I was always a jokester and loved making people laugh. When I was younger, I would put on shows for my family and friends, making up skits and stand-up routines. I always dreamed of being a comedian, but after seeing my first starring role in a small FSU graduate film, co-produced by then Disney MGM, my father told me to stick to design school, which he was paying for. Crushed, I did. And for 15 years I forgot my dream And another 11 years after that I gave it up again to be his caregiver. Sometimes life is ironic.
As I emerge from decades of trauma and depression, I reflect on how far I want to go in comedy. I’m getting through the cringe state, that awkward stage of writing and performing, and I’m taking a Norm McDonald type of approach to bombing in comedy. I just don’t care.
We devote so much of our lives caring what other people think of us.
But really, who cares?
I’m middle-aged, racially ambiguous, queer, and a comedian. Some people might think that I don’t have a chance to be successful because of who I am, but I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m going to show that anyone can be funny, no matter who they are.
On one hand, I could lament my circumstances:: Like feeling like I don’t fit in with either the black or white community, feeling like I don’t fit in with either the queer community or the straight community, feeling like I don’t fit in with either the younger or older generations, feeling like I’m not “queer enough” or “black enough” or “white enough” , feeling like I have to choose between my black and queer identities, feeling I have have to downplay either my blackness or their queerness to be successful in comedy.
Or I could reframe and see my advantages.
I’m choosing to believe in the power of my comedy to transcend any limitations. No matter what community I’m a part of, I know that my comedy will always be appreciated. I don’t have to choose between my black and queer identities – I can be both. I fit in with both the queer community and the straight community, and I’m comfortable with that. I’m also comfortable with fitting in with either the younger or older generation. I’m “queer enough” and I’m “black enough.” I know that I don’t have to tamp down my blackness, my Europeanness, or my queerness to be successful in comedy.
I know I can do it because Trevor Noah did it, and I’m just like him. Add 13 years, 40 pounds, reduce the melanin, add some pretty teeth, and hire a writing staff, and I’m just like Trevor Noah. Well, maybe not…but close. Maybe I’m just me, and that’s OK.