I was in an Uber this morning – sorry for bragging – and the driver asked me what I do for work.
I was too embarrassed to admit I do comedy, so I lied and said I was a vet. Then he gushed about how amazing I am for helping animals, and I just sat there and accepted compliments for things I’ve never done and will never do. It was embarrassing, but honestly, I’ve never felt more important in my life.
Then he started asking me specific questions about my ‘job’, and I had to bluff my way along with phrases like ‘medicinal well-being’ and ‘chemical castration’. Finally, he told me that Uber is a side gig, but his real passion is stand-up comedy. And I – a humble vet who has never done stand-up – listened eagerly, and privately realised how delusional the job of comedian is.
Most comedians try to hide the fact that they’re a comedian, partly because on some level they’re ashamed to admit they think they’re funny. And mostly because they’re afraid they’ll have to prove it.
Some days you can avoid revealing it, because most people our age don’t care what other people do at all. But every time I’m in an Uber, it’s a countdown till the driver pops the question.
I just Googled this, but you might have already known it: Uber is actually a German word which means “awkward conversation in a freak’s car”. Why do those drivers feel the need to make small talk all the time? And why hasn’t the company made a ‘silent ride’ function available on the app yet?
I mean, I get it, the whole selling point of Uber originally was that it’s a more pleasant ride than a taxi. More personable. And sometimes it can be.
And anyway, a ‘silent ride’ option could never work, because the people who become drivers are as much in it for the chats as the cash. Becoming an Uber driver is like having a hostage who has to listen to your thoughts on Trump.
The closest we’ll get to that is when they finally introduce the robot cars they’ve been promising. But knowing Uber, even the robot drivers would make boring small talk and offer us Minties.
I just Googled this too (I don’t know anything), but Uber is currently being sued by Google for stealing the technology used in its driverless vehicles. What kind of Terminator 2: Judgment Day war would that be? The Googlecars versus the Uberbots. The most passive-aggressive AI fight of all time. The Uber Army would give out bad ratings, and the Google Troops would ask, “Did you mean…?”
In fact, a quick search for Uber reveals these guys have had a bad few weeks. Lawsuit. Sexual harassment allegations. Siding with Trump. #deleteuber. It’s almost enough to make you want to go back to taxis. Almost.
Maybe we should just start walking again. That’s the most silent ride of them all.
What’s funny this week?
Friday March 10
Giant Dwarf’s Third Birthday. Giant Dwarf is the comedy theatre owned by The Chaser, and home to some of the best comedy in the city. And it just turned three! This birthday event will have a great mix of stand-up, storytelling, music and improv. You gotta go!
Sunday March 12
The John Conway Tonight Show at Cafe Lounge, Surry Hills. Conway is Australia’s funniest, weirdest late-night host who doesn’t have a TV show. Yet. This show has great guests, music, sketches and lots of insanity.
Cameron James is a stand-up comedian.
You can follow him on Twitter at @iamcameronjames, or in the streets.