Standing Up: How to Deal

The great Richard Pryor

I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Honestly. I thought all my problems would be solved if I could just laugh about them in front of an adoring audience that would then forgive me for all the horrible things I’ve done and clean the slate. Absolution with a touch of ribald humor, always a winner. Of course, my problem is that I’m horrible with a punchline. Ask anyone (except my children, they think I can do no wrong, and they love my “pig” punchlines). There’s something about timing, phrasing, pausing, you know, every single thing that makes or breaks a punchline. Simply put, my jokes just aren’t funny. I’m much better at random sarcasm.

So, how to deal with my problems, to get them out without being able to laugh at myself in front of an audience of my peers? Well, that’s what friends are for, right? My problem has always been in finding friends, though, and then once I’ve found them, maintaining them. Maybe it is my tendency to be randomly sarcastic that has something to do with not maintaining them, or perhaps it’s how often I laugh at myself. Maybe I just need therapy. If I talk to someone who has to listen because I’m paying her, would that solve all my problems?

Everyone has problems. Ways I’ve seen people deal with them:

1. Ignoring them

2. Talking them out with a trusted friend

3. Getting a therapist

4. Getting physical

5. Giving up

Then there’s what I do, which is write. I realized a while ago, when I first knew being a stand-up comedian wasn’t quite in the cards for me (ooh, maybe I could be a magician), that I could write relatively well. So, why not write out my issues and try to figure them out on the page instead of on the stage? And there was no turning back. Hey, it beats punching walls, right? So I started journaling, and I soon found out that apparently I have a LOT of problems. I filled book after book with journal entries about problem after problem, issue after issue.

It’s interesting, though, because I found out by journaling that all I needed was time and perspective to figure myself out, and to improve. Now, I read back through my journal entries and I see that scared little boy, that insecure young man, that lack of confidence, and that fear. Above all, there was that fear. Fear that no one would ever like me for me. Fear that I would never find out what I wanted to do with my life. Fear of the unknown. But that was okay, because I was brutally honest with myself for the first time there in those journals, and I learned how to deal. I learned I’m not so bad after all.

Oh, and the “pig” punchline. “That’s not a pig. That’s my brother.” Lexi is still laughing over that one.

Sam

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