Crafting a Careless Comedian

Well smack me with a hammer and call me nailed, doesn’t it feel great to get absolutely POUNDED by life?

Excuse me for being dramatic. It’s been one of those weeks. Who the hell even likes oat milk? Why are people ordering things with oat milk in them!? I need to express some rage, and I choose to direct at the woman who just ordered a coffee with oat milk. What even is an oat? Just a coat without a c? What use is that?

This whole week has felt like my mind is trying to run and my body can only walk. I’m about to drink so much green tea that I might literally shit myself forever. Forgive me for being scatter-brained. This is how I right myself. I write to right myself. WOW LOOK HOW CREATIVE THAT WAS. I hate everything.

This blog is starting to become a more integral part of my life than I had imagined. It was always a place where I could dislodge my captured thoughts on occasion, but I’ve realized the amount of parsley stuck in the teeth of my mind is truly never-ending. It’s like I have to take a dump for my brain every day before I can start to think straight.

I’ve been doing two to three pages of handwritten stream-of-consciousness writing to start the morning and then writing out one of these puppies, and it’s only then when I start to feel like I’m getting to the meat of the artichoke. Then I can actually move on to writing jokes or poems or whatever it is. Manifestos. Menus. I’ve been writing a lot of menus.

I’m kidding, I don’t write manifestos or menus. That would actually be hilarious… if I just wrote a bunch of fake menus for fun. I could walk into various restaurants with a suit and tie, ask for the manager and say “this is what you SHOULD be serving.” It’s an Italian restaurant but all I have written down is 73 variations of ramen. I’ll storm out of the building screaming “YOU SHALL CHANGE TO APPEASE ME OR PAY THE CONSEQUENCES!” Then I will leave the manifesto by the door and slowly stroll away.

It’s so hard for me not to be extremely crude sometimes. I don’t know what it is, but something about saying the worst possible thing I can think of out loud provides me with an overwhelming sense of relief. I guess that’s what makes me a comedian. Will it get me in trouble some day? Most definitely. Will I be surprised by this? Most certainly not. Will I care? Hopefully not. We all have to bear the consequences of our words, and I accept that.

I think the same thing that makes any comedian great is what ultimately brings them down. To me, great comedy has a certain level of “I don’t care” to it. I have an appreciation for well-crafted jokes and polished comedians, but they don’t hit me the same way a comedian who truly doesn’t give a flying ferret does. The best comedians (in my opinion) are those who merge craftsmanship with carelessness.

It’s kind of an oxymoron. How can you craft something carefully and not care at the same time? Well that’s just the million dollar question isn’t it? That’s why so few have reached that level of comedic prowess. It’s not an easy thing to do.

On top of that, the people who have reached that level also haven’t really made it out the other side. Maybe death is the other side and they’ve transmuted their consciousness into something of greater substance, I don’t know, but they certainly haven’t pulled through on this end.

Pryor, Kinnison, Patrice O’Neal, Robin Williams, even lesser known comedians like Ralphie May whom I consider great menders of craftsmanship and carelessness haven’t exactly found a place of peace for long periods of their life.

I’m trying to think of who has made it through and the only person that comes to mind is Jim Carrey. He seems to have found a level of peace and higher consciousness after completely losing himself in his performances. He was never exactly crass or crude, but if you watch the movie “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond” (it’s on Netflix) you can’t tell me that he didn’t completely lose his mind for the sake of performance.

He reached levels of not giving a care that few ever have and crafted brilliant performances out of it. Unless you’ve done comedy, it’s hard to truly appreciate how hard it is to lose yourself on stage like he did. He committed to whatever wacky nonsense he was doing with his face and body so hard that even if you didn’t think it was funny you couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that he would go to such great lengths on a stage.

A lot of comedians were great craftsmen but never truly careless, like Seinfeld. I would have loved to see what a careless Seinfeld would look like because I know there’s something dark and angry down in there. He presents his anger very carefully, but there’s a deep disdain for society that runs through his blood that would be wild to see if he let himself be cut open.

I’m not saying he should or shouldn’t let that out, I honestly don’t know what the “right” thing to do is, and it’s not my place to suggest what’s right for anyone but myself. I suppose I’m searching for a way to cut myself open completely on stage and return to a more assembled version of myself once I leave the stage, but maybe that’s not even possible. I don’t know. Maybe in order to be that person on stage you have to live it off stage.

It reminds me of that guy in the movie “The Prestige” who was so committed to his act that he pretended to be an old man his entire life even though he wasn’t. Obviously it’s a movie, but it shows how someone chose to become the performance. Carrey did the same thing when he played Andy Kauffman. He literally became Andy Kauffman whether it was on stage or off.

It’s a wild thing to do, but that’s what comedians are for. To do wild things.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.


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4 thoughts on “Crafting a Careless Comedian

  1. Hello Mr Brendel ,

    Thank you for sharing your musings and life experiences as a comedian . As someone who doesn’t spend a great deal of time amongst them ,I find your post to be incredibly interesting .This line of yours in particular was well penned down ‘I have an appreciation for well-crafted jokes and polished comedians, but they don’t hit me the same way a comedian who truly doesn’t give a flying ferret does. The best comedians (in my opinion) are those who merge craftsmanship with carelessness’
    Very insightful indeed 👌🏽

    Do keep writing .I’d like to keep an eye out for your future posts 😊

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