projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
This week was kinda the pits. Almost everyone I know seemed to be feeling a little wonky at best or completely miserable at worst. I’d spent my day off feeling soaked by the full, steady mist outside despite the fact that I was never really out in it. I’d been planning on one of several new mini adventures but just couldn’t motivate myself further than the very familiar, entirely unadventurous coffee shop down the street.
As the day dripped away, I dismissed one new activity after another, promising myself that I’d get to them in the weeks to come. Finally, it was evening and there was only one adventure left that I might squeeze into my waking hours. I was in luck, in that this new thing required little more of me than $15 and a walk across the street to the Alahambra Theater.
The Bridgetown Comedy Festival has been happening in my neighborhood for many years. Every year I say I should go check out one of the dozens of shows showcasing dozens of comedians all at venues near my house. “I should,” of course, is synonymous with “I’ve never.” Committing to a $100 festival pass was never of any interest and the $10 to $20 tickets for individual shows always seemed like a gamble. While I like stand-up comedy, I’m far from a connoisseur and the list of performers have mostly been unknowns to me. The whole event seemed like too much of a risk of time and money.
But my partner and I agreed that we needed some cheering up. If we were lucky, we’d laugh and if we weren’t lucky we’d still have gotten out of the house and distracted ourselves from our own unpleasantness. We dashed through the rain and into the oh-so-slightly renovated venue. The show we paid to see was in the small side theater that showed no evidence of remodeling since the last time I’d been there four or so years earlier. Ugly day-glo murals still clung to the walls. The crappy stage was so poorly lit that performers had to stand with their feet at its edge just to be seen and the place was cold as fuck.
The MC who started the show wasn’t all that funny, but we held tight and were, in fact, richly rewarded. Every comedian who got up there had at least a few funny jokes. Laugh out loud funny. I was reminded about what a great thing a good joke can be. Unlike good music or engaging visual art or a beautiful landscape, listening to a good joke demands your full attention if it’s going to work. You can’t be simultaneously distracted by thoughts about your bank account or your heartbreak or your future. And if it works, you’re rewarded with laughter, one of the best things our bodies are capable of.
Today, the world moves on in its wonky/weird/miserable ways. A good laugh can’t always change that. But it certainly helps. Luckily, the festival continues through the weekend. Plenty of more chances at another shot of medicine.