A day to give, not just to thank

Tomorrow the United States (the American one, in case you weren’t sure) is celebrating Thanksgiving. So the blogging may stop for a few days. So I’ll leave you with this overly flowery, overly sappy message until I get back. Enjoy your foods!

Thanksgiving is a day we typically use to give thanks. While I’ll be doing plenty of that too, I’m going to stop short a bit and just give.

At around noon o’clock tomorrow, I will be performing with the Magic Meathands at a church in Inglewood that reaches out to the at-risk and homeless community. The church will be giving them a Thanksgiving meal, and we’ll be giving them some entertainment.

We do a lot of these kinds of shows, and I couldn’t be happier doing them. When I tell people about it, I think some people think it’s quaint. Some have a look on their face similar to how they would respond if their grandmother was getting involved in community theater. Good for her. She’s getting out and doing some cute little play acting to occupy her time. It’s not “real” theater of course.

As far as I’m concerned nothing could be further from the truth. These kinds of shows are challenging. Most big time comedic performers flat out couldn’t do it and don’t do it. They probably wouldn’t want to do it because they would sense how instantly humbling, demanding, and ultimately risky it is to engage an audience that is more concerned about immediate survival than catching the latest  TV show or movie. Remember, these shows are improvised. There’s no script, there’s no second take, there’s no cutting to commercial, there’s no warm-up act, there’s no one coaching the audience when to clap and when to laugh. We are flying without a net. And when things don’t click, you really know it.

So why do these shows? Because when things do click (and at this point, we’re pretty dang good at making sure things click) the reward is so much greater. The shared experience of laughter can be powerful and never more so than when that laughter gives temporary relief from overwhelming troubles. In those moments, no one is homeless or unemployed. No one is fighting addictions or emotional instability. I’m no longer the performer, they’re no longer the audience. We’re people agreeing together that life is surreal, weird, and funny. We have become a spontaneous choir of laughter. And from that transformation, we as a group have created joy. And if people in such desperate situations can find joy, there is hope.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. And find a moment to give.

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