This I Believe: (Partially) Black Comedy

Feb 23, 2016

I believe in comedy. I believe that in every situation, from terrifying to tragic, there’s a joke to be made. 

To quote a great inspiration of mine; Joan Rivers once said, “Life is hard. And we’d better laugh at everything; otherwise, we’re going down the tubes.” When you make a joke about something it means you can deal with it. Humor is power. Comedy is fantastic. I know that beyond the shadow of a doubt in my life, nothing has healed all the hurts like making a joke about it. 

I am the gay, mixed­race son of mentally disabled drug addict. (That’s not one of the jokes. Promise.) Seeing the world through the lens of that experience means I have two career options: Serial killer or comedian.

My life has been an absolute tale. Some would look at it and see sad, desperate, privation. I choose the funny angle. How could you not? Let’s just start with me being black, white, and Cuban. If I were in Roots they would have called me Punta Kente. My mother’s family is very white and even more conservative and let’s just say my birth announcements did not say, “It’s a boy!” They started with, “We regret to inform you”. But I knew how to make it work for me later on; I never got bullied in high school because beating me up is a hate crime against approximately four different minority groups. See what I mean? How would anyone be able to deal with that if they couldn’t write one liners about it?

And then there’s being the son of a developmentally delayed woman. At first, before I could understand that she was different from other adults, it was a lot of fun. We both liked the same television shows, we ate the same food, and had the same bedtime. It was like having another kid in the house. A big kid. Who liked crack. When I talk about my life people ask me, Matt, how does a mentally disabled women get involved in hard drugs? And, I don’t have an answer. I wasn’t there. My working theory is that Sesame Street finished at ten in the morning and that gave her a whole day to go out and explore. The one answer I do have is that no one gets anywhere in wallowing. I took my experience, found the joke, and started running.

Comedy comes from dark places. Comedy exists to take the sting out of the wound. Comedy is tragedy plus time. I’ve had my wounds, lived in those bleak tragedies and I’ve given it all time to develop and resonate. I’ve come out stronger, smarter, and more motivated. Motivated to keep going and to use laughter as fuel to the engine. I’ve lived as every type of sexual, racial, and economic minority. I took those experiences and laughed all the way to the top 10% of my class, letting nothing get in my way. Laughter is the answer. In humor, this I believe.