So, this happens.
Yeah, that’s me, right there beside Kevin McDonald. Comic genius Kevin McDonald. Of The Kids in the Hall fame, and a toilet-paper roll of post-Kids credit. Comic genius. Formative influence of my misspent childhood.
Also, really nice guy.
One of the things that Kevin does now is travel the country and the continent teaching sketch comedy. I don’t write or perform sketch comedy. I don’t even write comedy. (Really. When I’m funny, it’s almost always not on purpose. Which is both sad and funny, which sort of makes it totally funny, because comedy works best in juxtaposition with tragedy. See? I learned shit this weekend.) But I’m a Kids in the Hall fan, and a Kevin McDonald fan, and I guess I feel I’m running out of time to meet my heroes? And I want to do it even if they disappoint, because they’re old and wrinkly and have feet of clay and bruised egos?
(I’m talking about Julia Cameron. In case that was too subtle for you.)
(I do feel I’m running out of time. This is a new feeling for me. I always used to think life is long. As 2019 comes to an end… it’s not. It’s not.)
Kevin does not disappoint. He spends the Saturday and Sunday of last weekend teaching me and fourteen other writers at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society all about sketch comedy. I drag him out of the room once to pace the hallway with him and drill him about pacing. Because sketch comedy is 90% about pacing, mastering pacing… He doesn’t say that, by the way—he says everything is about story—but the pacing part is what really jumps out for me. He shows me how to split a scene into beats. And here’s the beautiful thing about a brilliant teacher: I kinda knew about beats. I kinda knew a scene, to work, had to have a beginning, middle, and an end—a purpose, a climax, a satisfying conclusion. I mean, I did know that. I teach that.
The way he explained the beats of a scene—worth the price of an MFA.
Except, I bet you they don’t teach you that in academic creative writing programs, because, sketch comedy…
So. Weekend learning and laughing with Kevin McDonald. Heaven.
Also, a concert by One Voice Chorus, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, to which I drag Flora. So that she knows about Marsha P. Johnson climbing up a lamp post and dropping a purse full of bricks on a police car and drag queens knocking over a paddy wagon and the triangle street and why Pride is political.
In-between, some not-so good things happen.
I try to hold the centre.
I’m not sure I succeed, to be honest. One moment, I am able to text back to a friend, “Pretty much best weekend ever.” The second moment…
Breathe. Life is complicated and many-faceted.
But also short.
Breathe. Don’t look too closely, because, really, being in the moment is a load of crap at times like this. Endure.
Find peace and escape between the pages of a Neil Gaiman book.
(This one: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction by Neil Gaiman)
Not quite back in the centre. But, focusing on the laughter and the learning. Feeding my hunger.
Thinking about my heroin, and my work, and making Ender and Flora lazy sushi for supper, and Cinder, porkchops. He’s having a hard semester: I see that he is at a loss, not in his centre. This is process, it’s the age, it’s part of what must be right now. But… Trying not to worry too much about him, six months from turning eighteen. Legally adult, and then what? What changes? Anything, everything, nothing?
It was, I tell myself firmly, an amazing weekend. I had a great time. There were some rough moments. But there were more good ones.
I gotta tell you, I’m rather tired of giving myself—not to mention others—pep talks and affirmations and validation.
Id wants to climb up a lamp post and drop purses of bricks on everything. And then, crush all your heads.
Super-Ego reminds me Freud’s theories have been almost completely discredited by modern psychology which is, like, real science—experiment-based blah blah blah.
Ego suggests I should watch some Kids in the Hall sketches on YouTube and stop overthinking shit. Because this precise moment, right now? It could be a happy moment. Or at least the memory of a happy moment.
I’m a little worried Id might win.
Chocolate and Raspberries photo by Lisa Fotios via Pexels