Tuesday, June 5, 2018

10 reasons I'm a stand-up guy

"Dad!," my daughter Ev said,  "You gotta do this."

That was two months ago. She'd just finished her seven-minute-and 44-second stand-up comedy routine at Second City, in downtown Toronto. 

EV AT SECOND CITY: Her grandparents would be beaming.
Ev had taken a six-week course (three hours a week) after which  the students climbed on stage to wow us with their performances. (Want to see Ev's? Click here")  

I did as I was told. 

So, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, A.D., I will be on stage. Alone. With microphone in hand.  I'm four weeks in to the course and, even though I have no idea what's going to happen when I actually do my act, I thought I would share 10 reasons--in no particular order in fact I'm not even sure I'll get to 10--why this weird turn of events has been one of the best adventures ever.

1. For the past few weeks I've been able to spend three hours every Thursday evening with the other students; 10 or 11 (I'm too lazy to count) of the funniest individuals I've met. Think about it. These are people who want to be stand-up comics. We've got two advertising executives, at least one lawyer, one high-school teacher (oh baby Jesus where was a teacher like this when I needed him?), and OUR teacher is a woman named Precious Chong, whose father is Tommy Chong, of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. 

2. When you come from a family like mine, this sort of thing is heaven-sent. Different families reward various achievements; some parents favour high marks; others like hard work and stick-to-it-iveness. In the Carter household, making people laugh was as important as food. April Fool's Day is a high holiday. Also. In a church-going household like ours, the only fact you know for sure is, anything's possible. Including the possibility that when the course ends and I get to take the stage, my late mother and father will be watching from heaven.  I realize that the thought of your dead folks being able to see you from heaven is seriously creepy--"can she really see me? even when I'm the bathroom??" but never mind that for a moment. I want to make them proud.

3. My Second-City show will make my older brother Alex jealous, a fact that pleases me immensely.  When we were young, Alex starred in quite a few high-school productions that I watched with envy and admiration. The only dramatic production I ever got a part in was the Sudbury Secondary School presentation of "David and Lisa", a weird old play that takes place in a mental asylum. I landed the very minor role of Simon--the challenged, mysteriously gendered and lonely flute player, which was lots of fun for Alex, because in real life I didn't get a lot of dates, my name, Peter, is actually based on the name Simon (look it up) and I did take flute lessons and, well, moving right along... 

4. I just remembered something. Our "David and Lisa" never got performed. For some reason, our theatre arts teacher decided it wasn't to be a stage show but rather a video production and even though we spent hours and hours in the studio with cameras and everything, a final "David and Lisa" never materialized.  Not that I've been carrying this around with me, but once in a while I'll be watching late-night TV and see the name "Kevin White" in the credits as an executive producer of something; and that's the same name as one of the kids in our production--I think he was David--  and when that credit rolls across the screeen; I wonder why my name's not up there.

5. Think about it for a second. Growing up the youngest of five boys and hearing, from the time you're born, that your older brothers are all so good looking or bright. My next oldest brother Eddie was on the Sudbury Secondary School Reach for the Top Team; the eldest, Pat, was so clever he skipped grade seven; Tom had a sports car and could play the trumpet like nobody, and when he was in grade 10 Alex was once on local TV for some reason and my best friend Trevor MacIntyre's mom saw him and said "your brother's so handsome!"  

6. One time, Eddie was tapped to play a solo on his Fender MusicMaster electric guitar with the Sudbury Secondary School Orchestra behind him and when the conductor Linda Brault introduced him, she said something along the lines of, "this guitarist might just be a boy from the west of end of Sudbury but he plays like he's got southern blues in his soul."  

7. Did I mention that I was also the shortest of the bunch?

8. But back to Second City.  I also have five sisters. Which reminds me that in Carterland, we don't converse; we compete. Two days ago, my sister Norma and I had this very discussion on the phone.  She was going on about something and I admitted to her I wasn't actually listening to what she was saying as much as I was waiting for her to be done so I could say something more interesting than what she had to offer and she asked me if I was done yet. If you think I'm kidding, you don't know my sisters. 

9. Now I'm really scared. I'm thinking, halfway through my performance, I'm going to be looking out in the audience and I'll hear somebody say,  "Pete, do you have a comb?"  I'm not sure who first came up with this but when we were growing up, if one sibling interrupted the other with "do you have a comb?" it meant "what you're saying is really boring." 

10. No, I don't have a comb. 

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