Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stand up? Nope, sit down.

     I used to be funny. My material was greeted with belly laughs and an unsurpassed adoration that kept me always seeking a new comical way to engage my audience. My shtick had range. I found that my material emulated those I found funny in my youth. I have been compared to Michael Winslow from the Police Academy movies as I can easily mimic sounds that make people wonder how they came from a human mouth. I could do the frenetic pace of classic Robin Williams. Perhaps the prop comedy stylings of Gallagher would be needed for laughter. Maybe I would channel some Steve Martin circa “Wild and Crazy Guy”. No matter the influence, I found that I was considered hilarious and was always in demand.

      My audience was an audience of one; my young daughter. Now as the tattered playbills have seemed to fade, I have evolved from “hilarious” to “weird”. It is funny how my comedic platform has similar interest to her now as My Little Pony, Barbie, and Dora the Explorer. A few short years and adolescence has skewed her perception of the classics. Pokes to the belly, body function noise imitations, and cartoon voices are met with a wrinkled nose, raised brow, and a look of disgusted surprise. I get more “thumbs down” than “thumbs ups” now.

     I have learned to realize after many times of tapping my emotional microphone wondering “if anyone is out there” that it may be time to get new material. My audience has changed yet I have not. I admit that I do not find the current humor format dictated by the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon within my scope of taste or understanding. I know, “old dog, new tricks”, but I find now that I have taken on the role of censor more than comedian.

     It is difficult as a parent when the awareness surfaces that we are now running interference more than entertaining. I have found that as my daughter’s abilities grow, the more I am able to find things that scare me and that I have to protect her from. The things she most desires to do or participate in. I know it is just nature’s way, but I long for the simplicity of an “arrow through the head gag”, and to also know that my words went unchallenged. There is currently more debate than I remember and I have not yet even embarked into the dating years. Maybe then the arrow through my head may become a real one.

     What I have found is that even though I may not appear “funny” as much as I like, and perhaps my days on the proverbial stand-up stage may have changed, I do not have to lose my sense of humor. I can bring this filter to the table when the challenges of raising a pre-teen daughter surface, and I may then be able to start laughing at myself a bit more. Heaven knows I will most likely be the star of many Saturday Night Live quality sketches. I am also sure I will be quoting a lot of Rodney Dangerfield claiming “No respect!”

      The blessing is that I have two kids and my son is six years old. My old material still works on him. Ah yes, the classics! The old whistles, raspberries, and Donald Duck impersonations rank up there with the “put-your-hand-under-your-arm-pit and pump your elbow to make rude noises gag.” That always was a winner. My encore performance awaits!

     I do find though that I am still tops on my daughter’s list for sage words and advice that only a Daddy can give. Loving hugs and kisses are always still in generous abundance. I realize too that even though my material may not garner as many belly laughs as it used to, my daily actions and love for my kids can produce many smiles. I also notice that my kids have a great sense of humor as well and are happier for it. I guess it is time to pass the clown nose to the next generation and start laughing at their routines as they improv their way through life.



Anonymous said...

Your son will continue to enjoy the potty/locker room humor far into his adulthood - ahem - but even though your daughter's tastes will continue to get more sophisticated, she is going to use you as her example of man in the world and will choose her men accordingly. Sounds like she will find kind, strong, loving, attentive and funny men. Good on you.


B Chadwick said...

I would pick weird over funny most days - it has its own humor. Being appreciated and getting a laugh, I think, are two different things. Wonderful things, but different.

TirzahLaughs said...

Someday in the far future, you'll have grandkids and you'll be hilarious again. Think of it as a sabbatical.



Healing Morning said...

Aine expressed my thoughts beautifully. Parents are the template for the people their children will invite into their personal sphere of influence. In that regard, both of your kids are being given a very strong, positive role model and example to implement as they grow into adults.

I wasn't blessed w/ a positive father figure, but I do have the most amazing Mom. When people complement me on my loving nature and my ability to express love, it is due to her wonderful, loving template and example.

Lovely post, Tony!

~ Dawn

Quixotic said...

Lovely post - reminds me to enjoy being the funniest, bravest, cleverest person in the world while I can!!! :o)

Anonymous said...

"A few short years and adolescence has skewed her perception of the classics" I am loving Tony'isms! :)

In a few years your daughter would sing times they are a changing... :)

Don't lose hope. We can get your kid back! :D

JACQUI said...

haha :) Well you made me laugh reading this. Imagining you pulling all sorts of faces. I agree with Aine and Dawn, your daughter is very lucky to have such a great Dad. And as Tirzah says you'll have your turn again soon(ish). Trust me, she'll see the light...I think it's just part of their journey giving their folks disapproving looks. I revelled in being 'not cool' to my daughter for years - it was fun!

Timberwolf123 said...

Tony, take from a father of 3 girls (the youngest now 16)....she'll come back to you. I'm guessing by your description that she's in that 10-12 year old range....they can't laugh with Daddy then but be patient & when she's older your "weirdness" will be fun all over again. My oldest is 29 & we have a great time doing silly things whenever we're together.

Hang in there!



Brent said...

It is something how the roles change over time. I could always make son laugh at will. It used to be a game we played. Every week I would say something funny at exactly the right moment to make him shoot his drink from his nose. It's not that easy anymore now that he's 17, but now he's as likely to make me laugh as he's stolen my twisted sense of humor!

Tony Anders said...

Thanks for sharing your views all - I guess I would be thought of as "weird" than not thought of at all. In my mid forties I am am "weird" to my father still, he hasn't spoken to me in a few years. However, I can break the pattern and find redemption in the type of father I am to my kids. It becomes a template of what my daughter will seek in a male companion, and to the type of man my son will be to the people in his life. Thanks again everyone for your support!

Anonymous said...

You are going through a transition period: enjoy it! Believe me, when you hit the teenage years, it becomes a big, thrilling, roller-coaster ride, made in part, a lot worse by the fact that you remember what you got up to when you were a teenager ... ;0)

Walk in the Woods said...

Such a sweet post. And your words, "... I am able to find things that scare me and that I have to protect her from," resonated deeply ... for this sort of observation ran through a recent discussion group that centered around the topic of "fear." :)


Tracy Wellenbrink said...

That was too funny! I am going through that at this very moment with my 11 soon to be 12 year old son. He has asked me NOT to sing in the car when he is in the back (the windows are blacked out for cryin out loud!) I went along with his request for about a week until my 8 year old daughter jumped on his band wagon and then it occurred to me. HEY I USED TO BE REALLY COOL, hang on, I, AM, STILL REALLY COOL! I asked them why am I changing who I am because YOU are feeling insecure about what your friends might think? Hmm we had a talk and I told them I was okay with who I am and they needed to be okay with who I am. (I seriously am one of the cool moms) I put the question to them. "If your friends said your Moms a 'blank' would you respond I know or she is just who she is and loves life, what's so wrong with that." I have found a compromise, they accept me singing within the confines of my Jeep with blacked out windows OR I make a Youtube video like the Numa Numa guy and post it on my web page. So far I'm singing in the Jeep !! win win

Tony Anders said...

That is funny Tracy as I threaten my daughter that if she acts embarrassed of me, I will show up at her school in a tutu, swim fins and a mardi gras mask to drop off her lunch in her classroom. She still thinks I am weird but in a way I am sure she would not change! Lol - thanks!