By Helena Smith
Successfully completed my first night of comedy school last night. We were the second group of the week, so the curse of knowledge had done it’s magic and we were all slighting on tender hooks before entering the ‘safe space’. The previous group had expressed mixed views about how they had found their first session. A lot had mentioned the therapy like exercises which hadn’t necessarily had the comedic effect they were perhaps looking forward to. So, the overarching message seemed to be, it’s not what you expect. Which is possibly my most used phrase after starting at SCA.
After a long day of working on arguably one of our biggest briefs yet my nerves were running a little high, accompanying thoughts like “a therapy session is not what I need right now”. I agree, perhaps it is these exact moments when you probably do need a therapy session, but I would not have been ready for it. Light relief was what I wanted and luckily it was what we got.
I think the first hour of the session provided images that will remain some of my favorites from SCA – who can’t enjoy a group drop and roll whilst singing at the same time? And as I am quickly learning to be completely un-phased by the unexpected, I feel there is no need for me to think any further on why out of all the movements I could have chosen to act out as leader (which the group then had to imitate) I chose ‘chickening’. I’ll let your imagination fill in the gaps there.
So the first part of the session was most definitely enjoyable and indeed brought that light relief I had been craving. It was the later exercises where it became clearer what the previous group had been talking about. There is a darker side to comedy that needs to be considered. More specifically the darker, more unrehearsed side of yourself. A quote from Mr. Cee written in my notebook about the same time we moved onto the more uncomfortable and therefore challenging activities was “comedy begins where reality ends”.
The test then came from having to explore our less familiar vocabularies opposed to the usual ways we’d use to explain why we love or hate something. It was the unknown, the less spoken ways of revealing a relationship with something that Mr. Cee was really interested in. He wanted us to all individually experience our instinctive blocks when we had run out of ‘real’ things to say about the topic (tampons in Marc’s case), the types of descriptions that society has taught us are the acceptable things to say. A learning within itself about how deeply societal norms are rooted within us, but also in terms of realising how your own imagination is stunted by said norms and how a simple term, which “be free” (which Mr. Cee had to say numerous times) can release you into saying things you thought you would never hear yourself saying. The world of stand-up comedy is a world where boundaries are void and only used as vehicles to bring smiles to the room.
Once again, I have woken up feeling like I know myself a little more. I feel proud and revel in the fact that each day, each workshop I enroll in and each brief I undertake at SCA I am pushing myself, evolving myself. I wonder by the end of the year whether I’ll even recognize myself as words such as ‘barriers’, ‘boundaries’ and ‘uncomfortable’ are beginning to take on a whole new meaning.