I gotta write these jokes…
Updated: Jun 26
I was thinking of this bit that Mitch Hedberg did… back when he was alive. (I think Mitch would have appreciated that addendum btw). If you don’t know of Mitch, he was a standup comic who died young in 2005 and just delivered one-liners, one after another – he was like the stoned surfer dude who cracked everybody up as the joint went around in the parking lot. Things like… “I used to do drugs…. I still do – but I used to, too.”
I loved Mitch.
So this is one of his little bits - try to imagine this coming from a 14 year old boy in 28 year old body, just figuring out something mildly important –
“I gotta write these jokes, so I sit at the hotel at night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down.
...or, if the pen is too far away, I gotta convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.”
First, I just love that. It’s honest. I love those times when we can tell one on ourselves, and be willing to be seen as human. But it got me thinking. …I do that all the time. Not with jokes, but with so many other things. So many times something will occur to me as interesting, curious or meaningful - worth writing down or worth learning more about, worth thinking through.
Then I gotta convince myself that what I thought of …ain’t funny.
So I’m in a fairly steady conversation in my head, where part of me is really engaged and coming up with stuff all the time, to learn about, explore, express. And the other part is trying to convince me that it’s not worth it. That the pen is too far away.
What kind of garbage is that?
I’m thinking about the long-term effect of being in that conversation, the long-term argument that what I came up with ain’t funny. The corrosive, implacable erosion to the soul, of lazy.
I always thought of laziness as not being quick and ready to do all the stuff you’re supposed to do, that your parents (were they around and interested) would tell you to do, the stuff that would make me a good boy.
I hate that stuff.
Now I’m seeing that I’ve misunderstood lazy.
There’s this ‘Card Mechanic’ named Richard Turner. A card mechanic is someone who cheats at poker but tells you so. It’s essentially sleight of hand, and this guy is amazing. Do a YouTube search for him on Penn and Teller and you’ll see some of the most amazing card magic you’ll ever find. He also holds a 5th degree black belt in karate, is a trapeze artist and can walk a tight rope.
He’s also totally blind.
A card shark who’s blind? Can you imagine how much money this guy could have taken in before deciding to TELL people he was cheating them?
This is Richard Turner on disability: “You know what I consider the worst disability of all? Procrastination and laziness.”
Now I think I get it. I gotta write these jokes. It doesn’t matter where the pen is. This coming year, I’m going to be working hard on convincing myself the jokes are funny enough.
How ‘bout you?