(Point Reyes, Calif.)
I do comedy because though I am rarely depressed I am always disappointed.
I do comedy because for my day job, a soul-less job, I manage a database.
I do comedy because my colorblindness causes mismatched outfits.
I do comedy because I am both avuncular and childless. Rather, my wife and I don’t have children, and I am uncle-like, and she is a hoarder.
I do comedy because my wife collects a lot of stuff but not enough for anyone to compare her to an installation artist like Robert Rauschenberg. She would first need to specialize in a medium like synthetic surfaces and then really put her mind to it.
I do comedy because on Saturday mornings, when my wife referees kids’ soccer games, she runs backwards with a whistle in her mouth as quickly as I can run forward.
I do comedy because my wife’s demand for a divorce is our in-joke. She doesn’t really want one. It’s just something she says. It’s funny. Freud tells us that a good joke reminds us of what we’re afraid of. I do comedy because my wife is an armchair Freudian.
I do comedy because I must clean the mirror in my bathroom every Saturday morning and again on a weekday. I sit on the toilet and, looking up from my book, say of every streak, ‘Not on my watch.’
I do comedy because I am horse-faced. One pokes fun at one’s own lantern jaws.
I do comedy because I suspect everyone of laughing at me. I respond to their laughter by getting out in front of it. Once you’re out in front of it, you can turn and face it head-on. You run backwards with it. You raise your hands as if in surrender and talk to it in forceful and lighthearted ways.
I do comedy because along with my colorblindness comes uncontrollable eye movements.
I do comedy because as a little boy and an older boy my mother couldn’t keep her hands off me until one day when I knocked her to the ground.
I do comedy because I see my mother once every other December.
I do comedy because I am incapable of keeping a secret. ‘Loose lips sink ships’ is the adage they used against me. It was always sexual to me. It was Helen of Troy and it wasn’t her mouth we were talking about.
I do comedy because my practice of prayer and meditation amounts to a few minutes of stillness followed like a kid by fidgeting.
I do comedy because as a child, before it was talked about, before social media provided virtual proving grounds to antagonists like mine, and before webinars showed parents and teachers true interventions, I was bullied. My bully, who shall remain nameless (Wexler), waits for me on the street corner I spend my energies circumnavigating. When he gets his hands on me, he will rub my face in the dirt. He will steal my money. He will call me a mamas’ boy and a faggot. He turns me into what they used to call a truant when, to stay in bed, you must convince your mother that you have a mysterious illness.
I do comedy because in middle age I wore braces. This is less about orthodontics and more about the poverty of my upbringing.
I do comedy because I cheat on my taxes. I cheat on my taxes because I’m not funny enough to be audited.
I do comedy because I am always on time and never a minute late. I have some serious questions for those who are always late.
I do comedy because I believe in angels. They arrive in time to help me with my punch lines. They are the source of my originality. In the guise of my sense of humor, they are my great defender.