Comedian Turned Father Finds Comfort in a “Different Kind of Laughter”

by Max Hartshorn


A Different Kind of LaughterFunny how life works eh? A decade ago I’m headlining shows across the greater Moncton metropolitan area, doing sets far west as East Fredericton and as far south as Halifax North. Remember me Hubcap Comedy Festival ’95 ’96 ’97? No? Best regional comedian three years in a row ring any bells? Thought it might. They say our country is rich in natural resources and my hometown is no exception. For years I mined Moncton’s vast reserves of comedy gold, coloring my skewed observations with a unique, semi-urban, small-to-mid-sized city flair.


Becoming the youngest partial manager ever of the downtown the Yuk Yuk’s and purchasing beer for the Don Rickles were just two of my many accomplishments (Oh Donny boy, the pints, the pints are calling…HA…just kidding). I had plans to hit the big time, Halifax? Toronto? New York City? but vowed I’d always remain true to my roots. Weekends spent piling miles onto my ’87 Taurus, two, sometimes three meals a day on the road, pen and notepad always at the ready like some sort of a modern cowboy. It wasn’t always easy, in fact it was often very lonely, but I loved every second. It’s hard to explain but this kind of life made me feel, well, free.


Then something wonderful happened, several things in fact. I call the first Nikki. I was finishing up a set at Tapps in St. Johns when I saw her, and god damn if she wasn’t just the cutest little thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Those just-came-out-of-the-cold flushed cheeks and cherry red nose literally screamed to be held close, warmed by a hand, by a kiss. Her eye’s were glued to the stage, was she checking me out? It’s impossible to tell while your performing but I couldn’t shake the feeling she was staring a little more seductively than the average audience member, so I met her stare. “Today’s oil prices are slipperier thanoil itself!” A demure smile breaking into a light chuckle. They say if you can make a woman laugh…


I bought her a drink afterwards and well, I think you all see where this is going. Dating, marriage, before I know it we’re makin’ babies left and right. Each its own blessing. Each one filling my heart with joy and laughter.


I remember when I first heard the laughter, a piercing trill penetrating deep inside my soul. At first I thought one of the kids had woken up, Jeremy? Courtney? But they were fast asleep. Perhaps I left the T.V. on? No. The pipes? I plugged my fingers into my ears, imagine my surprise when the precious giggle remained. What delight! What a blessing! A child’s laughter just for me!


They say life’s a comedy and for me as a comedian that’s doubly true. My laughter was like the audience I’d always dreamed of having, in fact it was even better. It did more than snicker critical approval at my jokes, this was an all encompassing laughter that took me as a whole, smiled and said, “you’re alright kiddo.” A rich appraisal, it was a validation of my being.


I often seek solitude to let the laughter wash over me. It speaks to me through its many variations. What is mostly a solitary cackle erupts at times into a chorus of whimsy. On other occasions the laughter becomes hauntingly hollow and I am forced to come to grips with the fact that it may have no animus of its own. These times I wish it would stop. Attempting to block it out only makes it louder, faster, yet I keep at it. Like a man being chased by a car I fear that if I pause, give just a moments reflection, the laughter will overtake me, devouring me in its incessant shrillness.


The laughter is my forever vehicle. It is my pathway to new, untrammeled dimensions of consciousness. I know that when I finally transcend my mortal casing to join the great mystery of the sky, my laughter will be there, for it is much a part of me as anything. While at times greatly unsettling, my laughter has always been a light in the darkness of the Void. I count myself among the lucky few who have received such a magnanimous gift, even if I do not understand it fully. Perhaps this treasure will have further revealings. Perhaps I have been intended to transmit a message. I await! Gaia! What else have you in store?

One response to “Comedian Turned Father Finds Comfort in a “Different Kind of Laughter”

  1. Oh my fucking god Max

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