My last name is Horning.
That’s where it started.
With a last name like that, you naturally get picked on when you’re a kid, and I learned at a young age that because my last name was Horning, therefore, I must be “horny.”
I didn’t know what that meant.
I was in kindergarten, so there was no context for “horny.”
You don’t experience “horny” when you’re six, so I imagined a Viking helmet, a bull, or a trumpet, and I was none of those things, so I resisted the name-calling.
And instead of solving the problem, it made it worse.
And the more I resisted, the more I became an easy target.
Until one day, I decided that enough was enough.
I decided to lean into the bullies and it flipped the script completely.
They were like, “Your last name’s Horning, you must be horny,” and I was like, “I am.”
And it worked.
Because no one wants to pick on the horny kid.
The horny kid is unpredictable.
The moment I start dry humping pillows at your birthday, is the moment you stop calling me “Horny Dave.”
It solved my bullying problem.
Because if we get into a fight, I’ll defend myself, but if I get a boner and you win the fight, I win the fight.
That’s a risky proposition.
This taught me that when shit hits the fan, instead of resisting, lean into it.
Once you do that, you realize that even though you may be struggling at any given moment, there are an infinite number of other ways to examine the situation, discover new information, try something new, and overcome it.
This realization has the power to flip your mental script, not only making the shit more bearable, but making it exciting.
You can power through to the other side and do something about it because now, you see that another side exists.
When I leaned into my last name, I learned that leaning into the situation instead of pushing back took away the power that other people had over my happiness.
Leaning in and rolling with the punches life throws has gotten me through bad days, stress, anxiety, failure, heartbreak, loss, and even death (not mine).
The wave of relief that comes with the realization that there’s another side to any situation is a gift that laughing gives, and that’s why I do comedy.
It makes me feel good and I want to share that with you.
It’s why I speak.
It’s why I started a podcast.
It’s why I’m writing this.
No matter where you are and no matter what’s going on, know that somewhere, somehow, there’s something funny, and as soon as you’re ready, give yourself permission to find it and laugh.
Remember that you can laugh at that, and when you do, it makes you stronger and happier… even if you are a trumpet.
*Below is the first episode of my podcast “You Can’t Laugh at That” with fellow comedian Steve Mers. If you’re a comedian, a fan of comedy, or you’re looking for fresh perspectives on controversial or overplayed topics, there’s something for you in every episode. New episodes drop every Monday, and we dive in headfirst with our first where Steve and I break down transgender jokes, exploring what’s funny, what’s not, why, and how to find fresh angles that prove you CAN laugh at that.*