I was thinking yesterday about a friend from high school who I'd like to write about during this hashtag mutiny against the anti-social behavior on social media. If you’re not aware, it’s writing about someone each day for the year and sharing a little love their way.
Some days I write about someone because they popped up in my news feed on the Facebook. Other days, they are on my mind and I just pound out the words so they know I’m thinking of them. Today’s post is for a friend who grinds it out with all the other comics in the stand up world. His name is Joe Hieronymus. And yes, that is his last name. He’s made reference to it on stage siting that it is his last name. People ask him if it’s made up and he replies, “Yes, in fact, it is made up. Just like your last name and every other word… ever. They are all made up at some point.
I met Joe on the school bus back when riding the bus was the norm and it was a sort of brain vault for those of us who wanted to explore the world through words and thoughts and hash out ideas of what and why this world is so strange. Yes, such commentary was coming from the minds of junior high students as we'd passenger through the winding country roads on our way to school.
In high school Joe was in Speech and Debate with me. His comedy was off the wall. He was brave and willing to go for the laugh at any cost. I would watch as he’d check his timing and measure beats as if constructing the perfect laugh machine. With his humor came a wit that looked closely at the human experience. He’d make relevant statements in the midst of his words and look for obscure literary references to tie in the “not so hip to pop-culture” portion of his audiences.
Joe seemed fearless. Probably because he was… and still is I’m sure. I know just enough about stand up comedy to know that bravery and steadfastness have to be at play 2-4-7.
Joe’s sets, at least the ones I can find online, are filled with off the wall impressions, haiku’s and non-sequiturs to keep the audience guessing what will come from his lips next to keep them laughing.
I write about Joe today because we lost a comedian today. One who made me laugh every time I heard him. To compare Joe to Garry Shandling would be unfair. Comedy isn’t like baseball. You can compare one pitcher to another in a fairly scientific way. Trying to compare two comedians, I would guess, would be like comparing a pitcher with a Nascar Driver. Both are in a sort of sports entertainment but that’s about where it stops.
Garry’s humor was one of strangely held timing and a dryness delivered with the face of a man trying to hold back a fart while sitting next to an attractive first date. But, all the same, we lost a funny man today. My only solace is that there are others out there to make us laugh, keep our spirits up and challenge us in our thinking. And Joe is one of those people.
I give my #thisiscrazylove2016 today to Joe Hieronymus.