You know, she said as she looked across the table at me, you’re not as funny as you think you are.
She’d said this, this woman seated across from me, because I’d sniffed my glass of wine, looked ruminatively toward the sky and said, “Hmmh, quite a prominent vodka nose on this one” (the line is a tribute, a discussion of which can be found here).
You’re not as funny as you think you are. There are many variables involved in that statement, none of which includes my description of the wine (really, for god’s sake, how could anything smell like vodka?!). First, there’s my self-perception of my own funniness, an assessment my friend must subsequently comprehend and then compare and contrast against some measurable and objective external reality.
But none of that was her point, and what she was trying to say can probably be captured more simply as this: Aaron thinks he’s a Bill Murray when he’s at best a poor man’s Andy Dick.
But who are we to trust this person’s assessment, and on so complicated and involved a rubric as this? And so, the question persists: What if I am in fact as funny as I think? (Or as intelligent, or handsome, or witty, or athletic, etc.)
I suppose if I were James Franco this would be the time when I’d make a movie to demonstrate exactly how funny I think I am. And who knows: maybe I’d be right? As that’s not an option reality must be found elsewhere—in this case via hapless confession. And so—here it goes:
I think I’m both hilarious and horribly banal, predictable and recycled.
As deflated as it is, I imagine this ambivalent assessment is the honest answer upon which most of us must eventually land. After all, who doesn’t crack themselves up one moment1 only to find themselves utterly tedious in the next?2
I’m not honestly bothered that this person didn’t find my wine analysis funny, which is really all she was saying. After all, it is unreasonable to expect others to be as attuned to the comedic as I am. If they can’t realize the flash in the pan, I can’t begrudge them for not claiming the gold.
I do think my self-perception on this subject—I am as hilarious as I am dull—is spot-on and accurately reflects my position in the world. And while that may sound like I’m setting the bar awfully low, I’ve come to find that placing the bar in such a location increases the odds of successfully tripping over it. That may not sound like much, but sometimes you’ve got to take all you can get.
- Earlier today I found myself thinking the following: If my friend Breck married a guy named Russell we’d call them Brussell, in the style of Brad + Angelina = Brangelina; and if later Brussell adopted a baby we’d call it The Brussell Sprout. Yes, I really did think it was funny. [↩]
- If I recall Freud had a term for this conundrum, but for the life of me I can’t remember it. Most likely it was a long, tangled mouthful that ran-on like an undamned river. Freud did write about humor, but, with an eye toward both candor and practical impact, it’s important to recall that of all the Jews who invented comedy, Uncle Siggy was never at the vanguard. [↩]