I Don't Have Kids, I Have Shows
I will never do anything even remotely as important or honorable as bringing life into this world, or adopting, or fostering, and raising that life to be a functioning, non-serial-killer adult. Let me get that out of the way first.
The reasons I've decided I'm probably never going to procreate are boring and for another blog and mostly boil down to "kids would really cut into my video game time" and also "ewww poop gross gross."
I also don't have any pets for similar reasons. This really limits my material to share on the Facebooks, because you can only post about Shelley Long's khaki cape in Troop Beverly Hills so many times before people are like WE GET IT IT'S A KHAKI CAPE.
I do, however, give birth to comedy shows. I'm the fuckin' Michelle Duggar of the Chicago Comedy scene, bitches. I squeeze out sketch shows like it's my job (which it's not) (also, I'm available if someone would like to hire me to make sketch shows. I've made about a trillion so far, and everyone says I do a great job! I know I'm 32, which is OLD AS HELL, but I still got it!)
I also give birth to improv shows. Improv scenes. Plays. Jokes. Pilots. Witty (to me) status updates. Dummmm blogz on my web site. And while each of these things are almost certainly not human, and are about 1/1,000,000,000,000th as important as an actual human, they're my creation. They're my offspring. They're encoded with my DNA and the closest thing I've realized I'll ever have to actual progeny.
And I love them, occasionally loathe them, nurture them, feel disappointed in them for not turning out the way I wanted, feel pride in them when they surpass my petty expectations, I watch them develop, watch them take their first steps (this is usually called a preview), go full Dance Mom on them sometimes, and watch them mature and then watch them die little tiny, insignificant deaths usually capped with a toast at the theater bar with whoever in the cast didn't have to run immediately to another show afterwards.
The biggest difference is, all my 1/1,000,000,000,000th children aren't alive, can't hug me, and won't be around in sixty years when I need my ass wiped (eww poop gross gross) and someone to visit me in the nursing home every two weeks for twenty awkward, cold minutes marked by me sobbing and/or thinking relatives who died decades ago are still alive.
I watch, every day, as jokes I create ride a tide of success and then die and are buried in the giant depository of my news feed. Or they fail and I wonder what I did wrong, if I was too hard on the joke, if I didn't give the joke room to find itself and be what it wanted to be, oh GOD I'M A HORRIBLE JOKE MOM.
I watch as articles I write, videos I make, have their moment in the sun, usually an hour or two, and then trickle away and disappear forever. I give birth, raise, celebrate and mourn the shows I'm create all within a few months time, with nothing to show for them afterwards except for a few postcards or posters I hang on to and put in a drawer. I also get unreasonably offended when I announce a show and no one cares, like my baby is ugly. MY BABY IS NOT UGLY I WAS JUST DRINKING HEAVILY WHEN I MADE HIM.
It's hard to quantify and explain the meaning of these shows to me without sounding either over-dramatic, out of touch or completely stupid. And I'm sure if I were to ever had a kid, I would immediately be like SHOWS ARE THE STUPIDEST THING EVER I HAVE TO KEEP THIS LIVING CHILD ALIVE AND HAPPY WHILE IT CONSTANTLY TRIES TO KILL ITSELF OH GOD OH GOD OH JESUS I HAVEN'T SLEPT IN EIGHT MONTHS OH GOD.
But again, since kids would cut into my rull serious video game time and I likely won't have them, I have these shows. And maybe I get attached to them a little too much, like an empty nest mom with her cat, or a single gay guy with his bulldog, but that's only because shows are the closest proxy I have, and will likely have, to child or a pet.
Shows are, so far, my way of procreating. They're little mes running around, tearing up the carpet, shitting on the walls, giggling and drooling and farting and smiling. I love them. And they're the best I can do. And I know they don't matter. But they kind of matter, in a different way. To me, at least.
This whole Trevor Noah Twitter fiasco has gotten me thinking. And anything that gets me to do something besides play early-2000s Japanese role playing games or cluster ideas for tragic 60-year-old Midwestern mom characters, deserves further exploration.
So, we all know Trevor Noah is the new Craig Kilbourn. Which, initially, was great news! He's funny, he's actually quite dashing, he's something other than a white male in his 40s, and he's South African which means his accent is amazing. But then, oh no, his Twitter feed was a disaster of bad, dumb and offensive micro-material. Wherrpsies.
Some of the jokes were just lame. Some were genuinely offensive to some degree or another. Should it cost him the Daily Show desk? I don't know.
As comedians, be it in improv or sketch or stand-up or vaudeville, we fail far more than we succeed. And we're in a world where, to gain visibility and to properly "brand" ourselves (a concept that makes me vomit a little in my mouth), we have to engage across social media platforms that require A) lots of random content that can work on B) anyone and everyone and that C) can exist for years, in writing, and still be funny to anyone and everyone.
This is a fuckload of pressure, to deliver perfect material for every single person with an Internet connection, in large quantities, forever.
So instead of bombing on a bad joke in a dank night club somewhere that is immediately forgotten, all of our jokes, essentially, now have the ability to live forever. Or rather, they have to be crafted TO live forever. On Twitter, on Facebook, on YouTube of a cell phone recording of an improv or standup show.
Every comedian has made a joke they regret, especially improvisers who use no preparation and have zero seconds of joke-crafting time. We've all said either slightly or very offensive things at one point or another, in the heat of a scene. The trick is to immediately recognize it, and know not to do it again.
Improv and sketch comedy, even since I began performing in college in 2001, has changed wildly. Some things we said in our college shows probably wouldn't fly today, just as things said last month at any given improv show around Chicago might be already outdated in terms of cultural sensitivity. This isn't a bad thing; we should always be striving to include our audience rather than alienate them. But it's worth noting and knowing that lots of what even the most sensitive comedians do today will, in ten years, be likely considered crude and offensive. That's just how things evolve.
We always live in the delusion that we're the most evolved humans can possibly ever be, but then another years go by and we realize a whole new array of things we didn't realize before, and we look back on our selves from a year ago or five years ago with a bit of disappointment of our own ignorance. We're never there. In 100 years, our great-grandchildren will look at us with the same quaint shame that we look at our great-grandparents generations, and there's really little we can do to escape that.
Since we're perpetually trapped in the present, the best thing we can do is, with as much vigilance and sensitivity as we can, always strive to punch up instead of down. Target the power structures and powerful groups that control our society and lives instead of those without power. And, when we're called out for being offensive, to listen and try our best to understand so that next time, we can be more successful.
Also, there's comfort in knowing some things will always be funny. Farts will always be funny. Making fun of Dick Cheney will always be funny. Dogs wearing bonnets will always be funny (as long as they seem happy wearing them). Designing Women blazers will always be funny (to me). Golden Girls will always be funny. Comedy will always be funny, because it has no choice but to evolve along with the rest of us.
The worst thing, I think, a comedian can do is swim against the current, get angry, and stop. Quitters aren't funny. Unless they quit because they can't stop farting.