February 7, 2013
By OJ Patterson
“Gorilla Position” is a professional wrestling term coined to designate the cue before an entertainer enters the arena. A cavernous skeleton, it’s the back lot for bruisers and bleeders, the wood-and-cloth foundation for the shiny, metal facade. Muscles tense, molecules bubble and for a brief second all souls live in enraptured anticipation. Then, a heralding charge brings applause and release for a fight-focused individual, dressed in the most vulnerable attire imaginable.
Comedy has absurd parallels to wrasslin’: the litany of styles, miles of history, adoption of personas, lurid public perception, politics, paper championships and odds for success are fraternal twins. One night, the comparisons became incestuously imperceptible. One night, under the banner of the “Hella Gay Comedy Show,” inside the edifice of San Francisco’s Deco Lounge, a gay dive, the stage became the square circle, the audience became awesomely fettered and the sport of entertaining, in all its falsities, felt all too real.
It was more of a win than a draw or a loss. Audiences, inherently finicky and as unpredictable as elemental ferrets, required more from less, tearing into newer comics with unapologetic apathy. Everyone fought valiantly, some escaped less bruised, less bloody. There were scars on my arms, way more on my legs, and a few – most importantly – on my ego. High to moderate accolades, whoops, hollers, subjectively killing; it was a better night of comedy. Oh, and I did it in my underwear.
Whitey-tighties, specifically, Briefs, tharanthuruns, Clark Kents! Bleached flattery for “Underwear Comedy Night.” Can you imagine!? Arguably the two foremost first world fears (public speaking and public indecency), mushed and mashed, electively partaken. Recall the old showbiz adage of “Picture them in their underwear.” Ha! How is that going to help me when I’ve already drawn metaphoric first blood? Comedy is hard (heh!), and barelegged gauntlets are another installment of raised antes and eyebrows.
Modern comedy is rife with inspired interruptions: marathons, improvisation, produce pelting, live art, impersonation, truncations, rules. Special attractions, boredom-born, break the monotony, enhancing the craft by hobbling the norm. Each instance glorifies that instant, challenging mentalists with potential disaster. And while there’s acclaim for survivors and thrivers, the collective subconscious, mired in subtle schadenfreude, awaits the fall. Whatever subsequent embarrassment or meltdown pales in comparison to analgesic subsistence. It’s fun.
It WAS fun. When I reached the building I took my pants off right away and strutted around like Ric Flair or Stone Cold Steve Austin. My character mask was a confident comic brandishing his bird legs. The anxiety of being a half-naked straight man in a gay club melted away. Sure, the motives and magnitude (if any) of said social experiment could be heavily dissected. Instead, it would be better to lean on these truths: I felt objectified by my persona; became a champion of ridiculousness; and returned to the gorilla position with an erect mood and not an erect… Should this be in a literary magazine?