Layers: SHAWN WICKENS’ “The Best 10 Minutes of My Life” Delivers on It’s Description
In distorted pandemic time, it seems like just yesterday we were promoting SHAWN WICKENS‘ mini stand-up special. Well, go ahead and wish Shawn a “Happy Birthday” because not only did he age gracefully by one year this week, his digestible dose of comedy goodness is now available for the internet to consume via Spotify. The Best 10 Minutes of My Life was written in the comedian’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment during that dystopian year known as 2020. One would think that would be a most difficult time period to spark those creative juices, but Wickens was infused with a jolt of comedy enlightenment, producing the “greatest, funniest, most innovative” ten-minute set of his existence. Guess what? We’d have to agree!
The pint-sized special, that sparks a wallop of joy, is composed of five tracks which take the audience on a journey through the way humans perceive reality. The set starts out with a simple story of a comedian facing the worst of backstage predicaments, drawing a blank when being called on stage to perform. “It’s Shawn Wickens, Everybody!” becomes MUCH more than that though. Recalling one particular drugged out performance, Wickens describes losing his sense of self onstage. Acting on sheer memory muscle, the comedian had no choice but to say the jokes he’d practiced many times before. With one encouraging sentence, “I believe in you,” the panic, that would normally come with the realization you’d lost your professional identify, instead ushers in a quality, unfettered performance. Wickens’ takeaway is that he was just “THAT good,” meaning he could perform jokes like he was fulfilling some destiny, without none of the pressure, but all of the payoff. On the surface, that might seems like just a story about a cool, once-in-a-lifetime feat. However, the takeaway is reallly up to interpretation. I’d like to think it means when you just wing it, sometimes, that can pay off in major dividends. Next time you find yourself up against a wall, perhaps think about this track and rely on your particular set of skills to get you past a hurdle. Heck, it’s worth a shot!
The journey doesn’t end there, nor does the profound Wickens confidence. With the “My Real Freaky Dream” track, the Stoner Morning Show co-host touches upon a topic we only live through when we are in deep REM sleep. Dreams can seem silly once we awake from the trance, but what happens when they spill over into what we perceive as our reality world? Wicken’s dream could be perceived as an all out nightmare to some. Imagine a world in which soup didn’t exist. Yes, no clam chowder, no chicken noodle, no lobster bisque, and, say it isn’t so, NO Jambalaya. In this temporary world, Shawn has consumed IT ALL! Worse yet, you can’t even make more because, before you know it, he’s gobbled it up. It’s SO bad, that soup becomes a thing of lore. In Wickens’ dream, when a child brings up the obsolete food at the dinner table, he soon learns the true definition of this liquid gold. Mom describes this once delicious meal as “a hot bath for food.” The mind-blowing definition quickly propels the comedian out of his slumber. With soup on the brain, Wickens heads straight to the fridge for a morning taste of the stuff, but like some self-fulfilling prophecy, there is no soup to be found. Like some cruel piece of irony, Wickens had already eaten the soup he’d just been dreaming of. “Beware the dream, for sure it will come true,” and become more relevant than ever in clever comedian’s set.
At this point you may be asking, did Wickens really infuse just ten minutes of performance time with that much quality comedy content? He did! In fact, in gets even better with the track “Im on a Date Right Now.” You could call this track a case of life imitating art. Wickens starts out with premise that he had only performed this set once before, at an outdoor show in Brooklyn. He makes a point of telling the listener the set was going well and that he went on to announce, mid-performance, that he was on a date. This proclamation drew even more enthusiasm from the crowd, but that was no surprise to Wickens. You see, two weeks prior he’d been in the exact same situation at the very same location, doing just as well, and being cheered on, when he made the declaration that he was on a SECOND date. At this point, the listener is highly curious where the comic is going with the story. Just where could it lead?!!! We learn that prior to even meeting the date he’d been copiously referencing, Wickens was at the same show, and mid-show (again, off to great start), he announced he’s was on a date. WHAT?! Yes, he’d predicted the very date that he would be on in the future. Wickens goes on to point out that this should come as no surprise. He’d already established he was “THAT good” from the start, beginning the set with a story of being so stoned he didn’t even know he was a comedian, and yet, still finding comedy success. With that track record, Wickens emphasizes it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the prediction, he’d eat all the soup in the world, would eventually come true. It’s at this time in the set that an audience member exclaims, with laser precision, “I believe in you!.” Of course.
From this juncture, we find out about “The Greatest Lie in The World.” Wickens embarks on providing evidence of the “greatness” of this giant lie, after addressing that the soup story was, in fact, a true story about something fake (since we still have soup, even in a pandemic). In “thinking about the nature of truth, and reality, and fiction, and lies” Wickens communicates that he found himself face to face with the greatest lie in the world, a lie we would find out is the comedian doing mushrooms and then waking up on the International Space Station. Interesting…they say the proof is in the pudding, so, we continue. As it turns out, that lie is more believable than one might think. Wickens goes on to describe a person who once did shrooms in the woods, who then woke up, went to college, earned an engineering degree, got recruited by NASA, took a rocket ship to space, and woke up on the ISS. The lie that Wickens told the audience was actually NOT a lie, but just an abridged version of someone’s truth. It’s a lie that actually happened. So that would mean that right now there could be a person that’s watched the TikTok deepfakes of Tom Cruise and believes the mega-star truly loves performing magic tricks on social media. Which is the greater lie now?
I will now leave you with my thoughts on the final track of the special, “This Will Become A Trend. I Guarantee It.” Wickens harkens back to a time when he was asked to pick the theme for his birthday party. Being the caring two-year old that he was, he thought it would be a brilliant idea if he brought immense joy to all those in the home by choosing a “potty training” birthday party theme. (I laughed out loud at this point, too). It turned out exactly the way you’d expect a party of this nature to turn out. There was toilet paper decorations, a plunger centerpiece, and an unsoiled commode a family friend, with the convenient occupation of plumber, had delivered to the festivities. The potty story, OF COURSE, comes with a prediction. The comic goes on to guarantee that potty training parties will become all the rage, lighting up social media, and owing their debt to the simple wish of young boy who invented the theme a decade prior. Not shabby, for a kid who would work on the ISS, then wake up at an online comedy show, which previously debuted out an outdoor show in front of the Brooklyn Museum… so the story goes. Shawn Wickens is THAT good!
We can only hope that more comedians are blessed with a spark of brilliance in the bleakest of times. The world could use more short bursts of cheer, and we are sure are glad we got the chance to appreciate this special (whether it was predicted or not). Life is what you makes of it, kids, now go eat it up!
Mentions: Listen to “The Best 10 Minutes of My Life” on Spotify! Listen to more of his comedy HERE. Follow the co-founder of @BadTheaterFest & @StonerMorningShow on Instagram. Read his literary works at your leisure.