In which I try my hand at stand-up

05/01/2008 By Shawn Burns

Ah, the stage. You have bemused me for years. I’ve trodden your polished beams as a chorister, musician, knife-grinder, barbershop singer, inappropriately and racially insensitively cast postal worker, Achilles (or the Tortoise), a Greek messenger in Nike shoes, soloist, accompanist, graduate.

I envy Erin her future opportunities to walk across the stage. Those moments, at the focus, are powerful and beguiling. They are life, writ small and in blood. They are fantasy, writ large and in tears.

They are comedy, and tragedy.

Emily is hilarious. And whenever she tells an insanely funny joke she’ll remark “That’s going in the stand-up act.” And because I am her soul-mate and her complement, I feel it only right that I give equal voice to my own stand-up act.

You see, I hope to someday be a Stand Up Tragedian.

Yup. Someone who does what a stand up comedian does, with the little observations and “Don’tcha just hate it” whens and “Knock Knock” jokes and such, but with a punchline that is tragic rather than comic.

Because the Sad Face of Drama ought to be equally represented at the Improv, I believe.

So, here’s a little preview of my act, off the cuff. (Not for those who do not wish to weep.)

“Knock knock.”

Who’s there?


Uvga who?

“You’ve got inoperable liver cancer. I’m very sorry.”

“Do you ever notice that when you go to the grocery store you can never find a parking space? But there are all of those blue-marked handicapped spaces available right at the front, closest to the door. Because some people have been in life-altering accidents that have left them incapable of living a normal life without some assistance and accommodation.”

“So, I was sitting at home the other day and my roommate came in looking dissheveled. I said ‘Hey, buddy. Why are you looking so dissheveled?’ And he said ‘Well, I was pulling into the driveway today and I ran over a box of puppies.'”

So, whaddaya think?

(Editor’s Note: It’s okay to laugh. The point here is that tragedy provokes similar reactions in us. We laugh almost out of self-defense. I was giggling inappropriately the entire time I was writing this.)