Since the announcement that I’ll be starring at this Sunday’s Gorillamania 1, I’d been quite frankly shitting myself, until tonight. The Open Mic nights I’ve performed at previously have been a whole different ball game – after all, nobody expects anything from you at an Open Mic: they get what they’re given. I’ve been bothered in particular by the following semi-irrational concerns:
Can I produce enough original material by Sunday to make my act long enough to be worth performing?
How much of my previous material is acceptable for re-use, considering that a number of people in the (paying) audience will have seen some of it before?
Is any of this stuff even funny?
Why do people keep trying to help me? Am I doing that badly?
A lot of this problem comes from the fact that I have a very unusual sense of humour, which doesn’t really translate very well to anybody else. For example, here are several of the funniest things I have ever thought about:
Planting lettuces in fields in a formation such that, viewed from the air, they would spell out words. I would call them the "Lettuce of the Alphabet."
Inventing a ray that disassembles trifles into their constituent ingredients: custard, jelly, etc – if you crank up the power you can even reverse engineer the custard back to eggs and sugar, for example, or back to a chicken, or back to an egg, or back to a chicken. No, of course it wouldn’t work on cakes.
How useful letterboxes are, because it’s very difficult to push a newspaper – especially one of the extra thick Sunday papers – through a solid wooden door.
These are genuinely some of the funniest things I’ve ever thought about. The first of them had me laughing out loud, at random intervals, for several days, and still makes me smile. But I understand that these things aren’t actually funny… at least: by the consensus of the so called "normal" people who unfortunately make up the typical comedy club audience, even in Aberystwyth.
It’s sometimes difficult for me to "get" the jokes that normal people seem to appreciate, except for the crude ones, because the childish part of me (and almost every man, I think) is still amused by rude words. Sometimes I wonder if I’m laughing too hard at a particularly mainstream comedian, to compensate for my deeper misunderstanding of which bit was the punchline. Sometimes I wonder if I think too hard about the whole thing.
Thankfully I’ve found a cross-over where the circles of funny things and things only Dan thinks are funny cross over, and it’s an area called absurdity. If you’ve heard me recite poetry inspired by teapots, or talk about famous people’s birthday parties, you’ve seen what I mean. If you’ve seen me laugh out loud while bombing during a piece of genuine political satire, you know what happens when I try too hard. If you’ve seen a crazy woman do a set in The Angel all about Crab Apple Surfing, you’ve seen what happens when absurdity goes too far (I found that quite charming and with great potential, if a little unrefined, by the audience weren’t impressed, and she saw it). So; absurdity it is. If you come along and see me on Sunday, that’s what you’ll be seeing – the patently bizarre. If it works, great: I’ve got plenty more where that came from. If not, then you’ll see me at a lot more Open Mic nights until I learn to tell a real joke. Either way: it’s a learning experience, and that’s what I’m looking for.
My mum once said, of my youngest sister (who has a very similar, bizarre, sense of humour), she "laughs at the funniest things." That line, in itself, is perhaps the best joke I have ever heard. And I’m not kidding.