Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm a prop comic

Okay I’m not a prop comic, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Marc Maron interviews (see WTF in links) where he talks shop with other comics. I love comedians. I love comedy. I sometimes harboured a secret idea I could be one until, that is, I was crippled by a series of Lemony Snickets (1). So when they talk shop they talk about the styles of comedy or types of comedy—prop comics, stand-ups, sketch/improv, one-line-joke-tellers and so forth—that's the one I'm currently learning towards. The other interesting thing is that for the most part most comedians seem to be damaged people, drawing on that damage for material. Maron was talking with Demetri Martin about depression and anger that fuels comedians, calling it 'tears of a clown'. They noted that you couldn't be all tears otherwise, of course, no one would want to see you.

In improv-story time sometimes I use props, like YouTube clips or Google image searches. Sometimes they value add … sometimes they do not.

Tonight during bath-time Syny-batty-bat-bat, the top hat and monocle-clad penguin that lives in an Igloo next door to Humpty and Stumpty (2) was the staring villain. It seems the wily penguin had pulled the plug on the lake to drain it so he could get all the fish—now left flapping and flipping on the wet sand of former-lake bottom while gasping boggle-eyed for breath—and he was just about to start collecting.

TheBoy, ever-with-a-conscience and on the look out for the oppressed being oppressed, in this case the fish, acted.

‘I put the plug back in and fill it all up!’ he declared.

‘Syny-batty-bat-bat goes to pull the plug out,’ I said solemnly.

‘I tip it up! Tip/tip/tip,’ commanded theBoy. Tip, or tipping, is theBoy’s code for use of sticky-tape (3). In stories if he wants to secure something then he goes for tape. Or a lock (if it’s an obvious portal—lock/lock/lock/lock/lock.’

‘Syny-batty-bat-bat starts to burn the tape away!’ I said.

On the sink, for some reason, was a handheld butane blow torch. The kind you use to caramelise sugar sprinkled on yummy desserts (4).

I picked it up then activated it. A jet of blue flame punched the air before the nozzle, a thin haze of skin-scorching heated air a good six inches from the flame’s tip. I held it, a look of awe on my face.

‘Wooooooooorrrrrrrrsssccccch,’ I said, accentuating the gaseous hiss of the torch.

‘Then he pulls the plug out!’ I yelled, turning the torch off.

‘Let’s do that again,’ whispered theBoy, eyes round with the wonder of endless possibility.

‘Er … maybe not,’ I said.

‘I do it?’ he said softly, his features filled with hope.

‘No … in fact … let’s pretend that didn’t happen. And that we don’t talk about it.’

Alas guilt got the better of me and I outed my crime to theWife.

Bad baby-parenting.

(1) TheWife has been on both sides of the employee employer coin. In that she’s been supervised and a supervisor. I mean, you always have a supervisor … unless, that is, you’re the PM and even then there’s checks and balances. But she’s been a supervisor, and an excellent one at that I imagine (never having been supervised by theWife in an actual work capacity but definitely in my magician’s assistant role to her as parent prime). One of her supervisor gigs was managing recruitment, including after the joined the org but while they were still under probation. The public service—like in the private sector (1a)—attracts its fair share of not-quite-rights but I’d say on the whole the public service, with its commitments to equity and diversity, is a lot more forgiving of ‘quirks’. So it’s rare for someone to get bounced from the program, especially considering there’s a number of avenues of redress that can be taken. Instead to get rid of someone you convince them that the public service isn’t quite the place for them. TheWife was a bit like George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air. Making redundancy seem attractive. She was good at it.
One of those convinced to go was someone they nicknamed Lemony Snicket. Lemony Snicket is from a series of kids books, and from the movie of the same name, titled Lemony Snicket and a Series of Unfortunate Events. This is what occurred to the aforementioned public servant on probation. She burned all her allotted leave on either illness (personal) or illness (caring), as well as her rec leave. Back then theWife’s agency had a separate slew of days for additional crap—death of a loved one is worth three days, for example—so Lemony started using those. Only … proof was lacking. For one, for a niece or nephew or some-such, she claimed an vehicle accident had badly maimed and or killed them and she had to go to the hospital slash funeral slash hospital—they weren’t sure as the story kept changing. Finally they asked for any form of proof—a news article, for example, since the nature of the accident was somewhat sensational. Nothing. Eventually they had the talk and Lemony had her walk out of the building under voluntary circumstances. It didn’t always go that well. Once theWife came in from hugging farewell a troublesome colleague—off to life in another department—then came back in only to discover that on the exit survey she’d been slagged the fuck off. Noice.
So … the point of this tale is that Lemony Snicket is our couple-speak for ‘a series of unfortunate events.’
TheWife also called a woman she worked with ‘Tomato’. Not because of ruddy features … but because she was dumber than one.
Note to the world. Do not attract the glare of theWife. She’s like the lidless eye. But in a good way! (kisses!)
(1a) Or the ‘real world’ as those in the private sector like to quip, as if their role in either making or selling something made has greater import than serving the broader community.
(2) Two hobbits (aka small-people for legal purposes) who live in a tree down by the river (2a)
(2a) … where they sold contraceptives (flip, flip, flip) (Monty Python joke).
(3) Usually seen in action when theWife ‘helps’ theBoy to wrap presents for the legions of children in our non-e social network. Or to fix torn pages from theBoy’s ferocious handling of books. Frequent victims being of course pop-up or flap books.
(4) Why did we have one? Two words. ALDI special.


  1. Uh oh. Big uh oh. Hide the matches and the blow torch!

  2. Such an epic, epic fail. And right on the heels of the duck dog.


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