Thursday, August 23, 2018

Brine Time

Something new at Open Mic tonight.
After the first year of doing the 5 minuters, getting consistent laughs, but never being asked to make people laugh at a real show, I said 'fuck it. I'd still write new material along the way but whatever topics or style struck me as amusing at the moment is what I did week to week. I didn't have any ambitions of fame or fortune, I just like making people laugh. They laughed at most if the twice a week mics I showed up to, so that was good enough.

I also went for the mental challenge of getting on stage and a bit of socialization. By 2014 atypical neurological (ADHD and whatever else) comorbidities had me in a perpetual brain fog. Most of the years since 2003 really. It worked. The stimulation kept me going as I fit pieces into other parts the comorbid puzzle. It's slow work. I was very close to dead when the pulmonologists finally got the BiPAP sleep apnea figured out at the end of 2014. More REM and less oxygen depravation changed my world. Even so, new rounds of sick and dizzy filled most weeks. Stop some medication, feel better, then start a different one and feel like crap. Same with supplement. Same with diet.

The last year or so there have been more good days than bad. As mental functions return I am better able to study/research/sus out what is just so damned different about how my brain works. A big step was letting go of memorized bits on stage. "Sugar" as a vehicle keeps the premises on track since short term memory is spotty at best. He is about the loving and caring which provides stable surface to bounce extreme juxtapositions off of. Makes it more like handball. Comic routines; more vaudeville than stand-up-ville.

That last 6 months have brought the most dramatic changes. I've discovered long term gut problems and what I hope are solutions. Turns out that a network of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters is in your gut. That mass of neural tissue doesn't do any thinking, per se, but is a major support system for the bigger neural mass in your skull.

This is good and bad. Days are still good and bad. Some cognitive abilities are near the scary levels like when I was young. ADHD is more active than it's been in years. Which means that sensory input is like a cacophony that I used to be able to parse better. I see many sides of whatever peaks my hyper focus. Reasoning happens in about 2 tablespoons worth of that neural tissue in your head. The rest is autonomic functions and intuition, the part that kept humans alive for a million years before language and reasoning was a thing. Before the turn of the century and the years of brain fog, I relied on intuition much more than reason. Getting back to it is wonderful.

As happens some times, yesterday I was struck with a bolt of inspiration. Where "Sugar" is all sweetness and harmony, a reflection of my own base personality and personal philosophy, "Brine" is the salty overstimulated stream-of-consciousness that sees too many sides of everything most of my waking hours.

Tonight "Brine" did my 5 minutes. Loud and intense. His first premise was the lack of nuance in the hard political and social topics that inhabit social media. Lately I've been looking at comedians like Doug Stanhope and Lenny Bruce. Thinking about the philosophy of absurdism. The hour before going on, Sam Kinison's scream and catch phrases kept replaying in my head. A dozen different things Brine could say have been racing through my head the last 24 hours, so of course the most outrageous ones are what came out. Poorly executed, but you know, one of the other comedians got it and some of the audience had a bit of a stunned grin like when you realize absurd is what makes up reality. Might as well enjoy the ride.
In the big barn of a place with 30 foot ceilings where we do the Wednesday mics it is hard to warm the audience up a lot of the time. After I got off the skillful host bounced a relevant story off the outrageous things I said, I mean Brine said, and the audience was very warmed up for 30 - 45 or more  minutes.

In the interest of "fuck it" I'm doing what amuses me, I think Brine will get more of my stage time. The challenge will be to tune the loud and intense part and go for softer topics to explode binary thinking with nuance. The gray shades of everything that make life absurd and compelling. Laughs are the whole point of the exercise, so more of those.
The return of brain fog notwithstanding.