I have loved comedy and comedians for as long as I can remember. When I was five we didn’t have a tv at home, but we had Dr. Demento every Sunday. When I was around a tv, even my favorite action shows were loaded with comedy — “them Dukes, them Dukes". I have been reading since before I was five, and my favorite daily read was the comics page. I have also always loved telling jokes. Five-year-old-Josh-favorite: “What do you do if you stub your toe? Call a toe truck.” When I was quite young, I began wishing I was a storyteller. Making a movie seemed impossible, writing a book was mysterious, but a three-panel-comic strip was something I could imagine doing. And it seemed to me that a three-panel-comic strip was a story. It must be a beginning, a middle, and an end.
I was watching Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby, and she said a few things so clear and obvious that I expect they will forever be linked with her in my head. She was explaining jokes as a release of tension and she said, “I have been learning the art of tension diffusion since I was a children [sic].” Right then, my identification with a queer woman from the other side of the world stuck hard. A bit later, she said, “In a comedy show, there’s no room for the best part, an ending.”
That’s why I prefer telling stories to telling jokes. (Or writing internet essays to writing jokes.) I want to be able to include an ending, even if the ending is just an ending to the story. I want the people in the story to live on. I want them to live on in the mind of the person reading the story and in imagination of the person writing the story.
She then followed that up with a very effective story as metaphor. I don’t want to spoil it, other than to say I identified with it greatly because of my experience. And the magic of the show is that she includes an ending that both the audience and the author can appreciate and accept closure and yet continue in their imagination.