Monday, May 14, 2007

I love to make people laugh, but I have an awful time doing it on the spot. Usually, I inadvertently do or say something funny, the person I'm with starts laughing, and then I just try doing more of the same to see if I can get them to keep laughing. This happens in church from time to time, especially when I'm singing next to my friend, Akiko. All I have to do is exaggerate my diction or sing with an operatic style or scoop à la Renee Fleming, and she starts laughing so hard that she can barely control herself and she ends up standing there with her mouth covered and her body shaking, trying to hold her music in front of her face so as not to be seen by our choirmaster. And once she gets going, I can't help continuing my antics, until I start laughing and then I can't sing anymore...

On three separate occasions, my friends Lisa, Jason, and I have read a Shakespeare play in its entirety as a recreational weekend night activity, usually with a glass of wine or two, in their living room. Since we started doing this, we have discovered that the most fun part is creating different voices for each of our assigned characters and trying to remember those voices and keep them distinct throughout the reading. The last time we got together for this purpose, there was one voice I did that made Jason laugh for a good two minutes and then again every time that character came up. I don't know how I came up with it. I was playing around with how to change the shape of my mouth and ended up trying to keep my lips and cheeks really loose. But it's interesting to play around with different sorts of accents, really low or high pitch, fast and slow speed, differing volumes, tone, mood, etc. It's a TON of fun! (Well, I think so...)

And, while I was in graduate school at NEC, the director of my opera program learned in time to cast me in comic roles. I had a great deal of fun in those roles and I regret that I didn't have more time to play around in that arena. There was a time when I dreamed of being a comic actress (which isn't saying much, since I have dreamed also of about a billion other professions). For most of my life I have been an avid SNL fan (and a fan of other improv comedy shows). And, I stand by the premise that SNL has always been equally good - a mishmash of awful skits and a few wonderful gems - and you never know when something is going to be really funny - and I have a feeling that probably the writers aren't too sure either, though there are some skits that are so bad you have to wonder how they got on the air. I admit I haven't watched the show much at all for a couple of years now, as I'm totally out of the habit of television watching, but I have caught a few hilarious sketches via YouTube (like Dick in a Box, for one, which you have to watch, unless you're my Mom :-))

Laughter is essential. I know it well as the only true antidote to depression. A truly funny moment can erase miles of sadness. But you never know what it is that's going to strike you as funny. Some of the best times in my life have been times when something that I'm sure otherwise wouldn't be funny at all just happened to strike me and the friend(s) I was with as hilarious at the moment. One time in college my friends Lara, Jeff, and I went to go see the movie *The Secret of Roan Inish*. It's NOT a comedy. And really, it's not a bad movie at all. I know, because I ended up watching it again years later. But, at the time we saw it, we were all in a very goofy mood, and when the little Irish boy with the biggest head of poofy black hair came running onto the screen, we all LOST it. (Were you there, too, Andre?) We were so disruptive that many of the folks behind us complained. But we couldn't help it. It was hilarious in that moment. There have been lots of random moments like that in my life and I thank God for them. I just hope that in those moments in my life when my heart gets so heavy and hard that I can't see anything positive or happy in my life that some little bee of happiness stings me so that everything all of a sudden seems to be not so serious anymore. And I wish it for you, too, my friends.

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