Photo by Monica Silvestre
I've always been a huge comedy fan. Ever since I can remember...
In elementary school I can recall a scenario very clearly. We had what was called "Career Day." They asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I honestly recall having great confusion with this question. I couldn't quite figure out how I was going to change, or what I would become. My sense of self up to this point was my name (which I still thought sounded and spelled oddly), that my first pet Jake had died and maybe went to a place called Doggy Heaven, and that I really liked Root Beer and Cheese Smokies. So to me, the question of what I wanted to be was hard to wrap my head around. I remember thinking that this word , career, seemed off-putting. What did it mean exactly? Our parents came to school and talked about what they did for their jobs. I was still confused.
When it came my turn to answer in our classroom, I panicked. Everyone had raised their hand and told what they wanted to be with an assurance that astounded me. I was called on. I spoke. The words came out slowly, but with a confidence that shocked myself.
I said, "a clown."
I'm not sure why. I liked to laugh. I liked to perform. I was a genuine ham, but also quite reserved and shy at times. We had just gone to the circus at the coliseum in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. I had dressed as a clown for Halloween recently.
The other students laughed when I announced my future career of choice. I felt myself get embarrassed. The teacher frowned at me. I guess this was a great start to a comedic career.
I'm now thinking I chose the wrong college major of dance. I often made funny dances, comedic pieces, and searched for irony in my work. In grad school, I branched into Performance Art, Filmmaking, and Theater. All the while, I surpassed my inner desire to study comedy, and became a HUGE fan of watching it. I prioritized watching comedy when I lived in New York, traveled to cities, and had an extensive DVD Netflix cue. I remember having a friend come to visit me when I was teaching at Iowa State, only to have to remain silent while I watched Last Comic Standing. In short, I waited way too long to actually cross the line from spectator and closeted comedienne.
Finally, a few years ago, I stepped into an Improv class. I was so nervous. But it turns out, I'm pretty good. I love taking class to learn writing tactics, how my brain problem solves, and the use of my voice. After so many years of training in nonverbal communication, it is a shock to the system. And, I love it.
During this Covid lockdown, I've been writing my own material, and happy to find online streaming content that keeps me inspired. I'm hunkering down to make my dreams of becoming the best clown in the world finally possible.
If comedy inspires you too, check out all of the current best options for live-streaming here! (courtesy of Vulture)