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I'm The Kind of Guy Who Laughs at a Funeral

I've never been one for being serious. I'm not truly happy unless I'm laughing or making other people laugh. My entertainment choices always run to comedies, never dramas. Not unless there are car chases and explosions.

If there are car chases and explosions, I'll watch just about anything you want. Unless it's a movie about how a car chase blew up a building filled with orphans and puppies, and the survivors search for healing in a world gone wrong. Then I'm just going to watch a show with fart jokes, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Downton Abbey.

I've built my writing career around humor. You could say my whole life is built around it. When I give talks at conferences, I'm always trying to get people to laugh. And when I'm out with friends, I always want to do something fun and enjoyable, not moving and meaningful.

This includes my theatre selections.

Not "theater," because that's the place where you go to watch movies. "Theatre" — pronounced "thea-tah" — where they do plays, on a stage, with actors.

Pronounced "ACK-toars," not "ak-ters."

While I'm not a regular theatre goer, I do attend my share of festivals and shows. For the last several years, I was a reviewer at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival, with a strict "comedies only" rule for the shows I chose.

My job was to write reviews — not critiques — for the Fringe website as a way to promote the shows for other festival goers.

I know jack squat about the theatre, so any critique would just be an ignorant rambling about the symbolism of man's struggle against the blah blah blah I just said I didn't know!

Despite my "comedies only" rule, I still accidentally ended up at dramatic plays on occasion. Like at this year's Fringe, when a friend invited me to watch the comedy "4.48 Psychosis" with him.

Except it wasn't a comedy. Turns out, it's a rather dark and chilling look at the meaning of sanity, coping with mental anguish, and suicide. I waited five minutes for the first laugh, and when it wasn't coming, I scribbled a note in my notebook and showed it to my friend:

"Worst. Comedy. Ever."

Turns out, it was the next show we were supposed to see, not this one starring Melancholy Mary and Captain Bringdown.

(See, this is why I'm not a theatre critic. You can't just write "I hated it. It was sad.")

I was in a similar situation when a friend invited us to a play she was in, called "Joe's NYC Bar." It's a largely improvised, interactive play where the audience is encouraged to participate in conversations with the actors. I made smart aleck comments to make my wife and a few people around us laugh.

This is when I'm in my element: cracking jokes for a few nearby people, while serious and important events are going on around us: lectures, weddings, church sermons, funerals.

By the second act, the actual drama had begun. With all the hair-clutching angst of a high school prom, relationships were falling apart or being repaired, and I couldn't stop making jokes. The play itself was good, but I didn't want to be in the drama, I was still living in the comedy part.

However, as a considerate theatre goer, I lowered my voice so only my wife and a nearby couple could hear me. The other woman kept laughing at my jokes, which only encouraged me further. At one point, I made her snort, and she became my new best friend for the night.

Had that been a real bar with real dramatic events unfolding before us, I would have been thrown out after the entire bar banded together to beat me up, but at least they would have forgotten their troubles.

Still, we had fun, and I have a new appreciation for improvised, interactive plays where no one is there to shush me.

"Not everything in life has to be sunshine and roses," someone said to me on Facebook several years ago. "Whoever said everything in life has to be happy?"

"Whoever said life has to suck with only brief moments of joy punctuating an otherwise life of dreary existence?" I answered. "Life is what you make it, and I choose to make mine happy." She didn't have a response.

Am I turning my back on the realities of life? Am I just burying my head in the sand and ignoring the bad things in the world? Maybe so, but stand up and take a long look at the world outside the sand.

Are you happy and content? Does life fill you with joy? Do you easily laugh or smile?

If not, then maybe you'll understand why I've buried my head in the sand.

That, and I get Netflix in here.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.


  1. So, I'm sitting with a friend in a crowded theater watching this very serious play about suicide. Nothing. Funny. Here. After five minutes or so he discreetly jots a note and slides it me. "Worst. Comedy. Ever." I snorted. It was not the time or place to snort. Then again, maybe it was.


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