Dear standup comedians,
I like you. I respect what you do. Chrome’s spellcheck may not think “standup” is a real word, but I know better. I think you are, for the most part, good people.
I mean, really: your job is to make me laugh. My amusement is literally your professional ambition. How could I be upset about that? I’m not. I will pay you money. I will go to your shows, I will watch your specials on Netflix. We’ll have a great time, you and I.
I know you have a difficult job. I know it’s tough to break in, I know the pay can be lousy, I know it’s nerve-wracking going in front of all those people. I get it. Good for you, for trying something so hard.
I just have one simple request.
Don’t fucking talk to me.
You can talk, of course. You pretty much have to, for your job. You can deliver your material, you can address the audience as a whole. But do not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever select me out of the audience during a show and talk to me one-on-one. If you do, I will despise you with a depth of hatred normally reserved for third-world dictators and putting up wallpaper.
For starters, I don’t know you. I may think you’re funny, but I know nothing about you as a person. If I wanted to talk to anyone, I’d be talking with my wife, whom I like infinitely better than you.
Also, I don’t like people. Judging by the jokes you’re telling, you don’t much care for them either. So let’s not pretend we’re buddies. Let’s not pretend I have even the slightest microscopic desire to tell you anything about myself whatsoever. Most of all, let’s not pretend we’ve entered some kind of parallel universe where answering your bullshit questions in front of a giant room full of strangers is somehow a privilege I’m willing to pay for.
Instead, let’s have a very simple arrangement. You do your routine and leave me out of it, and in return, I won’t throw rocks at the stage.
Betsy and I went to a standup comedy show last Saturday. None of the comedians talked to us, but they talked to other people in the audience. One poor guy in particular was forced to endure a seemingly endless stream of questions – not all at once, but spread out over the entire evening.
He seemed to enjoy it. Maybe he did, and if so, that’s great. Lots of people are cool with that kind of thing. In fact, if you want to incorporate audience participation into your routine, that’s great – just ask for volunteers instead of picking someone on your own. Trust me, plenty of hands will go up.
Just not mine.
This discussion, it went to a bitter place. But I don’t hate you, standup comedians. I like you a lot.
As long as we have an understanding.
Brian D. Buckley (and approximately half the planet)