Stand-up comedy: Not always funny
Life on the road for a comic like Aisha Tyler is great — if you like insomnia, smallpox, and fart jokes. The comedienne spills secrets from a recent gig
People often ask, ”What’s it like being a stand-up comedian?” This is like asking someone with a compulsive disorder, ”What’s it like washing your hands 93 times a day?” Like comedy, it may feel wonderful as you lather up, but in the end all you have is chapped skin and a deep sense of foreboding. I can tell you this: Stand-up is not glamorous. People are used to seeing celebrities on the red carpet, lip gloss poppin’ like a backup dancer in a Gucci Mane video. They are less accustomed to seeing celebrities in line at Starbucks with a murderous cowlick, or stumbling through the Detroit airport with a four-alarm hangover, moaning like a zombie on the hunt for brains.
Yet this is what life on the road is like: inedible room service, inoperable gym equipment, banshee infants braying next door, an interminable parade of fart-noising Morning Zoos. It is not for the faint of heart, or for those who don’t find fart noises hilarious.
What follows is an incomplete diary of a trip I took recently to perform in Lexington, Ky., home of man-made duck ponds and bourbon-soaked dreams.
Wednesday, 4:30 a.m.
I depart for the airport. I was up until 1 a.m. shooting a TV pilot, so I have had three hours of sleep. By ”sleep,” I mean I lay in bed agonizing about how little sleep I would get, until I realized I would get no sleep at all and got up to look at news online. If I can’t sleep, at least I can be pee-on-myself terrified by world events.
Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.
I have a layover at the Dallas airport, so enormous it has its own train system. I live in L.A.; we don’t have our own train system. Well, we do, but it only goes, like, a quarter mile. So if you want to go from Hollywood Boulevard to slightly farther down Hollywood Boulevard, the L.A. subway’s for you. I ride the train for an hour before I realize I am in the same spot I started.
Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
In Lexington I ask my driver to stop at Whole Foods. From his shock, I may as well have asked to be driven to the local whorehouse (his look indicates he knows exactly where the local whorehouse is). He has never heard of a ”Hole Foods,” but graciously follows my directions, then helps me clamber back into the car with my reusable bags full of organic twigs and free-range beetle dung cereal.
I make a mental note to ask to be driven to the local whorehouse later, especially if the cable at the hotel is out.
Thursday, 1:30 a.m.
Despite being exhausted, I cannot fall asleep. Hotel rooms are strange, the bedspread likely bears smallpox, and the people next door are holding some kind of all-night Boggle/angry-sex tournament.
Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
Just did a charming interview with the local mid-day news. It was all smiles until I made an oblique reference to sex, and then a silence dropped on the studio like a clattering steel wall. It was like Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s.
I feel like eating pie.
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
I have made a terrible miscalculation. The club is lovely; however, they don’t have a kitchen. I didn’t eat dinner in anticipation of a giant plate of chicken wings or fingers or nuggets or cubes. There are no cubes. There is no chicken. I make a mental note not to have a drink; when I drink on an empty stomach it leads to street fighting and tears. Clarification: street fighting for me, tears for the other guy. ”Drunk Aisha” is like tall, sloppy, live-action Tekken. With hugging.
Thursday, 8:10 p.m.
I feel chilly, so I ask for a cup of coffee. The bar is out of cream, so they suggest adding Bailey’s. This seems like a fantastic idea.
Thursday, 8:12 p.m.
The club is adorable. The staff is adorable. The crowd is adorable. I am drunk.
Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
The show goes awesome. I remember my jokes, despite being blotto on half a shot of Irish cream whiskey. I curse a bit more than usual, I think. That could be the booze, or laziness.
Or, that I love to curse. So naughty!
Thursday, 10:15 p.m.
I sign autographs and take photos with fans, including a bunch of Archer loyalists wearing Lana Kane tees. I love these people. I hug them a little too long. They seem not to mind. We part only when the security guard pries us apart like a boxing referee.
I discover later they have picked my pocket.
Check it out!
Tyler stars in the FX comedy Archer. Her new podcast, Girl on Guy, launches this summer. Follow her at twitter.com/aishatyler.