The funniest person in my standup comedy class, hands down, is Sabine.
Sabine is probably in her 30’s, and she’s from Belgium. I don’t know how long she’s been in America, but I would bet all her suitcases haven’t arrived yet. She’s very European, from her accent (strong) to her attire (fashionable) to her hygiene (stinky). Culturally specific jokes often go over Sabine’s head, and we have to explain them to her. So do idioms like “cock and bull”. We had fun explaining that one to Sabine.
Sabine is a nice woman, very soft-spoken and polite and — and I add this only because it is relevant to the story — Sabine is white.
This week’s assignment was to write material in the voice of a standup comic we admire. Sabine chose her favorite comic, Chris Rock. And not only did Sabine write jokes in Chris Rock’s voice, she PERFORMED them in Chris Rock’s stage manner. If you can’t already picture how funny Sabine’s Chris Rock impression was, I haven’t done my job in setting up what Sabine is like.
“How come nobody ever goes right for the porno section in a video store?” (Yes, her routine was about renting pornography.) “I go into the video store, and all these muthafuckas are staring at ‘The Enligsh Patient’ box. Shit, you know as soon as no one’s looking, they heading for the fuckin’ over 21 section.”
I can’t ever hope to fully recapture the magic of that moment — and I know I will spend the rest of my life trying — but we were treated to TWO WHOLE MINUTES of this. And Sabine, I must say, knew a surprising amount about the process of porn shopping.
It’s a supportive class. When most people do their material, everyone laughs politely. When Sabine did her Chris Rock routine, we roared.
Chris Rock himself would kill for that kind of reaction.