What Are You, A Clown? How I Found My Funny

Very Funny, Phil.

“If you keep making that face it’s going to stay like that”, “what are you, a clown?” and “stop goofing off” are a few of the things that adults used to tell me on a daily basis growing up. Most of the time they’d be laughing uncontrollably or fighting back the laughter with a red faced smirk, but nonetheless I knew that I had a pretty neat gift: the ability to make people laugh. Some people are good at math, others are good at mechanics or computers, whatever have you. Me? I’m good at being a full-fledged goofball. Sometimes it’s accidental, most times it’s intentional, but all the time it’s meant to make people happy. When did I discover the skill that makes up about 87% of what I am today? It’s a funny story, actually.

I remember the first funny thing that I saw: it was an old episode of The Muppet Babies. They showed a clip of Steve Martin doing one of his old bits where he had an arrow going through his head. For some reason, I found everything that he did to be hilarious! Steve Martin to this day is one of my favorite comedians, and a big reason as to why I felt that the lifestyle of being a joker was acceptable in society. Like most kids that see someone do something, all I kept thinking was “I can do that!” I knew then that being funny was cool, and people enjoyed laughing, hence in order to BE cool, I should be the guy that makes people laugh. Makes sense, right?

The first memory I have where I was able to make someone other than my parents laugh has to be when I was in second grade. We were celebrating a classmate’s birthday at lunch, where the teachers served us pizza and soda (yeah, they didn’t really care about our health back then). One of the flavors of soda was root beer. Seeing as I was, oh, in second grade, I assumed that root “beer” would make you feel a little funny. After about two full sippy cups of A&W, I decided to deem myself “under the influence”. When the teachers asked me questions, I’d slur my words on purpose, stumble across the room, and give random hugs to other classmates. My friends probably thought I was crazy, but my teachers knew that I was simply pretending to be drunk, causing them to break into laughter, admiring the 2nd grade lush roaming around the room. This type of funny business is my kinda business!

From there, my life of being the comic relief began. I’d go to school dressed in my dad’s shirts, random vampire teeth, and carried a joke book around with me like it was my bible (still have my first one to this day). There would be times where teachers would let me tell a few jokes in school, but most of the time I told them when you weren’t supposed to. I’d make fart noises using straws, get up and dance when the teacher wasn’t looking, or make a face that was sure to get the attention of the class. Me and the time out corners and benches have a long history. It didn’t get that much better in middle school, either. Seeing as I was always the smallest one, I made up for it by bringing big laughs to school. I’d host yo mama battles at lunch, flip other kid’s backpacks, and multiple other practical jokes. I was having fun and laughing the whole time I was doing it.

It wasn’t just in the classroom that I would use my comedic abilities. I’d use my silliness to work my ways out of awkward situations (trust me, there were PLENTY of those), cheer up a friend who was feeling down, or sometimes the girl who’s attention I was trying to get would turn her head and laugh. I think that the gift of laughter is one of the best things that people can give to each other. If you’re not laughing, then what are you doing? Life is too short to be uptight and unhappy, so crack a smile and laugh a little! I hope to someday be able to make that a career. I’ve had one stand up show in my lifetime. It was a 4 minute set at a hipster bar in college. I couldn’t tell you how nerve-wracking it was, standing up in front of a bar of people watching you, anticipating your next punch line. Before I knew it, my set was over and everyone was laughing, smiling, and applauding at my attempt. They even cheered my name to stay on! I plan on coming up with a 5-10 minute set and jump into the ring again with this beast called stand-up comedy. I know I know, I’ve been saying that for a while now. But hey, life gets in the way sometimes. When the time comes and all the pieces are in place, you’ll know. Who knows? Maybe I can convince Adam Sandler to make a Philly Madison movie.

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