Stand Up, Sit Down


July 19, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall

A few years ago I had the unique opportunity to try my hand at stand up comedy. It was under slightly controlled conditions, but was nonetheless a daunting experience. A friend of mine, the diversely talented Chris Kerba had commandeered the pub where he worked and organized an evening’s entertainment for a friend’s birthday.
Music, comedy, drinking… How could it miss?
He invited me to join the line up and do some comedy, so I diligently set about writing some new material, re-working some old stuff, and practicing not nearly enough.
My time on stage came and I stepped up with confidence. This was far from my first time on stage and I wasn’t nervous at all.
Then my mind went blank.
I had about fifteen minutes worth of material prepared and suddenly I could only remember two punchlines and a callback gag.
So after muttering “Highbeams… I hate ’em,” and trying to slog my way through my set, I just skipped ahead to my closing bit, a brief monologue about a self-sucking penis.
So, yeah, not surprisingly, I haven’t tried stand up since, I have incredible respect for anyone who can actually do that sort of performance regularly.

Here are some of the bits that I would have used that night if I hadn’t completely and temporarily forgotten them.

I saw an ad on television for an I-Phone or J-Phone or K-Phone or whatever letter they’re up to now.
A blindly enthusiastic voice bellowed from the living room to tell me about the unbelievably convenient features of whatever unnecessary phone package they were flogging on an innocent viewing public. “With my phone,” he proudly declared, “I can access the internet and log on to Facebook to check my friend’s status.”
I was immediately struck by the utter stupidity of such a pointlessly redundant activity.
It’s a telephone. Use that telephone to, oh, I don’t know, PHONE your friend and say, “Hey, how’re you?”
Because, as a friend, that’s what you really want to know, isn’t it? How’s your friend doing. You use the word status to make it seem cooler, like you’re both spies and you’re getting a mission update from him.
“Agent Timmy, what’s your status?”
“Battling ninjas onboard an unpiloted airplane. I hate Mondays. LOL.”
“Acknowledged, Agent Timmy. LMAO.”
But in reality it’s not a mission-critical sit-rep. It’s hi-how-are-you. That’s all. Just phone him on your phone. That’s what it’s for.
But I can’t phone him, the Internet Generation whines in response. I don’t have his phone number. He’s my Facebook friend.
Oh, well, that’s entirely different. Let’s consider that for a moment.
Nope. Still stupid.
Facebook friends aren’t real. They live in some far away place, do unusual things, no one has ever seen them and they only talk to you when no one else is around.
Does that sound familiar?
They’re the Internet Generation version of imaginary friends.
Yet, as a child of the internet, it is still vitally important that you are kept up to date on the status of some person in Lower Rotunda, Indonesia with whom the only thing that you have even remotely in common is the crucial fact that you both think Dragonball Z is awesome but the movie was crap. You can’t even pronounce his name.
But you are willing to spend $600 plus an extortionate air-time package for a shiny bell-and-whistle encrusted phone that doesn’t even fly just to keep track of an imaginary Facebook friend.
It’s not reciprocated, you know. Your imaginary friend isn’t obsessed with checking your status, not the way you’re obsessed with checking his. He just doesn’t care that much about you. In fact, he is ignoring you.
If you check his Facebook status right now, it says “Siddartha Gujhthalli is specifically ignoring Larry Morganston.”
Enjoy your phone.

Are there any bad drivers here tonight? Anyone? Bad driver? I frakkiing hate you people.
I’m talking about seriously bad drivers who don’t understand event the basics. What are those white lines for? What are those yellow lines for? How does a stop sign work?
He’s a tip… If you have to pay extra for turn signals, don’t buy that car. And if your car comes with turn signals, frakking use them!
And headlights. Headlights are way out of control. Seriously. People don’t understand how to use headlights anymore. If they’re driving and it gets dark outside or rains or gets a little bit overcast or if the sun goes behind a cloud for a few seconds, people think that they are legally obligated to flip on their high beams. For safety. Because the highway will be so much safer if the guy in front of you is suddenly blinded. And if it’s not the high beam morons, it the stupid road weasels with their after-market fifty billion candle-watt halogen headlights. I mean, life is stressful enough, right? But I try to drive safely. I’m willing to make the effort to try not to actually kill any of the utter meat sacks that I have to share the road with. And I glance in my rear view mirror, as a safe driver should, and boom, I think I’m having a stroke. There’s this intense pain behind my eyes and I can smell something burning. Turns out it’s the smoke wafting up from my burning retinas because Needle Nuts McGee back there thinks that, while driving on the highway, I might have a sudden desire to cast shadow puppets on the freaking moon and he’s just trying to be helpful. So, my vision slowly returns, just in time to see some moron on my right, who’s doing a steady ten klicks slower than everyone else, decide that he urgently needs to be in the express lanes. He veers across three lanes of traffic, which is moving faster than him, remember,, so that he can get on the transfer ramp about fifty metres after the solid white , do-not-cross “V” that divided the lanes. Nearly kills forty-seven people to get over there. They just call them express lanes, buddy! It doesn’t actually mean anything! And you’re going slower than everyone else on the whole freaking planet, anyway, so you’re obviously not in a hurry. You’re just stupid. I spend a lot of time driving. I’ve seen all sorts of stupid drivers, bad drivers, nervous drivers and life-long pedestrians who have no business getting behind the wheel of a car in the first place. I’ve noticed a few interesting patterns with different types of drivers. It helps me decide which cars to not be behind or to avoid completely. One thing I’ve noticed, and you’re more than welcome to disagree with me on this, it’s just my opinion… which happens to be right… but I’ve found that, on average, people with religious bumper stickers, people who firmly believe that travelling at ninety to a hundred kilometres an hour in a two ton steel killing machine is the appropriate time to share their views on faith with total strangers who are also travelling at a hundred kilometres an hour in their own two ton killing machines, these people, on average, are really bad drivers. As near as I can tell, they seem to feel that their total faith in God gives them an excuse not to actually accept responsibility for anything that happens. “God’s will.” “God will get me safely to my destination.” “God is my co-pilot.” Well, for Christ’s sake, would one of you grab the freaking wheel?

I was at a Chinese restaurant recently and my fortune cookie said, “You have a slow and unhurried natural rhythm.” To me that just seems like an unnecessarily polite way of saying, “You are lazy and unmotivated.
That’s a hell of a thing to be told by a piece of food.
It got me wondering what other cryptic, backhanded insults have been doled out under the auspices of clairvoyant confectionery. Are there fortune cookies that say things like…
Your non-traditional appearance is augmented by your parent’s imaginative sense of fashion.” (You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.)
Your stark olfactory presence ensures an unobstructed path in life.” (You smell so bad, even homeless people avoid you.)
Your flexibility gives you a unique perspective on the past.” (You have your head up your ass.)
You were raised with a large maternal presence.” (Your mama is so fat…)

I’ve got psychic powers. No, it’s true. I can read your mind. Here, I’ll show you. Most of you, almost all of you but not quite…. Uhhhh… Yes, most of you… are thinking…. “He can’t read my mind.” How many..? Yes, yes… ah. Better than usual. You see, I—Ahhhh! Wait, I…. I’m getting a message from the spirits… Uuuuuhhhhnnn… I’m sensing a letter… letter… Q. I’m strongly sensing the letter Q… Quinn… Quentin… Is there someone here named Quinn? …Quentin? …Quincy? …Quetzalcoatl? (etc.) Does anybody here know someone named Quinn? …Quentin? …Quincy? …Quetzalcoatl? How about a Quality Control Inspector? Anyone eaten at Quiznos lately? No, wait, hold on… It’s not… it’s not a Q. It’s the letter D. The spirits have lousy handwriting. It’s a D. Anyone with…? Dave! Thank god you’re here. I have a message for you from the spirits… The spirits say… “Hi. How’s it going? We’re fine, thanks for asking.” Uuuhhhh. The spirits say they are looking forward to when you come to join them. No rush. You’re busy, they understand. Tuesday’s fine. They’ll wait. They do ask, however, when you come to join them, can you bring a salad or some garlic bread or some kind of starter? Either that or a dessert. Thanks… UuuhhhhnnnnNN!! And they’re gone. Hello..? Hello..? They’re gone. So,.. Tuesday, huh? Enjoy the long weekend.
Ladies and gentlemen… Dave. Enjoy him while you can.



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