There exists in stand-up comedy today a disturbing trend that can only be fairly described as “anti-sports.” And it makes sense. Because there also exists in stand-up comedy today an amazing trend that can only be described as “pro-nerd.” Hyper-intelligent, bespectacled connoisseurs of the genre have become the tastemakers, which for the most part is great. It rewards the intelligent comedians who don’t go the easy or obvious routes, and it has created amazing rooms across the country where one can perform for smart kids in scarves (New York) or thin hoodies and ridiculous sneakers (LA). Then you can try to make out with bangsy chicks in glasses. And that rules. It’s a great trend from which I have benefited – though I do think a comic should not sequester his or her self in such a scene; you have to be able to make the chicken-wing-devouring masses laugh as well. But maybe that’s just me. I’m old school (racist).
But while I do believe these connoisseurs are for the most part having a positive effect on comedy, I can no longer stomach their pop-cultural policing. The nerds have ascended to the throne and like some vindictive, scorned ruling class – Khaleesi, anyone? – they seem to wish to purge anything and everything from their jock-haunted past. A near-clinical fascination with comic books is okay but the passing mention of a great football game is met with the most affected of sighs, like there could be nothing more plebian on earth to bring up.
Go smear your shit on a cave wall, Australopithecus, the more evolved humans are talking.
Every time I hear another member of the comedy literati shit on sports an inner Ogre from “Revenge of the Nerds,” threatens to burst from my torso and scream, “Neeeeeeeeerds!” to the heavens.
An aside: Ogre, you may recall, was eventually welcomed into the geeky fold.
Nowhere is this trend more omnipresent than on Twitter, the preferred shadowy realm of the comedy-nerd. Tweet about your football team on a Sunday and get ready for a snide avalanche of @replies from disaffected followers: “Oh did the local sports men outperform the sportsmen from another market?” “Did the ball move down the field in a satisfying manner today?” Yes, it did. And an entire city is losing their fucking minds over it. Pardon us.
I get where this attitudes comes from. It was the jocks that most likely tormented these sensitive folk in middle and high school, making their lives a living hell merely because they liked to watch Adult Swim and draw on the soles of their sneakers. It was the John Hughes characters in letter-jackets that slammed the Duckie’s into lockers. And yeah, a great many of those dickheads grew into the beer-swilling, beer-spilling half-wits that regularly pack most sports stadiums. They had a rough time using their minds so they developed a respect for games that rewarded physical prowess, something they could excel at. And those people are awful. But not all sports fans are those people; and to assume so, or dismiss anyone interested in such endeavors, is not only ignorant, it’s intolerant.
Except for lacrosse players, of course. They’re all assholes. But that’s really more of a class thing.
I got slammed into lockers. I got called a “Fag.” I went to indie flicks with my friends and drank too much coffee late into the night at Village Inn, dissecting what we had just seen. I went to liberal arts college. I wrote shitty poetry. But I also started playing soccer when I was four. And I drove out to the suburbs three times a week for practice and games for pretty much the next fourteen years of my life. And I traveled out of state to baseball camps and tournaments. And I watched John Elway torment opposing defenses every Sunday with my dad. And I watched Michael Jordan usurp Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as the greatest basketball player of the era. And I did all of those things with a fascination and commitment that borders on full-scale OCD. And I still love sports. As well as Wes Anderson. And Batman. Because for me, such interests are not mutually exclusive from the others. In fact, I think they’re quite similar. Watch kids trade baseball cards. Or even better, take a gander at an e-mail chain between a group of balding finance guys in a fantasy football league; it’s the goddamn geekiest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. All nerdy stats and numbers and insider shit-talking.
A big part of life, or at least the pop-cultural aspects of it, is finding what obsesses you. And whether that’s comic books or college football, you may not be drinking the same flavor of Kool-Aid, but you’re all looking for Kool-Aid to drink.
So slam me not into metaphorical lockers, comedy nerds! Shove my sports-loving head into analogical toilets no longer! I do not reject your culture nor do I attempt to censor it. I embrace and it celebrate it as I do that of athletics. And while some of the less enlightened of my species may not have as nuanced a view of the matter, I ask that you forgive them their ignorance. For they are merely orbiting around their own magnificent obsession; and odds are you will be cutting their paychecks someday soon anyway. Or at the very least designing their Tumblr’s.
Next time I make a joke about sports, or a tweet about a great baseball trade by my beloved Colorado Rockies – fat chance, the front office is comically inept – please don’t belittle me. Instead just ignore it. Or even better, write me back with something you’re excited about, a graphic novel I should really know about perhaps. Then I’ll hit you back and propose we’ll get together for a game of catch. And maybe we’ll do it. And even though your throwing form will be ridiculously bad, I won’t judge you or mock you. I’ll just start throwing lefty and we’ll both laugh at how ridiculous we look.
Then we’ll both go try to make out with bangsy chicks in glasses.