My daughter is 9 and my daughter tells, “Yo mama’s so fat” jokes… I am torn.
As a comedian, this is fantastic, particularly with lines like, “Yo mama’s so fat, Dora can’t even explore her”; I mean, come on, gold, right? But as a mother, and a woman who rolls her eyes at the ridiculous depiction of what a woman is “supposed” to look like, according to the media, this is a bit of a dilemma. I believe comedy has a place in all areas and let’s face it, fat mama jokes have been entertaining forever. I remember standing in a crowd of Jamaicans, back in high school, and watched one of these battles; everyone was crying because they were so hysterical. In the end the “loser” laughed the hardest, and in a gentlemanly fashion, shook the other teenager’s hand in defeat, praising his witty comebacks. The debate of what should be censored in comedy is raging and I stand firm with the crowd that believes intelligent, well crafted jokes, particularly those designed in parody or satyr (which is aimed to correct unwanted behaviour) is just dandy. I don’t want to raise overly sensitive kids but I also don’t want to raise kids that are insensitive.
My girls are probably destined to have body issue problems as I diet and exercise my little heart out in front of them and, let’s face it, the plastic surgery this past summer is still confusing them. I mean, “why would mom want to get rid of her big squishy tummy?” Does my role as a comedian outweigh my role as a mother? I was one before the other and dang it, my kids are funny, so I’ve done something right there.
I don’t want to be caught up in a politically correct world where we can no longer laugh at ourselves and the differences and similarities between us all. I would like to think that my kids are learning to be witty, that humour defuses situations, that people would much rather be around you because of your fun personality, not by what you look like. More importantly, when I heard her first joke and made an uncomfortable face she assured me, “Mom, don’t worry, it’s just a joke, we aren’t talking about real moms”. I think this girl has her head on her shoulders.
Now my concern should probably be turned to my four year old who, on the first day of school watched a little girl hit and bully her way through the day, and she came up with this, “Wouldn’t it be great if the evil girl in the purple dress didn’t come inside from recess and the doors locked and then she died?” I turned in shock to my nine year old at which time, she and I burst out laughing. “Sweetie, what you just said is kind of evil,” I said. “No,” she explained, “Then she would die and come back to life as a good girl.” Um, okay, maybe I should take a look at the shows they’re watching….
- See more at: http://thelocalbizmagazine.ca/2014/09/your-mamas-so-fat/#sthash.ObtECvYQ.dpuf
Yo mama's so fat
Judging a book by its cover
I am a shallow person.
Yes, it’s true; Stephanie Herrera is a sad example of what society’s concepts of the “ideal woman” churns out day after day. I got a boob job. Not just a boob job, but a whole “Mommy Makeover” which includes a tummy tuck and liposuction. After 4 kids, I felt I needed it and I was amazed, as I began cautiously telling people what I was doing, how I was met with zero resistance. I would be first bombarded with, “But why? You look so great for having four kids?” and I’d say, “But I don’t want to look like I had four kids at all”. Then they would ask a lot of questions, tell me they think it’s great and if the person in front of me was a woman, she would end with, “You have to show me when you’re done. I’ve always wanted to do the same thing.”
My “taboo” surgery was so normalized, well, other than my husband, who is still shaking his head at the amount of money I’ve spent on something he could care less about. I may be shallow, but my husband certainly is not. He is just starting to see the approval this kind of drastic surgery as he is letting his friends know what I’ve done and has been getting off the phone with comments like, “Gee, I think he’s jealous.” Damn skippy! I can’t be the only one that thinks this was a wise move. Even at my one-week check-up, I strolled in (bent over with a walker, mind you) and the surgeon’s waiting room was packed with new and present clients. I chatted with people who had just gone through the same procedure and some who were weeks ahead of us and we eyed them in awe of the final results (when the swelling and fluid subsides). I even met one woman who kind of wrinkled her nose at me when I mention my breast augmentation; she insisted it’s surgery, I will have to do again in 10 years. Finally! Someone I could defend myself to, this would be the debate I’ve been waiting for, but then I found out that she was getting “toe augmentation” and when I asked what in the world that was, she replied, “I’m going to have beautiful feet.” And my husband thought I was crazy!
So, “judging a book by its cover”, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, are all ideas that people like Free to Be You and Me and Shallow Hal meant to overcome, how about the Dove beauty campaign? It’s all a wonderful idealistic world, where women with a bit of weight and droopy boobs are still considered “hot”, but right now, in my profession as an actor, I see time and time again my acting competition as women with flat stomachs and perky boobs… perhaps I’m on par with them now. And what is this doing to my kids you may ask? When I showed them my squishy stomach was gone they frowned and said, “We liked your pillow”. Suddenly I wasn’t so special to them anymore. At least my kids and husband are trying to keep me grounded; I hope they will continue to rub off on me, but until then….I’m already looking into a nose job!
- See more at: http://thelocalbizmagazine.ca/2014/08/judging-a-book-by-its-cover/#sthash.CLs1EL9S.dpuf
Don't get blogged down
My daughter said something to me the other day that I would like to share with you, “Apples kill owls.” Delivered in a tone which implied that I, Mrs. Slow Moving Adult, should have already been aware of the scientific fact. At which point I replied with my most encouraging and non-confrontational response, which always elicits open dialogue, “Huh?”
She then enlightened me, “If you throw an apple core out your car window, it will land at the side of the road, a mouse will come out to eat it, an owl will see the mouse and land to catch it and will then get hit by a car.” So there you have it, apples kill owls.
I love the logic, and at the same time I’m delightfully horrified that this is exactly the way a human brain works. Conflict and human interaction is an improviser’s wet-dream. What do we sit up and take notice of? I’ll let you in on what we comedians observe: a plethora of grown-ups saying that a way of life, a religion, a race, a gender, is wrong or inferior. Now, if you listen to their reasoning, they will give you a chain of facts, texts, experiences, that will link together to explain the ultimate realization: that apples kill owls. It might as well be that silly, these radical, hateful things that are said are just as ridiculous and yet the foundation of these beliefs are grounded in truth to the individuals, in emotional connection, in experience. This is why I am not on the politically-correct bandwagon, why my humour is a bluish colour, because I would never discount anyone’s opinion, but boy will I reflect it back in their face, in a sketch or improv, and I’ll be the first to laugh at the ridiculousness of harsh statements against a culture or group of people, as gently as I did with my daughter, “Yes, sweetie, looks like apples kill owls. Maybe we’ll make sure we take responsibility for our garbage.” What have you been tossing out your proverbial window? Come back and visit my blog if you want to have a good laugh over your garbage and mine.
My children have a habit that drives me crazy. Summer has finally arrived and this is the time of year when they start reminiscing about Christmas. Yes, I just said Christmas. Back in January, they would talk non-stop about how much they wished it was warm enough to go biking in their shorts but as soon as June creeps up, they start talking about what they want from Santa Claus and how much they miss playing in the snow. I have to admit, I’m secretly in the same boat. All winter, as I scraped ice off my windshield, I was thinking “When will it be over?!” But the first hot day of the season, when I opened my car and the hot air hit me, I thought “This damn heat!”
This got me to thinking of a trait, perhaps a specifically human one, that drives us all to want more, to want better, to want what we don’t have and that which others possess. This concept of the “Grass is always greener on the other side” is an unquenchable desire to attain the unattainable and better yet, once we have what we were aching for, we are suddenly disinterested and begin a new craving. I wonder if this desire is exactly what excelled human development? Is this passion for “obtaining more” the catalyst that kept us nomadic? This need to find the best food, the best mate, the best home. Is it all just an evolutionary component for survival of the fittest? Maybe our desire for, that which we cannot have, is exactly what makes us work harder, strive for the best, and compels us to break records and achieve a new level of greatness.
We may want our neighbour’s lush green grass sitting there, just out of reach, but did it ever occur to you that, if you actually were able to get their lawn, you would be the one responsible for maintaining it? In the world of our nomadic ancestors, the desire for better was a trait that kept us alive. Now, in the world of instant gratification, we are surrounded by too much choice and the advertisers tap into our prehistoric gene luring us with the “best”.
We can’t turn off this part of our brain. Okay, maybe with some Buddhist training we can abandon desire, but for the rest of us materialistic people, we need to address it. Then, and perhaps only then, can we see it for what it is — an instinct left over from early Homo Sapiens. Like all problems, once they are faced and identified, sometimes they can be more easily controlled or even fade. One of the things I teach in improv is to be present in the moment, to listen intently on what is being presented to you. If you are thinking of what you will say next, then you cease to be present. If you aren’t acting in the moment, the moment has past. We reminisce about our favorite times in our youth, we think of what we need to do next in our futures, and we seem to always dream of what we want and complain about what we don’t have… How many “moments” are we missing out on because we weren’t present and appreciative of what we have NOW? I have mastered this art of being in the moment in Improv. It’s slowly creeping into my real life — my kids. However, I need more practice as they have just put on a Christmas CD and are making their wish lists. I think I just realized what the top of my wish list will be: my neighbour’s weed-free lawn…and some young handsome lawn maintenance workers to go with it!
On March 30th, 2014, Durham Improv hosted its first Guest Expert Series. This is where I call on my most talented and knowledgeable friends, from the show business world, and have them trek out to teach Durham folk...for a discounted rate. We were so lucky to have Malpass Park (Marjorie Malpass and Stephen Park) come out to coach the group in a 5 hour acting session focusing on auditioning for commercials. The bonus of the day was having casting director, Millie Tom, join us to give feedback and honest answers to our burning questions.
At the end of the day, everyone had the chance to get up in front of the group and "audition" a commercial. I made sure everyone got a chance and then went up last. I was as calm as a Hindu cow and really pretty much nailed it. The immediate thought was, "Stephanie goes on a lot of auditions so she's used to this" which is true, I used to audition for the hell of it, even if I was already cast in a show, just to have it as part of my routine, so I was never nervous , but what I really love about taking these workshops is that it allows me, as a teacher, a chance to reflect a bit more on what I teach and why I approach aspects of acting with more ease than most. I can sum up exactly why I didn't seem nervous "auditioning" and why, what they saw that day, is pretty much exactly what I'm like in an audition room: Because I have NO idea what the auditioners are looking for.
This shouldn't be a source of stress, Marjorie and Stephen said to avoid trying to figure out WHAT they want and just bring what you HAVE. It's like improv shows, I don't get nervous BECAUSE it could be bad, it could be amazing, there is no way of me knowing unless I actually start performing. This sounds terrifying but I want to try to suggest to you that it is very liberating. If you go in prepared, know your lines, understand the story and then, like Stephen mentioned, the first take is YOURS this is your vision of how you see it, when they say cut, you now get this wonderful opportunity for them to TELL YOU EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT, isn't this great?! You came in not knowing what in the hell they wanted, and now they are going to tell you! It's not a knock against what you've shown them (maybe they'll decide your first take was better, once you leave, and that's the one that gets passed on, who knows!) but what I'm stressing is exactly what Millie coined perfectly as "playing". This audition is a CONVERSATION, you come in and say, "Watch, I'm going to show you what I think this might look like. Cool, huh? What do you think?" and then they say, "Okay, not bad, try it this way and give me more of this and less of this" and you try it their way because it's just "playing". It's beyond just taking direction, treat it like a wonderful acting experiment. It's a pot luck, you bring something and they add something and you try it out together. If you come in with the attitude of "I have no idea what they want and I couldn't possibly read their minds" you'll be OPEN to suggestions and GUIDANCE, they are in that room to help you, they WANT you to get the job!
If rolling with the punches and feeling put on the spot is still the root of your anxiety, PLEASE get into an improv class, that will help with all of this, whether it's here at my acting school or in the city where you live it will help get you comfortable with failing, getting thrown into weird and scary situations that require you to do some fast thinking. When I am in an audition and they suddenly say "Can you do it like Fran Drescher?" or "Can you flirt a bit on that line?" I'm now IMPROVISING, this is my territory, but it's the easiest kind of improvising because they told me exactly what I'm going to be saying ahead of time, how much easier can this get?!
Try to switch your FEAR into ANTICIPATION, try thinking "I can't wait to see what they're going to ask me to do!" (my tag to this is "because the lines in this script are so bad/don't make sense/are boring") then you, and those nice people inside the room, get to make something out of some silly words on a page...together!