A mate of mine who is a comedian updated his Facebook status with these words:
I didnât really stop to think. If I had, Iâd probably wonder why a young guy relatively new to the comedy scene with really only a killer five-minute set to rave about, would be doing 20 minutes.
I say âonly a killer five-minute setâ. Iâm sure he has more material. Thereâs probably seven killer minutes that I can vouch for â that Iâve seen work and that will work time and again. No doubt he could stretch it to ten. Stuff might play to silence within that ten, but he can be confident in the knowledge that he can come back with something solid should an item not quite work. In fact, I reckon he could stretch beyond 10 with self-confidence, interacting with the audience. It might be the hardest 20 minutes he ever spends on a stage, and heâll come away from it a better comic than from any of the five-minute killer sets heâs done that always work. Only, none of his stuff is about ants.
Still, I didnât stop to think. Twenty minutes of ant material is a tough ask.
If I did stop to think, Iâd wonder what sort of gig heâs landed. A corporate booking of some sort, surely. Perhaps heâs the comedy relief during the keynote dinner that opens an entomology conference; maybe heâs one of a number of comics doing animal-related material for a zoo â but if so, he drew the short straw since ants must be the animals least conducive to comedy. Hard to project character on to them. Canât anthropomorphise them so easily as you might other animals.
Fact is, Iâve had a bit of experience with ants. And when I think about it, so have certain comedians. Specifically, George Smilovici wrote a book about ants â The Ant Book. Itâs almost a joke book. It contains a lot of question/answer set-ups whose answers consist of words beginning, ending or containing âantâ in them. But theyâre not that funny. Not only that â all the answers are on the final page, jumbled in a way to make the shape of an ant. All Iâm saying is itâs no help to my buddy.
But one of my favourite âdad jokesâ is about ants. Itâs a corker â although I wouldnât risk doing it on stage:
B: Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead aaaaantâ¦
Of course, for the joke to work, you need to âsingâ the punchline to the tune of the main saxophone melody of the âTheme to the Pink Pantherâ:
(I know, itâs up there with the one about the Lone Ranger taking his rubbish âto the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!â)
I posted the Pink Panther joke as a comment to his Facebook thread, thinking at least heâd have one ant joke.
Another comic offered the Woody Allen routine, in which Woody talks about his pet ant called âSpotâ.
That reminded me of the Derek & Clive routine of âSquatter and the Antâ:
The 20-minute ant routine was starting to develop, even if it wasnât going to contain anything original in it. Those bug-studiers at the conference were certainly going to get their moneyâs worth, I thoughtâ¦
But then I noticed another comment on the thread, by the comedianâs mate:
Wha? Howâs that an ant joke?
And then I realised: the status update contained a typo.
The comic wasnât asking if we knew âant jokesâ in order to fill a 20-minute spot; he was asking us if we knew âany jokesâ â (âyeah, your face is a joke!â) â but had hit the âtâ next to the âyâ on his keyboard.
Oh well. At least now he has got about ten additional minutes of material â other peopleâs material, granted â albeit, about ants.
Ah, but â it gets better: the gig isnât in front of a room full of entomologists â itâs in front of TAFE students. Building students. Somehow I reckon the ant stuff ainât gonna cut it. The comic knows it, too. His most recent update:
Oh, but if theyâre tradey/brickie students, I reckon he should do Gerard Hoffnungâs âBrickieâs Lamentâ routine.
Good luck, mate. Whatever doesnât kill you will only make you stronger. Even if you âdieâ in the process. (I mean, on stage, not at the hands of a horrible tradey/brickie students.)
- <meisel> people ask me how do I tell the difference between ant and aunt </meisel>
- âI had an ant farm... Those fellas didnât grow shit! Plus if I rip off your arms you would look like snowmen.â - Mitch Hedberg
- How could I forget? Sam Bowringâs icecream bowl.
- How could I also forget? Insect Nation, Bill Baileyâs musical about the ants enslaving humanity.
- Another âbook gagâ: A man is standing in an elevator when all of a sudden 15 ants come in. He turns to the ants and says, âSorry, you canât all come in hereâ âWhy not?â asks one of the ants. The guy points to a sign that reads, âTenants onlyâ!
(As pointed out by other comics. Since original comic and initial commentator werenât named, Iâve included these comments anonymously too.)