My Stand Up Comedy Routine: Stupid Job Interview Answers

I secretly want to be a stand up comic.  Seriously.

For the past month and a half, my full time job has been looking for a full time job.  Thanks to instant streaming via Netflix (via Wii), I’ve been subconsciously overloading myself with stand up comedy.  In the past week alone, I’ve made it through the first 40 of 240 episodes available for the ongoing series Comedy Central Presents.  And last week, my wife and I spent Friday night seeing a couple of stand up comics who oddly decided to make Fort Payne, AL part of their tour at a restaurant called The Smokin’ Moose.  By now, I’ve got myself convinced that my alter-ego should be a stand up comic.  I believe I could pull it off.

Like a stand up comic, I am constantly noting awkward and weird social situations, I love communicating and relating with people, and most importantly, I am just enough narcissistic to draw in an audience when I want to.  So recently I began writing my stand up comedy routine, in my head.  But because of my narcissistic ways, I am sharing what I’ve come up with so far.  Since delivery is a very important of actually being funny, note that for the duration of this post, when you see a set of ellipses points (like this…), that symbolizes the short and necessary pause for the audience to have a chance to laugh.

Announcer: Ladies and gentleman, will you please give a warm welcome to Nick Shell!

[applause]

“Alright, thanks everybody.  So, predictably, I watch a lot of stand up, and something I always think is funny is when the comedian walks out on the stage and the first thing he says is, ‘How are ya’ll doin’ tonight, everybody?!’ Because as an audience member of any congregation, whether it’s a Dave Matthews Band concert, an Easter sunrise church service… a community college graduation… or especially watching stand up comedy, my answer to that question is always, ‘Well, I don’t know yet.  I just got here.  But I’m not all happy and excited because you’re implying that I should be…”

It’s like when an adult says to a kid, ‘Are you enjoying your first week of 2nd grade?’, as the adult shakes their head ‘yes’, pressuring the child to only answer in agreement…

So, Mr. Comedian/Leader Singer of a Rock Band/Key Note Speaker at a Sales Conference in Cleveland, Ohio… I will only have a good time if I decide I want to, thank you very much…  But again, more importantly, I don’t know yet if I’m having a good time, typically when I’m asked that question.  You know, shouldn’t that be a question you’re asked near the end of event?…  Or everyone in the audience could fill out a secret ballot on a scale of 1 to 10 how good of a time they had… And they’re all emailed the results the next day… [spoken in a nerdy voice] ‘73% of the people had a good time, based on the fact they marked a 7 or higher…’

Or maybe, I’m misunderstanding the question all together.  Maybe whether or not I am in that moment having a good time is based on the events leading up to showing up to the event.  Like, before I got there, I went to Applebees and I ordered the Zesty Western Burger, without bacon because I only eat kosher, and the waiter forgot, and brought the burger to me with bacon… But because to me the combination of complaining and eating doesn’t make for an appetizing meal, I just quietly scrape the bacon off the burger with my knife which I never use.  And even though the burger is really good, I still have slightly bothered by the fact that the ‘essence of bacon’ is implemented onto the beef patty…

And then I got to the event, I had to pay 5 bucks to parking, which isn’t a lot of money, but it’s how much I could have payed for an overpriced beer there but I still buy an overpriced beer anyway- even though it’s a struggle to spend that much money on one bottle of beer when I only paid 7 dollars for a six-pack of Blue Moon which is sitting in my fridge right now…

So, am I having a good time?  You tell me…

I just recently had to find a new job when I moved from Nashville.  Has anybody else recently had to go in for a job interview?

[acknowledge the first person that says yes]

I love the stock questions they ask you.  I bet you 20 minutes before you show up, they’re like, ‘Ah, crap!  I have to interview that guy today!” And then they hurry up and Google ‘what to ask a person in a job interview’.  So they ask these seemingly intimidating questions that they themselves don’t know even what the ideal answer is supposed to be…

Like, ‘So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

I should be like, “Uh… alive, working here, answering questions I can’t answer about my future… pretending to having slightly impressive psychic abilities… though I didn’t realize that was part of the job description…”

And this question, “What would you say your strengths are?

‘Well… Let me tell you… I am awesome!  I bench press 350 pounds…  I cut out the floorboard of my car and just rock it Fred Flintstone style… Whenever I see a phonebook I’m always tempted to rip it in half… Which I can totally do right now if you want me to, especially if it will get me this job…’

A little bit about me- I’m not into a sports, probably because the only sport I’m good at is Corn Hole; and that just sounds horrible.  Oh yeah, and I can solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than 5 minutes every time.  So at best, I consider myself a sports agnostic. My college degree is in English, only because at 20 years old I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was really good at BS-ing… so, clearly, a degree in English was the way to go.

So in review, I’m not good at sports, I don’t eat pork or shellfish, I look like a cross between Paul Rudd, David Schwimmer who played Ross on Friends, and brothers Ben Savage who played Corey Matthews on Boy Meets World and Fred Savage who played Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years , plus I’m an entertainer… Ladies and gentleman, by default, that makes me… a Jew…

That’s right- a Jew from Alabama… You don’t see those every day, do ya?

No, honestly, it’s not all that much of a stretch.  Everyone’s got that one person in their family who is the official Family Tree Climber… You know, the only person who goes through the trouble to research the family’s ancestors and heritage. Really, they could tell the family anything and the family would kind of have to believe it.  So I’m that guy, the Family Tree Climber.  And thanks to an Ullman, a Wiseman, and a Green, I’ve done the math, and at best, I’m 1/8 Jewish.  That doesn’t really count though, does it?…

That’s like a white dude saying, ‘Yeah, I’m Asian. My great-grandfather was half-Cherokee Indian, and since the Native American Indians actually migrated from across the Bering Straight from Mongolia originally, and Mongolians are Asians, that makes me part Asian.  So it’s no coincidence now that I drive a Toyota Camry and love a good sushi roll and dated a half-Korean girl in college, because hey man, it’s all just my true heritage coming out, you know?…’

For what it’s worth, my mom is half Mexican and Italian- that’s the real reason I look so Jewish.  So my grandma is completely Mexican, but like, ‘Mexican’ before it was a racial slur.  You know what I mean?…  She doesn’t speak any Spanish and she was born in Buffalo, New York, so if anything she has a Yankee accent, but not a Mexican one…  What’s really funny though is until last year, she lived in a trailer park.

Back in the ’80’s, she was surrounded by rednecks: Camaro’s with t-tops all around, Lynyrd Skynyrd playing loudly, empty cans of Bud Light scattered along the gravel parking lot.  But by the late ’90’s, the ‘New Mexicans’ started replacing them.  I remember my grandma telling my sister and me, “I almost called the cops last week, those Mexicans killed another goat right outside my window again, then cooked it over a fire for dinner…”  I was tempted to say to her, “Uh, Grandma, you’re 100% Mexican.  You’re technically one of them.  If your parents hadn’t moved from Mexico to New York in the 1930’s, I would have grown up eating your goat meat quesadillas with fried pig ears on the side.”  But I didn’t. That’s my Mexican grandma.

Alright everyone, I got to get out of here- my time’s up.  Actually, I’m not leaving. I’m just exiting the stage.  Yeah, it’s kind of awkward, because the table where I’m sitting is right next to the bathroom… So guys that I have to pee really bad right now, I guess I’ll be seeing you in minutes when you walk towards me then immediately dart for the bathroom door pretending not to see me.

This had been fun, yeah?  See you next time.”

Advertisements

The Blogger’s Ego: The Necessary Narcissism of Writers, Actors, Musicians, and “Performers”

Is the stereotype true that bloggers are a bit narcissistic?  Well, not always.  It’s just true about the ones who are good at what they do.

If you go to Google right now and type in “bloggers are”, the first four phrases that pop up are “…not journalists”, “losers”, “annoying”, and “narcissists”.  Add to that, recently my arch nemesis/frenemy Ben Wilder (who within the past few months declined an invite to publicly wrestle me on YouTube) posted on my facebook wall, “Do you ever post status updates that aren’t blog posts? Seems like your ‘friends’ probably would like to be considered more than a number.”  (Actually, the links show up on my wall, but are not my status updates.)

That’s ironic for two obvious reasons: 1) He also has his own blog named Out of the Wildnerness which feeds into his facebook wall as well, and 2) The reason I don’t often post status updates other than links to my newest posts here on Scenic Route Snapshots is because these posts are my status updates.  To additionally regularly write status updates would, in my mind, truly put me in danger of being narcissistic.

According to Wikipedia, “Narcissism is the personality trait of egotismvanityconceit, or simple selfishness.”  Why do some see that word as an accurate way to describe bloggers?  Like actors and musicians (which unsurprisingly I’ve had my fair share of experience being both), a person who blogs, by the very nature of their hobby/career, must be wired to be “overaware” of their own life and their surroundings.  Socrates is one of the Greek philosophers credited for saying, “Know thyself”.  As for bloggers (along with actors and musicians), perhaps our motto is “Really, really, really know thyself and make sure everyone else does too”.  We have to; in order to be good at what we do so that our audience will find us intriguing, entertaining, believable, and simply relatable.  I can joke about myself being a tad narcissistic, but ultimately, contrasted against mainstream society, am I truly any more self-involved than the millions of other people on Twitter and facebook?

Would I make such an effort to write if I didn’t know that 600 to 1,000 people would be reading it everyday?  Yes, because I started with zero. Would I still write if I knew for a fact that no one at all would be reading it?  Of course not. Otherwise I would just write in a journal and hide it under my bed.  I’m the kind of person that has to have an audience in order to continue doing what I do.

And that is the reason why, that if we bloggers are perceived to be narcissistic, we are still encouraged to continue blogging.  Because despite some cartoonish criticism about our egos, we have an audience whose very presence tells us they appreciate and relate to our writing.  Our writing is based on our lives and essentially, our writing is our lives; though that sounds grammatically incorrect. Actually, bloggers are very similar to stand-up comics, only we are more like sit-down comics.

We assess the quirky situations and patterns around us and share those observations with an audience who hopefully will relate.  Good stand-up comics are funny and humorous in more of a “laugh out loud” kind of way.  Good bloggers are interesting and intriguing; but when they are funny, it’s more of a subtle “laugh quietly to self” kind of way.  Either way, the material that we sit-down comics and stand-up comics write is based on our actual lives.

Stand Up Comic

By blog readers clicking on our websites, they are essentially saying, “Here we are now, entertain us.” Who are we as blog writers to say no?   Even at the risk of being perceived as arrogant and self-centered; at least we have an excuse.

Do I personally think that I am narcissistic as a writer?  Compared to an Amish writer, sure.  But I do believe in the importance of balance in life.  I am very aware of my faults and shortcomings and I’m easily willing to admit them (especially as it makes great writing material); therefore, it’s okay to be very aware of what I am good at.  It doesn’t help that in virtually every post I embed it with several links to things I previously wrote.  Or that I have a “Featured In” page which lets everyone know where I am received the slightest amount of credibility.

We’re obviously living in the age of reality TV as we find much entertainment value in the lives of seemingly normal and “nonfamous” people. Sure, I specialize in writing about the department of “self”.  But the way I look at it, that means that readers are inclined to want to read about “self”.  They find enough of “themselves” in “myself” to relate.  It doesn’t have to be a “selfish” thing to “know thyself”.

So is the stereotype true that bloggers are a bit narcissistic? It took me 832 words to answer that question, so you tell me.

Mr. Daydream’s Personality Pyramid: Humorous, Philosophical, Analytical, Dramatic

It’s always funny to joke about other people having split personalities.  But the truth is, we have all split personalities.  It’d be kinda weird if we didn’t.

I’ve said before that I tend to “pull an Andy Bernard” in that I mirror personalities in order to better relate to people, which is found in the fundamental teachings of Dale Carnegie, the author of the famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People.  But that’s different than the idea of having split personalities because mimicking another person’s manner of speech and body movement doesn’t reflect my own true split personalities.

We all have at least a few different “default mode” personalities we fall back on, which direct and guide our choices of words and actions.  After a little bit of self-analysis, I have narrowed my own collection of personalities down to four main selections:

Humorous

Philosophical

Analytical

Dramatic

Humorous: I am starting with the one at the bottom of my “personality pyramid”, the one the general public sees the most.  The most unguarded.  It’s my surface personality that is appropriate for most situations which is found in everything I do, even serious tasks.  But not “Jim Carrey/get hit in the head with a frying pan” kind of humor, though.

A more subtle type usually delivered in “dead pan” style, where I don’t laugh at my own attempts at humor.  I don’t tell jokes; I translate real life situations into jokes by sliding in sarcastic commentary about them, adding in nostalgic and pop culture references whenever I can.

Right now one of my major comedic icons is actually Alec Baldwin, a man who used to specialize in drama.  To me, that’s the funniest kind of humor out there.  Like the stand-up styles of Conan O’Brien, Joe Rogan, Zach Galifianakis, and Doug Benson.  But not so dry to the point of David Letterman.

Philosophical: For a guy who has never smoked pot, the conversation topics I come up with would reflect otherwise.  There’s a theory out there that whenever a person is exposed to the psychoactive elements found in marijuana, their “third eye” opens up, causing them to see the world in a different perspective.  But I think I was born with my third eye open.  That would explain a lot, actually.

When a person asks me, “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” or “What’s going on?” or “Whatch ya think?”, they will most definitely get an answer.  Not, “oh, not much” or “same ole, same ole”.  Instead, they will hear that I am currently debating whether or not I would be able to carry out capital punishment myself or whether Batman or Superman is the better superhero.  My third eye absolutely effects what I say, therefore coming across as my “philosophical personality”.

Analytical: Despite seeing the world through an abstract lens, I actually see everything in terms of black and white, cut and dry, “either it is or it isn’t”.  There is a formula for everything.   There is definite right and wrong.  That’s the teacher side of me.  I like explaining things to people.

My analytical personality is the one that will spend countless hours searching which celebrities are Jewish or learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.  It’s my necessary inner dork.  It’s the part of me that has an elaborate system for keeping shoes looking new, despite being 8 years old, but I’ll have to get into that in a different post.

Dramatic: At the top of my personality pyramid is the one I reserve mainly just for close family and friends, because it is my personality that is engrained into my emotions.  This is not a personality that needs to be seen by the general public.  Its function is to manage the aspects of my life which are the most important to me.

My dramatic personality allows me to display necessary emotions where love is involved.  I do my best to confine my emotions to just the people I am closest to.  Otherwise, I could end up an emotional guy who wears my heart on my sleeve.  I am not afraid to be vulnerable enough to show my emotions, but I think it’s important to save them for the right situations and the right people.

So that’s how it works.  We are wired with different personalities equipped to suite the right situations and the right people.  The main four personalities that I named most likely do not correspond to hardly anyone else.  Everyone else in the world has their own combination of split personalities which they must decipher in order to better understand who they are.

We’re not crazy.  We just have split personalities.  Isn’t that crazy?