“Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you: I’m a comedian.”
Any comic out there looking to crossover from aspiring amateur to skilled professional will eventually need to clue in their family to their wacky world. Coming out is a brave step and could result in some unpredictable reactions from Mom and Dad (or whoever raised you to be this way). Here are some examples of what to expect when you finally drop the bomb.
The Clueless Parent
Some parents have no idea what the world of stand-up comedy actually entails because their only frame of reference for a professional comedian is Jeff Dunham. Be prepared for them to ask if you have your own puppet. You’ll be tempted to die inside, but remain strong! They may even respond with the dreaded, “Well, tell us a joke!” You’ll try and explain that’s not how it works, but their judgmental stares could burn down a village. You’ll scramble to recite an original, family-friendly joke but come up short and instead tell them an old Seinfeld bit. They’ll tell you not to quit your day job and chalk up your comedy dreams to just another phase like the time you wanted to be a professional surfer. It’s especially important to keep your cool when they eventually refer to your jokes as “those little skits.”
The Emotional Mother
Mom is sure to have a myriad of reactions. At first, she may seem horrified, even questioning if she was the one responsible for the childhood trauma that led you down this path (she’s probably right). She’ll cry out “Who hurt you?!” She’ll even ask if you’re on drugs. Calmly explain to her about all of the bar shows you have coming up, and don’t forget to mention “the process.”
The Triggered Dad
Now, Dad’s reaction is the wild card. You’ll sit him down to tell him of your passion, hoping at least for feigned interest. Instead, you’ll watch as the 1,000-yard stare washes over his face. You have just triggered some far off memory of failed dreams from the summer he dropped out of clown college in the ‘80s. He’ll gaze off into the distance and you’ll have inadvertently opened a Pandora’s box of emotions that you only saw once before when the family dog died. He’ll snap back to reality and angerly forbid you to be a comedian. You’ll roll your eyes and wonder if he’ll ever get over Carrot Top stealing his act.
The Overly Supportive Mom
If you grew up with a helicopter Mom that insisted on being present at every moment of your adolescence, you may get more than you bargained for when you break the news. All of a sudden, Mom is sitting front row at every one of your open mics. She’s cheering loudly like it’s your middle school dance recital, even telling you to “stick the landing!” The other comedians will show resentment because you’re secretly well-adjusted. After your set, Mom tells you she had been taking notes. How thoughtful! And boy are they critical! She suggests you “smile more and talk less about your vagina.” Gee, thanks, Mom. She’ll then ask when the next mic is “because we’ve got to get writing!” and you may regret ever having told her you’re a comedian in the first place.
Dad, The Realist
Telling Dad may result in an unexpected emotional breakdown, or he may just lay down some needed truth bombs. At first, he may come across as harsh because, as much as Dad wants to support you, he doesn’t want to support you. You’re already living in his basement rent-free, eating him out of house and home, and let’s not forget all of those musical theater classes he paid for. The news that you’re a comedian doesn’t shock him, but it does stress him out. For god’s sake, he wants grandkids someday! As you inch closer and closer to 40, you’ll explain that your 15-minute Netflix special will be like a grandchild. He’ll let out an exasperated sigh but writes you another check anyway.
No matter how you approach it, you probably won’t get the reaction you want. You’ll lament over your poor relationship with unsupportive parents and wish you had the type of loving parents your friend Tyler in real estate has. You’ll then feel a wave of guilt as you tell yourself, “Well, at least I have parents.” You’ll reflect on happier times for a moment only to be interrupted by a text from Mom with a list of job postings.
Don’t worry because comedians are your new family and they are sure to be just as emotionally distant as your actual family.