What I Learned About Life When I Tried Stand-Up Comedy for the First Time

For over a decade, I’ve been instructing people on how to face their demons and develop their life path through challenging themselves — so perhaps it shouldn’t have been *too* much of a surprise when I found myself taking that very plunge.

While I always hold myself to walking the path I preach, this was also very pivotal for me. Not only was I working to demolish a crippling level of stage fright I’ve harboured for most of my life, but I was completely standing alongside something I’ve known for a very long time — humour is healing.

A great buddy of mine always reminds me that “life is about being of service where you are at any given moment, while maintaining a good sense of humour!” (This guy could find humour in the most distressing situations.)

Mobilizing Words into Action

I’ve heard of Tantra being called “The Swift Path” before — the idea being that, when you’re deeply devoted as a practitioner, you get your life lessons faster and more intensely so that you can learn them faster and understand fierce compassion…but this was NOT in the glossy brochure!

The last couple years kinda sucked for me in an absurd variety of ways. I experienced an insane windfall of fucked-upness, like having to relocate nine times in two years due to random infestations and noxious fumes coming out of my plumbing, to dealing with aggressive racism for the first time, to being assaulted on a bus and having it written-off by the police. Despite my efforts every step of the way, there was no one in a position of authority willing to step in or come to my aid, even in the most extreme situations. If it weren’t for my training, I would have likely passed away in about five of these weird situations that I managed to manifest into my life.

So I found myself laughing at the absurdity of my new ‘life cycle’ and remained curious. I witnessed life take on the role of the proverbial beach bully who yearned for nothing more than to kick my sandcastles down. I’ve never known life to take on this seemingly hostile role for me, but I knew there had to be something I was meant to learn and ‘be’ from all of this. It finally dawned on me as I sat in the emerg department at Vancouver General Hospital (getting treated for exposure to said noxious fumes in my last apartment) that it was likely time to return to Toronto.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, I realized a few things:

  • It was very likely that the reason I moved out there originally — my fusion belly dance career — was never going to happen because of a severe back injury I endured.
  • I will ALWAYS appreciate the kindness and unique celebration of diversity we share as a city here in Toronto, like, alllllwayyyyysssss (and the food that comes with it…yum!)
  • Developing that sense of humour my friend mentioned seemed very, very important.

The exact moment I decided to return to Toronto, my whole life opened up to great opportunities, and I’ve come to realize that the simplest of lessons are the most life-altering. I came back, put my ‘cyber shingle’ out for my full-time practice and never looked back. I’ve had time to focus on coaching, educating and answering questions you all send me. And I’ve had time to take my newfound appreciation for humour to the Second City stage where I showed my fears who’s boss and got to write my own performance material.

Life as the Ultimate Charades Coach

When things get REALLY heavy — bullying, disease and illnesses, fights, breakups, career shifts — life is really about teaching us lessons through change, and sometimes those changes will look crazy odd. I’ve always seen life as a mysterious and peculiar game of charades, and it took the last couple years to get this:

If you were playing charades and you didn’t understand what your charades partner was trying to mime to you, would you try to attack them and yell, “WHYYY MEEEE?” Or would you attempt to explain to them what you DO get and ask for clarification so you can both have a chance at winning?

Also, have you ever noticed you win more rounds of charades when you’re lighthearted about it and willing to yell out any ideas that pop into your mind, regardless of how absurd they may sound? And even if you don’t win that round, isn’t it far easier to remain friendly with your charades partner so you both can win the game together (and remain friends) versus getting super pissed off because you had a few bad rounds?

Life is far easier when you befriend it and its many facets. Understand and accept there is something for you in every lesson; life simply isn’t against you. It will be patient and continue to offer you the same lesson over and over until you finally ‘get it,’ internalize the lesson and level-up, so to speak. I realize it’s a weird comparison but, you know, the best lessons in life are just hellah weird.

I leave you with my FIRST-EVER stand-up set and my favourite Sufi poem.

Post Comment