"Sooo, you're a comic?" he says, looking me up and down from head to toe. He appears to not believe the answer as he presses his pint of beer against his mouth, smiling into it instead of drinking it. He pauses there for a three seconds. Let's call him "Craig."
"Yeah!" I shrug. And glance past him towards the barkeep. Small talk is fun! Where's the barkeep? Just need a drink.
Craig holds his eyes on mine and he gulps down his IPA. I can hear the stickiness in his mouth as he swallows and lets out a refreshing, "tssaaaahh." His beer tastes good you guys but it's not going to distract him from processing that I'm a girl and a comic because he can do two things at once, right? Bro!
"A girl... comic," he slowly says out-loud like he's sounding out a word in a foreign language. A girl comic! Out of nowhere my breasts suddenly rejoice. They're getting the limelight they've always desired in my comedy. My breasts are attention seekers that way. They actually perk up at his identification. They even have their own choreography to Robin Thicke's, "Blurred Lines" after I told them not to, trust me they are so dumb.
I respond again cordially after silencing my percolating and unruly comedy breasts, "Yeah! So I'm a comic."
"Are you funny," he says his question more as a statement without understanding that thinking oneself is funny is far from a standard for good comedy. See, funny means so much more than I could ever be alone. Funny is an energy, a potential to deeply connect, a person that has that spark that creates the space where the result is laughter. I answer, "Ya know, I'm grateful that people laugh."
I glance past Craig at the barkeep, "G&T!" I yell "PLEASE!" I yell. "A double!" I yell. "Like my breasts!" I don't yell that last part I'm just kidding.
I look over to see Craig still standing near. He leans back, "So, tell me a joke."
"Come to a set," I reply inviting him with a time and date of my next show.
See, comics understand this. And I think most people understand this too that comedy isn't just telling a joke. It's timing, it's place, it's syntax, set up, it's replacing one syllable words with three syllable words because it sounds different, it's honesty and authenticity and working and reworking a set. It's also your mom. Asking a comic that you meet on the street to "tell you a joke" is another way of saying I'd really like you to minimize the maximum potential of comedy in thirty seconds or less so that I may approve your worth in being a part of it. Don't be that guy.
But today it sounds more like grunting. "Commeee Onnnnn," Craig grunts.
"Seriously, come to a show."
"Hey guys! There's a girl comic here who won't tell a joke!" he sneers. "OK then, I am going to come to your show and heckle the shit out of you. Just to see if you can handle it." He continues, high fiving his buddies. "Your fault," he says assuring me. It is then I realize that I have inadvertently landed myself in a real life circle jerk and I have been caught with only this little girly dildo in this very amazing dick fight oh no what will I do.
I grin. No teeth. "Yeah dude, yeah." I dig deep. See, this isn't just comic vs. asshole heckler, this is every day not asshole comic vs. asshole future heckler.
As the night progressed, and each time I'd walk past their group I'd hear him taunt. And each time I'd hide my growing annoyance with a "See ya there!" Comics loathe hecklers for a variety of reasons but we don't fear them. And for whatever reason it felt important for this guy to make sure I was afraid.
So at the end of the night when it was time to go, I stopped at the coat check and as I'm putting back on the sexiest pant-suit blazer you have ever mother-effin' seen, I walk over to Craig, looked him square in the eyes and said, "Do you mind if I do something right now?"
And I reached and held him close and gave him the biggest and longest hug and I waited long after it got awkward and I waited until he melted in my arms like a little boy who is seeing his mother for the first time after he was kidnapped for 16 years when he was four. What a shame just old enough to have memories to keep him warm but not old enough to know if he was making them up; and I waited for his chest to slowly rise with relief and fall with trust right into my little lesbian arms and only after he let his guard down and whispered vulnerably with his head against mine, "Wow thanks, I really needed that." Do I hold him tighter and deadpan into his soul, "Fucking come to my show and heckle me and see what happens."
"Okay so you are a comic." he paused, "I have an idea for a joke you could use."
"Trust me, you've given me plenty," I smiled into the last sip of my rocks glass with a gulp and walked out the door, thankful for my comedy and the tits that go with it.