Don’t Make Me Laugh

Although I’m a very emotional person, I tend to bristle when I sense that someone’s trying to force me to feel something. I just hate the book I’ll Love You Forever – I don’t like the illustrations, the mom sneaking in to her grown son’s house to rock him in his sleep is just creepy, and I can’t stand books that seem to have no point other than to try to make you cry. That book does not trigger any tears for me. Neither does The Giving Tree or Guess How Much I Love You. And I am quite a gifted weeper.

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The same is true with comedy. I’m not easily amused if I can tell someone’s working too hard to try to make me laugh. I’ve never liked Jim Carey movies because he’s just trying so hard. He reminds me of some really bad first dates. But then again, I am a stick in the mud, so what do I know?

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This week I decided to really try to laugh at people who really try to be funny. There’s a place I drive past often called Comedy Sportz which sounds like something I would hate because comedy and sports, so obviously if it’s something I’d hate, we had to give it a try. I bought tickets in advance because the website claims they often sell out. I was skeptical, but by the time the show started the only empty seat was right next to me (I think because I have fine-tuned my fun-killer vibe that serves as an effective crowd repellent.)

When I saw how crowded the place was, it reminded me of my country dancing experience. I was genuinely surprised to find so many people out doing things. I asked my husband, “What are all these people doing here? Are they afraid they won’t have anything to talk about if they just go out to dinner? Why does everyone need to be doing things all the time?” I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that the rest of the world is as boring as I am.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience – was it going to be standup comedy, sketch comedy or improv? Was it going to be sports related? Would they make the audience participate? I was feeling uncomfortable because the last time I was pulled out of the audience was in the sound effects demonstration at Universal Studios. I was wearing a baseball cap so the guy called me “sir.” Just what every seventeen year old girl wants to hear. So this time we sat in the very back row just to be safe.

I was also worried because just before we left for the show my son told me he thought maybe his drama teacher might be in the cast. That was a problem – how was I supposed to write an honest review of the experience if I know one of the players?  I know I may seem heartless, but even I can’t go there. So while most of the crowd waited for the show to start with giddy anticipation, I felt like I was waiting for a root canal.

It turns out that I worried for nothing: his teacher was not in the show (at least not the night we were there), it was not all about sports (but the few sports jokes there were went over my head), and it was comprised of improv games (like Whose Line is it Anyway?). There was some audience participation involved but I used my skills of looking generic to avoid getting chosen.

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Two teams of funny people participated in several improvisation games to compete for the most points. Some of the games were less funny than others, but many of them were actually quite entertaining. I kept thinking, “This one would be good to do if I ever had to come up with a youth activity at church,” or, “We could play this one at home with the boys.”

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There were some players who were less funny than others and some jokes that fell flat, but the same could be said for Whose Line is it Anyway. It was much more fun than I expected it to be and because improvisation is different each time, I can understand why people return to see it again. I’m even planning to come again some time so my kids can see it. And it just so happens that Comedy Sportz is holding auditions for the first time in two years this Saturday, Feb. 7. So if it sounds like something you’d like to try, now’s your chance. Who knows, maybe they’ll even let a woman participate.

The only time I felt out of place was when I looked around at other audience members’ reactions. If something made me chuckle, it made the guy a few rows over laugh until he couldn’t breathe. And don’t get me started on the row of college freshmen in front of me. I started to feel like a fuddy duddy all over again when I tried to gauge my reactions against others’ so I reverted to my usual defense when I’m in public places – I held my husband’s hand and pretended no one else was in the room. After that, it was quite an enjoyable evening.

Then we went out for pie shakes. Now you might think, “A milkshake AND a pie mixed together? That sounds like somebody’s trying too hard.” But is there such a thing as overdoing it when it comes to desserts? My peach cobbler shake says no.

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