My author tagline is Love, Light and Laughter because all three of those things are so important to me, and they’re the gifts I want to give through my writing. There’s another way I love to share these qualities, too, that’s kind of new to me: improv as of a few years ago and perhaps standup as of a few weeks ago.
Right after 9/11, many of us had a serious heartache and guilt over the people we lost — even if we didn’t know them — some with a special soft spot for the first responders, who went in knowing it was a dire situation…and those who still do that every single workday.
For some reason this really stuck with me: a few comedians expressed guilt and remorse at the time that they don’t do something better with their lives, such as helping people like the first responders do. But I remember thinking that comedians give us such as amazing gift — the gift of laughter — that is especially helpful in dark times like then…and, oh, now.
We need all of us. We especially need the first responders. We also need the people who make us laugh.
Never in a million years would I have put myself in the making-people laugh category back then. Or even 2 months ago. At least not where I can hear them laughing. It’s so interesting how life happens sometimes. A few years ago I was at an all-day workshop for professionals and was asked a simple question in front of everyone. I was so nervous I couldn’t answer. Alllllrighty then, that’s enough of that nervous thing, I thought, so I joined Toastmasters. I started giving speeches and my throat would always dry up the way it did in Mrs. Jansen’s sixth-grade class, when I spoke in public (all 25 of them!) for the very first time. I made a friend there who gave me the idea about improv. I still remember my husband’s jaw dropping on that Sunday morning when I said, “I’m thinking of taking an improv class.” Three years later, I’m still doing improv and still learning so much about the art as well as my life.
A friend said, “OMG, I could never do that.” “That’s exactly why I do it,” was my response.
One of my improv teammates does standup, and I stayed after our show to watch the open mic one night. The next thing I knew I was taking notes…about things in my life, something that happened that day, etc. Anything can be part of a standup routine. A trip to the dentist, told a certain way, can be hilarious. It’s just taking life and making light of it — figuratively and literally.
I write funny books. Well, make that minus the ones that involve a crucifixion and a witch burning. But other than those, they’re pretty funny. I did a book reading a few weeks ago where I read the funniest part of Life in the Hollywood Lane, when Trish is describing the myriad guys she’s dated over her 20+ years of trying to make it in Hollywood. The audience laughed and laughed. Writers don’t usually get that quick feedback the way performers and musicians do. It’s really fun.
I went to see James Van Praag, the ghost medium, the other night. He said, “Is there a couple here whose son hung himself?” A couple just in front of me stood up. The son had some amazing messages for his parents and his sister. In the midst of the messages, James would crack jokes. The night my mom died, my sister, father and I stood in the kitchen cracking jokes—completely unlike any of us—and laughed until about 2 AM. Jokes can make the unbearable more bearable. Comedy shines light in the darkest of places.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. But it’s fun, wherever this road goes, because it’s paved with laughter.
Here’s the video clip. Enjoy but please cut me some slack — it was my first attempt….emphasis on enjoy and first, LOLOLOL.