Sordid tales of sexual anxiety, misfortune, and embarrassment.
Okay. I’ve got an idea for you. Hold on to your butts. This one’s a doozy of a humdinger.
Open-mic… stick with me… Therapy Night.
Once a month – maybe twice – I’ll post up at some dingy bar or event space, and encourage society’s broken and bereft, demented and depressed to share their insides with strangers.
Five minutes. Open mic. Have a drink and tell me about your dad.
I’m convinced it would slay.
But then, I’m big on catharsis. Doubly-so if it’s public.
Triple if it’s pubic.
In full candor – it’s not my idea. It was a throwaway gag in a teeerrriibllee (see: wooonnndeeerrfulll) romantic comedy from the late 90s/early ’00s about a neurotic dweeb who falls in love with his best friend. It’s called “Let it Snow” and I’ve seen it probably five thousand times because my mother raised me to be a doily.
It was the maudlin opus of the implausibly named Kipp Marcus – who I’m 98% sure composed his own Wikipedia page. Bernadette Peters plays his mother and is, in accordance with every conceivable law of existence, absolutely perfect.
A then-unknown Stephen Colbert plays a minor but brilliant role. Seriously. Find this movie. Watch the whole thing. Twice. You’ll be better for it.
Extra knowledge, no charge: I adore shitty romantic comedies. Especially the vein of schmaltzy, meet-cute pap that flourished from the mid-90s to the early 00s. I consider it the height of the depth of American binnable pop culture. If you’re looking for a map to the labyrinth of my heart… look no further than what played on HBO at four in the afternoon, circa 2002.
Anyway. Back to Open Mic Therapy Night.
Here’s the thing – it scratches a bunch of my itches.
For one, I think it makes for great theater. Bad news makes always makes for the best stories. Any success I’ve had at storytelling (and I’ve had a bit) has owed to two simple and conjoined precepts:
- When you’re being ugly, you’re being honest. And honesty is what makes people lean forward, listen, and care.
- There is nothing more boring than someone else’s good news.
So as a form of public theater and entertainment… I think it’s a peach.
But I also think there’s something potentially healing about it.
There’s something cleansing about getting on stage and being as ugly and honest and raw as you can to a room of boozy silhouettes. Everyone gathered to swim in each other’s uglies… not celebrating our accomplishments – to dance, or sing, or tell jokes, or strip and wiggle… but our failures. The things we’re ashamed and afraid of.
Failed in love? Let’s hear it.
Got some warped sexual urges? Spill em.
Hate your kid? That’s okay, too.
Feel sometimes that the whole world is a crushing black nothing, and that we’re all just kicking around, waiting for something tragic and awful to happen if merely to confirm that you’re not crazy for feeling that way in the first place? The mic is yours.
I just love it. Everyone there, together… listening. Nodding and mm-hmm-ing. Judging. Celebrating. Commiserating. And ultimately, applauding.
It’s the ultimate catharsis.
It’s Jungian karaoke.
Guh. Sign me up.