So you’ve felt the call to make people laugh. But how do you become great at comedy—aside from taking classes and practicing, which, frankly, sounds hard? Here is the secret: True humor comes from pain. Profound, painful pain. Only a tortured genius has the skewed perspective to craft jokes that rise to the level of Art. And that is why, if you sincerely wish to follow this path, then you need to fill your home with bees.
How does this method work? It couldn’t be more straightforward. First, gather as many beehives as possible. You can find them at your local apiary, or perhaps follow a hungry bear. Make sure you have enough hives; researchers have found that the ideal number is seventeen. Place the seventeen hives around your living space, especially in front of anything that distracts you from your work (your bed, the kitchen, wherever you listen to podcasts).
With beehives in place gather your notebook or laptop, and most important, a broom. Once situated, begin striking the hives with the broom—not too hard but with sufficient force to startle the bees and draw them out. The agitated, disoriented creatures should now attack your flesh, and the pain of it will sharpen your senses and awaken your creative spirit.
Have you ever heard of the “rule of threes”? This term refers to how many bee stings it takes to achieve maximum inspiration. Once you count at least three welts on your body, you’re ready to tackle your sitcom script or your tight five or your New Yorker submission—it doesn’t matter what you’re working on, so long as it comes from pain.
While in the trance-like state that only pain produces, you should find that you can excel at any style of comedy:
Observational: Ever notice how lady bees always sting in pairs? What’s up with that?
Improvisational: To get started, I need a suggestion of an occupation. Okay, I heard “regurgitating nectar to make honey.”
Impressionist: Here’s how a drone bee orders coffee: Buzz buzz buzz-buzz, buzz buzz buzzzzzzz—amirite?
Political: Sheesh, how about this new queen that just hatched?
Insult: Hey, check out this ugly guy. His face is so messed up that it’s, like, spinning around and around—oh, wait, I think the anaphylactic shock from my bee allergy is just giving me vertigo.
Self Deprecating: I refuse to visit any urgent care clinic that would have me as a patient.
NOTE: Be sure to jot down all jokes before you stop breathing.
Don’t be afraid to let your material get dark or edgy. If you’re afraid to “go there” with a joke, then consider the bees: when one stings you, its stinger is ripped out, leaving a gaping hole in its abdomen—but even faced with a gruesome death such as this, a bee isn’t afraid to “go there.” An artist must never get too comfortable and thus stagnant (and that goes double for an artist’s bees).
Pro-tip: think about how some types of bees are going extinct and how you are now contributing to that problem, and let these complicated feelings inspire you to push boundaries.
The funniest comedians are the ones who confront hard realities and gaze into the void daily. They are wrestling with their inner demons and outer bees. In fact, at your next performance or reading, try releasing a swarm of bees to show (not tell) how hard life is and how much the audience needs your jokes to cope. (Maybe try killer bees, because the “k” sound is just funny—no one knows why.)
To paraphrase something Mark Twain once said, “The secret source of humor is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven, probably because there are no bees.” To ascend the highest heights of comedy, you must have enough courage to face what’s broken, enough heart to make yourself vulnerable, and also enough EpiPens.
Rumpus original art by Natalie Peeples.
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