All my life I’ve been susceptible to crushes. When I was 6 & 7, it was Donny Osmond. 8 & 9 it was Davy Jones (who, by the way, I met when I was in my twenties, a teeny-tiny, though pleasant man). 10 through 12 it was Barry Manilow (I know, I know…). Then Bruce Springsteen, Corey Hart, Paul Young – you get the picture. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t infatuated with someone. And I’m not even touching on the actual real-life boys whom I admired from afar and embarrassed myself in front of.
I’ve grown out of this (mostly, if you don’t count Ewan McGregor), but have come to the realization that throughout the years, I’ve harboured a deeper affection for another group of people; comedians. All along, perhaps without acknowledging it outright, I’ve cultivated what I call “comedy crushes”. These comedy crushes are in no way sexual, in fact they run the gamut; men, women; older; younger; gay; straight, whatever. The only thing in common they have is that when I see them perform, I’m drawn to them. If I get to meet them, I tend to say idiotic things or, alternately, shy away from meeting them at all. (Note: if you happen to know me, and I tend to say idiotic things around you, it does NOT necessarily mean that I have a comedy crush on you, it could be that I’m just a moron, or drunk, or both).
Early (and enduring) comedy crushes include; Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams (first as Mork – I know, I know…), Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and even Flip Wilson. And I mustn’t forget the cast of SCTV and most of the SNL casts. The list of current famous comedy crushes is too long to list, but predictable, I’m sure.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I started watching live stand-up comedy (I LIVED at the Yuk Yuks in Ottawa). At that point the infatuation was complete. Now I had comedy crushes on both Hollywood stars and Canadian comics doing the circuit. But at this point I didn’t realize how much a part of me it was.
Now, one might argue that I simply admire these talented people, but it goes further than that. I don’t know if it’s because they seem more like “real” people to me. Perhaps there is a certain vulnerability comedians possess that I relate to, or maybe I was drawn to these people because I wanted to be a comedian, but hadn’t figured it out yet. Or it could be simply that they made me laugh – and what’s better than laughing?
I love hanging out with comics. They are generally interesting people who are informed, articulate, and often possess a child-like spirit (which is a good thing, in my books). And now that I’m a comic myself, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Comedy crushes galore! They’re all around me! Now, I have no intention of naming names, mostly because I go to Spirits a lot and don’t know just who reads this. I certainly don’t want to have to hide in the less-than-pleasant ladies washroom there because I can’t keep my big column shut. Many are successful, but some are not. Some are headliners, some are newcomers with bags of talent, many are in-between.
So I think that, beyond fame or money, what would most make me feel like a success in this business would be to be the receiving end of a comedy crush. That would be cool, indeed.