[the comedian approaches the stage in sunglasses
and a shiny black and green robe.]
There is no punchline.
Listen past your rush-hour heart.
I am up here breathing heavily.
Listen: I want you to laugh
and never stop. I am trying jokes
you did not know you wanted to hear.
I searched coast-to-coast for lands
who laugh with me, that tectonic shifting
from belly to chest.
Why did boys like me bring ladders to school?
We wanted to learn mountains and rarefied air.
To find reservoirs of laughter waiting.
What did 0 say to 8?
(I don’t get that joke!)
But I want your holy, exhaled noise.
What do you do if you see a spaceman?
You laugh. He doesn’t know what he’s doing here.
What he’s doing anywhere.
I offered myself to the ocean–
the entertainment industry.
She did not want.
The spotlight hungers for no one.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Why wouldn’t the chicken cross the road
if the chicken intended to cross the road?
Most everyone I know crosses the road
without looking both ways these days.
I do not call them chickens– they are my more realistic friends.
I want to make them laugh.
If you’re not laughing for me, laugh for them.
We are haunted by too many things:
dead friends, dead family, dead love,
dead strangers, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.
You can be someone’s haunting sunlight.
Someone’s champion jester dispersing their marbles too good.
Look, a magic trick!
[he throws two playing cards onto the floor]
How do you catch a unique rabbit?
U nique up on it.
How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Tame way– u nique up
on something enough to latch onto–
just a hinge’s creak
before the mouth’s swing open, closed.
Some of us never leave that darkness.
The silent divide.
Laughter will bring us close.
I mean it when I say let’s laugh until we die,
even when what we laugh about isn’t funny.
I mean it when I say if you see a space, man,
park your car, man.
(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Fall 2017)