There are three good reasons I’m not as funny or famous as the comedians on Sirius Radio. I’m at a disadvantage. And it’s not my fault.
Number one, I wasn’t raised near a swamp, in the South or in the hood. I’ve never lived in a trailer. At least not permanently. I’m from California. There’s nothing funny in a state where the sun shines 365 days a year. I was raised three miles from the ghetto, just close enough to watch the Watts Riot fires from my rooftop, but not close enough to learn to rap or inherit rhythm. Where I lived, the Los Angeles River bed ran dry and guns were concealed rather than displayed in the back of a pickup. I did take a seven-week cross country trip as a single mom camping at KOA’s in a Volkswagen Vanagon with four children under the age of thirteen, but I’m not sure anyone on return would be able to see the humor in that one. And then I re-married when my youth group were all teens and moved to Orange County, even less funny. The closest you get to fun in Orange County is guessing “plastic” or “botox.”
People from the South are funny inherently because they sound funny. Californians pronounce the G’s in hanging participles, don’t say the silent R in “warsh the clothes” or the silent T in “just acrosst the street.” “Two ladies walked into a bar” sounds a lot funnier when a comedian calls them heifers or hos. People from the South always have two names, like Barbara Jane and people from the hood always have names assembled from the toss of alphabet dice — like Flonecia. I do have a cousin named Nivla. It’s her dad’s name spelled backwards. But she’s from a large family, and all the other names were taken. My name is Penny Lee. My dad called me Lenny Pee, but I didn’t think that was funny at all. I’m sure my parents stole the name from one of Peter Pan’s friends. But all considered, there’s just way too many Erins and Tricias and Ambers in Orange County to joke about.
I’m not even good at Spanish. But I do make lame attempts at Spanglish. “Donde esta la toileta,” I ask when I get lost in East Los Angeles. I’m smart enough to know I want the feminine not the masculine bathroom. My kids laugh when I stumble over El Polo Lolo so most of the times I just go to Taco Bell. When my tongue gets twisted, I don’t think my kids are laughing with me. It’s more of a “Mom’s so pathetic” type of laugh.
Having a husband named Bubba who likes to hunt has a lot more possibilities than a husband nicknamed Couponman who likes to grocery shop. Jeanne Robertson calls her son Beaver and her husband Left Brain. I’m already laughing before she even gets to the punch line. One funny fellow talked about hitting a deer in his pickup and when he got out of the truck to check it out, the deer and his bumper were gone. He swears the buck had his bumper mounted in his den. I can’t make up humor like that. I once hit a possum and got a $500 fine from PETA.
Salads and crotons are not nearly as funny as grits and fried chicken. No one laughs about separating the recyclables from the trash. I’ve never stepped on a cowpie or watched NASCAR (but I have come close to topping their speeds on the 405 freeway). There’s nothing funny about bottled water other than why would you pay for something you can get for free.
Number two, I’m not unique looking. I’m the person you forget, the invisible person. I don’t own any overalls or show my underwear or cleavage. I guess it could be kind of funny or ironic that I’m from California, born and raised, and am as white as the driven snow. But unfortunately, no one finds much humor listening to someone who looks like she’s been trapped in a basement her whole life. As my white skin ages, it becomes more and more transparent. In a few more years, I might have just the right comic gimmic with prominent red and blue veins. I’ll be called MapQuest lady.
My parents weren’t lookers either. Just everyday average type people. My dad never sat around the house in his boxers. Oh, wait a minute. Yes, he did. But I have to tell you, as a teen, I didn’t think that was funny.
Number three, if I lied I got slapped silly. To make it as a comedian, you have to lie or at least exaggerate. Besides, if I told you I’d totaled three cars within the first six months I was licensed, you wouldn’t believe me. Unfortunately it was true, and my parents never saw the humor in that one either. It’s actually scary that I now have best driving record in the family!
Truth is never funny. I don’t think it’s funny at all when Couponman returns from a hard day fighting the crowds at Fresh and Easy or Von’s Market, with a dented can of Dole pineapple for half price or an Ace bandaid without the little silver clips from the bargain bin. He wastes at least $2 at the bargin bin each time he goes shopping. Does he think money grows on trees?
So I guess as a Californian grandma who chooses not to swear, exaggerate, or talk inappropriately (most of the time), I just don’t stand a chance at being funny.
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