The Pun Also Rises: 'Not the Same'


Last weekend I was fortunate to perform at Mass MoCA's High Mud Comedy Festival, which was very exciting and if you missed it you should definitely catch the next one. An acuaintance asked me "Why are you so excited to perform at this? Don't you host a comedy open mic every month, and write a humor column a few times a month too? And isn't that the same shirt you wore yesterday, or do you just own nothing but plaid flannel?"

To answer the second question first, no, in addition to plaid flannel, I also own free t-shirts. But the reason that performing at High Mud excited me even when I already have some other comedy outlets is simple: It's not the same.

People, by which I mean "annoying people," by which I mean, "people who do not view the world in the same way I do," frequently try to draw equivalencies where none exist. They will presume that having X isn't really a big deal, because having Y is just as good. Or they will presume losing P is okay, as long as Q is offered. Or they will presume that B-friending someone makes up for having an N M E.

Former poet laureate Billy Collins has a poem titled "The Lanyard", about gifting his mother with a lanyard as a young boy in order to pay her back for life, love, support, and everything else. (It's a fine poem, easily findable online.) The crux of the poem is the understanding that of course, giving someone a lanyard in exchange for a lifetime of caretaking is not a fair deal. That would require two lanyards.

Last Sunday was Daylight Saving time, and we had to jump our clocks ahead an hour, which basically means losing an entire hour. And some people's reaction to this was to say "Well, it's Leap Year, so you just got a whole day, you can certainly afford one hour!" But of course, we didn't get a whole day. The hour we lost was a real hour of sleep removed from the life of anyone who went to bed at midnight and had to wake up at 8am. If you don't go to sleep until later, it's even scarier. I might be telling a short joke to a friend at 1:58 am, and finish the joke and it's suddenly 3:01 am, and I feel bad because I was definitely not a whole hour's worth of funny. (This is also why few people join me for dinner.)

But Leap Day is not an actual free gifted day, because the week continued as normal. Sunday was followed by Monday, and everyone's weekly schedules were unchanged. If Leap Day was really a free day, then Sunday Feb. 28th would have been followed by Freublesday, where nobody had any responsibilities, and only the day after that would Monday occur. But this doesn't happen, Monday follows like clockwork, which is exactly what clockmakers and clock repair experts have to do on the Leap Day, because it's not a free day at all, so basically I'm still bitter over losing an hour last week and I want it back.

I'd file a formal complaint, but I don't tend to do much formal anything. Being formal apparently involves a collared button-down shirt. Technically I own many such shirts, but they are also plaid and flannel.

As far as I'm concerned, that's basically the same.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse", and thinks plaid flannel should be the official Berkshires uniform. His website is


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