Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hey, look at this strangely unhealed part of me!

Scott and I had a stupid fight earlier this week. Not a fight exactly. A misunderstanding? I don't know what. He was laughing at me (like, really hard) and I wasn't taking it well.

We ended up having this really, really serious talk about mockery. I mean, I mock him from the stage all the time. And even though it's mockery, I think the undercurrent of my jokes about him really is that I love him very much. I think it's true of my jokes about anyone I joke about (my mother might argue that point).

He was mocking me at home and laughing so hard that he fell on the ground. Plunk! Right over.

When we got to our serious talk about what happened and why I was so upset, I had a really hard time articulating what the problem was. I mock Scott all the time, so why does it bother me that Scott mocks me? Part of the difference for me is that I mock Scott with his full permission and it's clear that it's all jokes - and that he's in on them.

Scott started asking me questions about my growing-up times. Was I mocked as a child? Uh, yes? A lot. Mercilessly. And it turns out I'm a little bit tender-hearted about it. Or a lot tender-hearted, as it turns out.

And that's when I realized that I turned funny so I could control the laughter. You can't laugh at me if I'm in on the joke. And it blew my fucking mind.

Last week, one of my friends was telling me about a teen-aged relative who had to have brain surgery that was risky but 100% necessary. I wondered what grade the child was in and when I found out that s/he was going to have to go back to school with his/her head shaved, I started to cry a little bit. The part where the child had to have his/her brain cut open? Scary, but okay. Fine. I don't have to cry about that. The part where s/he'd have to face his/her peers with a shaved head? I couldn't bear it.

My niece started wearing a camelbak this past spring. Apparently, she wants to stay fully hydrated. When I found out she was wearing it to school, I started having total anxiety. Kids are the worst. And when you do anything that makes you different from the other kids, you're basically asking for it. I asked my sister if the other kids were making fun of my niece for wearing a camelbak and she said no, that the other kids thought she was cool for having it. I asked if the other kids were getting camelbaks and she said no, but they thought my niece was cool.

I guess that means that we're doing something right with that kid that she decides she wants to do something, does it, and doesn't have the least bit of anxiety about it. That, my friends, is sweet success.

But coming back to my point here. Just when I thought I was a pretty whole and balanced person, somehow I found, with Scott's help, a terrible unhealed part of me lurking where I least expected it.

I was part of an interesting Facebook conversation tonight with some other comics about the Joan Rivers documentary (which I haven't seen yet), in which Joan's daughter says that comics are insecure and need reassurance. One of my comic friends said that it's just an old stereotype. I said, "I'm insecure and need constant affirmation. I assumed we all did." When pressed for more information about if my insecurities are the reason I started comedy, I said, "For me, it's all about controlling the laughter. People have been laughing at me my whole life, and I just needed to be in charge of it."

Anyway, this is a total breakthrough.

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Anonymous Trevor said...

All my life, I've heard that all entertainers go into that business because they need more attention, Jennifer, but I think it's more that we need more of the RIGHT KIND of attention. We may have insecurities, tender spots, low self-esteem and all that... but pretty much everybody else does too. Most of my life, certain types of people gave me way too much of the Wrong Kind of attention. Like you said, I just want to be in charge of what kind I get now. You rock, Jennifer! Thanks for this terrific insight.

July 12, 2010 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Myszkowski said...

Thanks for posting this, Trevor. Here's to getting the right kind of attention from here on out!


July 13, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

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