The Best is Over

Alway Open With Death

My grandpa Cyr died in his sixties. He chased a bottle into an open grave. They called it congestive heart failure, but that barely describes the number of years he worked to bring about that specific event. In those six decades , he was orphaned, immigrated to America with adoptive parents, fought in a war, married twice, divorced once, fathered children, abandoned children, helped raise children who weren’t his, spent countless hours on both sides of the bar, and woke up in the hospital more than once before that final check in.

My grandmother Cyr (nee Shelton) died almost twenty years after him. In her four score years on this earth, she grew up in a small Missouri town and lived her life in the ever present of her mother’s death when she was just a child. She spent her entire life searching for what she lost, everywhere from the depths of her own heart to the pews of a megachurch in a Saint Louis exurb. In that time, she left her small town, joined the army, lived in New York City, married, divorced, mothered three daughters of her own, helped raise eight grandchildren, suffered, but always surviving, financial crisis after crisis, read every book she could find regardless of the subject, and did her best to avoid the doctors and hospital visits that might have given her ten more years with us.

Assuming my time here will be somewhere between how long each of them had, and I split the difference by making in into my seventies, I’ve thirty years left. Which wouldn’t be so scary, if it didn’t seem like the first forty-five hadn’t gone by so god damn quickly.

I’m not afraid to die.

One of the joys of being an unabashed atheist is that I recognize the illogic of being afraid of nothingness. You don’t need to fear death, because there’s nothing in it to fear. I’m just disappointed by how much I won’t get to do.

Yes, it’s a cliché . One more middle-aged white dude running from a pale horse, dumbstruck by his own mortality. It’s a well mined vein. It’s the basic premise of Hamilton (“There’s a million things I haven’t done”) and a good portion of the conflict in Jesus Christ Superstar (“Could you’ve asked as much from any other man?”). But it seems a lot less clichéd when you’re going through it.

I barely feel like an adult, much less like one who is closer to the grave than he is to the cradle.

There’s a great line from the first episode of The Sopranos where Tony is speaking to Dr. Melfi, and describes how he feels about being in organized crime. It perfectly sums up how I feel about so many things from America to stand-up comedy.

“It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came to late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.”

I might not be handling my forties well.

Chris Cyr is a writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian from St. Louis, Missouri. His album, “Adult Child of Children” will be released on Helium Records in September 2022.

Nervous Or Nah

When people find out you’re a stand-up comic, the most common reaction is, “I can’t do that. I get so nervous in front of people.” I was talking to a friend about getting nervous before shows, and I told her that I don’t get nervous. But after reflecting, I realize that while spiritually accurate, that’s not entirely true.

I’ve performed in front of audiences of a thousand in a casino’s theater, and an audience of one in a small ice cream parlor, and I honestly enjoy it every time. The nervousness I feel isn’t a fear that I’m going to lock up, forget my set, or bomb. I’ve done all of those, more than once, and I know that I’ll recover. I’m good at this. An off night doesn’t change anything.

I’d Rather Bomb Than Be Predictable

I do get nervous though. I’m nervous about being too mechanical in my execution. I’m nervous about not being fully present in the moment on stage. I’m nervous that I won’t make the connection I want with at least one person in the audience.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all about getting laughs first. But, after you’ve been doing it awhile, you learn it’s easy to get a laugh. It’s a little harder when you care about what you say in order to get that laugh, but not much. There are a number of tried and true formulas to it. After watching myself for thousands of hours, I know the formula I tend to rely on is this:

(Relatable Premise + Absurd Misdirection) x Pregnant Pause = Laugh

It works every god damn time. Math is math.

But that’s not all I want. I want a connection to the audience. I want that invisible filament that forms between my head and their heart. I want them to laugh, but I don’t just want the autonomic response. I want them to remember why they laughed.

I’m not knocking the formula. I’ve worked with comics who just do the math and kill every time. They’ve made careers out of it, and I absolutely find many of them funny. Also, god bless that formula, because sometimes you’d rather be in bed than in a VFW hall in the middle of Nebraska, and that formula is the only thing stopping you from a 20 minute rant about the confederate flag you saw displayed on a church as you drove into town. The formula guarantees you get paid.

But any time I get to just talk to the audience, and tell them these stories I love, I remember why I wanted to do this in the first place.

So, I get nervous. I’m nervous that I’ll just be kind of ordinary.

Caught In The Middle

January 1, 0045 Anno Cyri

Here I stand here in the middle of my life. The middle of the country. The middle of the show’s line up. In the middle of the downfall of society. And, in the middle of the D&D alignment chart. Obviously it’s a good time to start a new blog. They say it takes twenty years for something to go out of and then come back into style. It’s been twenty years since anyone really blogged, right? Maybe this is the thing I’m out in front of!

That was a lot of “middle” puns.

Okay, I know people are still blogging. But it’s definitely been twenty years since anyone regularly followed a blog. In the war for our increasingly diminishing attention spans, who has time to sit and read 500 – 2000 words from anyone who’s not paying us to read them. Most reading is done on the toilet or in traffic within the time it takes for our thumbs to slide a quarter inch in one of the four cardinal directions, never bothering to click “Read More” on anything that doesn’t fit in the box our apps designate as the appropriate size to grab someone’s interest.

Why Say In Five Words Something You Can Say In Twenty

As I work material on stage, rant in my podcast “Impolite Company,” or make dumb videos for TikTok, I find myself struggling to fit into this new “Get ’em in the first 15 seconds” world. I’m a long form guy. Whether I’m talking on the phone, writing a new bit, or trying to sound like I understand anything about French existentialism. Getting me to be succinct is a hell of a challenge.

But here I am learning (But I’m Slow On The Uptake)

This is where I’ll dump some things from my brain. If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know that I can’t guarantee how regularly I’ll update. And, you know those updates will come in spurts. But, hopefully I’m erring on the side of quality over quantity.

Chris Cyr is a writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian from St. Louis, Missouri. His album, “Adult Child of Children” will be released on Helium Records in September 2022.