by Mike Van Horn
It only hurts when I laugh. So I don’t laugh much any more. Heh heh, ouch! See what I mean?
I used to be a stand up comic. I specialized in poking fun at people who claimed they’d seen flying saucers or had been abducted by aliens and hauled off into space. Guaranteed to get huge laughs, and I always joined in the laughter.
Then one night I was abducted by strange beings in a flying saucer. Not little green men, but giant green Amazon women with four arms—a cross between Shiva and Xena. They told me they wanted to conduct experiments on human beings to see if we could be improved. Because we sure needed to become better. They asked how I wanted to be upgraded. Longer life? Healthier? Taller? More hair?
I told them I wanted to be the funniest person on Earth. That stumped them. “I think you have to operate on my funny bone,” I suggested. This was a new request to them, but they conferred, then said they’d do it. They wanted to show how advanced they were, and didn’t want to look bad.
They botched it. Their attempt at operating on my funny bone left me terribly scarred. They tried to correct their blunder by transplanting a section of my humerus. But that just made the situation worse.
They set me back down on Earth with profuse apologies. But the damage was done. With this deep internal scarring to my funny bone, I just couldn’t crack a joke. I couldn’t even toss out a one-liner.
I tried. Lord knows I tried. I stood up there in front of the audience and cranked out my best stuff. But whenever I laughed, I cried. I moaned, ouch! The audience just looked at me, like, what’s wrong with this guy?
You fall off a horse, you climb back on. I kept trying. But they were laughing at me, not with me. I was crying inside.
Inner scarring is the worst. Nobody can tell. If I had, say, scars from third degree burns, they could remark, oh he’s being so brave, pushing ahead despite his horrible scars. But they just thought I was nuts, and felt sorry for me. You can’t make anybody laugh who feels sorry for you.
I’d have to get out of comedy and find another line of work. What are the least funny jobs, where I’d never need to laugh? IRS auditor? TSA inspector? No, those folks must run into hilarious lies all the time. They are immersed in the human comedy.
Maybe I could go into politics. Nothing funny about a politician.
So, it was my last night on the comedy circuit. I decided to level with the audience and tell them exactly what had happened to me. “I was abducted by giant green women,” I confessed sadly. They roared with laughter! They thought it was one big spoof. I got a standing ovation. I hung my head in shame, because I dared not laugh along with them. And nobody believed me.
Except one guy. He came up afterwards and grabbed my arm right below my humerus. (Ouch!) “I’ve got to talk with you,” he said in a hushed voice. “This has happened to me, too. Please listen to my story.” I took him backstage where it was quiet.
“I was also kidnapped by these huge green women and taken up into space. ‘How can we make you better?’ they asked. ‘Honesty. Make me an honest politician,’ I said. They operated on my fibula, so I could never again fib. Then they sent me back to Earth.
“I ran for office, but campaigning was hard,” he went on. “At every whistle stop and every debate, I could only tell the truth. Surprisingly, this irritated most people. They didn’t want to hear the truth. They wanted a politician who would stand up and tell them he could make the world the way they wanted it to be. That’s what the other candidates did. I showed them how unrealistic those things were. I was defeated in a landslide.”
“That’s terrible,” I said, even though I wanted to laugh out loud. “What did you do?”
“I summoned the flying saucer again, using this magic signal ring.” He showed it to me. “Didn’t they give you one also?”
“Oh yeah, I have one of those. I didn’t know what it was for, though.”
“I asked them to enhance my fibula, so I could tell people what they wanted to hear.”
I scoffed at him. But that night I stood atop the hill and held my signal ring high above my head. Before long, whoosh, the flying saucer came down out of the sky and scooped me up.
“Please, please,” I begged the giant green women. “You’ve got to make my funny bone work again. I don’t have to be the funniest. Maybe that was too much to ask. But if I could just get a few chortles and giggles, I will be happy.”
They examined me. “All right, but we don’t know if this scarring can be repaired. Perhaps another transplant from your humerus to help your damaged funny bone.” Soon it was done.
“Don’t expect miracles,” they said as I was leaving. “We cannot pretend to understand the humor of the human race. But don’t the funniest comedians speak from their pain? Use your scarring as material. If it hurts a bit, just laugh through your tears. “
This sounded like dopey advice, like they were making something up because they couldn’t do anything for me.
I ran into my politician friend again. He was ecstatic. “I’m back on the campaign trail. I’m telling people just what they want to hear, and I’m at the top of the polls. Guess what? I’m running for President!”
Now that was funny. I laughed till I thought my sides would split.
That evening I went down to the improv. I got up on stage and told the story of the honest politician. The crowd roared! I laughed right along with them. Ha ha ha ha! Ouch! Ha ha ha. Whoo-hee!