Being a standup comic has taught me there are two things I cannot live without: making fun of my friends, and having friends who make fun of me.
As I walked into a comedy club last night in a jumper and platform orthopedic sneakers, I braced myself for the slew of roast jokes that were about to be made at my expense.
One of my good friends actually took a photo of me and posted it to Instagram, saying I looked like I'd dressed up for yearbook photo day.
Here are a few of the other things said about my outfit: "You look like the ghost of a child who haunts an old house." "What American Girl Doll did you take that dress from?" "Hey you look like you've been waiting for your Dad to pick you up from the bus stop for the last 20 years."
Each one of these jokes brought me more joy than the last, because I think roasting your friends is one of the truest signs of friendship, and it teaches you how to be a better person.
You learn to laugh at your imperfections.
If there is one gift I could give the people of this world, it would be the ability to lighten the f*ck up.
As a standup comic, I stand onstage and tell jokes every night. Sometimes I can tell an audience member doesn't want to laugh at a joke because they think it's offensive, and nothing makes me as happy as when I see them laugh at it in spite of themselves.
Friends who make fun of you will show you how to make fun of yourself. Laughter is necessary. It allows you to detach from your own ego, your own identity and to let the fuck loose.
You aren't supposed to be a perfect person, and "perfect" people aren't interesting anyway.
They help you transform anger into humor.
When you're at the mercy of your quick-witted friends, you learn how to dish it out, too. There's nothing more satisfying than going tit-for-tat on insulting each other.
Obviously, there's such a thing as going too far and hurting someone's feelings. It happens all the time. But the benefit of having a relationship with friends who make fun of you is, when you feel like your feelings are getting hurt, you learn how to turn that anger into a joke.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Surrounding yourself with people who refuse to take life too seriously means there's nothing you're going through that can't be healed with laughter. I had a friend who went through a cancer scare (stay with me here), and when he told me what he was going through, I was devastated for him.
We went out for dinner together to talk about how he was feeling about everything he was going through. He told me all about his fears, about what how precious life is, about everything he would do if he found out he was really sick.
When the server came up to ask us what we wanted, I looked up at her and said, "Oh sorry we need a few more moments. This is a very important meal. It could be his last one."
Some people would've been HORRIFIED, but my friend almost spit out his water laughing. Life is absolutely precious, but that doesn't mean it has to be taken seriously.
Oh, and my friend is totally OK. He does not have cancer, thank God.
While I know there's a lot going on in the world today, and that outrage is very in right now (for good reason), there's also something to be said for the ability to take a step back from all of it and to just laugh, because we need to.
Laughter doesn't mean you don't recognize or respect the severity of a person's struggle, or a personal situation. Just the opposite: It means you're fully aware of how severe something is, and you refuse to let it beat you.