I was doing a show recently, and a friend of mine mentioned that my comedy wasn’t that “nerdy” that particular night. I’ll be honest, It didn’t bother me. I do realize there has been a shift in what I talk about on stage. There aren’t tons of pop culture references or obscure Star Wars shout outs. It’s not that I stopped any of those things, it’s just that like a black guy on Bespin running with an ice cream maker, some of it just disappeared. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
Now I can say without a doubt the reason I enjoy reading comic books is because of the writing. Yes, I think the artists are just as important and bring so much to comic books but it’s the exploration of character that brings me back. The good writers explore, not only deconstructing the characters they’re working on but also the motivations and consequences the characters have in real world.
Posing the question “Why” has always been a popular theme in art. In fact most of my favorite TV shows, like Breaking Bad or The Wire are all about exploring the human condition or social constructs without trying to find answers. However, it was comic books that really made it hit home that all my heroes had grown up. Characters weren’t so black and white. Writers were using popular and unpopular characters to pose social questions, explore consequences of actions, and navigate real world problems. Some times they failed. Sometimes they succeed. It didn’t matter because what was most important was the journey.
Maybe it was because all the stories in comics were told, or because readership was low. Whatever the reason, it seemed that writers like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison were part of a group which ushered in this new wave that breathed life into these characters and extended their longevity and I would be lying if I said that those writers had no influence on me.
When I was a younger comedian, a lot of my comedy was outward. I talked about race, sexual politics, religion and if you didn’t agree with my politics on those subjects, man, were you wrong . I was pointing out what was needed to change for the world to be a better place. Confident that whoever wasn’t like minded was the enemy. As I got older I started to see things differently and it was around my late 20’s, early 30’s when I got back into comic books. I don’t think that was a coincidence. The books I was reading and where I was emotional just seemed to clicked. I always say when you hit 30, you realize you’re not that special and unique as you once believed you were in your 20’s.
I started exploring my own place in the world, who I was and what actions and choices made me who I was because what is in is without. Soon, I was exploring the issues I talked about in my youth but with a much more opened mind. I understood that people might not have the same politics as me but that did not make them a bad people. Some jokes failed. Some succeeded. But the most important thing became the journey. Good comic book writing has taught me to be true to my voice but also to take a step back and look at the different POVs on a problem.
So I can see how my friend would think my stand up wasn’t particularly “nerdy” the night he saw me however, it’s because of my love of all things nerdy that my comedy has become less stereotypically “nerdy”. In fact, I would argue that I’ve never been more of a nerdy comedian than I am now.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!