Being Bad Isn’t Interesting

July 12th, 2020

There are very few things in life that I enjoy more than a good laugh. I mean, well, ice cream, sure, but a good laugh comes in a close second. OK, well, my wife, She Who Must Be Taunted, better than ice cream, so maybe a good laugh comes in a close third. I can live with that.

So, as you might expect, I seek out a good laugh on a regular basis, and I have pretty high standard for a good laugh. And I’ve always marveled at how hard it is to get a good laugh when you’re not hiding behind a guitar. I remember one time I was at a comedy open mike that I had been invited to feature at, and there was a moment where the audience was invited to come up and share a joke, and I volunteered, and I was, not to put too fine a point on it, terrible. I am, apparently, not one of those folks to whom you can say, “Say something funny”, and expect to be satisfied.

Yes, I was bad. And being bad isn’t interesting. Lots of people are bad at things – in fact, most people are bad at most things. And I am not interested in most people, doing most things, for this very reason. Fortunately, this can change.

Myq Kaplan was bad. I heard him at the Passim open mike, years and years ago, being bad. As I’ve frequently observed, being a bad comedian is a uniquely painful thing to witness – there is no such thing as polite laughter, unless you count dead silence as polite laughter. But Myq Kaplan did not remain bad. In fact, I was channel surfing one night, about five years later, and I saw Myq Kaplan on Comedy Central, being significantly better than bad. And I was pleased by this, and I wrote an article about it for my pal Dan Cloutier’s dearly departed Web site “We Support Local Music” (we do, but a Web site about it, well, apparently not so much). Being bad, not so interesting; getting good, very interesting. And Myq Kaplan was good.

And so he has remained. And the reason that I write you about Myq Kaplan is that, out of the blue, about two months ago, he wrote me to thank me for my column all those years ago: “it was beautifully written and expressed and i don’t know if i ever thanked you, and so i want to, now. Thanks for your kind, thoughtful words, for your artistry, for your humanity.” Now, I’m not sure that he and I ever exchanged more than a couple sentences, way back then. And our correspondence that followed his email was certainly the most extended interaction we’ve ever had. And it moved me to look up his work, again, and laugh, again, and to buy his newest album.

I may never be in the same room as Myq Kaplan, ever again; who knows whether our paths will ever cross? And these days, just thinking about being in the same room as other people fills me with a wistful longing that I can barely contain. But the generosity of spirit that led to his getting in touch with me is precious, and it’s the sort of thing that can carry me through these endless days of deadly nonsense. He’ll be reading this (I know, because I’m going to send him the link), so: Myq, my man, my pal, my colleague, thanks for being bad and getting better and sharing it with the world, and for your kind words, and, of course, for giving me another idea for a column. Godspeed, you kombucha of comedy, you.

Comments are closed.