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Easily the most difficult thing about being introduced at a party as the “funniest person [the host has] ever met” is attempting to live up to it over the course of the party (or in any event wherein you are introduced as “hilarious”). Sure, I’ve had the vague idea that some of my thought processes and mannerisms can be humorous but that’s exactly the problem—it’s those thought processes and mannerisms that are funny, not a set of jokes I have and tell everywhere I go.

It’s not like I meet someone and pull them aside and tell them, “Hey man, Knock Knock.” It’s more like when I’m in a comfortable situation where I can hear things and have an honest discussion I can make a quick quip. For example, a couple of days ago a coworker said, “Did you hear about this cow that escaped its farm out in Queens?” (I know, right? You can’t make this kind of thing up. It’s just too easy.) Of course I said, “No,” and inquired, “So when do you think they’ll finally catch your mom?”

I can’t plan this shit. There’s no time when it’s appropriate to break up a discussion on the aesthetics of Radiohead compared to Jay-Z with a Knock-Knock joke about the KGB. It’s a gift and a curse. I swear.

If you look at some of the best comedians—and there’s no way I’m comparing myself to them, I’m just saying, look: funny people can’t rule the world—they all have all sorts of personal problems. I think everyone has known about that since back in 1967 when Smokey Robinson sang about clowns or even way back in the 1800s when Leoncavallo wrote Pagliacci (and, in turn, provided the inspiration for the aforementioned Robinson song). Just look at Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Artie Lange, Woody Allen, Mitch Hedberg, Bill Hicks, Dennis Leary (don’t even get me started on Worcester), Rodney Dangerfield, etc. With the ability to make people laugh there seems to be some inherent inability to run your own life; it’s like you can make other people happy but you can’t make yourself happy. It’s like that, not literally the case. I pretty much find something or revisit something that makes me happy every day; I find about 95% of my life hilarious but I can’t do that without being around other people. I can’t set up my own jokes.

At any rate, the point still remains. It’s incredibly difficult to be funny when the bar is set really high for you before you get the opportunity to prove yourself. It’s much easier to surprise when no one is attempting to compare you to a bar they’ve set in their own mind. That is, it’s easier to raise the bar when no one has placed it anywhere.

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