Thursday, February 4, 2010
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.