While at snowboarding competitions, I constantly faced the threat of serious injury, and possibly death. In my discipline, six snowboarders race side by side down a course that is designed with large jumps, huge turns, and very high speeds. Completing a course by itself is dangerous, let alone when you have five other people riding alongside. I no longer had the reckless abandon that allowed for the adventures during my childhood. After many broken bones, a few surgeries, a handful of concussions, and a seizure, I learned to be a bit more cautious with my life. That gets pretty difficult when your job is to soar over 80 feet in the air while going 40 miles per hour on a snowboard. I possessed the technical ability, but occasionally my head would get in the way. My coach and I had a routine to get past my anxiety. I would say “I’m so nervous.” To which he would respond, “first time?” I would reply, “No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.” And that was it. I would have a quick giggle, and I was ready to rock. One Airplane! reference was all it took to calm me down. My love of comedy began as a way to relate with my older brother and stop the fighting. Some of our favorite movies were Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, Spaceballs, Dracula: Dead and Loving it, Airplane, and the Naked Gun series. Any little reminder of one of those quotes, in almost any situation, and the two of us would spend an entire conversation quoting our favorite scenes. Almost twenty years later, we still have quote-a-thons.
The only difference now is that my younger brother is old enough to join, making it our special sibling thing. Most people get confused by our interactions, but it is how we stay close, and remember the good old days where our only troubles were not quite getting the line right. Once we were in high school, we began listening to Mitch Hedberg, expanding our comedy dialogue. In college, we went through an Eddie Izzard phase. Now, with most of my close friends, we have our favorite lines through which we relate. The jokes don’t get old because of the meaning behind them.
On another occasion of panic and fear, we used humor to abate the situation. I was sitting in a chair behind my brother as he threw darts at a dart board. In a miraculous mishap, he threw a dart and it ricocheted off the board, sailed by his face and into my leg. I jumped up screaming, but all anyone could do was mock me. The scene was a bit reminiscent of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, when Ace is stabbed in the leg by a spear. At ten years old, I calmed down enough to walk up to my parents and coolly ask them to remove the three inch metal dart from my thigh.
If I am watching TV and I see that any Mel Brooks, Jim Carrey, or Leslie Nielsen movie is on, I will stop what I am doing and finish the film. Now when I watch the movies, I see memories. Even if I haven’t seen a movie in a while, I will always be able to pick out our favorite lines. Just recently, my younger brother was saying that he had to check his schedule for some reason. The conversation quickly jumped to this scene:
Gets me every time.
More recently, now that my brothers and I are geographically far apart, we share cracked articles that remind us of each other, or that we think the others would find interesting. It was a pretty momentous occasion when we figured we could find comedy in writing rather than just on film. While physical comedy (I’m looking at you, Chris Farley) will always be hilarious to us, we can now appreciate written humor. In that way I think that my sense of humor doesn’t change, it merely expands. I will still laugh at fart jokes and watching people walk into things, but now I can enjoy a well set up joke that has a bit more depth. It is easy to see how important comedy is, not only in terms of reinforcing old relationships, but of forming new ones. I gravitate toward those who make me laugh. I alleviate pain with comedy, and find it necessary for a healthy life.