I walked into the class, and I was startled to find that around the three badly mismatched tables sat a collection of mostly men. I should have expected this. I’ve read about the disparity between the numbers of men and women in comedy. I had just forgotten or had not had time to develop expectations because I had been drinking heavily at the Kimball-Bryant house the night before. The mostly men around the table looked to be in their twenties and every other one of them was dressed like Jon Fox. Jon Fox is a formidable critic, and I mention this not because it is his defining quality – he’s a lovely person (one of my favorites) who is, at times, warm and goofy; he just happens to have thought-out, intelligent, articulate, decapitating opinions. And I mention this because what I had to do, amidst these Jon-Fox-look-alikes, was come up with jokes.
We all had newspapers, and we had to sit with our papers and come up with news jokes. Then we went around and said them out loud. I came up with one about pirates. It was terrible.
The Chicago Tribune – its grey flat factness – was spread out in front of me. I don’t read newspapers. I’m not very interested in news. It just lay there.
I am taking this comedy writing class (at an improv theater) because I want to explore the relationship between pain and comedy and social criticism and comedy. And I would like to write a television show. And now I have to come up with ten news jokes by Saturday. I have absolutely nothing. In France they used industrial-grade silicon in some breast jobs. Now breasts are leaking and bursting all over the place, and I can’t even think of a joke about that.
I don't think all that many things are funny, and oftentimes even when I do find something funny I won't laugh. (I'll say, "I like that." Which is, of course, hugely expressive.) So my fear is that next class I will have no jokes, and I won't laugh at anybody else's jokes. I'll just sit at that table (probably hungover) and say nothing as the puns and jokes go round and round and everyone gets increasingly angry.
...and then my breasts will pop.