Saturday, September 13, 2014
My Standup Comedy Routine
OMG, I look just like my father
I watched a lot of Last Comic Standing on TV this summer. It made me laugh out loud. It reminded me that when I was a kid I wanted to be a standup comedian more than just about anything. It’s not an easy business, of course, but making people laugh is one of the noblest things you can do. I don’t know when I got sidetracked, but it’s never too late to begin a new career. I've been trying to figure out what I could develop as a standup routine. Being married fifty years is pretty funny. Or living with rowdy sheepdogs. Growing up in the U.P. has some amusing stories too. Finally I decided that getting older would be the best.
You don't see that that many older standup comedians. On TV, most of the comics seem to be in their thirties and forties. Of course, there’ve been comedians like Groucho Marx in his eighties or George Burns who was still performing when he was a hundred. But these guys got their starts in vaudeville when they were teenagers. I never heard of anybody trying to break into the comic business in their seventies or beyond. Maybe most seventy-year-olds don't think life is that amusing. Or it could be that youth audiences don't think really old guys are hip enough. On the other hand, everybody likes grandfathers. Grandfathers are usually funny even when they’re not trying to be.
I have to admit that I’ve been obsessed with aging ever since I looked into the mirror a while back. I was astonished to discover that I look almost exactly like my father did when he was in his seventies. That came as quite a shock. I have no idea when it happened. Most of my life I’ve thought of myself as the firstborn son in our family rather than a member of the older generation. But there was my aging self, staring back at me – very hard to deny.
Age can be confusing though because it’s not always obvious how young or old people really are. When I went to my last college reunion some of my friends looked forty and some looked 102. Since I was a kid I've always looked younger than my actual age. When I was 16 I could still buy a child’s ticket for twelve-and-unders at the movie theater. At 30 I had to grow a beard because all my students thought I was an undergraduate. It took three weeks before people even noticed I had any facial hair.
The last time I saw my doctor he said, "You don't look 77 and you don't act 77, but don't kid yourself -- you are 77." That caught my attention. I don't feel 77 either. But now it's like there's an old person locked up inside of me. He's probably banging away at my rib cages at this very moment. I'm doing my best to keep him confined. My only hope is that he'll be too feeble to break his way out.
It’s also disturbing when you realize you’re the oldest person in the group. When I was a little kid, I was the very youngest member of my family . Now I'm practically older than all the rest of my relatives combined. I don't know what to make of it. Family members differ in lots of ways. Somebody’s the tallest, the thinnest, has the most Facebook friends, the happiest marriage, has gone to Acapulco the most times. But of all these different things, people are the most aware of who's older and who’s younger. There might be some positive things about being the oldest. But I’ve never heard anybody say that they can't wait to be the oldest member of the family.
In our family, when our parents reached their seventies, my siblings and I began to address them as the “Oldies”. Like, “Hey Oldies, where have you hidden the peanut butter?” I don’t know who thought up this name, though it could have been my sister. Anyway “Oldies” had many connotations. Affection, poking fun, stark recognition of reality, horror at our parents’ imminent decline. My mother was not enthusiastic at all about being called an “oldie”. My father took it in stride, confident that he could contradict any wicked stereotypes we were entertaining. Nowadays the younger people in our family haven’t yet thought about calling their elders “oldies”. I’m not going to remind them.
I wasn’t always nervous about getting older. In fact, years ago I and my friends believed that being older was the best. When I was in kindergarten I thought that sixth-graders, who were twelve, were the coolest people ever. Then when I actually got to the sixth grade I was in awe of high school students. When I was thirty the people I respected the most were forty- and fifty-year-olds who had accomplished a lot in their careers. But at some point that all changed. I can’t remember ever looking ahead and thinking how great it would be to be sixty. Of course, now when I think about sixty, I think of that as a pretty desirable age. Maybe someday I'll look back with nostalgia at my mid-seventies. I'm in no hurry though.
The main thing about getting older is that different things start to go wrong. For me, one example is that my feet ache more. I figured out on my calculator that I've walked over a hundred fifty thousand miles since I was one year old. That would make anybody's feet sore. I usually wear running shoes because they're more comfortable. I buy them at the big sports store at the mall because there's always a knowledgeable salesman who helps me pick at the best shoes. Last time the guy showed me a pair of Porky's that had been marked down from $110 to $50. I'd never heard of Porky's, but he said they were the best. The cashier at the checkout counter couldn't believe it. "Porky's for $50. Wow! I wish I'd seen those." I wore them the next day, but my feet really hurt. They were way too tight. The box said they were a size 9, but they felt more like a size 8. No wonder they were on sale. That was a year ago. I’ve been determined to get my fifty dollars out of them, so I've worn them every day since. I thought my feet might adjust and shrink a little bit, but I’ve just gotten more resigned to the pain. You'd think these shoes would be worn out by now, but Porky's seem to be very well-made. Just like the guy said.
My hearing is getting crummy too. This started happening when I turned fifty. I was having trouble hearing student questions in the classroom, especially from young women. I finally figured out that the students find it amusing to torture older professors by asking questions from the audience in soft voices and watching the teacher squirm up on the podium. Nowadays I consider closed captions on TV to be humanity’s greatest invention. I've also started borrowing "assistive listening systems" at the movie theater. You put on these big headphones, and you can adjust the volume. It does make the soundtrack much louder. Now, instead of listening to inaudible distorted dialogue, I can listen to noisy distorted dialogue.
Poor hearing is bad, but an even worse thing about aging is how fast your nose hairs grow. It doesn't make any sense. Everything else is slowing down. Why should your nose hairs grow faster? You’d think that teenagers would have the fastest growing nose hair, but that’s not the case. My biggest problem is I don't know how to get rid of them. I tried using a tweezers, but that didn't work. Mostly I grab them between a fingernail and the tip of my thumb and yank them out. I usually do this while I'm driving in the car. It's convenient because you can throw them out the window. It may not be the best idea because the pain makes you wince and close your eyes. I told Katja if I die in a car crash, they should engrave on my tombstone, "Done in by his nose hairs.”
While getting older is interesting and often enjoyable, there are various other negative things that can also be connected with it. Curiously, most of these start with the letter “D”. For example, disease, deterioration, decay, disability, deformity, disfigurement, depression, drunkenness, delirium, dementia, dunderheadness, dandruff, and death. This plethora of D-words makes me a little nervous because my first name, David, also starts with the letter “D”. Then I realized that most of the other bad old age things are “C” words: cancer, cardiac arrest, coronary thrombosis, colonitis, cirrhosis, canker sores, corns, cramps, clammy palms, and crows’ feet. Of course, my middle name – Cramer -- starts with a “C”. This does not strike me as a coincidence. Since I’m a DC person, I worry that I might be especially vulnerable to these frightening DC outcomes. So far though I’ve only been afflicted with drunkenness and clammy palms. Thinking more positively, it could be that my DC name will actually protect me against the bad DC things because my electrical field gives off the right vibes. Only time will tell.
That’s it for tonight. Thanks a lot, guys. You’ve been a super audience. I hope to see you again soon.
-Donna D (9-15): really, really funny david! you missed your calling :)
but it's never too late. i'll bet maple knoll has a stand up comedy night. wha'dya think? donna
-Phyllis S-S (9-14): Dave, Painfully true and very funny. By the way. Two ideas for nasal hair. They make special little scissors that are knobbed on the ends so they don't cut the skin inside or there is an electric version. Since you are still wearing those too small shoes I suspect you are not going to purchase either if these. Instead I suggest you tell Katja and she will. Uh one for you, perhaps. After all, dying with nasal hairs showing would be the worst. Phyllis
-Gayle C-L (9-14): David, You'll probably feel better to Smile :)) the next time you take a Selfie:). As far as getting older or being older... I think you're doing extremely well... You're very healthy! So what if you can't hear so well.. That's probably a good thing! You're very active. You're travelling, writing, being a husband, grandfather !!, uncle and friend!!!
That's pretty good... Plus you don't look 77. You're still a handsome guy!
Sooo Keep up the good work. Lots of love !! G