Funny Guy

"I'm funny," I tell my wife, too often, I'm sure.

"If you say you're funny," she replies, "you aren't."

"No, that applies to being cool. If you say you're cool, you aren't."

It's something I've experienced with my dear cousin, who is five years younger than me. It's a story he's said to me several times now; usually, in front of an audience: "When we were growing up," he'd say, "I used to think you were the coolest guy around. But when I grew up, I realized that I'm way cooler than you."

"If you say you're cool," I'd remind him, every time, "you're not." And now, I also think, and telling this story over and over again? Not cool. So not cool.

I've never seen myself as cool, but I do think I'm a good guy, for the most part.

And funny.

You can believe that you're a good guy, but you can only show that characteristic in your actions, and how you're perceived. You can also claim that you're funny and verify this quality by the reaction of others: if you're funny, people will laugh, especially when you want them to laugh.

I can make my wife laugh. I have also made friends laugh. And when people laugh much louder than you intended, without them forcing the laughter, you know you're funny.

Even with The Brown Knowser, I have tried to be funny with some of my posts. Nothing makes me happier to hear someone say, "I read your post, last night, and I couldn't stop laughing. It was so funny." The first thing I do is try to remember the post from the past night, and to remember if I was trying to be funny. If I was, my day is made.

For years, I've been telling my wife that I have wanted to try my hand at acting. I have been in a couple of school plays and a high-school talent show, and I remember the thrill of being on stage, under the bright lights.

When I was a Toastmaster, I loved being creative with my speeches, not so much delivering them as performing them. I would tell stories, supplying gestures with my words. I performed a one-man version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, paring it down to 15 minutes and assuming all of the roles.

The club loved it.

I also performed a scene from my novel, Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary, bringing my main character, Roland Axam, to life. In this scene, Roland summarized the five stages of grief: in my performance, I cried, I got on my knees and pleaded, I showed rage—even throwing a chair across the room. It was one of the best performances of anything I've ever done.

My best performance, to date, was when, for six years, I played the role of Roland in an Ottawa bar, fooling the employees and patrons with my fake Scottish brogue. I had them believe this identity and my character's history that, when I was discovered for the fraud I was, I was banned from the pub for life.

I even fooled a real Scotsman, who happened to visit the bar one night when I came in. He believed my explanation for my faded accent, that I had lived in Canada for so long that I was beginning to sound Canadian.

Excuse me while I take a bow.

Yes, I've always had dreams of acting. To that end, I have signed up for an acting class. But it isn't just a writing class: it's a comedy-sketch-writing and acting class. I'm so excited that I want to throw up. Also, I'm nervous as hell.

Being funny can be easy. Writing comedy, I find, is hard. Really hard. But this is an introductory class, and I feel that in it, I'm just testing the waters.

The class is taught by Ottawa actor, Pierre Brault, who I have admired ever since I saw his one-man show, Blood on the Moon. Since then, I've seen him in a few NAC performances, and I know that I'll be in good hands.

Wish me luck... I mean, wish me to break a leg!

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