One of the links on my blogroll points to a guy who thinks he might want to be a standup comedian. One of the reasons I enjoy his blog is that I know I don't want to be a standup comedian. Here's how I found out:
Comedians often talk about the importance of "timing" in comedy. When I was young, I had it. Timing is not easy to explain, but I can tell you that when I told a joke, I knew the precise moment in time that, if I hit the punch line, my listeners would laugh much harder than otherwise. And as soon as that punchline began to evaporate, I could perceive the next moment, a short distance in the future, at which, again, those around me would roar with laughter, if only I could say anything slightly funny at that moment.
As a teenager, I became a slave to that sense of timing. I would make up any joke to hit the punch on time. I would make fun of things I believed in, poke fun at the enemies of my enemies. By the time I was 18, I was painfully ashamed of myself for sucking up to that next big laugh. On my 19th birthday, I stopped listening to my sense of timing. I sat on it for a year, refusing to respond to it, until it pretty much went away. And I was no longer ashamed.
Years later I realized that, had I had serious comic potential, I would have discovered the comedian's solution to my problem. I would have developed MATERIAL, jokes and routines that I could be proud of, to meet the demands of my sense of timing.
But I didn't, and so I'm not.