Funny Girl

Laughter's the best medicine? For aspiring stand-up comics, it's more like heroin.

The blonde toasted us: "To comics!" she said. I put my Jack on the table.

"I'm not sure I'm a comic," I said, not wanting to be presumptuous. Eyes rolled. "But I don't know anything," I said, getting a hearty "Shut up and drink!" in reply. I obliged. The guys probably don't remember the moment, but I'm taking the opportunity to declare myself a comedian.

I'm a people pleaser. I want the whole world to find me funny, and stand-up's the fastest way to fit everybody in before I die. Sure, if I bomb, it's all on me. But when I'm killing, it's all on me too. For comedians, the desire to elicit laughs is inherent. Why do they tell jokes? That's a stupid question. "You either have the balls to find out whether you can do it or not," Agee says. Yes, the hard times are humiliating. But like a true comedy addict, Agee asks, "Why wouldn't anyone want to stand onstage and be the center of attention and make other people laugh and bring them joy?"

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