Comedy for cowards

Humour is a persona. No surprise there. Modern times are full of comics who were miserable people, to the point of killing themselves. Humour becomes an outlet for these sad, sometimes socially awkward people to express themselves, in often painfully funny ways. It’s funny because who from time to time hasn’t felt the discomfort of being alive?

Writing humour is possibly the most cowardly way of dealing with one’s social awkwardness. You tell a few jokes, bare your insecure soul and then release it to the world, never having to deal with the reality of the reader laughing at your work or (that thing you’re trying to avoid) not.

I’ve had occasion when someone has read my work silently to themselves in front of me. It’s uncomfortable. Worse, though, is when someone is with me listening to one of my radio pieces; I have to leave the room. I have to physically remove myself from their reaction/non-reaction.

I don’t do stand-up comedy. I do hide-out comedy.

As I’ve said before, radio gives me the freedom to do things I can’t do in print, including voices, dialogues, even singing. This week, I sing. Not just goofing around singing. I sing for real.

Using GarageBand and its auto-chords and loops, I created some basic melodies and wrote some lyrics for my fake album Ross Murray Sings Songs of Low Self-Esteem. You see? I’ve hedged my bets. I’ve created music that is supposed to be bad, or at least, in the scenario of the bit, I suggest is bad — no one’s going to like it because I have low self-esteem, get it? So if it really does make the listener wince, that’s part of the bit. Or at least I can tell myself that.

It’s a dodge, a cop-out, self-defence for the self-delusional: I can’t sing! But that’s the point. But I hope people like it! Even though the pretext is they won’t. It goes round and round in circles.

Comedy is risk, and risk means vulnerability. But on radio, no one can see you cringe.

Enjoy. I’ll be over there behind the curtains.

This piece originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway,” February 2, 2016.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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39 Responses to Comedy for cowards

  1. Ah, yes. Humor for the socially awkward. I feel the same way. I even cringe watching my husband read what I wrote. I don’t even think I could manage going on the radio without choking or being stuff lol. Props!

  2. pinklightsabre says:

    You see, you go so far inside the realm of badness and run smack into good. Refine bad, in fact. Michael did! (Jam on it, jam on it!) It’s like some have said about Jagger, so ugly he’s kind of sexy! And this, my friend, though I was in Category 3 streaming mode, made my afternoon here in Germany. Looking forward to the basement tapes, volume IV, with The Band. Bill

  3. Okay, I know you probably won’t believe me due to such low self esteem, but I listened to your songs and they moved me to tears, truly. “Mediocre lover” was my fave.

  4. But – you’re fabulous! I thought Justin tapped you to run in the next election! People look up to you, Ross, to your lofty height far, far above. We admire you and believe you and want to be like you! You have many minions, followers and fans! 😉 (Just thought you could use a little grandiosity.)

    And by the way, you are admired, by me, anyway.

  5. Tez says:

    Oooh, you’ve been hiding your light under a bushel – you have a good singing voice, Ross. As soon as you’ve learnt to hold a tune, you will become the next king of pop! I predict your album will go viral and you can cock-a-snook at that other Canadian fellow. Yay – move over Justin Bieber, the man of musical melancholy, Ross Murray, is on his way.

    (May I just say that I knew Ross a long time before he became famous . . .no, no I ‘m not a stalker just an ordinary fan . . . yes, yes I know I broke the AVO (apprehended violence order) by trying to break into his house . . . no, absolutely not, I did not see him in his kitchen peeling potatoes. He would never do such a simple, ordinary thing . . . No, no, please no, don’t take me away. . . aaaaarrrrrrggghhh . . . )

  6. This made me laugh so much – but I’m glad you didn’t witness it, there was snorting involved. “Comedy is risk” – very, very true. The line that really made me snort was making “semi-sweet love”. Still, it’s a step up from bittersweet. I suppose that’s later on. Thanks for the laugh, Ross.

  7. The Cutter says:

    I can speak or perform in front of people…but only when I’m ready. I HATE when people watch me practice or observe as work is in progress.

  8. Meagan says:

    I very much enjoy writing comedy – I don’t think I could ever grow a big enough pair to do stand up or even things where people heard my voice. Radio and the like.
    So props to you!

  9. J-Bo says:

    I absolutely cannot deal with people reading my writing in front of me. CANNOT.

  10. Elyse says:

    Come on out from behind that curtain and take a bow — what a hoot. “Mediocre lover” — well I can’t say one way or another. Hilarious commedian? Yup.

  11. Trent Lewin says:

    I’m sorry to everyone who’s offended by this, but this set of songs is the best laugh of the year. Good god that was funny… your voice ain’t bad, dude! But yes, I do think it likely that you’re a mediocre lover. Ha!

  12. List of X says:

    One person reading silently can just be an outlier. At least I always tell myself that when that happens. But try a big audience – if even a third of them are actually laughing at any given joke, it masks the fact that the rest of them don’t.
    Oh, and your songs reminded me of the Flight of the Conchords.

  13. I particularly like the Rastafarian stylings of ‘Mediocre Lover.’ These aren’t any worse than ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’ and that guy made a fortune.

    Listen…anytime you put your stuff out there you leave yourself open ridicule. Don’t kid yourself, bucko. It’s a leap of faith and it takes big bull testicles. You’re a triple threat; writer, singer and male underwear model.

  14. ksbeth says:

    yes,you are certainly in a safe zone here, ross. we are all just as off kilter as you are, so what can we say? and i mean that as a compliment of the highest order.

  15. It was fun reading your post, Ross. I look forward to reading a few more. Do you have any of your own that you would recommend as being especially funny? This made me chuckle a bit, mostly due to my crippling social anxiety (and our mutual desire to air potentially humorous things online), but you talked more about making comedy than you actually wrote funny things. Am I making sense? Do you have some humorous writing I could read?
    I ask because I (attempt) to write in a humorous vain constantly and would certainly love feedback. If you were bored and had a moment, I’d love if you had time to read a post or two and provide me with feedback.
    Keep writing and keep recording, my friend!

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