Those who know me personally (and professionally), know that I am a student of comedy (some may even see me as a teacher of comedy, or professor). That’s why it was exciting for me to have the opportunity to attempt to capture (have I used that word before… “capture”?) comedy in photographic form through Tom Holman: Comedian.
Although the following images may not appear to be too terribly funny, they are indicative of comedy as they are pictures of a comedian. As a case in point, Tom made us perform 30 minutes of hysterical fake laughing before we began to “encourage the funny gods to present themselves”. According to the image to the left, it bloody worked!
I bet you’re wishing you were a fly on the wall for the creation of the picture. I’ll give you a taste here, you silly diptera!
“I’ll just press my fingers to my mouth like I’m forcing myself to smile, but not really smiling!”
“It’s like, I’m a comedian, but I’m not even laughing. Like, I have to force myself to laugh.”
“It’s funny, because it’s like comedians should be having a ball and laughing.”
“I thought comedians were tortured and tragic.”
“Where did you read that? I have never heard that!”
You may think that the above picture (upper seen: image) doesn’t make sense. You might look at it and think, “no, no, it can’t be! Tom’s a comedian, a bringer of joy and laughter, not some rude punk with the FU finger up!”
Guess again, comedy is notorious for giving the finger to anything and everything. There’s something edgy to comedy that at once makes it important and proves that it’s good. If you’re just making people laugh because you got chocolate on your face, you’re a loser. You need to be swearing and trying to upset people in the audience to be worth your mustard (is that a saying?). The cool thing about comedians, that a lot of people don’t know, is that they hate being comedians. No one wants to do that job. It’s stressful, difficult, the audiences suck, there’s no money in it and, as much as it’s very important to the survival of humanity, it’s not rewarding at all.
The only reason to be a comic is to eventually be an actor! This is why we took some pictures to act as “screenshots” from a movie Tom could act in, maybe.
Above: A gritty drama about crime, drugs and sports.
Below: Tom playing an uncle type who needs to rap with some kids about crime, drugs and sports.
As a comedian, you need to have other interests. If all you do is think about comedy, you’ll go nuts (Robin Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Dick Cavett). Tom loves trucks. He saw this beauty and yelled, “take a picture of me with that truck!”
“This is DOPE!”
“Cool!? This is SICK! This truck is
#^@*%@ing gritty and baller, dude!”
*Click of the shutter*
“Did you see the suspension on this thing?
Gritty? Edgy? Even in the thick of this photoshoot, I was sensing a theme and starting to understand comedy. I suggested that Tom sit in this bus stop and smoke a cigarette. I thought, what would be edgier and more comedian-like (bucking the system and all that) than smoking around no smoking signage? Now, that must be funny.
But the little prick refused! Can you believe that? I have one idea that I think is funny, heaven forbid! Oh, no, let’s all defer to the comedian to tell us what works comedically! Please, comedy master, enlighten us! Don’t let my unfunny, garbage idea cloud your brilliant, hilarious aesthetic, oh holy one! Let me grovel with my camera before the priest of LOL!!
By the way, Holman, I make jokes too, you know? I’m funny too! What, you think because you’ve gone on stage a few more times than me, suddenly you’re the only one who can say what’s funny? You’re out of your stupid mind, idiot. Honestly, I could hilarious circles around you on a good day. Give me any subject and I’ll riff on it. And my riffing will be 100 times as funny as your riffing on the same or slightly less funny subject!
Ultimately, Tom didn’t want to promote smoking because he believes it’s not wise for your health or pocket-book. Instead he wanted to encourage kids to stay in school by having me take the picture on the right, purposely cutting off the “S”, so it almost says “cool bus”… but says “chool bus”.
Tom and I got along like two peas in a pod! (Great title for a best friend podcast: Two Peas in a Podcast!)
I will say, and I want to be clear on this, I did learn something about comedy from Tom. I was surprised to learn, genuinely, that feces is funny. I had no idea. Tom promised me, that without context, irony or wit of any kind, excrement is a laugh. He said that if I take a picture of him acknowledging, in a sense presenting, dung, people will laugh and it will brighten their day. He said that it was enough for people to know this waste product came from the anus of a mammal to make them guffaw uncontrollably.
I didn’t believe him. I shifted from one foot to the other, lifted and lowered the camera repeatedly, unable to click the shutter button. I wheezed out a number of “are you sure about this”s.
“Joel, this is digested food which has passed through a creature’s body: their intestines, colon. Then they did a bowel movement. It’s comedy gold.”
That may be true, but I just don’t think it justifies him taking a dump on the sidewalk.
Here are a few more pictures of Tom: