Friday, July 5, 2013

Parental Disclaimer

Choosing to be a comedian, like any other form of art, is like choosing to have a terminal illness. You're bound to lose weight because of it, your friends will stop giving a shit about you and your parents actually mourn for your situation. When someone asks my parents how their son is doing, they change their tone of voice and look at the floor.
 "...Alex?...Alex isn't doing too well...He's decided to become a stand up comedian. We just don't know what to do..." Then my father wraps an arm around my mother as she bursts into tears. This is accompanied by condolences and many generous offers by relatives to send one of their successful sons or daughters over to try and help me be more like them. The similarities aren't across the board, however.
See, if I really was sick, when they came to visit me in the hospital, they would bring gifts and flowers and tell me everything's going to be okay. They might not know if I actually will be okay, but God damn it they'd lie and hope for the best cause that's what family does. Instead, I'm a comedian, so its the equivalent of my family coming into my hospital room, pulling a chair up next to the heart rate monitor, taking my cold, limp hand into theirs, and, as they stare into my tired and weary eyes, saying " long to you plan on living like this?" in an "I know better than you" tone of voice. Then I flat line and they say, "I told him he wouldn't make it."
Its not so much about family telling you you're going to fail, as much as it is about family not telling you you'll succeed. If I told my parents I was a going to be a doctor, Id have so much support I wouldn't even need to study. They'd do it for me. I could live at home as long as I need. Money for school? Car? Gas? They can make adjustments to the families spending. When I told my parents I was going to be a comedian though, all I got was....." can do whatever you like." As in "You can develop a serious drug addiction if you like. Im not saying you should or you shouldn't. Im just saying you can." Its more of a disclaimer really. In case it all falls through, it wouldn't have been their fault for pushing me in this direction.
What I want to know is how come parents don't feel bad after spending all their college savings and pushing their children into a field like teaching where they go through years and years of school with nothing to show for it but a part time job at Shoppers Drug Mart and a Masters Degree for when the toilet paper runs out?