. I sometimes suffer from L’esprit de L’escalier.
Is Sam the same guy who helped you beat up that midget a while back?
The very same Sam. I have stories with other people, but he tours with me a lot so we both end up drinking together several times a week, and well, that’s where the best stories come from.
You’re not the only one with that affliction, btw. Without fail, I always think of something better after the fact. ALWAYS. Methinks our brains are wired that way to keep us from getting in too much trouble 🙂
I’m the worst comedy audience member ever.
I don’t know if I’m too present or not present enough, but all I can ever think is, “That person is trying really hard to make me laugh. This is rehearsed. This is an act.”
I don’t heckle or throw things or anything. I just somehow miss the point completely.
I think I may have already told you this.
Anyway, maybe that was it. Maybe it was funny because it was spontaneous. Was it spontaneous?
Then again, your version of a beginner sounds at least a little like Steven Wright.
Anyway, you ARE mean. Geez. You’re lucky she didn’t claw your eyes out, she being a crazed, drunk, cracked-up, methhead, porno-stripper and all.
You do live on the edge, Slade.
i was thinking the same thing: this guy IS mean. went back and read some of his other stuff. same thing, exercises in self-aggrandizement. downright pathological. scary stuff, man.
Not sure why you’re telling me, though.
Slade’s a pal. I was joking with him.
I can assure you, he is not pathological.
self-aggrandizement. downright pathological.
I should put that in my Bio. Make sure you read it all though, Mike. Especially the part where I beat up the midget, and the one about the hippie girl I almost made cry, and the realtor I wouldn’t stop screwing with.
My ego clearly knows no bounds.
The realtor one is golden. She had it coming. Actually, if I’m remembering correctly, so did the midget.
And so did the stripper, had I taken the time to elaborate on the back story. I rarely swing first 😉
You only swing first at midgets and women, it seems. 😀
Slade, what happened with that realtor? Can you give it in a few sentences? Man, the ideas flying around TNB . . . .
The short version… after I jumped out from behind the entertainment center in a ninja costume and almost gave two really old people coronaries, I found a new place for myself. I love it.
I changed the lock on the doors, inside and out, to something relatively impervious…. then packed my stuff and moved. It was relatively anti-climactic actually, though my peace and quiet is worth far more than some awesomely dramatic ending.
You have a new piece up as well I see. By the end of the day, I’ll be there. I really feel like I have missed some amazing stuff this last month or so.
“this guy IS mean. went back and read some of his other stuff. same thing, exercises in self-aggrandizement. downright pathological. scary stuff, man.”
Way to make a first impression, Slade.
Right? Comes with the territory.
He’d probably be mean to you. And it would be funny.
In general…he’s a total doll though. Lighten up.
Hahaha, he’s harmless.
*see* this is why I don’t read your posts when I’m in school. I get distracted and my day gets railroaded into TNBland. Must be that self-aggrandizement thing. :p Haha.
Makes me want to come to Minnesota even more now… I don’t like comedy when it looks rehearsed either. When it’s at it’s best, it’s all Lewis Black style… sounding off the cuff but choreographed and blocked down to the footstep.
Becky, I was thinking the same thing about Stephen Wright. I would love to see Slade get on stage one day and truly assume the personality and delivery of Wright. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.
It is the antithesis of my style, obviously… however, when Mitch Hedberg died, we did a tribute to him at my old comedy club, and I did a ten minute impersonation of him and his material. I respect guys that can do it like that. The one liners and the slowed down pacing… it’s fucking tough.
I don’t find Mitch Hedberg or Bill Hicks funny at all.
I don’t even find George Carlin funny.
I find him incisive, wry, clever, and even wise, but not funny.
Like, I don’t go “ha ha.”
Daniel Tosh makes me go “ha ha.”
Bill Cosby makes me go “ha ha.”
Slade, in your professional opinion, what is the difference?
I can agree with that take on it. There is something about live comedy though, that changes things. I don’t “laugh” out loud at comedy anymore at all, even the greats. Tosh is awesome and Cosby is a virtual deity in my opinion. I have laughed at both of them in the past.
What I think changes things though, is the group dynamic. If you watched Cosby’s Himself (the greatest comedy special ever made) in a room by yourself, it would elicit an entirely different reaction than if you watched to it in a living room full of your friends. I would wager that if you were in an audience of a thousand watching him perform the same material, except this time live, it would be exponentially more laugh-out-loud funny.
That carries over to just about any good comic I think.
But that’s sort of a different answer than you were looking for, I think. Tosh and Cosby are a bit sillier than Carlin or Hicks. Comedy is so incredibly subjective. Clearly. Larry the Cable Guy is a zillionaire.
There are so many elements to stand up. It’s as varied as the music industry. Why does country music make some people want to dance while others prefer hip-hop? It all comes down to taste, which clearly I am going to have to explain to Nathan further down in these comments.
Oh I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I do so much angry bitching on my own, I don’t like entertainers stomping my turf.
I’m like, “This isn’t comedy. This is just how people talk. Isn’t it? RIGHT? GUYS?”
I think when there’s really heavy social commentary, I start intellectualizing it, too. Sitting there in the comedy club suddenly pondering the sociological implications of Comic Y’s stance on drug policy and prostitution. Squinting.
It’s not far enough divorced from the “serious” things I think about or something. I mean, it’s not an escape.
Ah, the jealous card 🙂
I am with you on the social commentary. Obviously, there are guys that do it that I love, but only the ones I agree with, which isn’t really a big group. I shy away from a lot of those subjects for that reason I think. If you’re gonna do politics, etc, it has to be funny FIRST, and make a point second. In the comedy world anyway.
You’re right. Who wants to really think about stuff when you’re trying to escape? Nobody.
Just sling the jokes, Chuckle Monkey.
@Becky – what does make you laugh? I mean belly-laugh. Tears pouring, nearly pissing yourself laugh?
Hope you don’t mind, Slade. **raises hand for a high five**
Well, I mentioned Daniel Tosh and Bill Cosby. Cosby’s probably the only comedian that has made me do the soundless, seized up, suffocating laugh. And my husband is pretty funny. I do belly laugh. Kids in the hall…um…Reno 911…Jeff Winger on Community…I don’t know. Stuuuuuuufff….
And Gregory House back before they tried to give him a soul.
And “chuckle monkey.” I read that aloud to P and we both laughed. So I read the whole piece aloud and had to stop a couple of times from laughing. Turns out it’s even funnier when I’m not reading it at work.
Everything’s funnier live, told ya.
Chuckle Monkey isn’t mine unfortunately. It’s comic slang for, well, a comic.
Reno 911 is god damned genius. Kids in the Hall too.
I saw Cosby live about two weeks after his son was killed. I’ll tell you – that was uncomfortable. Grief and anger have no place in comedy.
Slade, P’s laugh is absolutely hysterical. There is no way to describe it. Joker meets mad scientist meets Woody Woodpecker. Or something. He once got a whole bar cracking up and they hadn’t even heard the joke. They just heard him laughing at it.
So that added something.
Gloria, I think they do…I mean, at least in the sense that a lot of comics have a fair amount of both. You know…it’s sort of like what T.S. Eliot said about poetry being an escape from, not an indulgence of, personality & emotion–that it nevertheless takes a person with formidable personality and emotions to know what it is to want to escape from those things. So it seems to be with anger/grief and comics. Not universally, but it seems to be a recurring thing. Still, the transformed expression of them is important, which is tough to do when everyone knows what’s going on.
Maybe I’m totally full of it, but this is the general impression I get.
Sorry, you said Bill Hicks and then I had to stop reading and go youtube him again. I love that man. God, I love that man. It’s a bit obsessive.
Have you seen this:
I have not. But I want to.
Yes, actually. They screened it here in Houston a few months ago. A few of the old Outlaw comics still play around on the stage here, too: Jimmy Pineapple and Andy Huggins… and of course Dwight Slade, the guy Bill started with, is still out on the road.
He was incredible. Truly. Though it wasn’t always comedy…
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on Dennis Leary. Not here and now, of course. But at some point…
Grrrrrrrrrr….. Do you know they finally gave Hicks a writing credit in the liner notes of No Cure For Cancer?
Well, golly. Wasn’t that nice of Them.
My dream dinner party guests? John Lennon, Abbie Hoffman, Dr. Seuss, Bill Hicks, and Dr. Laura. Aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnddddd GO!
Oh and that that horrible, horrible conservative political pundit, whose name I can’t remember. She’s tall and blonde and really awful and I want to cunt punch her? What’s her name?
And damn. Who’s on my list? SO many of mine are comedy related, but specifically Hicks, Carlin, Pryor, and Hope, with Carson at the head of the table to keep things nice and orderly.
Them, and then Jesus.
That would make it fun.
And Ann Coulter – she would round out your list nicely. I once challenged her to a cage fight on Facebook. But her being a guest at your dinner party would be way more awesome.
And Nancy Grace, as Richard just pointed out.
gloria, I’m jealous. us guys are not allowed to say “C**tpunch her”. It’s like saying the word that must not be spoken.
But there IS that unresolved adam’s apple question, with regard to Ann Coulter.
Actually, dwoz, I got the phrase cunt punch from a piece Listi wrote several years ago. It made me do a spit take. Hilarious – like the suggestion that Ann Coulter has an Adam’s apple.
@ Dwoz – I think if you’re already giving someone permission to “punch her”, it’s okay to go ahead and add the word “cunt”, hahaha
“Her vagina’s still hanging out.” That’s horrible. No, that’s hysterical. No…wait…horrible. Man, I can’t decide.
“Your toes look like a T-Rex eating a pack of wieners.” You remember when I said you would be awesome to go on a road trip with? I might take that back.
No, don’t take it back! I’m a teddy bear! Really 🙂
I love hearing these descriptions of stand-up life and your observations on the sorcery of comedy. I’ve always seen humor, in any form, as so much more complex than it’s typically perceived to be. Maybe that’s because of the unpredictable nature of laughter, or maybe just because some of the best nuggets of truth are packed into good comedy.
And of course, blank CDs are the funniest when they’re not trying to be.
Comedy, music, art… I think you can dissect them all, but they lose something when you do. One of your responses to one of my posts (maybe the last one actually) sort of prompted this one. Sometimes I write the least about the thing that I know the most about. I appreciate the spurring.
How dare she disparage Star Wars in such a way. Off with her moldy lady finger feet, and her silly, empty head! Enjoyed the read, btw. A collection of your stories would just make my day. 😉
Oh, it wasn’t empty…. just not full of any of the good stuff.
I want to copy and paste all of my my favorite quotes from this piece, but I would just end up re-posting the whole thing here. Seriously. The jokes about the stripper’s gross feet were especially cracking me up. You are funny in every format, Slade. (:
I’ll bet you of all people especially enjoyed the feet jokes. 🙂
Thanks, Tawni. It was a fun one to write.
I want to just say that I KNEW, as I opened this bit at work, that I was risking my job. I was not disappointed.
I was in the unenviable and FUCKING GHOULISH position of chortling and giggling uncontrollably in a room full of people.
Sixteen other people.
And they were in a conference call, and I was giggling like a schoolgirl.
I counted about 9 layers to this, before I decided that keeping count was futile.
I must say that interrupting a conference call in any way – just the mere possibility that I might have, in some little way, interfered with the tedious rhythm of the corporate world – makes my soul smile.
Also, we all know about Jobba the Hut, the “big worm”…and his “relationship” with princess leia. But let’s just face it…George Lucas probably doesn’t throw GOOD parties.
See, there’s all sorts of theorizing about this sexual nature of Star Wars. Greg brings up another further down. Though there was no way to get around the beautiful sexuality of Carrie Fisher in that gold bikini…
There were a lot of brilliant, hilarious lines here, but I liked this the most: “She fell out of her clothes haphazardly, her untoned rolls of flesh crawling out of a ripped pair of jeans designed for a much younger, much thinner girl. Her makeup had been applied with a paintball gun.”
Egad, that’s a nasty, vile image… but all too familiar.
I like you description of comedy, too… What the hell is it? Sorcery, indeed. It’s random and changing and hard to explain. I went back to the UK for the first time in 3yrs and found that comedy had pretty much changed. Stupid catchphrases were (temporarily, I fear) out and mocking accents was back in. A whole new breed of comedians even younger than me were on stage. Nasty, offensive humour seemed out of style, and puns had come back… How odd. Why can’t we all just enjoy poking each other in the ass like they do here in Asia?
Not the shit needles…
It runs in cycles to be sure, and it’s definitely different in the UK than it is here. When someone cracks the surface though, there tends to be a slew of followers altering their style to fit that mold. After the Blue Collar Comedy Tour went viral, there were suddenly a lot more “country” acts. Out of nowhere.
A lot of Hedberg clones too. Guys started playing up their Latino “heritages” after Mencia broke through. And it will all change again.
More confusing to me is that audiences don’t see through the bullshit sometimes.
And ah, the ass poking. That remains so funny to me. There is an ass poking statue somewhere, yes? Do I remember that correctly?
Yeah, there sure is. Shit needling is a part of the culture as ancient as Confucianism, fan dancing and not washing your hands after taking a shit.
In the UK I suppose it’s the same – if one comic makes it big by pointing out nostalgic crap that we all remember, then there are 50 others. If someone has a funny accent and makes fun of other funny accents… 50 others.
When I was last home I saw a couple of stand-ups from the Middle East and they all started their routines with, “So.. I got on a plane last week… Just kidding.” Funny, but only the first time.
The irony is, she was right — the Death Star is like the ovum, and all those little fighter planers seeking to beat one another to its self-destructing center are sperm-like.
Comedy, I think, is like any other form of writing…it’s all about the voice/delivery. As you proved that night. Well played, sir.
Now I’m all confused, and about to spend an evening gathering intel on the whole Sex of Star Wars, hahaha. A quick search opened up a site with some GREAT out of context quotes that sound, well, you be the judge:
“Myself, the boy, two droids… and no questions asked.”
“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”
“He has too much of his father in him.”
―Beru Lars to Owen Lars
And then the obvious:
“Size matters not.”
Honestly, Slade – I can’t even imagine you being such an asshole. But those lines you pull out of your…where do you pull them from again? Anyway, I’m just so glad. That you’re an asshole!
Aside from the hilarity of this post (I laughed the entire way, yes), I am fascinated by the topic. What makes comedy work for some people and not for others. What is it YOU do that is unique in comedy? I think I can almost define it, and then I stall out. And yet it’s there. Nobody else could have written this post – it’s all Slade. You just pile it on from every angle, and don’t stop. It wouldn’t even matter if the individual jokes were lame, because your timing is so goddam impeccable. They just keep coming – every possible, impossible connection is explored. By the end, we’re all on the floor gasping for air.
You have the best job, Slade. Top of the food chain.
I agree about the best job ever 🙂
As for the rest, I don’t know. I know that the people I consider the “best” at this are honest. Authentic. Embellishers, certainly, but real at the core. It looks good when it connects, but you should be in the room when it doesn’t. Really, you should.
And you heard me write a song about a guy’s head. You know I’m capable, hahahaha.
And you may ask yourself….
Ooh, but you can insult the bejeezus out of a person! Hilarious. Am making note to self to never make Slade Ham angry. I love how the real comedy routine is happening backstage.
Insults are my favorites. I learned a billion Your Mama jokes when I was in the 5th and 6th grades, and they were the only things that kept me from getting beat up. There was some respect that came with wielding really great put downs. Everybody wanted the skinny white kid on their team when it came time to slam the other people at the lunch table.
I may have to post about that one day in the future.
Slade Ham’s comedy is not to my taste.
Good for you, Nathan. Take a stand.
In fairness, as I mentioned in a few other comments above, comedy is purely subjective. There are a thousand different things that you could find disagreeable in that post. Maybe you find cursing offensive. Maybe you have ugly feet. Maybe your sister or mother or daughter strips and it hit too close to home.
And that paragraph wasn’t an attack on you. It’s MY sense of humor. My point is, there is always something that can trigger a negative response and as a writer I can’t weed out everything that someone might find offensive, or I’d never get anything written.
And maybe you just don’t find me funny, which is great too. At the end of the day that simply means I will sell one less ticket the day I find myself in whatever city you call home. My instinct says that you’re not someone that is interested in having a real dialogue about any of this though. This strikes me as more of a drive-by. I have an Inbox full of these, Nate.
Regardless of how you feel about me though, you made it all the way to TNB. Take a look around. There are some phenomenal writers here. One of them is bound to make you smile.
Yes, of course comedy is subjective. That’s exactly my point. I just said that your comedy isn’t to my taste. Not at all a value judgment. I don’t have a problem with your subject matter in the least. Ugly feet and slovenly strippers are definitely rich mines for humor. I’m not saying that your comedy is good or bad or that you don’t have your fans. It’s clear you have plenty of them, judging by all the other people commenting here.
All I said is that your comedy isn’t to my taste. I read this, got what I thought was a fair vibe as to your style, looked up some of your stand-up on YouTube, watched it and didn’t find it to be to my taste. I guess you’re right. I don’t find it funny. But I do love stand-up. I really do. I don’t love every stand-up comedian, of course. Nobody does, right? I love movies too, but not all of them (again, nobody does). And if I don’t like a movie, it’s not necessarily because it offended me. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.
And I love good writing, too. It’s what brings me to The Nervous Breakdown. There’s a lot of great stuff on here, you’re right. I think I made it here for the first time after reading something Greg Boose wrote on McSweeney’s (maybe?) and I thought it was funny, so I looked him up online, and here I am.
I guess I decided to write “not to my taste” on here because I read your piece, thought it was kind of a cheap-shot against a straw man, a little too aggressive and cocksure, and maybe a little too easy. I went to the comments to see if anyone agreed with me, and no one really did, so I thought I’d put in one lone dissenting opinion. I hoped I wasn’t coming off as a dick about it. Again, you seem to have plenty of people who love the work that you do, and they have every right to love it. I don’t, that’s all. My mother and sister have nothing to do with it.
But just popping in here and writing “not to my taste” was probably a cheap shot, too. TNB is an incredibly supportive and vibrant community and probably not the appropriate place for random “I don’t like it”s, like I wrote in my comment.
I’ll continue to read TNB, and I’m sure I’ll read more of your stuff, too. Please keep it up, you’re actually creating something, which is a damn hard thing to do, and I respect and admire you for it.
We’re on the exact same page then, Nathan. No worries. I actually welcome the dissension, believe it or not. Sometimes, as I’m sure you know from reading comments in the past, things can be a little too love-dovey around here.
I was perplexed by the simplicity of the comment I think. Seemed pointless to post without a bit of elaboration, though now it’s all clear. Thanks for swinging back through to give it context. No offense taken at all.
The comment about playing hackey sack with a bag of gravel was far and away my favorite.
It’s horrifying that on open mic nights, people could still be competing with pros! Reading this has actually made me want to go check out an Open Mic/Amateur’s Night. Are they as hellacious as they sound? Have you ever seen a true rookie kill it? Sounds like a gutsy thing to do!
Rock on, brother…
It’s an interesting dynamic for sure. There are pretty clear classes in any city’s comedy scene. The middle class is usually pretty good, respectful of the older guys and helpful to the newbies. It’s those new guys though, the ones that are going up for the first or second time, the ones with a room full of friends or fraternity brothers that came out to support them, the ones that KNOW they are thew next big thing… those are the guys that suck. They’ll pick a fight with a pro out of ignorance.
Usually those guys kill in front of their friends, but when those friends stop showing up around week three or four, they eat it just like a young comic should. And sometimes they never come back.
Some rookies do hit a home run their first time at the plate, but it’s so temporary. It’s work and stage time that gets you good. In the long run, even the most natural ones have to learn to use the stage and work the crowd and write real material.
A Magna-Doodle? Really?!
You’re the bestest.
In the history of ever 🙂
now i stop can’t picturing that woman’s feet.
You either? Welcome to my hell.
Irene, you are so very clever with your word/pictures. I have to idea how to make an arrow.
Again, this is so out of order that it can’t make sense, although it stretches the boundaries of the rational even placed correctly.
Slade, you have to idea very long and hard first….
Whoa, I’m always late, but what a fun piece!!! Women’s feet are sacred, no matter what they look like.
Fashionably late, though 🙂 All women’s feet are sacred? I’ve heard that, but some feet……
Nice one, Slade. Very nice. And thanks for the birthday wishes as well, my friend.
“The stripper was dressed to kill – and by kill, I mean if you looked at her too long you would probably catch some disease capable of ending your life.”
I think I probably dated her some time.
Sorry for the lateness, amigo. International travel and all that.
I don’t get to enough comedy; I really don’t. It’s not that I don’t enjoy laughter, no, no.
It’s just that I’m so goddamn… lazy.
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