Why Do I Do Comedy?
Comedy is beautiful. Not pretty, though.
I read a study recently saying that neglected kids carry as much trauma in their adult life as kids who were submitted to violence. It says neglection is registered in one’s mind as violence. That’s a huge statement, but it makes sense. All of us were neglected at some point: our parents were all dealing with their own shit while raising us, and big shit blinds some parents, making their children invisible. I once saw a little girl jumping in front of her mom, trying to catch her attention, and her mom was so absorbed in her phone that she didn’t even noticed the kid. That could be a loving mother, but, at that moment, that child experienced neglection.
For some of us, the hole is deep. So deep we keep jumping in front of a metaphorical mom our entire lives. I know I’ve been jumping my entire life, trying to be seen by someone. Trying to be loved. My way of “jumping” is telling jokes to people. To me, a bunch of people looking at me and laughing (or just smiling) is the vision of heaven. If they’re smiling, I don’t need to be afraid, I don’t need to be anxious, everything is OK. Maybe I’m OK. I wish everybody smiled at me all the time.
Also, laughter is a sign of agreement — no one laughs while disagreeing with something. So I’m being seen, heard and agreed on. Even if they’re agreeing that I’m flawed — I can’t avoid telling self-deprecating jokes -, at that moment my flaws are cool. They’re being exposed to create communication, connexion, laughter. They serve a purpose. At that moment, the moment the audience is laughing at my flaws, I’m grateful for being flawed. I’m thankful to have had experienced poverty, which taught me to put myself in the place of others. Without empathy I wouldn’t be able to create comedy for people. The laughter is the sign that everything was worth living. Experiencing that in an almost daily basis frees me.
Plus, I have to show up. I have to be present, I have to be ready and lively and it helps me keep myself in the opposite disposition than the depressed one my body seems to fall into with ease.
I thought a bunch of times about quitting comedy, because I don’t make a lot of money, it doesn’t make me look sexy, it keeps me away from my family and loved ones. Comedy wasn’t my childhood dream, and being a woman make me be seen as a second class comedian, I work at night at bars and I’d love to have a more balanced life. I’m criticized by things I say (and don’t say), English is my second language — and one I learned only 5 years ago — and as a woman of colour and an immigrant, I have to be constantly aware of what I’m representing. I have to be my own director, manager and supporter.
For every single person, even the luckiest one, it’s a hard career to have. But the attention still feeds me. I may still need the cure from being neglected as a kid. At the same time, comedy makes me feel useful: if laughter is the best medicine, I’m helping to promote health.
Maybe I’ll say goodbye to comedy one day, maybe I will. One day. And that day I’ll be really, truly free.