thanks a lot Neal Brennan
The other day I watched the new Netflix special from comedian Neal Brennan. When it was over I had real mixed feelings about it. No doubt he was funny, which these days is a rarity, but I also felt this vague feeling of being offended.
You see, Neal Brennan mixes his stand up with long bursts of conversation about himself. Not funny at all. In fact, very personal stuff. Downright intimate. My initial reaction was that he was acting in a very self-absorbed manner. Thinking that the audience should give a shit about his real life.
But there was something I found genuine about the guy so I watched his first Netflix special. Again, really witty but with deep dives into his past which made me uncomfortable.
Then I had an epiphany of sorts. He was giving everyone a peak behind the curtain, showing us how the sausage was made. Of course, that wasn’t the epiphany. I only use the word when it is about me. I don’t waste the energy needed for an epiphany about others.
My epiphany had to do with this website. Particularly about a story I posted a couple days ago called the mannequin factory. I had called it a piece of horror flash fiction but it wasn’t. The imagery might have been borrowing a few scary archetypes but the story itself was about something much broader.
More interesting… for me anyway.
And that’s when it hit me.
I’m just like Neal Brennan… except not as funny. Or smart. Or successful.
It’s definitely the kind of epiphany that you try to avoid. That’s why I didn’t enjoy his act the first time I saw it. My subconscious was trying to save me. “Nothing to see here” it screamed.
But did I listen?
Of course not.
This website is ten years old. About six years ago there were a lot of people who visited on a daily basis. With books called The Ball Washer and Homo sayswhaticus, people stopped by to read rude or outrageous things.
These days? Not so much.
Because I’ve become much more self-indulgent in my writing. There are far fewer cheap laughs and far more stories that require real effort to enjoy. Even enjoy might be overstating it.
Understand? Get something out of?
the mannequin factory is a perfect example. The fact that I used mannequins as the vehicle meant something. The fact that I occasionally highlighted the word they now and then meant something. The fact that fear was the overriding emotion meant something. Something important.
What? I’m not exactly sure.
The point of it I guess was asking why certain fates only happen to people that are open to them. I tried to make this point in an interesting way. A few days before I had posted a story called we the people where I also highlighted the word they to make a subtle point in the story.
The point of these points…?
I’m not sure. I’m poking around between my own ears and then posting the results.
Neal Brennan does something similar, but in his case he is actually entertaining. People are taken on a journey. They laugh and at times are moved by what created that laugh to begin with. Where it came from. The pain that inspired it. They get their money’s worth. He somehow pops out at the end of these journeys with something to show for them.
On the other hand, on my journeys the reader is often left confused and sometimes moved. Moved to never visit the website again.
After ten years you’d think I’d be better at it. If anything, I’m getting worse. I can’t seem to pop out. I’m still lost and getting loster.
And that’s what Neal Brennan showed me.
Thanks a lot Neal Brennan. You couldn’t just be funny, could you?
Dick. (small ripple of laughter)
like it, share it!