No, seriously. Okay, stop laughing.
I'm a funny guy in person because I'm fast and have good timing, but I have a lot of trouble 'writing funny.' I think there's a real difference between being able to come back with a lightning quick comment that skews a current situation into the realm of hilarity and coming up with jokes that sustain comedic value on their own or even in written form. Cracking a joke at the time is like steering. A conversation has momentum and energy of its own, and you're using that to fuel your joke. You're harnassing something that's already there. Written or stand up comedy is being funny from a standstill. You need to provide the momentum AND the direction.
I have trouble with this. Part of it is my irresponsible verbosity. I talk, and write, a lot. More than is necessary to get my point across. I also tend to be extremely exacting in my writing, trying to make sure that I don't make unsubstantiated or false statements, at least without labeling them as such. This does not lend itself to comedy. Have you ever heard a really funny joke that required a footnote? As a comedian you don't get to go "Hey, fuck you. That would have you rolling in the aisles if you understood that the Etruscan written language used Greek letters but had a totally different syntactic structure." You either get the laughs or get booed off the stage.
To make matters worse, I have a really black sense of humor. Not black as in wears basketball shoes that cost 3 weeks salary, but black as in bitter like milkless espesso. That's fine, if you're funny. A good comedian can riff on nuclear war, the holocaust, and AIDS, and it works fine. People laugh at the joke, and they can't judge you, because now they're a part of it. If they point out how insensative your joke was they look bad too.
"Oh, I can't believe you said that, we're not living in the 1950s anymore."
"Well you laughed."
This is why All in the Family worked. Because you laughed, and then you couldn't complain
When the joke flops, well it's a different story. I was walking with my friend the other day and we were going to this arcade not far from Times Square. He asked me how it was and I said "It wouldn't be out of place in Watts." He gave me a look that said "You know, neither of us is black, and we're not in private." Then he rolled his shoulders and walked on. Dark comedy is always a tightrope.
I want to be funnier, and I think that I have the appropriately unbalanced world view, I just need to work on simplifying and the whole set up part, rather than the punchline. This is a recommitment to trying to be funny on a semi-regular basis, something that I haven't done recently. I've just been angry, which is fine, but where do you go with that? Nobody goes "He's a really angry guy" as a compliment.