Murphy Row: Who Saved Whom, Too

Ok, this time I am blatantly pandering. My last post was about rescuing my dog and it got a tremendous response! The positive feedback overwhelmed me and the post quickly became my most read post for DWWP. While I consider myself an artist and I mostly write for myself, even I have to admit when the free market has spoken. Our readers want more musings about dog ownership, and frankly I am not a good enough writer to justify writing anything other than what the reader wants. So now I give you the second installment of ‘Who Rescued Whom.’

I started to perform stand-up comedy largely as a survival tool. As a teenager, my aggressive sense of humor seemed to put people off in my day to day life. Then what put people off in a casual setting, they loved it on stage. I quickly learned my thoughts belonged on paper and not on my lips. I would feverishly write down my musings and keep them to myself only to try them later on stage to uproarious laughter. Every now and then I would test my humor in real life and the results always came back the same, keep it on stage.

Keeping myself muted everywhere but the stage was an effective way to get through my early twenties without getting punched in the face, but it got draining. It quickly becomes unhealthy to only be my true self for 4 to 10 minutes a night on stage. My whole life revolved around expressing myself in those few moments, and the pressure would build to make those moments count. When they went poorly, as comedy often does for the first ten years, I would be devastated. Besides the pressure of fitting my whole identity into a few minutes a night, holding back in my regular life lead to my personality wilting and shriveling up inside of myself. It was a dangerous existence.

Then in my late twenties, I rescued a dog. I am not sure if you know this about dogs, but they don’t really know human words. Dogs respond to tone and emotion, not content. If I was going to communicate with my dog, I was going to have to come out of my shell.

My whole life I hid behind my words and from my words. Words were the tool I used to mask my real emotions, and they were also my constant downfall. Now with my dog, the words themselves pose no real threat and the only communication actually happening is through expressive tones. Communicating with a dog was the exact antidote I needed to learn how to be myself again.

I get to be angry, and because my dog does not understand the words, a moment of anger does not turn into a week long argument like it does with my humans. I get to be affectionate and not worry if my advance will be misinterpreted. I get to make the jokes I think are funny, OUT LOUD, with no chance of offending anyone. I get to, and have to be my real self around my dog.

Opening up to my dog will not only help me as a person but it will help me as a comedian. Reserving yourself and monitoring your thoughts only to share them on stage, is a great way to be a mediocre comedian. The way to be a great comedian is to be your true self in all aspects of life, and find the funny moments to relive on stage. That will be the truly golden material.

Now, there is at least one being in my life with whom I am my true self. She is helping bring my real personality back to my life. I don’t know if or when it will translate to interactions with humans but keep watching for a whole new personality coming to a Murphy near you.

1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting for me to read about how you developed as a comedian. And funny! But I am still not certain as to whether or not dogs understand English…mine really seems to. Even when I speak in a monotone voice, she knows if I’m talking about a walk.

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