By Andie Main
I’m a Portland comedian, in my early 30’s. I am so utterly stereotypically Portland, that it makes me cringe, since I may not be responsible for my own identity and am actually just a chemical reaction by-product of my environment.
Please don’t ask me about episodes of Portlandia, they just make me sad.
I’ve always been sort of dumb when it comes to authority. I don’t know how to treat anyone in my life differently from anybody else, which means that I call my boss “dude” and I don’t care about saying “fuck” in front of my mom. This lack of critical thinking on my part has resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy, where because I have never shown any respect towards authority, I get fucked around by authority, which ingrains a deeper seething antipathy towards authority.
One time I drove up to a parked cop car, in Vancouver BC during a comedy festival, and gently tapped it’s back bumpers with my front, because we thought the car was empty and also because of ANARCHY. We yelled “ANARCHY! PUNK ROCK!” only semi-ironically, in the car as I took my foot off the break and we crept ever closer towards the fascist pigs. I was sober. Those cops where pretty cool about the whole thing, actually.
That was one of the top 5 moments of in my 30’s so far, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to age well too. The shared essences of punk and stand-up, to me, is anti-authoritarianism. And being a skeptical misanthrope will never get old.
It’s absolutely impossible to imagine an elite and powerful person as funny or as an amazing guitarist. Maybe they lack the timing, creative thinking or the awesome hair one needs to land a punchline or a power chord because their reptile-brains are obsessed with possessing fleeting amounts of power and wealth?
Or maybe it’s because only a complete sociopath would like to listen to Kenny Loggins or would laugh at a story where the boss fires the worker, instead of laughing at a story about a worker WHO TELLS THE MAN WHAT THEY CAN DO WITH THEIR FUCKING WAGE SLAVERY AND THAT WORKER STARTS A GODDAMN RIOT WHICH SMASHES THE CAPITALIST MACHINE AND—- OK, Sorry… I’ll calm down. But I will never, ever listen to Kenny Loggins.
I can’t think of any song, painting, or joke I’ve enjoyed which had an underlying message of “everything’s just fine and we’re all going to be OK”, but I do know that when a piece of art is agitating and invokes a sense of “NOW IS THE ONLY MOMENT WE HAVE AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE SOON SO LET’S ALL LAUGH, YOU ASSHOLES” then I realize that I suddenly care a metric fuck-ton about who is telling me that truth.
As an angry teenager, I didn’t know how to express my voice in any other way other than to scowl a lot and listen to Crass and Subhumans, and show my contempt for the world by dyeing my hair blue. And also more scowling.
As I grind away at developing that voice, while I drive to a gig I know is going to be rough, I think about how empowering it is when I’m able to turn a room of burnt out audience members who were planning on going to some dive bar to catch up with their friends, but who now feel more like hostages than humans. I think about those shows where I watch people openly cringe while a comic spends 10 min talking about how sad their penis is, and then it’s my turn to go up. I think about how fucking great it feels when I’m able turn that room around, and charge people up to where they’re making that raucous noisey laughter I fucking live for.
While I’m driving to that shit-gig, sometimes “London Calling” by The Clash plays on my stereo, and I think about how the first time I heard that song was when I discovered that there was an outlet for people like me who don’t fit in.
And then I think about as a comedian, how fucking lucky I am to be able to have found another vital outlet in my life again.