By O. Ryan '23
How you guys doing tonight? Lovely audience, lovely crowd. My old wrestling coach is here tonight! Well, he’s not actually here, but I feel like he’s always right behind me, watching me.
I always start with a bit of crowd work to connect with my audience, but my attempt to warm everyone up never sacrifices time that could be spent describing my scarring middle school athletic career.
What do you do for a living, miss? Oh, you’re a therapist! I have a lot of experience with therapy. My dad was actually very public about the medication he took for his mental illness when I was growing up. All of his medicines were prescribed by his psychiatrist, a Dr. Johnny Walker.
When doing this joke, I mention that me and my previous shrink Dr. Blum never fully unpacked this so the bit doesn’t undercut the fact that there’s still healing to be done.
Speaking of medicine, wild stuff in the news lately. This whole drug crisis thing is really scary. I do have to say though, it is nice for me to be able to constantly tremble throughout the day and have people think I’m addicted to opioids rather than that I’m crazy.
I try to read the room after this joke before deciding whether to tag it with the story of my ex-wife’s drug addiction.
Let’s move on to lighter topics. You like impressions? Here’s an impression of a happy person. “Oh here I am, la de da, getting out of bed before 2:00 and not having to cry when I walk past a toy store and mourn my lost innocence.”
I usually admit to the audience that I realize this is my least convincing character. I try to seem modest on stage since she probably hates me already anyway.
God, these first appointments with a new therapist are always so awkward, right? It’s like a first date, with your inner monologue going the whole time. You’re trying to be in the moment but the whole time your brain is saying “Owen, make sure you’re polite” and “Owen, just take a deep breath” and “Owen, if you keep talking about your mom it’s not going to be good for either of you.”
This joke works especially well if my therapist looks a lot like my mom, which is a safe bet since most women seem to.
I know this is a lot for this lovely crowd to take in considering I just met you. Believe me, I’m just as uncomfortable. I was filling out one of those questionnaires in your waiting room and it asked, “Do you have problems with being open?” I wrote, “That’s a very personal question.”
After this joke, I leave room for a big laugh followed by a long silence until the therapist realizes that I’m not willing to dig any deeper on this topic and it’s clear that she will not bring this up in future sessions.
Don’t even get me started on airline food. *pause for groans* I’m only joking. I don’t even get the big deal about it. Nothing tastes like anything anyways.
This joke is just me throwing the audience a bone, which is good since she definitely hates me.
Well my hands are shaking too much for me to hold my index cards, so that means it’s time to go! Thanks so much! You’ve been a lovely audience! And remember: women be shopping!
This is an effective closer for a few reasons.
It’s a great palate cleanser.
I’ve been watching a lot of Def Jam and it always gets a laugh.
It’s misogynistic, which is good, because if I was drawing any sympathy through the above material, this joke alienates the audience, guaranteeing that I never truly get close to anyone and never get better.