I’ve always been the “funny guy.” I’m not gloating when I say this. This isn’t something I sought out (as most funny people will tell you), I just realized from a very early age I was pretty good at making people laugh, so I was like “Alright, guess this is what I’m goin’ with.” For the longest time I had no clue why this happened. I mean, yes, my comedic timing is impeccable. My jokes are introspective, with just the right amount of blue and a smattering of farts, and every one of them is killer (EVERY. ONE.) But even before I had honed my comedic talent, I was the funny guy. It was one very specific experience that revealed that this was my role in life.
Everyone has that one teacher in high school that was universally loved. For my high school, that teacher was Mrs. Moore. She was always so positive. She taught senior English, and at the end of the year she handed out the lyrics for “I Hope You Dance” (ya know, this one) to all her students. Despite setting herself up for failure with her song choice, it was actually really sweet. So when Mrs. Moore passed away from a long fight with cancer, it was a big deal. The entire school showed up at the funeral, and I’ll never forget standing outside of the church with my friends afterwards. We were all devastated, no one really saying anything. But then my one friend looked at me, and started to smile. Then, through her tears, she chuckled.
“What?” I inquired.
“I don’t know, just something about your face made me smile.”
And that’s why I’m the funny guy. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I can make people laugh with my face. Don’t ever do a staring contest with me. I will win. For some time after that I tried to figure out what it was about my face that made people laugh. I mean I’m not Elephant Man ugly, I don’t have crazy teeth (Orthodontic success story!), and I don’t have a giant penis-shaped mole on my forehead. I mean, yeah, I am a redhead (no, I don’t like the term ginger), but so’s my sister and people don’t laugh at her face.
I think part of it is that I can’t help but look mischievous. Think of Robin Williams’ face. You don’t have a vivid imagination, you say? Fine, here. That’s not fair, you say? In that link he’s doing the Cornholio and that’s inherently funny? Well maybe next time use your imagination. Point is, it seems like even when he’s not smirking, he’s always kinda smirking. And I guess I’m like that too. I’ve actually been able to parlay that into a semi-decent stand-up run (i.e. more people laughed than not, but I obviously have not become famous…yet?), and I even have a joke whose punchline is my face (no, seriously, I just stare at the audience).
The weird thing about my face is that on the flip-side, people will look at me and think I’m upset. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have resting bitch face (or RBF, as no one ever says or should say), but for more times than I’d like to recall I’ve had the following exchange:
“I dunno, you look like you’re upset.”
“Nope. I don’t feel any particular way at the moment. I feel ‘neutral’.”
“You sure? You sure there isn’t something bothering you?”
“Nothing at all?”
I begin to get bothered. “Not a thing. See, when I told you I was fine, I actually wasn’t lying. I really did mean that I’m fine.”
“Yeah, but your tone of voice sounds like something’s bothering you.”
“Right, cause you’re not hearing me. I’m telling you I’m fine!”
“Well jeez, don’t get all snippy with me. I was just trying to see why you’re upset.”
I’m pretty sure this is why I shouldn’t get married. My wife is either going to be cracking up, or worried that there’s something wrong. I’ll be on eggshells because I’ll be trying way too hard to be funny so my wife doesn’t think I’m upset, and my wife will think I’m manic. “He’s either the funniest guy I know or something’s wrong with him.” What a house of love that’ll be. Notwithstanding the neurosis, that scenario highlights what I think to be part of the reason I’m the funny guy. I know that if I’m not the funny guy, I’ll be the “guy who’s always bothered by something, but won’t say what” (it’s a long label).
At the end of the day, though, I embrace my gift. Because the real reason my face makes people laugh is that making people laugh is hard-coded into my DNA. My family history is steeped in funny people. It’s just who I am. I enjoy being able to make someone’s day a little bit brighter with a hearty guffaw (or even a subdued chuckle). And if I can do that without saying a single word, well then, that just makes things much easier. But if I do have a giant penis-shaped mole, please tell me.