BasilWhite.com - Standup Comedians: Intelligent, Broken People
In a recent interview, the interviewer asked me about the relationship between intelligence and the ability to make people laugh. I've taken IQ tests that score me pretty darn high, and I feel like I barely have the intelligence to do standup comedy. Comedy takes more effort, pain and suffering than any other job I've ever had, physically, intellectually and emotionally. More physically hazardous working as a nightclub bouncer, more physically demanding than dishwasher, more degrading than sweeping floors or cleaning toilets. I love comedy, because it gives me the only creative endeavor I've found that neither feels easy nor impossible. Comedy never feels easy. Comedy never feels impossible.
I took a class on how to teach adults how to read, and my teacher explained a three-part model of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic (touching, moving, smelling and tasting). She said if you learn visually, formal education works because you can learn by reading and writing. If you learn auditorially, formal education can work for you because you can listen to the teacher or an audiobook or read aloud to yourself. If you learn kinesthetically, formal education screws you. Physically interacting with objects and smelling and tasting them and touching them doesn't get you through math class. I blame this failure to incorporate kinesthetic learning into formal education for the development of people who demonstrate genius with physical objects who can't read, like Robert De Niro's character "Stanley" in Stanley and Iris.
I meet a lotta comics who seem very kinesthetic in the way they experience the world, and even in the words they use on stage. They'll start with a visual or auditory verb and follow with all kinesthetic verbs. "I saw in the paper that X. So I grabbed my coat and drove down to City Hall and broke in on the Mayor's press conference, etc." (Index of visual/auditory/kinesthetic words at http://basilwhite.com/comedyworkshop/#sensory.) I also meet genius comics with Attention Deficit Disorder. I have ADD, and I credit my inability to maintain attention for my creative success. If you have ADD, life never bores you, and you have a lot to talk about, because as soon as something gets boring, you start paying attention to something else. I don't call it Attention Deficit Disorder. I call it Boredom Intolerance Disorder, and I try to make it work for me.
As always, tell me what you think.