It's totally natural for any human being to want the approval of others. It's only when this desire for approval turns into an unchecked addiction that it becomes a problem, and some of us become comedians. Because there's nothing quite so sweet as the immediate visceral feedback of people laughing because of something you said.
The other weekend was my college reunion, a place where many people return to seek approval for what they've done since college. As usual, I enjoyed catching up with old friends and tried to enjoy running into old acquaintances who never actually wanted to talk to me back when we were both attending the same college and had more in common. These conversations often remind me of my days in theater.
RANDOMEO: Greetings, Sethello!
SETHELLO: Greetings, sirrah! How fare thee?
RANDOMEO: I have moved to York, married a beauty, have two boys, and now work for King Sergey. And thyself?
SETHELLO: I still live here. And am still writing.
SETHELLO: (aside) Line!
Yes, usually after 30 seconds or so, I have run out of things to say. When it comes to the post-collegiate approval-seeking game, "Never left town and barely make a living" isn't necessarily a strong hand. Which is fine, since I'm always more interested in catching up with old friends who might like me enough to talk to me even when it isn't reunion.
So, I spent a
"Some people like going to those dance parties and can tell they want to hang out just by looking at each other and don't need to talk," explained a friend of mine. "But you should totally talk."
I guess I just have that kind of face. Anyway, I've never really looked at reunions as a place I go to seek approval. True approval comes in response to doing what matters to you. And what matters to me is humor, which, as I mentioned before, a lot of people get into in the first place because they are seeking approval for being funny.
Two weeks ago, I got a letter from a reader of mine which said, "I enjoy your column in the Transcript a lot, except for the corny jokes."
Well, shucks. There may be a kernel of truth to that, but I have to keep popping out these jokes. Besides, jokes are a fast and cheap way to potentially get the approval that I so crave. Any little joke has the chance to make someone laugh and grant you that much-desired approval.
On the other hand, when you stray into the territory of darker humor or edgy material, you run the risk of getting feedback like this email I got in response to my column on child care:
"Guess you don't worry about alienating parents who read your column? Even in jest, might be taking things a little far? I guess it does display who you are."
When you're seeking approval and get an email like that, there is only one response:
"Thanks for reading, Mom!"
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and really hopes you like this column. His work appears weekly in the Transcript and weakly on RisingPun.com.