Comic Relief: Growing fond of feeling funny
I’ve been feeling funny lately, and by that, I mean I have not been feeling funny lately. I hate homonyms.
To rephrase: I’ve been feeling weird because I don’t think I am witty, silly, rib-tickling or any other word thesaurus.com can provide me for “funny.”
I’m not trying to say I’m the next greatest comedian. I do not have a career in comedy ahead of me — that requires a level of confidence and ego that I am sorely lacking — but I’d like to think I provide a few little chuckles here and there.
I grew up shy — hide-behind-my-mom’s-legs, don’t-join-any-extracurriculars-because-I-don’t-know-the-people-there, avoid-my-literal-cousins shy. Unfortunately, life forces you to interact with people daily. Even more so, you must try to be liked by people. Struggling to find my way I eventually learned that being a little silly goes a long way.
At first, my humor was not too overbearing — I was still debilitatingly shy. It’s hard to make jokes when you rarely talk. Then, humor became a crutch. And now, I fear I may just be annoying.
Sometimes, I hear myself talk, and it’s dreadful. My mannerisms and intonation are distinctive, and I’m not so sure that is a good thing.
For example, it was the first day of a new class. Before the professor arrived, I decided to break the silence by asking everyone’s name — which is all well and good, but once it was my turn to introduce myself, I just went on a winding spiel about my day. Nothing that happened to me warranted such a monologue.
I got the laughs that I suppose I was aiming for … but at what cost?
I have been trying to retrace the steps in my life to determine what has led me to this point. Maybe to give myself some closure about who I have become or maybe to warn others of what to avoid to escape my fate.
Currently, I have two hypotheses.
One is that I’ve stopped watching new TV and stand-up specials. I rarely watch anything in general, but when I have twenty minutes, I just turn on the same shows I’ve already seen.
Exploring new comics and subgenres is the only way to expand one’s taste. While I will continue to watch every new interview with my favorite comedians, I need to remind myself that those favorites were once unknown to me too. I bravely took the leap — meaning I was willing to sit down for an hour to watch something that may have been lackluster — and it led to greatness.
However, I don’t believe my repetitive viewing is at fault. I have great taste, so the jokes continue to land. Sure, I could benefit from branching out, but rewatching sitcoms or stand-ups often brings out new layers I missed on the first viewing.
The other hypothesis, the stronger of the two, is that the comedy I am consuming is annoying. Again, I do have great taste, so it is funny. Just, consuming too much of it too fast may have had dire consequences.
I’m specifically thinking about my love of Catherine Cohen — my icon, my goddess, my everything. No description I could give of her comedy could do it justice. So, I’ll defer to her own words.
“My comedy is oops. It’s lalalooloo. It’s glamorous. It’s j’adore. It’s foot pop. It’s lalalalalalala oohoohoo,” Cohen said in an interview with Miz Cracker while wearing a gorgeous Ganni dress. “It’s also vulnerable and real and humiliating.”
I saw the interview on TikTok. The video caused me to put down my phone and realize that my humor has literally become “lalalooloo.” It’s as if Rina Sawayama wrote “she is me and I am her” about me and my newfound bond with Cohen.
At first, my revelation was jarring. How could this be me? The mirror placed up to me displayed a nightmarish caricature of the most annoying person alive. How could anybody stand to be around me?
Then, I calmed myself, got over myself and realized that I love Catherine Cohen. That “lalalooloo” video made me laugh out loud before I went and turned it into something bigger than it needed to be. What’s so wrong with being “j’adore” and “foot pop” when that is what is real to me?
Cohen does what she wants, even if it’s ridiculous. For example, Cohen’s book “God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems from a Gal About Town” is a collection of poems that, if a friend showed them to you, you would have to find some way to tell them to pursue a different creative avenue. But, I bought that collection. In fact, I drove to three bookstores trying to find a copy, and it was worth it; I loved every single page. Then, I had the opportunity to watch her perform some of the poems on the British panel show “8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown” while getting laughs from another one of my icons, Roisin Conaty. Cohen somehow manages to make the unbearable endearing.
While I clearly idolize — which is much too strong of a word, but I am attempting to make a point — Cohen, I understand she is not the comic for everyone. In an interview with The Guardian, Cohen even said, “look, I find myself quite annoying, too.” But I like Cohen, and that’s all that really matters.
So, it’s time for me to get out of my head and stop overthinking every interaction I have. Obviously, this is much easier said than done, but I’ve at least come to peace with the idea of acting a certain way because that’s what I want, not what I think others want from me.
I realize I like my trivial monologues and I will continue to share them, when the time feels right.
Maybe someone will find me as charming as I find Cohen. Or, maybe they’ll decide I’m just as annoying as Cohen finds Cohen and I find myself. There’s really nothing I can do besides be myself and try to be kind.
I suppose if I wanted to draw a moral for this column, it is this: be yourself, watch what you want to watch, tell the jokes you want to tell, give monologues about your day when you want to give monologues about your day.
However, the true moral I want this column to hold is to watch Catherine Cohen … but proceed with caution.
Kimberly Aguirre is a sophomore writing about comedy. Her column, “Comic Relief,” runs every other Thursday. She is also the arts & entertainment editor at the Daily Trojan.