Monday, February 10, 2014

Falling Head Over Heels For Comedy

People around you, ranging from your nearest and dearest to the man you meet at the security post every once in a while, tends to box you up into categories. Don't get me wrong, I am as judgmental if not more so than other people around me. Who am I judgmental towards? Well, it depends, I could easily wean myself off of judging people on the streets, but perhaps, ironically enough, I am most judgmental about myself. As a child, I classified myself like I'm some new species that the scientists had discovered. With time, I became less stringent on the variables, for instance, I would think about future ramifications, instead of solely focusing my considerations on the present. I wonder what would happen if I sealed myself in a particular container, am I nearing the truth or am I just predicting, and therefore creating a self-prophecy?
A Wall of (Comedic) Inspiration
Kinokuniya, Bryant Park
The most compelling idea of judgment is that it requires to be altered every so often. Like gages in an old machine, our perspective of those around us should, at the very least, go through some adjustments over time. People change and so does our views of them. America, for instance, loves stories about second chances, especially ones that depict the underdog prevailing under grave circumstances. One minute you are ignorant of the characters growth and motives, the next you're jumping up and down in your seats applauding him. Bottom line is, if you're going to judge, please provide some room for change. Remember, that judging requires two pieces of a puzzle. In addition, to the subject changing, you, as the observer or the label maker, also change.

However, today, I don't intend to sway you to stop judging people or to be aware of your actions. Instead, I'd like to offer an anecdote. For the past couple of days, I have been watching a ton, and I mean, a TON of Team Coco clips. Conan O'Brien is one of the funniest man in my book. He doesn't do much but he can make any topic interesting and newsworthy. Despite the huge team that supports him and not to mention, the fabulous Andy Richter, Conan still pulls himself together. In addition to Conan, there are other late night television hosts, such as Jimmy Fallon, who will replace another giant: Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and Chelsea Handler. For me, all of these figures and talk shows signify a gay, old time. You laugh, you cry after laughing so hard, and you giggle to yourself in the dark (I watch these show on YouTube). Truly, I have rediscovered comedy.

As a child, I used to consume a ton of comedy from rom-coms, which is a sub-genre in the film world. Rom-coms, such as Bridge Jones Diary or Love Actually, though funny are not testament of true comedy. Personally, I see these late night TV shows as comedy in one of its purest forms. Of course, there's stand up and improve, but let's focus on the things that are readily available on TV. Perhaps, I love these programs most because it combines two of my favorite forms of entertainment: comedy and talk shows. So, why did it take me so long to discover Team Coco? Why did I not jump on the bandwagon after I cried at the F.R.I.E.N.D.S finale? What the heck happened? Truthfully, I could have been less depressed if I had found these shows earlier in my college years. And let's not mention how my writing would have changed from grey to yellow.

After thinking about it way too much, like I am guilty of doing almost every time I sit on the toilet, I realized that it was because I had identified myself as a love or drama and action. I stopped watching Adam Sandler's or Ben Stiller's movies in junior high. I tended to scowl at the works of Judd Apatow or Seth Rogen. I just did not see myself as a lover of comedy. In part, it was because I never thought of myself as funny. I never identified with the things I saw on TV, whether it is slapstick comedy, stand up, or improv. The only thing I was known for, in my small family at least, is my ability to imitate. And maybe, just maybe, that's why I love Simon Helberg who plays Howard Wolowitz in the Big Bang Theory.

Warning: Not an Imitation of Miley Cyrus
In retrospect, though, I realized that I might be funnier than I thought. At one presentation, I whipped up a quick PowerPoint, a Public Service Announcement (PSA) of sorts, for would be parents to teenagers. I was dead serious when I presented my ideas and arguments. For a year and a half prior to the gig, I had delivered a series of presentations of scientific calibre, so I was well-versed in the deliverance of a mature presentation. However, the audience members laughed and laughed. The best thing was, or the saddest, is that I didn't care whether they were laughing at me or with me. I just became sharper and more enthusiastic by the moment. At the end of the whole debacle, my friend and science project partner asked how I could suddenly nail every question, additionally my drama teacher wept because she couldn't believe how funny I was.

A few years later, I gained some laughs after being forced to sing a duet from Annie Get Your Gun. People roared and clapped through the entire song. As a girl who strongly identified with Les Miz or Wicked, both of which are very serious musicals, I was scared shitless about performing such a comedic song. I was not known for my wits or my humor, how was I supposed to make people laugh with this song? And that my friends is why I have been running away from comedy for the past decade or so. I doubt my humor and comedic skills and just stopped showing it consciously, although causing laughter is a surreal and electric experience. When I came to the U.S., people began laughing at what I said. My friends said I was funny, when I didn't intend to break them into laughter. Yet, when people consistently laugh at you, when you are not acting stupid by accident or you are not intentionally being funny, you just might realize that you have some potential, a little bit at the very, very least.

This realization has been minted after I stumble onto Conan O'Brien's show. I realized that being funny did not require extraneous force, instead it tends to come naturally with context, timing (which comes from training and experience) and some talent. But, as I sit endlessly in front of the computer, watching reruns of O'Brien, Kimmel and Fallon, I realized how much I love comedy. Moreover, shows such as the Mindy Project or The Big Bang Theory continue to provide room for women to be funny. Maybe, there is something to comedy. But, despite being known as a go-getter, I will let my comedic side simmer and wait. Fingers crossed it'll come at the right time, in the right medium. Because, this might just be another stint, like remember how I wanted to be a profiler and detective, mom?

*Author owns the rights to the images above

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