Thursday, August 25, 2005

Call me Ish...

Anonymous said...
Funny. Ish.

11:44 AM

And a new nickname was born. Funny. Ish.

There was a comedian/musician in the 1940s called Ish Kabibble. His nickname was derived from "Isch Ka Bibble (I Should Worry)," a Yiddish song that he used to perform. (He performed with Kay Kyser's orchestra, but you probably already knew that.) But I will be Ish not in honor of Ish Kabibble. Rather, I will be Ish in recognition of my status as, not quite funny, but funny-ish. (At least in the opinion of Anon 11:44 AM. I am still riding the wave of your tepid endorsement.)

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe late great Ish Kabibble - not my namesake.

I got into comedy with a humble dream-- a dream that one day, people would say, "he's not exactly funny, but he's kind of in the same general area as funny. Let's say, funny-ish." I'm living that dream, boys and girls. Let the legend grow.

I'd love to tell you that criticism rolls off me like water off a duck's back. It doesn't, and I'd be skeptical of anyone who said that it does.

I've never taken criticism especially well, so it's a little perverse that I would end up doing something where I expose myself to a lot of criticism, and criticism that is very personal. The good thing is, you get a lot of positive feedback as well as the negative.

It's funny. Anon's comment came as I was writing my previous post about heckling. One of the things that the comedian in my heckling post said was, "I know I'm funny, I don't need to hear it from you." That may be true, but one of the reasons I do this (which I think most comedians share) is that I want the validation. I don't need it from everyone, and I can't expect it. I especially desire it from people I respect-- my friends, fellow comedians, anonymous blog visitors... you know.

I don't take criticism terribly well, but I don't take it too personally either. I see the constructive value of criticism. When I don't get the feedback I hope for, especially from the people whose opinions I respect most, it can be hard, but it's not devastating. Usually the people whose opinions I care about most are people who care about me, who want me to do well, and believe in my abilities.

I've seen a lot of comedians who don't seem to improve. They plateau. I think part of that stems from the fact that they don't get reliable feedback on what they do well, and what they need to work on. Too often, comedians flatter each other with platitudes. "Hey, good set, man." What can you learn from that?

Someday I hope I have the swagger to say, "I know I'm funny, I don't need to hear it from you." But I believe I can always improve, and I want to keep getting better. I believe I can learn from criticism. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be doing this.


At 2:06 PM, Blogger Chris said...

You're taking the entirely wrong attitude with the Funny-Ish assessment. I think you've gone and stuck it into a negative review when in fact it's nearly positive. It's one thumb up; two and a half stars; a solid 50%. You're not bombing on the blog and with all the blogs that are out there that are complete shite (have you seen LiveJournal?) that isn't a bad thing. At least you're writing is more interested than that of a high school goth girl (Oh, I got a black lipstick today so I'm not going to slit my wrists this week).

Being funny-ish is like being mean-ish or horny-ish. It is a threat "I could be funny, so you'd better watch yourself." Or, in the case of horny-ish, "Why don't you rub it a little?"

Still, I've read back through your blog after it was recommended to me (I did my first stand-up on Monday) and found it to be funny where it needed to be and reflective, insightful, pensive and other big adjectives when they were appropriate. You can't be funny all the time Ish; because sometimes you have to sleep and sometimes nobody's watching. What's the point of being funny when no one is looking. It's like the sound of one hand clapping in the woods when no one is around.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger k said...

i agree with chris. you *are* going about this all wrong.

see, what you need to do is learn how to knit.

then you can blog about knitting.

and then -- only then -- can you possibly hope to earn the respect of the knitting blog mafia. and lemme tell ya', they are POWERFUL.

yessirree...get the nod from the Knitsters and you're in.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Ish said...


Thanks for your comment.

My intent was to say criticism hurts; it just does. But it can also help you.

Also, not all criticism is created equal.

BTW, Anon 11:44 AM, if you are lurking, I don't take it personally, and I don't think you meant it that way. But it didn't fill me with the warm glow of satisfation, either.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chris, you are funny. :)

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Digger Jones said...

I get it. Criticism is one of those things in life that no one really likes but everyone really moderation and of the right sort. Sort of like medicine. Even ancient civilizations had bitter roots and teas they gave sick people to make them better. But too much would kill a person.

So to the anonymous guy/gal, you might have looked a bit sick-ish and in need of the bitter-ish medicine of criticism.

Or maybe he didn't feel like committing to saying you were funny, so the -ish bit was his/her way of keeping you lean and hungry.

As an aside:I think attending one of K's knitting fests (or whatever they call them) would be a good source of material. Alcohol and long sharp-ish needles. A rich mine(field) of material just waiting to be discovered.


At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Underachiever said...


There are worst things than being called funny-ish. They could call you Chevy Chase. Ugh!

UNdr(I've been called funny-blah!)

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Titanium said...

I think the way you handled it.. by calling yourself ISH is hilarious. :)

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous changeseeker said...

So you discover the Space where you perform your act and then your "audience" actually gets to talk about it *in public* to your *face* and you have no idea whether they know what they're talking about or just lost their job (for writing entries on their blog which no one ever reads) or lost their girlfriend to a funny-ish commedian or what. Some of my favorite comics are funny-ish rather than haw-haw-haw funny. I'm not given to slapping my leg in mirth anyway. But then, you already *know* that I like your stuff, so you can discount my comments, if you wanta. I won't take it personally. :-)

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...


I think 'funny-ish' is more a statement towards the message, not the messenger. What may sound funny in the mind doesn't always read funny on the page. Tone of voice, emphasism, the lack of requirement to say 'comma' when you list things all plays a part.

Criticism is always tough to take in any form. The best you can do is keep your head up and move forward, which is exactly what you've done here.


At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Neil said...

I can't believe I've encountered someone under 70 years old who know who Ish Kabibble is. My father really liked him as a kid and would always tell me his routines. Hopefully, your routine is a little more up-to-date than his, although doing a set all in Yiddish might might make for an interesting show.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was me!! I am surprised and honoured that my stupid little "Funny.Ish" comment got such a response! You even changed your blog-name! Obviously there is no way I can prove that it was in fact me, but if you do believe me, I can assure you that Chris is spot on!
See, I do think you are funny, I just had to give props to Kristy, our Original Knitster.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i personally believe that knitting makes anything just *that* much better. I bet you know someone who could teach you...

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Ish said...

Melissa, you may be right. But I'm a big believer in sticking to what you know, what you're good at.

If only there were an idiom that captured this idea! *Sigh*

At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really was me!

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Sylvie said...

Almost four years later...I read this today, following a link from your wife who just got blogher of the week. As of now, it is the only thing of yours I have read. But I'm commenting anyway.

As an old-ish person, I have seen and heard every kind of comedian, starting probably with Jack Benny on his weekly radio show, going forward through all the greats and not-so-much of radio, early TV, sitcoms, standup, even a few left over from vaudeville.

So, here's something you already knew and have had reinforced all your life especially in your career (I'm assuming):"funny" is one of the most subjective qualities human beings possess. People simply don't all react exactly the same way to something that's intended to be funny. The person who said you were funny-ish may not "get" you or your humor at all, and STILL thinks you are funny-ish. That would make it a huge compliment rather than a criticism.

I am a retired school teacher/librarian, which may sound like someone who could not possibly either BE funny or recognize funny. Yet all my life I have made people laugh. Humor has made a bumpy life bearable for me, even joyous when shared with the right people. I know funny. I'm betting you're funny. Sometimes you may be funny-ish. No doubt sometimes you aren't even funny. But I hope you are successful as a comedian, because I liked what I read.

You seem very bright so I kind of hoped that there would be a little shout out to Melville about your name (Moby Dick? "Call me Ishmael."?),but of course it isn't relevant. Just the school teacher in me. And the old lady.

p.s. Couldn't help but laugh at Chris' comment, criticizing you for feeling criticized! that was funny. ;)

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ish Kabibble's real name is Merwyn Bogue. Kabibble is the distant cousin of a woman from Colorado who died very unexpectedly. She was cremated with any funeral and her mother's maiden name is Bogue and still lives in the Western United States.

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ish Kabibble's real name is Merwyn Bogue. Kabibble is the distant cousin of a woman from Colorado who died very unexpectedly. She was cremated without any funeral and her mother's maiden name is Bogue and still lives in the Western United States. Ish himself was cremated and both Ish and the woman from Colorado are related to each other.


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