I know the pain of being a "funny guy." It becomes an expectation, a label. What's the alternative? Being known as "the serious guy?" No thanks. Does that mean that I'm always at ease with my role? Not really. Sometimes it feels like a challenge, and not a fun one. There have been plenty times that I have been introduced as a world class laugh riot, and proceeded to let the rest of the room down. "What's so funny about this guy?" At that moment, absolutely nothing.
But that doesn't keep me from putting out the effort in most situations. This makes me a "smart aleck," and I've become accustomed to that epithet enough to focus on the first part, rather than the latter, since I've never been sure what an "aleck" is.
And every so often, it goes horribly wrong. Like the party I attended at the book warehouse I used to manage. There were a number of friends and family along that evening, and I felt that old urge to be the life of the party. This required me to regale any and all passersby with funny stories and anecdotes to cement my place as Bookpeople's Yukmaster. At one point, a little girl roared past, bouncing a beach ball that was almost as big as she was. Suddenly, an errant bounce sent the ball onto the table where the food was, landing squarely in the middle of a pan of chocolate brownies. At this point, I announced to the mischievous child and those within earshot, "I'm sorry dear, but now you're going to have to eat all those brownies." A cute enough assertion, coming from a complete stranger, the look on the girl's face didn't register surprise or amusement. Instead, I read "terror."
A friend of the family leaned over and whispered the reason for the little girl's shock, "Uh, she's a diabetic."
I didn't miss a beat. "Well, that's too bad, but actions have consequences and that's one of those things you're just going to have to learn."
Now it was very quiet. I laughed nervously at my own attempt at humor and waited for any kind of relief. It never came. Then I excused myself to the men's room.
I would like to say that this story had something to do with the period of time when I drank. I would like to chalk this up to a night of excess, but the only excess on this night was me. I was sober, with the possible exception of the sugar and caffeine found in your average can of Coca-Cola. Looking back, I would like to have that moment back. And I would like to tell you that I didn't think what I said was funny. I'd like to tell you that.