Thursday, February 4, 2010

He Cries Wolf.

I love the phrase “I’m not just saying this, but…”

Comics hear this all the time. As in: “I’m not just saying this, but you were my favorite comedian!”

I love it. I especially like the implication that every time this person made a declarative statement that didn’t begin with “I’m not just saying …” they were totally full of shit. They really were just saying.

I like that people need to qualify thier compliments in order to distinguish them from straight-up lies.

Mothers, of course, are the biggest culprits. They have their own variation of the expression just for them: “And I’m not just sayin’ that because I’m your mom.” Thousands of awkward, clearly unattractive children grew up hearing:

“Any girl would be thrilled to go the dance with you, honey. And I’m not just saying that because I’m your mom.”

If you were like me, you would instantly think: “That’s funny, because you’re the only one saying that. You would think if that were true, other moms would tell me the same thing. But they don’t. In fact, most of them tell me to stay away from their daughter. Odd.”

Some people make it clear when they are just saying. In this case, it’s usually used to soften the blow after bringing up a touchy subject. “Listen, Gregory, you really need to consider flossing more then twice a decade. You’re going to get gingivitis. I’m just saying.”

Sometimes, you gotta just say.

Most of the people who read this blog know me well, and those who know me well know I lie all the time. I don’t have any idea why I lie about most of the things I lie about, as typically my lies produce no discernable benefit. Classic example. I have never seen Braveheart. Not a second of it. Yet I cannot tell you how many times I have answered in the affirmative when asked if I have seen the Mel Gibson epic. Same thing goes for Blade Runner, Gladiator, the 2nd and 3rd Lord of the Rings, and Godfather, Part II. I haven’t seen a single one of those movies. Most of my friends think I have however, and it hasn’t improved my life in the slightest.

Often while I am performing or writing, I feel a little guilty if I’m saying something I know isn’t true. But there’s really no need. Stand-up comedy is a performance. Even if everything I was saying were true, it would still be an act. I’m a performer playing a character. The character may have the same name, may be dressed the same, may have virtually the same voice and mannerisms, but it’s not me up there. It’s Gregory Quinn, the amateur comedian. And that character does not say the same things I say, doesn’t believe the same things I believe, doesn’t do the same things I do. I haven’t eaten an ounce of meat in almost two years, yet one of my standard bits is all about how ridiculous being a vegetarian is. My reasoning for this is simple: GQ the person hasn’t the slightest interest in eating meat anymore; GQ the comedian thinks that’s retarded.

It can be a difficult balance however. You don’t want to separate yourself from the performer too much. I did the monthly Root Hill Café show in Park Slope on Monday. Afterward, I walked to the 7th avenue stop with the host and she had this to say about my comedy:

I remember the first time I saw your set. Your jokes were good and you seemed very prepared. You knew exactly what you were going to say. But it didn’t ring true.

Of course my initial reaction was, “Yeah well, your face doesn’t ring true!”

I’m kidding. But I was a little shocked. Not that she felt that way but that she noticed, which is particularly telling because it was the first time she saw me perform. It was the first time she had ever even met me. I guess I’m pretty obvious. It’s not that I don’t want to ring true; I’m just not exactly sure what that means. And if I ever find out, I’m not sure I could ring true and still be funny. Right now, I’m way too concerned with being funny. Other things will come in time. I hope.

Well, I have to run. But thanks for reading though. I’m not just saying this, but I really appreciate every one who does.

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