Stand-up Tirade

Performed by Mark Katz
Gotham Comedy Club

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Mark Katz.

Pause for applause.

Uh, my name is Mark Katz and I have no business being this far away from a word processor.

I am a writer. And if this monologue were a document, right now I'd be doing a word count to see how close I was to being done.

I'd be hitting the ol' F6 button. 34 words. Damn!

But I decided it was time to expand beyond my comfort zone. I love writing but it has its limits. When I write, I'm alone with my thoughts. I'm completely separated from an audience. When I confine myself to the written word, there is no way to approximate this kind of assault on my dignity.

Writing is one on one. I write something, it goes on the paper, I give it to you, you read it. I can take any one of you people one on one. -- Yea, I'm talking to you, tough guy! -- And if you don't get, you're the idiot. You failed.

But stand-up is going before a jury. A jury in Texas, where more people go the electric chair than the library.

When you write, what's the worst that can happen to you? An editor says "no thank you." or "try it again." They don't heckle. And if you get them early in the day, they're not drunk. They don't say stuff like "You suck, your mother sucks and I slept with your sister." Not to your face.

Here, I'm not funny unless this room is filled with laughter. ...........See, right there, I'm not funny.

It changes the whole equation. Am I funny? Now I'm asking you. No, I'm begging you.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, tonight my sense of self-worth rests in your unclapped hands. You can convict me with blank stares and awkward silence.

.................Your honor, I'd like to file for an appeal.

F6. 678 words. Must keep going.

I admit it. I don't belong on a stage. The last time I was on stage was my high school production of Hello, Dolly!

I had two lines and I was panned in the review in the Pennysaver. "Mr. Katz's portrayal of the Second Cook lacked dimension."


But the fact remains: On a stage full of amateurs, I stood out as an amateur.

I know this isn't fair to you. You pay nine dollars a drink to sit in a comedy club and some guy gets up to the microphone and says "Hey, I'm not a comedian." That's like going to get your appendix out and the last thing your hear before you slip into unconsciousness is the guy in the green outfits telling you "I'm not a doctor. I just type up the prescriptions. ......Scalpel!"

There's something wrong with the system. And I've figured it out: all the funny people are telling jokes. Unfunny people sit in the audience. The unfunny people decide whose funny. Don't you see? You are the problem.

Please don't laugh. It only makes it worse.

That's the problem with comedy. Everybody is an expert. Every field I've ever worked in, it's a field where every one you know not only has an opinion but has the answer.

This, by the way, it what happens to you when you are a liberal arts major. Remember when you were in college, and you said you were studying philosophy or early Swedish literature, everyone asked: how are you going to get a job? Those people don't know what they're talking about. I was a political science major. I've been out of college eleven years and I've had fourteen jobs.

I’ve had jobs in advertising, in politics and in comedy. And everyone I've met in the last ten years in an expert. Every time I'm introduced to someone and they asked me what I do, I wind up listening to theories on what Dukakis should have said at the debates, the specific reasons why the Frutopia commercials suck and how come Seinfeld isn't as funny as it used to be.

Of course, each of them was completely wrong all of the time. Because as a trained professional, I happen to know the correct answers to all of these issues.

If I had to do it all over again, I would go into a field where I could be the undisputed authority. I don't care what. I'd get a Ph.D. in nuclear radio isotope quantum theory. Just so one time, one person who say to me "OK Katz, you're the expert. Why don't you tell me what's what."

Instead, I'm standing in front of a group of lawyers, brokers and accountants waiting to find out if I've got a sense of humor. .....How about actuaries? Do we have any actuaries in the room?

Well, I news for you. I was cracking wise while you were learning the cows on the bus go "moo, moo, moo." And I came here tonight to tell you that I am trained comedy professional and this stuff I'm telling you is hysterical.

So when I say "laugh!" -- you say "how high?"

[long, awkward pause]

F6. 1011 words. Thank you God. To hell with you. Please, drive home safe.

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