I recently learned of the term “Sweat Comic” for the first time.
For those of you like me (until recently) who have no idea what a ‘sweat comic’ is, it refers to a comedian who, while onstage, is hell bent on showing you how hard they are working.
Kevin Hart. Chris Rock. Jim Carrey.
These are sweat comics. Guys who prowl the stage, contort their faces, stand atop that little stool that seems to be a staple of every stand up stage. Guys who will do anything and everything to get a laugh.
The most shining example of a sweat comic I ever experienced was when my brother took me to a comedy club on a weeknight when I was still in high school. For some reason, comedy clubs are big on Long Island and my brother loved to go.
So on this random Tuesday the headliner goes by the name of “The Chicken Man”. Literally this was a middle aged guy who seemingly had no act other than to randomly break into a manic chicken impression in the middle of his stories. He was stalking the small stage from one side to the other cocking his head back and forth while emphatically and enthusiastically imitating a chicken. Sweat pouring from his brow and spit flying from his lips.
It was wonderfully uncomfortable to watch and I only realize looking back at it now that this guy was probably suffering from a massive meth addiction.
I’ve actually tried to research The Chicken Man in an effort to see what he is up to now and I’ve come up with nothing. Which is actually getting me to question my sanity and wonder if the entire event was some sort of teenage fever dream. But I could swear this guy existed. I would, however, be shocked to find if he was still among the living.
The opposite of sweat comics are guys like Jerry Seinfeld or, to an even greater extent, Steven Wright or Mitch Hedberg. Guys who seem so cool and collected on stage that I almost have to imagine it is the place where they feel most comfortable in the world.
And this whips me all the way around to training.
I am the fitness version of a sweat comic. When I am under the bar or on the rower or, God forbid, doing a burpee, you can tell exactly how hard I’m working.
On the other hand, you have Kyle and to an even greater extent Dani who look as calm and collected under PR weights as they do when we walk out in the late afternoon to grab a burrito.
(Side note: I’ve actually seen both these people get VERY fucked up from workouts. Everyone has a tipping point. There’s is just further down the line than mine)
It’s not that being a sweat comic in the gym is necessarily bad. If you look at someone like Wes, he sounds like a freight train when he is on the SkiErg and breaks into pain face while curling a 20 pound dumbbell. And that guy is amongst the strongest and most fit people we’ve ever had in the gym.
But I do think there is something to be said for having composure. For knowing that the weight is heavy or that the lungs are at maximum capacity or that the heart could not get in one more beat per minute and still being able to keep your shit together.
I mean I’ve seen Dani chew gum while hitting a double bodyweight back squat. What in the actual fuck?
Believe me, I know I take these little fitness stories and try to turn them into something much bigger and more philosophical – but, with the way things are right now, I feel like we could all use a bit more composure in our lives.
So I’m challenging myself – and I’m challenging you – whether it’s keeping your cool while doing 30 minutes of burpees or while you are trying to get your kid to figure out that math problem for the last half hour, be like Fonzi and stay cool. A little of it will go a long way.
But, when it’s time to grab the mic and fly around the stage like a chicken on illicit drugs, don’t be afraid to do that shit either.