My Dark Secret

By Laura Crisp Davis - August 6, 2020
My Dark Secret

I’ve recently been forced to face a glaring truth about myself.

Allegedly, I have a sense of humor.

I say allegedly, because it’s kind of a big comedy rule to abstain from claiming to be funny.

The fact of the matter is, every single time I get on video with other writers, they tell me I’m funny. The post office workers tell me I’m funny. Even my gynecologist for crying out loud.

I’ve had this perception that I’m dark, solitary, and a little odd (hello lucky Halloween socks). Imagine my shock at a comedy producer urging me to do standup comedy. Imagine my jaw drop when I tell my friends, and they chime in with, “Oh my god! Yes! You’ve been cracking me up for years!”

I started wondering how I ended up with such a negative perception about my sense of humor, and I had a major epiphany: this is like the time I realized I don’t suck at math.

My senior year of high school, I barely passed algebra and that experience led me to believe that I suck at math. My suckiness at math was solid gospel until I went back to college in my 30s and I was required to take algebra. I didn’t love it, but I found it easy, and to my utter surprise, I got a 4.0 on the final exam. I can still remember standing there while the proctor announced my score.

“Are you sure you just graded MY test?” I asked. The woman was certain.

After that test, I walked around for weeks with my head high. I didn’t just pass math. I aced it.

Then the doubt crept back in. But how? I had a professor who was passionate about empowering students who believed they were bad at math. He talked about how the past can define us for years if we let it. He encouraged us to release old negative experiences with math and open our minds to the new experience of his class.

I thought back to the circumstances of my senior year, and I knew exactly what happened. After a friend committed suicide, I almost flunked algebra, geometry, history, and even PE because I skipped classes I didn’t like and shut down learning anything that didn’t come easily to me. 

So what does flunking math and my friend’s death have to do with my inability to recognize my own sense of humor? He was also my comedy buddy.

We weren’t best friends, but we sat near each other in homeroom from 7th to 12th grade. Over the years, we developed a rapport. Every morning we tried to make each other laugh. By senior year, our homeroom teacher had funny nicknames for us and she’d regularly wipe tears from laughing at our morning routine. After his tragic death, I stopped laughing in homeroom. I gravitated toward more serious current events, and looking back, I was profoundly depressed.

My point is, comedy became ultra tragic for me, so I convinced myself that I’m not funny.

Just like with math, realizing I have a sense of humor has been a major moment. It’s like waking up one day and realizing I’ve had a face tattoo my entire life. Perhaps others see it as obvious, but I’ve been oblivious.

So, guess what I did this week?

I went to an open mic and I did 5 minutes of standup. I made a room of socially-distanced comics crack up laughing. Classic ME. Who decides to try standup comedy during a freaking pandemic? This dark and twisted girl right here.

I’m going to keep going to open mics (as long as clubs are open), and I’ll probably bomb frequently, and that will be okay. I need to pay my dues and get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

Here’s to embracing my dark and twisted, and perhaps occasionally funny, self.

Note: We wear masks, keep social distance, and even the mics get little hats to keep us from spreading cooties. After the pandemic shutdown, I started doing zoom comedy and took a comedy intensive with nationally known comics. I like live better. As soon as I've been fully vaccinated and the clubs are open, I'll be back at it.  

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Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I'm silly. Any scripts referenced are for educational purposes only. (My lawyer made me say that part.)