I’m sure you’re familiar with the situation – that moment when a comic starts to have some success, they start a family, create a beautiful life for themselves, become quite conventional, and then suddenly they just don’t make you laugh at all anymore. Or at least, they make you laugh, but a whole lot less?
They start telling us every detail about their kids and their trips in business class and you listen, slightly detached, wondering when you’re going to cry laughing like “before”? You see them gesturing, talking louder, jumping higher, walking around on a bigger, brighter stage, using their old standbys, but it’s just…
It’s just not the same?
Sure, some people manage to do okay.
To those few, I have eternal respect, because it’s not easy.
I should know, because I’m going through the same thing myself right now. I never had the talent of a comic, far from it. But my sense of humor, mockery and self-deprecating jokes were one of my pillars.
Making people laugh – myself, first of all (yes, yes, I laugh at my own jokes) – is probably one of my favorite things.
I survived all my years in New York and in fashion thanks to it!
And then I started changing my life, and finally loving it. I did a lot of soul searching, observing my self-destructive habits, my tense, difficult relationships. And all the things I was doing without really understanding why – I stopped doing them.
When I arrived in Los Angeles, exhausted and lacking inspiration, I was super excited by the idea of discovering a new life for myself – I also thought it would be really funny to observe and tell you all about the strange and ridiculous aspects of people in LA – and lord knows, there are plenty.
A whole new subject to explore. Kale! Sound baths! Goat yoga!
Ahhh, we were going to laugh, I was sure.
But my arrival didn’t quite go as expected. California grabbed me by the gut and forced me to take a long, hard look at myself. Like a bath of truth. I crumbled under it and now that I’m getting back on my feet, I’ve been looking for my sense of humor and I just can’t seem to find it anywhere.
I still laugh a lot, but I have a hard time making fun of others. It still happens, sure. I’m not Buddha. But my laugh is lighter, more childlike, less biting. Today, I see the pain behind meanness, the insecurity behind the ridicule – and I can’t even set that aside for an hour to write a funny text about, say, a caricature of a goat yoga teacher.
I’m still totally imperfect, but I don’t feel like making fun of myself anymore either. I feel soft, cool, and even though I can see that sometimes my California life might be hilarious from the outside (for example? Tonight I’m going to a sound bath, I’m going to meditate, chant, pray, the teacher will probably be wearing tie dye, there will probably be feathers in the corner, Palo Santo burning, a gong, and everything that goes along with it) and while I see what I could do with all this material, I just don’t have the desire to.
Because deep down, I’m not going to lie – I love that stuff.
Before, I did a lot of things I didn’t like, without really knowing I didn’t like them. And fortunately, my sense of humor was there for me, ready to jump up and protect me.
I had to laugh about it all back then.
Last year, as I was losing my sense of humor, watching it move far away from me and trying desperately to catch it (which is impossible to do, of course, you can’t capture or manufacture humor) – and that’s when the scandals around comics started coming out.
It was dark, and really interesting for me to see the misery that often hides behind humor. We think these people are just being sarcastic, but often it’s their life, their real life, their real insecurities, their real pain displayed on stage. It can be a painful profession, that really leaves you empty. Building a life on this pain is a daring move.
If you’ve met a comic before – they are often so different in real life.
Fragile, quiet, almost absent. Often addicts. Yes, it’s true, let’s just say it!
Humor is like a suit of armor. And it can get extremely heavy to carry.
Oddly enough, right when I was losing my sense of humor, I started also losing some friends.
Well, aaaaand shit.
The false friends, mean friends, best option friends, night-time only friends, opportunistic friends, friends who go with the highest bidder, the gossipy friends, the friends who are never there when you need them, the friends who don’t like anyone, the friends who left a bad taste in my mouth…
Little by little, I let go of those types of people. These people though, they said a lot about who I used to be. The people we surround ourselves with are our mirrors – don’t be fooled. If you’re surrounded by idiots, you’re probably an idiot too.
My life started emptying out, my weekends were long and spacious, which was honestly delicious some of the time – when it didn’t made me anxious.
Little by little, new people started to fill that void.
People I was choosing based on their values – because the values we hold, that’s like our backbone, our life. I chose them based on their values, their intelligence, their respect for others, and their outlook on life.
And sometimes, honestly, I found these people a little boring. They were lacking a little humor, a little dose of sarcasm, a bite. It wasn’t very exciting, all these balanced people comfortable in their own skin. Who never said an unkind word about anyone. Sweet. Gentle. Positive. Generous, calm.
I talked a lot about this with my sister, who I have the great privilege of living a parallel life with. Not only is she one of the loves of my life, but also my sounding board.
She was going through the same thing. We discussed it at length. And finally we understood what was going on.
We learned to be better listeners. To let go of the drama. To experience other people in a different way. To enjoy the subtlety of our conversations with our new friends. To learn the lessons they had to teach us. To do things together that sometimes didn’t require talking at all.
To appreciate the immense beauty of peace, love and simplicity.
That’s why the other day, when I was telling my sister about my love life and getting some perspective on the men I’ve been meeting, the totally disconcerting, very different energy coming out of my new interactions, and how I was sometimes very confused by it – I heard her say:
“What are you looking for in a man? Excitement, you already know what that’s like. Crazy, passionate, fast-paced, exhausting love – you’ve done that a million times. Maybe you feel lost because evolving means moving toward something different, something calm, beautiful, slow, something that leaves you room for your own life, room to breathe… Maybe you’re ready to meet someone you can be at peace with?”
Yes, I know, I’m lucky to have such an amazing sister on my side.
I’m lucky to have had the courage to leave behind addictive friendships and learn to love real, kind, present people.
And I’m also lucky I knew to let my sense of humor run away. To tell it thank you for its service, and welcome it back when it visits me from time to time. To accept that we can’t change without letting some parts of ourselves, parts we might love, parts that might have saved us at one time or another – dissolve and fade into the distance.
Translated by Andrea Perdue