Comedy Day (A Sylvanite In Purgatory)

I had a nightmare, a flashback to last year’s fiasco. The gung-ho Sylvan, vikingesque spirit in the morning devolved into utter agony and sunken morale by nightfall. We struck a contingency plan, but it relied on rest and strategy.

Sleep remained elusive as a will-o’-the-wisp; I only managed to dominate three or four “Z’s”. After the glorified nap, energy trickled in adequately, a lazy aqueduct flowing past bodies, the night’s leftover affiliates. A hot roll of hearty spray reset my decay. By three-o-morning I stood alert inside sodden jeans, a Sylvan tee, neon-green Newport cap, rolled-sleeved collared shirt, everyday shoes, Miramonte hoodie, gardening gloves (lesson learned) and a considerable amount of anxiety. The rest of SylvanHouse floated lazily in stasis.

Slowly, Sir Andrew Moore began breakfast and Rach Shapiro rewired her brain from crash to conquer. Recently dormant bodies had to be reanimated late in the game as previously committed Sylvanites dropped like flies, drunken, sleepy flies.

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Keith D, the party paragon, urgently drank coffee to kickstart sobriety (to no avail). Rory Hensey, adopted belligerent, proposed that “drunk help” was better than “no help” (no thanks). After a heap of eggs, a pot of coffee, and banishment of drunkards, the Morning Crew assembled, six total, a far cry from previous years’ tribe.

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West City’s mist flowed serenely through the meadow. Mosquitos marauded, molesting necks and ears. An eerie ember sheen bounced from draconian lanterns. The entire glade was wet and haunting like a sexy swamp monster. Leo Moreland, cranky yet committed, complained immediately, “I’ve been out here for an hour.”

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True believers, disciples and saints of the community fixed into the mechanisms of construction. Brumbaugh shepherded caffeine and family, Rach trafficked donuts, and Chris Duncan, fresh from a long night, skidded into a productive fervor.

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Staging isn’t science, nor math, nor art, everything was built to best knowledge and guestimation. The hierarchy of precedence: safety first, logistics second, aesthetics third, satisfaction… in the eye of the beholder. Tensions pulsed as muscles strained, quickly quelled by a cloud of quips and one liners – none particularly funny but successfully passed the time.

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Comedy Day is ostensibly the company picnic for freelancers and independent contractors. Comedians, uncharacteristically in then sunlight,rear their heads for the promise of free food, beer and shit talking. Well, unless you, like I, were pledged to break down the stage. The evening crew were sworn to stay sober and stay rested. Hard to do so with the sun battering on your face through the broken Sylvan Productions tent. Hard to do with Rory Hensey drunkenly tossing food at your head.

It was miserable. I couldn’t drink (too much), I couldn’t laugh (too much), I couldn’t rest (too long). Sure, others had a great time rubbing elbows, schmoozing, feasting, performing, critiquing, accepting others and feeling accepted. Personally, Comedy Day was an adversary, an attrition faced a sad, lonely, spiteful facade. Every conversation increased contempt. “’How am I?’ Tired.” Thanks for asking.

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Bomb, kill, maim, bomb, inside joke, riff, token swear, murder, bomb, clandestine curse, entendre. “Clean” comedy is like a “clean” bowel movement, it’s a tight squeeze for a bit of depravity. Making one’s act politically correct is a very prideful and challenging if not necessary sport. Humor is born in the filth but blooms on the stage, and dies with the daylight (after five hours of jokes). Debi Durst, matriarch of the day’s festivity, brought most of the performers back on stage for a curtain call; it rang out like a starter pistol. Time to go.

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“Packing In” is WAY easier than “moving out”: consolidated trajectory, energy-infused spirit, added support, devil may care attitudes, rented equipment and an immediate sense of finality. Christopher John, Comedy Day neophyte, heckled the progress and unity, “I got everything you got but I didn’t have to work for it.” Leave it to comedians to shit on generosity. It’s the gift that keeps complaining about giving.

Every tent jimmed into its burlap sacked, every table delegged, every instance of helpful gravity was one step away from the laugh-socked meadow. Liberty remained only few hours and a million struggles, sighs and high fives away. Then, under extinguished sun, boom, slam, lock, it was over. We bade farewell to our mentors and managers, making a rogue caravan of silly, exhausted, amateurs (of life’s many chutes). Another Comedy Day down, another cataract coma to commit to. I didn’t even enjoy my celebratory beerpizza. Hard work, no sleep, the Industrial Revolution must have been hell.