One of my closest friends (although I rarely see her, and here I am writing about her and promoting her career -- so is she just a "transactional"?) is the hilarious comedian Bonnie McFarlane; she came by the xoJane offices yesterday and told me she's changing her whole life. Gone will be the viciously funny dick character that she rolls with most of the time. She's turning a totally new cunty leaf. Why?
Because lately she's had multiple people telling her that her brand of funny is not funny to them -- but just mean. Of course when she relayed these encounters to me one by one, I said, "No way, you're great and the other people involved clearly can't take it" -- and that she doesn't need to abandon her cunty essence, just implement more shit-tests to ensure non-fragility of ego. Also, in an incredibly Al-Anonic way, I told her to go to Al-Anon. Because those meetings help a lot in learning to stop doing the whole child-ego-state temper-tantrum thing of, "Well, then I'm just not going to do it again -- ever! I'll show you!" And we decided that maybe she just needs to implement more can-people-take-it safeguards.
You know, like, a "Pussy Test."
Oh, sorry about that.
I mean an "Empathic Understanding If Someone Has a Similar Sense of Humor Test (...to Determine Whether or Not They Are a Pussy)."
Then I put on my journalist-therapist hat and told her perhaps the biggest issue she's having is that she simply reminds many of the people who are angry with her of their own mommies. That she's bringing up old unresolved woundings. And that's why people react so violently at times.
It's an issue I've had myself. I am a HUGE mommy issue bringer-upper. As my therapist explains it, the reason that certain interactions can be so heated in our lives is because we're being reminded of certain "tapes" that are replaying from our earlier, younger, more vulnerable years. Meaning, like, say, I am perceived by a man to be criticizing him. Well, it's not just THAT small interaction that's bugging him. The man might be freaking out in a huge, situationally inappropriate way because I remind him (even if he's not aware of it) of the same criticism and hurt he received from his mommy. So the encounter is ultra-sensitive and enraging, because it's not just me -- Mandy -- being critical and pissing him off, it's also this re-wounding of a deep, sensitive (potentially) unhealed and unresolved area in his life. And then he freaks the fuck out. So I told Bonnie all this.
Then she said I was amazing. Then she told me that I was being a very good girl and making mommy very proud.
Here's our Big C discussion and takeaways in order for Bonnie to better use her Mommy Issue Power very carefully -- and for good in her life instead of evil. What do you think? Do you have any advice for Bonnie? She'll take it. And then she'll pack you a nice lunch and write you a very supportive note about having a good day at school.
Mandy: When did you realize you were a cunt?
Bonnie: You know, honestly, I just started really thinking about it in a real, serious way that I have to take a look at my behavior, because it’s starting to affect how I earn money. Like I can’t get booked at certain clubs.
Mandy: What did you do?
Bonnie: Nothing. I mean it’s nothing in the big scheme of things, but it’s obviously something to the people who experienced it. But I think I’ve come to the realization that people think that I have an attitude and that people want to knock me down off my high horse. That it just oozes out of me and that I’m eye rolling much more than I think I am. People think that I’m being incredibly sarcastic all the time.
Mandy: I have that problem that, too. Why do you think that is?
Bonnie: This is what I’m struggling with. I think for me comedy comes first. And I think that people are going to think things are funny, but people have very delicate egos. And I hate saying this, like I hate defining things in terms of gender, but I really think for some people, it is so much harder to take a woman being an asshole than a man. One very successful comic friend thinks I’m being super mean to her. This guy who I’m good friends with recently literally just told me not to talk for 25 minutes while he told me everything that was wrong with me. It was harsh.
Mandy: Oh yeah. I've been there. That happened to me recently, actually.
Bonnie: I mean, I grew up on a farm. I’m from Canada. I don’t know where people thinking I have some attitude are coming from. I honestly feel like I don’t take myself seriously. I really don’t. I will definitely tell you how shitty my life is going. But I think that my sense of humor gets misunderstood. Like, I wonder: Am I just walking around projecting an attitude? That’s a thing that I feel, like, especially guys, need to make me crumble. So I’ll tell you my resolution.
Mandy: To have a super strong core of self-worth and not let your self-esteem be contingent upon other people's approval?
Bonnie: Well, yeah, I feel like, if you don't like me, then you don't have to be friends with me.
Mandy: It's like someone following you on Twitter, and then saying, "You shouldn't be the way you are." Then don't follow me, bitch.
Bonnie: So I’ve been thinking my resolution is that I guess I’m just going to stop being an asshole.
Mandy: Wait, but part of that is your comedic point of view. You're basically saying you're going to stop doing comedy.
Bonnie: In real life. Yeah. Amy Schumer said to me, "I’m glad I‘m not on the roast with you." I mean, when Amy Schumer calls you mean, you gotta take a look at it.
Mandy: What are examples? I need examples.
[At this point, another friend of mine who was also visiting the office and listening to the interview, but who will remain unnamed and who I'm going to write about in a future post, interrupted as I badgered Bonnie for examples, and said to both of us, droll as shit, "Yeah. Mandy made me do this, too. Except about fingerbanging."]
Bonnie: Examples? Well, another comic told me she was headlining, and she was talking about doing an hour. I said, "Oh come on what clubs are letting you do an hour?” and she thought that was too mean. And then, when she said it was too mean, I said, “Oh come on I thought you were a comic.” So my response to being too mean was to get even meaner. So I’m going to stop doing stuff like that. It’s honestly my sense of humor. I mean, is everyone walking around going, “oh that’s amazing. That’s fantastic.”? That’s the way I’m going to do from now on. I mean, she obviously felt insecure about doing an hour. What does she do when hecklers heckle her? What does she say, “Oh, hey. You!”? People say assholey things on Twitter all the time. They’re funny. I favorite them. People call me out on shit that I say that’s not right.
Mandy: What's funny is that I look at you as one of the women in my life who I truly, truly trust. And I know you are rooting for me, and aren't playing mean-girl mindfuck games. I know when you give me shit it's just your comedy brain going for the joke. It's like a chiropractic correction in your brain. I get it. I also think you're a provocateur. I love provocateurs.
Bonnie: Like on Twitter, I have an insane impulse to call people out on shit. This one comic the other day was talking about a news story and she was talking about this cool, beautiful girl who got bullied by high schoolers and she was saying how they were monsters. And so I wrote in response to that, "Do you know her?" Because who knows. Maybe that girl's an asshole.
Mandy: Yes. You are definitely a provocateur.
Bonnie: Because sometimes there’s something so fucking, I don’t know. So, she wrote back, “No, I don’t know her but I can tell you I was her when I was 12.” And then I wanted to write back, "Well, at least those bullies didn’t get your sense of humor."
Mandy: [wild cackling]
Bonnie: And I didn’t, but it’s like why are you taking yourself so seriously? The whole bullying thing seems like a bunch of hypocrisy sometimes. It's like this new badge of honor. It used to be a Prada handbag. Now it's bullying. But do you see the point of the story is how I stopped myself from saying that additional extra mean-funny thing. That was the point of that story.
Mandy: But see you're scaring me. I'm afraid you're going to become Jack Nicholson at the end of "Cuckoo's Nest" where he has a blank stare and is smiling blankly because he's been fully lobotomized and is now a drooling lobotomized complacent. The world needs shit-stirrers.
Bonnie: I think I'm just going to care more about what I say and how it’s going to land before I say it. "Think before you speak" as my mother always told me. It's just so strange. It's like a weird resentment that I don't understand.
Mandy: Oh, my God. I just figured it out. You're bringing up all these people's mommy issues. The mommy tape. That's what you're hitting.
Bonnie: That's awesome. So I'm just going to turn it around, and I’m going to start every conversation with, "You are doing so good!" I’ll do it for a few weeks, and I'll have every comic in the city eating out of my hands. Louie will put me on his show. I'll play Louie’s mom. That’ll be the caveat.
Mandy: Yeah I think just do more initial shit tests -– to see if people can take it or not.
Bonnie: More soft lobs.
Mandy: And then also just kind of grab people's heads, and then press them close to you so they can suckle your tit.
Bonnie: Be a good mommy.
Mandy: Have milk-flavored perfume.
Bonnie: And then every once in a while have a napkin, hold it up them, and then say, "Blow. You’re a really good comic. Blow."
[Postscript: I was behind on sending Bonnie a few final follow-up questions today. She wrote back: "Take your time. (I'm not your boss! I'm your mommy.)"]
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.