On Thursday, March 22, I opened our class Showcase to a warm audience. Here’s the evidence.
The term “woke” that I used in my opening is one I learned recently. Simplistically, it means “socially aware.”
The experience of learning comedy in a group mixed in age, cultural background, and gender was extraordinary. We saw the whites of each other’s eyes.
Working with these people helped me shine a light on my privilege. I have a name most English-speaking people can pronounce after hearing it once. I have never been selected for a security check due to the colour of my skin. I haven’t been expected to live up to the “strong man” stereotype. I don’t know what it is to raise a family in a basement apartment due to a housing crisis or work in a job where feeling disrespected is a daily occurrence.
Stereotypes perpetuate harm. All of us are people first.
I got a whiff of ageism – my own. One night, the teacher asked us to stand at the front for a moment while our classmates jotted down what they saw: height, weight, age, clothing, skin colour, etc. The purpose of the exercise was to help us become aware of what the audience would notice before we opened our mouths. A comic who comes on and acknowledges the obvious then dispels an assumption people have probably made is sure to get a laugh.
Several classmates included “old” in their list. I knew I was the oldest in the class, but I cringed to see myself described as “old”.
One comment amused me, “old, but fun”. The “but” speaks volumes about the writer’s perception of old people. If I busted some stereotypes about seniors, that’s a bonus.
The course was a catalyst for self-discovery. Besides the fact I have trouble owning the “old” description, I’ve learned I tend to over-think things. I take even comedy wa-a-a-y too seriously. My next goal is to relax, to trust that good ideas will come when I least expect them.
I’m not entirely woke, but I’ve been nudged.
In stand-up we’re allowed to exaggerate.