I had a bad night at stand-up comedy class Tuesday. When it came time for me to present my little act, not one person laughed! It turned out that what I had written wasn’t funny at all. It was yet another act about being a mental patient, but this one fell flat. The other one that I did last term worked out fine–people were “in stitches”–but this act, for some reason, failed.
Bob, our teacher, told me that it simply wasn’t funny, and that if I didn’t think it was funny to begin with, then it probably wasn’t, and that I shouldn’t include anything that isn’t funny. He said that I should choose a topic other than therapy, that I should write about the world. Anything but therapy. He said this over and over. He seemed a little angry at me, and maybe I was just interpreting his demeanor this way because I felt so downtrodden.
I am listening to the tape of my performance and the feedback I received as I am writing this. I am supposed to write and perform comedy not about therapy, but about life. What life? What life do I have?
I could hardly stay straight for the remainder of the class. I tried to make chit chat with the other students, but nobody seemed to want to have anything to do with me after my poor performance. I got on the bus and called my friend Lori, and wept. I cried for the entire bus ride home, and as I was walking home from the bus, and then when I came into my apartment I was still crying. I called my brother and sobbed miserably. I cried all night and into the next day.
I went to see Dr. P that day. And the whole time I kept telling myself, “I don’t have a life to write humor about. I don’t have a life.” Everything going on in the office seemed so fake and contrived. She wanted to talk about my weight, as usual. Fake. She wants me to eat more. Fake. She wanted to know when I was going to be weighed next. Fake.
That said, here is what I wrote in my food journal yesterday:
Dr. P seems to care so much about my weight now. It is just so important to her. If I am indeed underweight, it is only by a pound or two, not that much. Why the fuss? WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I WEIGHED NEARLY 200 POUNDS??? WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I SPENT 3 MONTHS IN A WHEELCHAIR BECAUSE MY KNEE GAVE OUT FROM RAPID WEIGHT GAIN FROM SEROQUEL? WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE? WHY DIDN’T DR. P TAKE ME OFF SEROQUEL WHEN SHE SAW IT WAS MAKING ME GAIN WEIGHT? WHY DID SHE INSIST THAT I STAY ON IT, EVEN WANT ME BACK ON IT, AFTER IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT IT WAS THE CAUSE OF WEIGHT GAIN? WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I SPENT 3 HOURS A DAY OVEREXERCISING AT THE GYM AND DIDN’T LOSE A POUND, ON SEROQUEL? WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I COLLAPSED IN THE STEET EVERY TIME MY STOMACH WAS EMPTY–SHE CLAIMED THIS WAS A HOT FLASH–I SAY IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF DIABETES–FROM SEROQUEL–? WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE WHEN I HUFFED AND PUFFED DOWN HER HALLWAY BECAUSE I COULDN’T WALK FAST DUE TO BEING GROSSLY OVERWEIGHT? WHY DIDN’T SHE CARE WHEN I GAINED FIFTY POUNDS IN SIX MONTHS? WHY DIDN’T DR. P BAT AN EYELASH WHEN I SHOWED UP AT HER OFFICE USING A WALKER, UNABLE TO PUT ANY WEIGHT ON MY RIGHT LEG BECAUSE MY KNEE WAS SO BADLY AFFECTED BY WEIGHT GAIN? WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE WHEN I GAINED WEIGHT–AND WHY DOES SHE INSIST ON FATTENING ME UP NOW? I HAVE NO INTENTION ON GAINING WEIGHT. NO WAY, DOC. YOU WILL NEVER, NEVER MAKE ME FAT AGAIN.
And then I looked back on what happened the night before, all the shame and anger and embarrassment after class, walking down the sidewalk with fists in my pockets, and all the tears and snots and kleenex and staying up late and wanting to disappear into the bowels of Harvard Square, and realized: THIS IS MY REAL LIFE. It very well may have begun just then.