Someone once told me that Joan Rivers tries each new joke out 21 times. Say what you will about Ms. Rivers’ approach to the aging process, the woman’s a pro.
As a rank amateur, it’s still very mysterious to me what jokes achieve longevity. Rarely is it the ones that I deemed “High-larious” from the onset, or that receive laughs in the moment. Most of my jokes evolve, are fluid, and some take months to develop. Even my best tanks on nights when I’m not feeling it, the audience isn’t “with me,” Venus is in retrograde, the Barista forgot to put the sugar-free chocolate in the mocha of the lady sitting in front of me…the list goes on.
Here I go ready to hit ’em with the punch and…PLUNK!
“…so anyway…” (my great comeback…)
It’s even more mysterious at which point a joke becomes funny. Some work very well at the on-set, but two sets later they are as fresh as that ten-year-old cheese in the fridge (or that would be my fridge). I can’t even believe I ever found it funny. It belonged to the “moment.” Some jokes are like relationships that take time to form…at first they seem annoying, pointless and trifling, but later, I feel a burst of love for them, and believe they will lift me out of open mike purgatory.
I had a joke about young guys expecting me to be the aggressor. For weeks I had this premise:
“I feel like young guys expect me to be more aggressive.”
I couldn’t think of a punchline. And then one day I realized that so many shows about “Cougars” are written by gay men. So, the punchline became.
“I have to tell them, ‘Look, I’m sorry, I wasn’t written by a Gay man.'”
Then it became:
“I feel like young guys expect me to RIP OFF their clothes and THROW them on the bed…and I have to tell them”…
Another joke fell dead flat TWICE. I was about to throw it out until I told it to my friend Simon who cracked up for five minutes. After that, people APPLAUDED. Did I have more confidence in it? Did I love my baby more once people admired it/him/her? Am I that co-dependent? Yes. Of course.
I think I throw in the towel too soon. I’m keeping my babies.
Just for today, I’m a joke mama.