Recently I got back in touch (through facebook, of course) with a friend of mine from high school, Rob Lathan. Rob always had an off-center sense of humor. Case in point: in high school Rob would occasionally wear a neck brace. Just for fun. Not because he hurt his neck, not because he was making fun of a kid who had to wear a neck brace–there was no one but Rob who wore one–just because it was this sort of quirky thing Rob did.
At our school there was a lot of pressure to be smart, athletic, and attractive. To always look on top of things. Among many of my friends, my male friends especially, extra points were given for cynicism. Seeing Rob wrapped in his brace, a kid who happened to be smart, athletic and attractive, but not at all mean, was a welcome dose of absurd humor in a sometimes cold environment.
Well, it turns out that brace was just the beginning. For the last ten years Rob has been cultivating his original sense of humor as a NY comedian who does improv., sketch comedy, TV and, for lack of a better word, street theater. What I love about Rob’s humor, at least what I’ve seen of it so far, is its subtly smart goofiness. This is not a dude who stands up on stage screaming about sex and crazy women. Nope. Rob’s humor is way smarter. Whether intentional or not, he gently shakes us out of our own sense of self-importance and decorum by being goofy as hell, often in the face of people who are taking themselves way too seriously. To this end he has created several alter-egos, including Jerry Foxworthy (Jeff’s brother), Speed Eater, World’s Most Pranked Guy Ever, and Dr. Lanny Latham. My favorite is Dr. Lanny Latham, a self-proclaimed self-help guru. (Who, you know, took some classes at the Learning Annex and then decided he was ready to proclaim himself a master.) Dr. Lanny’s message to the world: All you need to improve your life is to Get Psyched. He even has 7 steps to achieve this:
7 Steps to Living a Better Life
- Get Psyched
- Have Fun
- Pump It Up
- Go For It
- Drink Plenty of Fluids
- Get Psyched
Today, just for fun, Dr. Lanny interviewed me about what it was like to write Bound South. I think the interview turned out pretty well. Go here to see if you agree.
And thanks Rob, and Lanny, for spreadin’ the word about Bound South. I’m sure that both of your psych-odometer levels are way high.