Not Funny People

by Joshua Siegal

It’s been a long day in the coffeeshop of people who are not funny.  Man over there in the black silk button down, groomed goatee and prim eyewear, his hands are tapping thunderous tick-tacks on his laptop keyboard.  He’s stealing glances at a flower-skirted girl two tables over, with the flowing locks and the tan shoulders.  She’s off on a travel journal tangent.  Her pen twirls loops and her foot flops a sandal absentmindedly in the air.  She will get sucked into the ventilation system if she’s not careful.

Then there’s the agitated brillo-head peering into the paper fibers of a manifesto.  Her eggs and hot sauce are half eaten.  Her tea is full.  She leaves inexplicably good tips and probably has a really good job.

A woman walks in.  She sports gigantic shades and twig-thin limbs.  She looks disapprovingly at the line.  Then at her cellphone.  Line.  Cellphone.  Her dog is sniffing someone else’s butt, his nose parked an inch behind the black denim pants of this craven-looking multi-tattooed rockstar man-waif.  Looks like the dog likes what he smells.

This is my purgatory for failing out of school: running drinks for the overpossessed.  I trip at least once a day on my huge feet, but I can’t make even that funny.  People just feel bad for me.  Someone will come and try to help me up and I’ll snap at them like a doberman.  A miniature one, with a stupid bowtie.  Yes, I failed out of clown school.

And that time a poorly minded two-year-old slapped a bundt cake across the room and I caught it with a no-look backhanded grab just before it knocked a double-tall drink onto somebody’s dual-core laptop, and the whole place erupted in a great ovation?  I just stood there, and growled at that two-year-old and his sheepish mother, and I fired waves of angry inflatable cruise missiles at them with my gorgeous, beady blue eyes.

Sometimes a guy will try and pick me up, and I’ll let him down so fast it seems gentle.  Then, from a distance, I’ll watch him ponder the honey in my voice and realize it’s sweet because it’s poison.  Then he falls without a net.  Even that, it’s not really that funny.  I’m the only one in this place who’s not happily bored.  But no one goes to coffeeshops to entertain other people, do they?  They go to get beverages and swap glances and be cool.  Let me tell you something: funny may be cool, but cool is not funny.

And maybe that’s it.  Maybe I was too cool for school.  Maybe none of these people are funny because I’m not funny, and I’m stuck in a solipsistic humorless death-spiral.  It was either this or working underground as an unlicensed party clown, and maybe I can’t do that because I have just a shred too much self-respect.  Just like everyone else in here, self-consciously melting into the well-worn furniture of this silent-picture salon drama.

Did I mention the art on the walls?  That’s a little bit funny.