I like to think I am a pretty funny guy. When people laugh at me, I assume it was because I said something funny and not because I am dressed like a hobo who is wearing clothes that look like they got ran over by a lawn mower (my washing machine is a jerk).
However, after attending an open mic night, I realize there is a big difference between being funny and being a comedian.
My friend brought me to the Baker Center event, and I went because I’ve never seen an open mic, except on an episode of Louie.
Because this event was in Baker Center, it was nothing like that humorous sitcom and did not have alcohol or a lot of cigar smoke. Instead, it was a quickly thrown-together student lounge that did not look like an event, but rather a small get-together of friends who moved around some chairs and managed to get a microphone to share how their day went.
I say that because the place was pretty empty. There were about 15 or 20 people including my friend and I, but it was clear that almost everyone knew one another. They constantly yelled each other’s names and told one another to go on stage. It wasn’t uncommon for the crowd to interrupt a set to make their own jokes or to make their own joke request.
Though all of this might sound like a bad environment, everyone was still very patient and courteous to one another. When people would make an unfunny joke, everyone would still laugh and be polite.
A lot of the people weren’t that funny. I don’t know why, but almost everyone felt obligated to tell stories about when they crashed their cars, even though none of the stories was particularly amusing.
It is easy for me to say that because I only sat in the back doing the judging. I know I would never have the gumption to try and do what everyone there did. I may be funny among my small group of friends, but if I’m told to be funny among a group of strangers with a spotlight on me, the only way I would get a laugh out of the audience is if they were fans of physical humor and laughed when I passed out from nervousness.
There was one notable exception among the student performers who was pretty funny. He called himself Bubba, and a lot of his jokes were about his weight, such as the way “bubba” is like the N-word for fat people. I really hope his name is Bubba — if it isn’t, I just insulted him.
After all the students had their turns, a professional comic spent the rest of the night doing his routine. That was when I realized the vast difference in skill between the hopeful comics and a real one.
Although most of the students didn’t have good transitions from joke to joke and would often fumble trying to remember their next one, this guy would rattle off joke after joke, all of them performed in a fluid motion.
This comic would also make references to the comics who performed before him. For example, one person earlier in the night made a joke that Cheerios taste like someone peed in them, and then this comic would make a joke about how he is a prankster, detailing the one time he peed in some guys Cheerios. You could tell he came up with this on short notice, and it was impressive.
He made a lot of jokes at the expense of the audience, but it was all good-hearted and no one was offended. The only guy who has any right to be offended is the professional, because I totally forgot his name.
Dennis Fulton is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Are you a stand-up comedian? Send Dennis your show tapes at email@example.com.