When I was in high school there was a kid in the theater department who was very popular. I didn’t like him much. It wasn’t jealousy over the good roles he got despite being a mediocre actor or the fact that people enjoyed his presence – a feeling that is quite foreign to me. It was because he constantly used self-deprecation for evil. He wasn’t the only one, he was just the best at it.
He was the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker in terms of self deprecating jokes.
When I say for evil, I mean in order to feel better. Let me back up and explain myself. Self deprecation is a beautiful form of comedy in which you are able to make others laugh at without feeling bad because they know that you are okay with the fact that you are being laughed at – it’s laughing at without the side affect of guilt. It can be used for evil though. It can be used with the desired affect of pity instead of hilarity. I don’t want anybody to feel bad for me (Let me finish my rant against this other dude before I go back and explain that because I know that everybody who has seen me perform has just made a loud noise of confusion and anger at the screen as if their audible indignance will change the path of the rest of this predetermined post). Every self-deprecating joke that this guy made was immediately followed by a compliment by someone attempting to disagree with his self-hatred.
We’ve all heard the basic example of “I’m so fat” – “No you’re not!?!?!!?”
This guy was self aware and knew how to point out the things that defined himself (A power I respect), but he used this power to demand compliments from others. I use this same power to demand that people hate me and like laughing at me. I’m just a selfless humanitarian in the world of comedy.
Let me go back to explaining how I’m not asking for pity or sympathy. Yes, many audience members ooh and aww at my antics. Yes, I force guilt upon my audience for my shitty situation in life. I also love myself far too much for anybody else to love me. There is only so much love that a person can take in, and I have given myself all that I need. I can’t remember the last time I was complimented without the complimenter expressing deep surprise that I’m halfway decent at anything I do.
Now, let’s be clear about what I’m suggesting so that I can both point out and clarify my hypocrisy. I’m not asking that people feel bad for me that nobody treats me with respect, instead I want you all to treat everybody else with as little respect as me. Nobody deserves respect, maybe then they’d learn to respect themselves.