Time to Laugh Again
By Georgie Bright Kunkel
Guess you have noticed the seriousness of my writing since I broke my ankle. Living through the six weeks in a cast and then facing the pain of moving my right leg again has been an impetus to return to the comedy stage. Nothing like humor to boost one’s endorphin levels. And do I have lots to joke about now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of healing.
S.A.D. gloomy days are still around but I have an antidote—making fun of it all at last. Can’t you just visualize my limping up on stage during the last weeks of my recovery and saying, “Howdy everybody, I’m so glad to be here. I’d be glad to be anywhere at my age.” And if someone tells me to break a leg before I come on stage I can tell them I’ve already done that, right?
Since I am in healing mode I qualify to ride the Access Bus. Imagine my arriving at the Seattle Comedy Underground and being lowered down onto the sidewalk to tootle into the club with my walker. I believe I can say that I am probably the first comic to travel to the club in this style. And I won’t arrive with just a sterile hospital brand walker, oh no. It will be decorated bigtime with flowers and streamers.
I love breaking stereotypes and have I ever broken a lot of them since I began appearing on the comedy stage in my later years. Nowadays there are comedy classes for wannabee comics. But I just wrote out what I thought would get laughs and hopped on stage and gave it my all. What didn’t get laughs I threw out. I now have a stack of laugh lines in a folder five inches thick. But as Steve Allen once told me when I called in on his talk show one time, “Not every joke goes over with every audience. I have even bombed a few times myself.” There are various levels of laugh material. There’s the young buck who gets up on stage to reveal every intimate detail of his sex life.
There is the fat comic who tells you about having to buy two seats on an airplane. And then there’s me, telling about funny things that happened at my arthritis swim class.
Once I brought an archaic tape recorder to chronicle my three minutes on the Open Mike Night stage. Since I sit in the front row, not like the young comics who hide in the back of the room, a young fellow on stage looked down at my big tape recorder and remarked, “Bet you bought that when Napoleon was in power, right?” He was trying to dump on me, a grandmother type who probably made him uncomfortable telling his sex jokes in front of me. After all in our segregated society, it is mostly young men who get a kick out of talking dirty to their own crowd without anyone of the older generation censoring them. Young women who join this raucous group to go on stage have decided to go with the flow with their own style of outrageous toilet humor. I try to entertain without having to go into the bathroom for laughs—well not too often anyway.
Some of you may remember a few years ago when I presented a program at the Admiral Theater. I read some of my columns and surprised the audience with a young improv comic doing a Harold and Maude routine with me. He asked me to help him cross over from improv but before I could work with him I learned that he had moved to Chicago so he could take serious classes in comedy. Little did I know when I taught myself the art of comedy that I would someday be a mentor for a younger comic friend. Every person, no matter what age, is a mentor to anyone younger. So watch your behavior, someone younger might be watching.
Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-935=8663.