Should I Be Funny?
The internal battle is real, and at times funny.
It’s 2023 and for perhaps the fourth year in a row I think to myself: “damn, I wish I was doing comedy in some way.”
Most people who don’t know me personally probably don’t realize I’m joking around about 90% of the time. When I flip on the camera to record a video or when I write, a part of me comes out that is more serious than my state 90% of the time.
It’s funny because I’ve met many people who’ve watched or read my stuff over the last 15 years and when I make jokes or step into my dry humor on the spot they have these blank stares like they can’t figure out if I’m joking or not. This usually doesn’t happen with people who don’t know anything about me, usually only those who interact with my work online.
Some people will pick up on it right away, but for the most part people are confused for a good few hours (or day) until they ‘get it.’ My wife usually stands there watching these interactions saying something like “yea, you’re not getting camera Joe.” We usually reminisce through a play-by-play breakdown of the moment people realize this other aspect of me is coming through, the version she calls ‘the real Joe.’
I’ve seen these interactions with people as a good indication of the perception my content and companies create about me. My work seems serious at times. It talks about big subjects and important ideas (at least in my eyes). I’m not sure that I’d want to make my content and style ‘about the comedy,’ but I have thought about it.
To be clear, I think my ‘serious Joe’ character is authentic to who I am. No one is one way at all times, we all have dynamic personalities. But I do feel like the perception people have about me in general doesn’t line up to who I am entirely. I’m not suggesting people should know every nook and cranny of my personality, but more so that a huge portion of it doesn’t make it onto the page or to the screen where they interact with ‘me’ daily.
I’m not exploring an identity crisis here as much as I’m wondering if it’s time to change the style of my work or how I put myself out there. Like… should this character I played while fixing my pool make it out into the world?
Sometimes when people who know me through my work learn of my humorous side I will ask them “should I add this into my work?” Some say yes, some say no and that they like my work just how it is.
Those that say yes have said “look at JP Sears or Russel Brand, they are entertaining comedians in this space.” I agree, but I don’t think their utility is the same as mine.
Russel Brand uses facts and good journalism to talk about the world, and while he does so he’s loud, BIG, and entertaining. JP Sears creates skit-like videos. Some are lifestyle themed and others pick and choose various worldly facts as a part of the script. He’s dry, funny, and controversial.
Perhaps what Brand is doing isn’t far off from what I could do, but Sears’ style and content is not something I’d do at all. I don’t mean to be harsh but, my heart drives me to want to make a difference and to unite people, I’ve felt that since I was a kid. JP Sears’ content (at the moment) unites the “in group” but creates more division with those that aren’t in it. Perhaps that’s his truest expression and that’s beautiful, but that’s not me.
For me I believe that if comedy were to enter my work I’d want to do it in a way that has people laughing without having to focus so much on making fun of other people and how they see things. I’ll leave that to other people if that’s their bag.
Facts and good sensemaking also matter to me. So much of why our world is the way it is today is because people are captured in narratives and echo chambers. People take the content some comedians create as “fact” when they are talking about what is going on in the world. If a comedian like Sears is going to leave out facts, nuance, and other facets to the story in order to make a joke effectively, that doesn’t sit well with my drive to create less noise in the information landscape and improve sensemaking. Not a point most comedians need to consider, but I do.
Russel Brand is certainly much better with letting facts speak and including nuance. And as much as I admire his style, I don’t know if it’s me. I don’t know if I’d want that to be my work, but I sometimes question whether that is what I say because I’m afraid it wouldn’t work or because I truly believe it.
Speaking of comedians, I feel like when I listen to a Joe Rogan podcast and reflect on my own work I feel most in alignment. Sure, he’s an actual comedian, I’m not, but his podcast has serious conversations like my work does, and he has a separate outlet for his comedy. Perhaps that’s what I’m looking for again.
Maybe writing this helped me flesh out that clarity. Either way, thanks for reading this and hopefully it was entertaining to peer into the mind of someone who is wrestling with two aspects of themselves that want to be heard.
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