30 September 2011

The Heroin of Praise

If improv stand-up comedy was my schtick, I'd want to be the warm up act. I'd want to be the warm up act because the laughs are real. By the time the featured act appears on stage, the audience is so liquored up they'd laugh at a knock-knock joke featuring an orange.

Imagine a scenario where, whatever your profession is, the only strokes you get for exquisite craftsmanship are a smattering of guffawing clowns predisposed to heap praise on you in a flurry of incoherent, slurred speech. What if after praising you, the admirer fell backwards because of the micro-gusts generated by a moth flapping it's wings two continents away...apparently with enough momentum to bust out some hairline cracks in a glass pane window?

The point is, as a craftsman, you'd never know if you're shit was good because your critics are pathetic, sloppy drunks.

I write poems that are mostly unread. I am an unashamed poetry hack. As ego-centric and self-absorbed as my poems tend to be, two or three times in the past 30 years, thoughtful people have praised my efforts. Something in the poems resonated -- which is enough to sustain me. I wouldn't last 2 weeks as a featured stand-up comic let alone 30 years like Emo Philips. If I delivered two hours of zany, off-the-charts creative comic energy only to be praised after my show by a pathetically drunken douche bag, then unless rock-bottom has a secret trap door, I'd off myself with hemlock tea.

I understand the heroin that praise is. I seek it. I yearn for it. I am irreversibly addicted to it. And it makes me feel weak to know that. Few experiences in life provide more of a head buzz than making people laugh. I understand the courtesy laugh. I understand the belly laugh. Now I understand immensely hollow and dissatisfying nature of drunken laughter.

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