One of the reasons I love Chicago so much is that it is the birthplace of modern day improvisation; however, L.A.'s comedy scene will always reign in pushing all my funny buttons.
Last night, a friend and I saw This Feels Terrible: The Love Show
at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Hollywood.
The evening was filled with tragically comedic monologues by funny people with serious relationship issues.
Two of the actors stuck out to me-not so much because they were hilarious-but because they had the saddest stories I've ever heard, and I spent most of the evening wondering why we were laughing at/with them. Haven't we all experienced some awful romantic tragedy akin to Shakespeare in our fragile lives? Was it funny then? Is it funny now?
The first story was told by a pretty redhead who wore a yellow dress. She discussed her strict upbringing as a preacher's daughter and a member of True Love Waits, an abstinence organization devoted to keeping teenage virginity locked away in minds, not in sex. ("True Love Waits" is also one of my favorite songs by Radiohead.)
For a few years, the redhead said protecting her purity was easy-she was 240 lb and "nobody wanted to have sex" with her anyways-until the fall of her freshman year in college, when she lost some weight and got to meet the lead singer of a band. Already I knew where the story was going.
You probably know this, but lead singers of bands are gods. They can smell and look like piss/puke/crap or any combination of the three, yet attract any girl in any hemisphere with a simple nod. Guitarists and bassists fare pretty well too.
The "hot" lead singer, Greg, 25, had just finished a set and came up to redhead and her friend after the show, asking where the party was at. The girls suggested going to the beach and drinking vodka, so the threesome went and proceeded to get hammered on the moonlit sands. Greg sat in between the girls and eventually whispered in redhead's ear: I really like you, how do we ditch your friend.
Redhead was flattered-no, thrilled! But she didn't know how to get rid of her friend, who also happened to be her roommate, so Greg said he'd take the friend on a walk and break it to her gently.
Little did she know that during the walk, Greg was confessing his growing attraction to the friend and asking her how to get rid of redhead!
The two girls spent the evening giving one another pity glances, each convinced she was the one Greg preferred. Eventually, the triad returned back to the dorms, where Greg announced that he'd have to pick one of the girls to hook-up with. Redhead, while a virgin, was very competitive and attempted to look as sexy as possible. Before she knew it, she had "won" and found her prize, Greg, gyrating on top of her.
Meanwhile, the roommate, now miffed, put on headphones, and attempted to spend the night with Ben Folds, while the lovebirds were engaging in coitus two feet away.
Right before he popped her cherry, Greg asked redhead if she was a virgin, and she responded: Technically, yes. Apparently, that was a good enough answer for him, because soon after, he technically devirginized her.
In that same special moment, the roommate threw off her headphones and fled the dorm room shouting, "I can't take it anymore!" Greg saw her leave and jumped up to run after her, calling out, "But I really like you!"
Redhead, meanwhile, remained on her bed-missing her clothes and her chastity. The audience was in hysterics, except for me. I mean, she was a great storyteller and all, but that was probably the saddest loss of virginity story that I have ever heard.
The other monologue was by a man in his 40s, who reminded me a lot of Harvey Keitel, except really angry, like Michael Richards angry. He said: Heartbreak makes bitter, hateful and insecure people want others (usually the person responsible for the heartbreak) to suffer.
"Harvey" discussed an example of his misanthropic nature when discussing his ex-wife (one of two), who he claimed had broken his heart. He was going to therapy for this condition, because he realized that his heart was actually filled hate and he was incapable of letting women get close to him. Harvey admitted that he had been a heartbreaker an "exponential number" of times.
He blamed his mother for his inadequacies in intimacy; she called him two years ago and apologized because she didn't know how to love him when he was a baby. The audience laughed.
Harvey's girlfriend was also in the audience- a girl 20 years his junior. He aired their dirty laundry and her sexual aberrance to the wide-eyed audience. He bragged how he was only able to be in relationships with women who were as emotionally screwed up as he was. She was a prime candidate. Their relationship began as two strangers meeting at a Portland comedy festival to engage in a weekend of wild sex-no frills, no commitment.
He professed his love for her twice on stage, in between talking about how crazy she was and how he decided to see her again only after she text messaged him a picture of her vagina.
The girlfriend was mortified and afterwards, I swear she was furious. I know I would have been weeping. When you're dating a comedian, I think it's pretty fair to assume that there's a good chance you will be mentioned on stage, but to have your entire sexual and romantic dossier ripped apart seems a tad unfair, and I found myself feeling sorry for her and Harvey, for that matter.
All these sad people, making us feel terrible about love. I know I can be pretty Pollyanna and quote The Beatles
and talk about how important love is and all that crap, but last night, it got me thinking that most people don't even know how to love-at least not the way that God or any kind of spiritual entity meant it.
How many relationships have you seen where couple abuse each other yet come together at the end of the day and profess, "But I love you!" Sure, we all love in different ways- and an integral part of finding your mate is finding someone who is compatible with your particular needs and wants-but I simply cannot see how there is anything terrible about love, except maybe the (inevitable) breakup.
Do we get better, wiser and more thoughtful in relationships as we get older? Or are we doomed to remain the same awkward, passive aggressive tyros from adolescence?
Perhaps, we must first ask ourselves, do we engage in immature love or mature love?
In The Art of Loving, Eric Fromm discusses the different loves:
Immature love: indicated by a state of ungroundedness, need or powerlessness, craziness... "I love you because I need you."
Mature love: state of productiveness with care, respect, responsibility and knowledge. "It is an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved person, rooted in one's own capacity to love... I need you because I love you."
Dr. Henry Grayson continues,
"When need is dominant, we are ultimately weakened we see ourselves as dependent on other people as the source of love we need, and anytime others do not meet our needs in the time, place, or manner we desire, we are set up for disappointment and suffering. At this point we often try to seduce, cajole, manipulate, control, attack, or even kill that person. Hence the murders in families and between lovers."
In mature love, there is no bartering, conditions, expectations or revenge-just caring for the other person.
As silly as it is, it can be difficult to discern between the two loves, which is why I've included a list of these questions to help differentiate between the two (courtesy of a teenage dating website, because frankly, I learned the most about myself in high school):
Signs of Immature Love
• You are tired most of the time
• Love seems more like a burden than a joy
• Violence is part of the relationship
• You keep having thoughts like ‘Maybe things will get better'
• You feel MISERABLE!
Signs of Mature Love
• You have a lot of energy
• You have a sense of humor and seem to smile
• You really appreciate each other's ideas
• Neither of you frequently asks "Are you sure you love me?"
• Prove you love me." or "Do you really care about me?"
• When you are together, you spend most of your time creatively
• You can talk about each other's likes and dislikes
• You are a person, not a sex object
• You can spend a day alone with your partner (without television or video) and find it FANTASTIC!