Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Not Lying Down for Sit-Down Rip-Off

I can remember when my son was heartbroken after I told him his brilliant invention had already been invented. Now I know how let down he felt.

SIT - DONW COMEDYMy brilliant idea was to cap a career in public relations and lobbying with a post-retirement fling at sit-down comedy. There are lots of stand-up comedians, so I figured I would be different. I would be hilariously funny sitting down.

But somebody always has to spoil a great dream. John Cleese and Eric Idle are heading out on tour this fall with a routine that promises “unforgettable sit-down comedy.” It’s like being hacked by the Chinese government with an English accent. These two comic collaborators read my mind and stole my gig.

Sit Down Comedy ClubIf that’s not bad enough, I then discover Australians have been poaching on my turf. There is something called The Sit Down Comedy Club in Brisbane. And like a lot of stuff down under, it is a stand-up comedy venue for acts such as the Umbilical Brothers. What a perfect way to stand a great idea on its head.

Cleese and Idle vaguely spell out their notion of sit-down comedy. Their promo materials talk of “blending scripted and improvised bits with storytelling, musical numbers, exclusive footage, aquatic juggling and an extended audience Q&A to craft a unique comedic experience with every performance.” That’s certainly not what I have in mind.

First off, I don’t have any footage.

Second, I don’t like water and am terrible at juggling. I can’t even juggle my schedule.

Finally, I need a set sit-down comedy act because my feet hurt. Standing on them for 90 minutes, plus three encores, would make my fallen arches even flatter.

sf-john-cleese-eric-idle-tour-florida-20150615The Cleese and Idle tour will pre-date my plans for launching a sit-down comedy career, so it’s possible no one will remember them when I finally go on “tour.” Their schedule runs just a month and wends from Sarasota, Florida to Baltimore, Maryland. I wasn’t planning on going there anyway.

When it comes to innovation, Cleese and Idle have the advantage of drawing on their past work with the Monty Python franchise. Plus, Cleese looks really funny.

My comedy reservoir is a Sunday School puppet show and 40 years in politics.

Frankly, I’m expecting to sit-start my career at old folks homes, where audiences have trouble hearing and seeing. If my jokes and sight gags aren’t funny, they may laugh out of habit or because they think I’m doing a lousy impersonation of Jackie Gleason. I can live with that kind of grudging gratification.

But I can’t deny my disappointment at not being the original, even though Cleese and Idle’s sit-down will apparently be done standing up on stage. I wanted to be the ONE cited in Wikipedia as the originator of real, totally seated in a bean bag, sit-down comedy. Others could follow and be funnier, but I would be the alpha, first dude, the man. Now I will just be a sitting duck.

The grim reality is setting in that to succeed  in sit-down comedy, I may actually have to learn to be funny. I was counting on originals not having to be good, just original.

My comedic quest could take a lot longer than expected, which means I need to keep my day job. At least there, people laugh at me all the time.






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