Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Experimental Comedy

One of the things I find interesting about my job is preparing subjects for experiments. It's a lot like stand-up comedy - I work on a routine, which I vary as appropriate for the subject. Reading the subject is vital - making them both comfortable and happy about participating is something important to me (both because losing them sucks and because I come to care about their having a good experience). It's unfortunate that by the time I get to the last few subjects of the experiment, I feel like I'm really warmed up and "in the groove" - this week, if things go well, marks the last two subjects (it was extended to 20 subjects, with one of them having been dropped). I imagine comedians need to give up on well-tuned acts when their audience has seen it wholly - that's probably akin to this.

I'm not accustomed to pretending to be social, and the bus (or car) trip to the BIRC is often a stretch for my intensely-likable-conversation-with-random-people abilities, but I suppose it's useful to have the skill - although I find it even more exhausting than hanging out with most people, I can make myself really likable to almost anyone if I really put my mind to it and pay careful attention to reading them. The difference between it and hanging out with most people is that instead of just guarding what I say/express and allowing myself to be a bit irrascible, I actively shape all the nuances of my behaviour to be pleasant, and turn on the small talk. With a select few people, I don't feel the need to guard what I say, and there's a personal (not necessarily romantic) chemistry that lets me let down borders and accept them entirely. I think this is part of my better understanding why 95% of people I get to know are people who eventually stress me out - either I feel territorial, threatened, or I need to constantly remember topics not to avoid, and so I need to hold them at a distance.

I am thinking about subscribing to Dofus for a few months. One of the things that really attracts me to it is that, being run by a French company, many of the users are from Europe, and every time I play for any length of time I exercise my linguistic skills. I can understand some French (but can't produce more than a few phrases), and can do more than that in German and Spanish - apart from being genuinely entertaining, if I can get better at other languages, it's a significant attraction. When I was much younger, I spent a lot of time on a Free-net run by the University of Erlangen-Nurembourg, and as a result came to feel comfortable reading and expressing myself in German (not well, but enough to be understood). I sometimes think I'd like to subscribe to Second Life again because it's a much more open-ended, creative environment, but there are a few things that feel too awkward (their object creation system is good enough to make me yearn for something that's "the right thing", but isn't quite there, and their software is all-elbows for profit reasons). Having OpenGL and a (poor) physics engine at my disposal with a reasonably easy interface is pretty attractive though.

Some part of me doesn't yet understand that I'm leaving Pittsburgh for 5 days this month. Some part of me also has forgotten to pay the rent this month, and also (apparently!) forgot to pay city taxes last year. Some part of me is irritated at the forgetful parts. Things to do, things to do.....


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