Mahogany…Do You Know
I’ve spent the last ten minutes staring at this blank screen trying to figure out what to write. I remember my freshman year of high school when I felt like nobody really liked me. I was always funny, so I could make people laugh, but I just kinda felt alone. I don’t know if it was the depression that I was going through or a genuine observation, but that’s how I felt. Then one day around the end of the year everyone started passing around their yearbooks for others to sign. I didn’t have money to buy one, so I bought a black composition book for a dollar from CVS and I passed it around.
I remember riding the bus home from school that day and being completely caught off guard by how many people signed it. What was more surprising was the sincere things that people wrote. Everyone thought I was funny, but a lot of people wrote about how they saw my humor as a way of coping with whatever they were going through. One girl wrote that I made her laugh at the expense of exposing my own vulnerability. It was a concept that I didn’t really understand until years later when I read Richard Pryor’s book, Pryor Confessions. It was a sentiment echoed by both Bernie Mac and Tracy Morgan in their autobiographies as well.
I think the best comedy comes from pain. Some of us go through shit and find a way to help others deal with it, and that’s great by itself. But there’s a special group of people who can ingest life, process and filter it through a very special lens and then pass it on to you in a way that you laugh about. I’m not presumptuous enough to call myself a comedian. I just think that some things that I say are funny, and usually it’s the stuff that is most honest and rooted in some type of painful life experience.
I’m having a hard time right now, as I’ve written (probably too much at this point) before. Right now, it’s difficult to make any of this funny. Hell, it’s hard to see humor in anything nowadays and that’s why I’m not really posting anything. I don’t know why I’m writing this, and I don’t know who has actually stuck around this long to read it, but when I think about high school and the other three years that I passed around a composition book, I remember all of the people who told me that they appreciated me sharing my story and not being afraid to be vulnerable.
So maybe that’s why I feel compelled to write this, even though I haven’t really said anything. I highly doubt any of you were looking at me as a bastion of strength, but maybe it helps someone else to hear me say, “Hey, I’m fucked up right now.” I’m the guy who has a plan for everything. My backup plans have backup plans. But right now, I have no clue what I’m doing or where I’m going. It doesn’t get more vulnerable than that.