People Are Funny

Sudden fiction by Susan Walsh

I stood up there, on the “stage,” in the basement of a bowling alley in Waterford Michigan. I’ve stood in lots better places—just yesterday, in fact. But I always come back to Michigan. Where else would I get my material? Everyone laughed at that one. I adjusted the mic, don’t want it too close, tough to get people to laugh if they can’t understand what you’re saying. Tough either way.

I placed my bourbon on the table beside me and started my monologue. Funny thing about people, no really, it’s funny. They don’t mind being insulted if it makes them laugh. So I started right in, insulting all nationalities, ethnicities, orientations and lifestyles. Asked the group in the corner how things were going in the trailer park. No idea where they lived, but everyone thinks trailer parks are funny.

I threw in some off-color jokes—apologizing to the table of older women in the back. But everyone was fair game. Especially the guys in camo with Duck Dynasty beards and chubby wives who, by the way, seemed to find my jokes about their husbands right on. Turned out one guy was a plumber; I milked that for about 15  minutes.

Then I launched into a series of politically incorrect jokes, that would have started a riot in certain corners of the city. Three girls at the middle table started losing it, giggling and laughing until I thought they’d be sick. Two of them were beautiful, one was older, but not bad.

I gestured toward them, “See? Even the lesbians think it’s funny.” Again, the people went nuts. Seemed like most of them knew each other, which made the insults even funnier.

I wasn’t exempt either from my own ridicule. So what if my one brother’s an investment banker, and the other’s a biochemist and I’m here in the basement of a bowling alley in Waterford, MI. Everyone has to be somewhere. My parents are proud of me anyway, right? I mean, so what they’re not here. What does that prove? I got another round of applause for that. Everyone can relate to being the family failure.

The crowd was great. My show went long. Sometimes the magic works. The cheap wine, cold beer and half-decent bourbon didn’t hurt either.

Afterward, they had a raffle, no lie, a raffle. I hung around, even after the other comics split. I talked to the three women who really were hot and really weren’t lesbians. Just enjoying being with the people, like I belonged. I don’t belong in Hollywood or Vegas, but hey, give me a basement in Waterford Michigan and I’m good. Until the barmaid started gathering bottles and everyone started fading off into the night, back to babysitters, getting up for work, or whatever else their lives really were.

Tomorrow, I’d be in Vegas where I don’t belong but the money’s ok. After that, Tulsa, and then who knows? One stage can seem like any other. But tonight, I felt where I was.

© 2016 Susan Walsh