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Ryan Waning Ryan Waning
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The Sports Edge - A jobber's a jobber II: Jobber the Hutt

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I've been part of several odd coincidences lately - one of which is directly related to the column I write in this space.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the staggering amount of similarities there were between the mid-level/traveling feature comic and the average mid-level independent wrestler. That comparison came from a conversation with other stand-ups about what sport comedy most resembles.

This past week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Randy Carver, the owner and promoter of Limitless Wrestling, Maine's premier independent wrestling company, and some of the members of the Limitless roster - the two talents known professionally as DangerKid and Aiden Aggro in particular.

And it was actually being there, backstage before and during an actual live professional wrestling event, that made all of the pieces fit together for me. Before I even brought up my wrestler/comic theory to them, I could tell immediately that there were similarities I hadn't thought of, just by watching them interact with each other and be themselves, if that makes any sense. Even something so simple as the way they act as though they are part of a special club a club that you're not in it. Comics might not have invented that club, but they'll tell you they did.

Most comedians have insecurities that make them borderline sociopaths, so that feeling of superiority toward anyone who can't do what you can do is a given. I have to guess that the compulsion to perform is similar for wrestlers, so treating it like it's a magic trick makes it easier to manage.

I also noticed they can slip in and out of using inside language, which is the same sort of thing. Comedians are constantly speaking in a sort of comic-ese where they can 'miss the light,' 'screw up two tags' and 'step on their own laughs and ruin a callback' all of which, in the absence of a comedian decoder ring, I can translate thusly - it was not a good night at the office. And they did the same thing. I went from being a perfectly functioning member of their conversation to immediately feeling like I hadn't read the book the day the class was talking about it.

The camaraderie was unmistakable and being a part of it - even on the outermost edge of the periphery - reminded me of my favorite part of the comedy business. Watching them swap stories and laugh together in the parking lot as everyone began to roll in before showtime reminded me of every green room, alley and office that I've shared with a thousand different comics doing the exact same things before shows. Seeing them peel off from the group in pairs to hit the ring and work out some things looked just like two comics talking a walk to talk through a new bit they want to run tonight.

There was also an eerie familiarity in being able to know who stood where on the hierarchy totem polejust by seeing who was allowed to hold court and who pretty much kept their eyes open and their mouths shut. It definitely brought back a flood of my own memories, soaking up everything and not saying anything outside the old Portland Comedy Connection, a place where I got a nightly education from some of the funniest people on the planet.

From watching them profile fans through the windows (which I personallydo at every comedy show)to seeing them scramble at the last minute to get things set up and rework things on the fly when people were late to the genuine love and respect that they all have for the business, it was an honor to be able to affirm some things I had often thought among such fine folks.

It also made me miss doing stand-up. Not that I've packed it in, mind you, but I'm not quite chasing it like I used to either. And while it's refreshing to pull into the slow lane for a bit, the jones is always there, lurking and waiting for you, just like any drug worth doing. Being backstage at Limitless, standing among their tight-knit family of characters, superheroes and self-styled legendsit made me miss my ownfamily of characters and superheroes.

I wonder if they miss me, the legend in his own mind?


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