Sit Down Comedy … May 31st, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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My definition of awkward: finding myself in an uncomfortable situation and then doing something dopey to try and fit in.

A Convention of Clowns

This happened to me many years ago when a friend invited me to a convention of clowns. (No—I mean real clowns. Not a metaphor.)

I arrived, walked in and realized there were over a hundred people there, give or take a dozen—all dressed as clowns.

Suddenly all the eyes of the room fell on me, with a combination of bewilderment and pity. I felt stupid—not because I was in a convention of clowns and they were all suited in their garb, but because I was insecure that I was not part of what was going on.

Awkward

One of the clowns walked up and handed me a red nose—an extra he traveled with. As I slid it on my nose, he stood back, and about fifteen surrounding souls with floppy shoes applauded me. I’m so ashamed to admit it, but I felt better. Donning the comical beezer at least made me look like I was a respectable participant.

Several months later the same thing happened when I was invited by a friend to a Pentecostal church. The music began and suddenly everybody rose to their feet, lifting their arms and talking in some unknown language which I did not comprehend.  Slowly I inched my way to my feet to join them. I tried lifting my arms but after a few moments they ached. And then, doggone it, I felt so out of place and so frightened that everybody was peering at me, that I pretended to mumble words to imitate theirs.

I felt so phony—but I didn’t want to be the “odd tongue out.”

Then a good friend of mine, Mike, asked me to go to a convention hall to see big time wrestling. Honestly, I’d never even watched it on television. Everyone around me was clad as their favorite character, screaming, pleading for blood and mayhem. Mike kept glancing over at me, wondering if I was going to catch on and join in. Eventually I did find a wrestler I favored and shouted a couple of inane words of encouragement his way.

Yes—not that different from attending a political rally with my friend, Linda. She was really sold out on the candidate. At the time, I was really sold out on her. Signs, slogans, speeches—even a small marching band—bombarded my ears and collided in my brain, pleading with me to cast my support.

I did a little. I hated myself for it. Well, maybe not hated—I just wondered why I still possessed this weakness—a need for some sort of acceptance, even when I was in an environment that was completely alien.

That’s the way I feel today.

I no longer recognize America.

The screaming, the cursing, the ignorance and the self-righteousness that encircle me is tempting me to make an awkward step to blend.

I don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to do it.

Dammit, I despise you Republicans for what you stand for and your arrogance.

And screw you, Democrats, for having a superior attitude to the world around you.

I feel my country has been absorbed by a cult of pirates who want to swash-buckle their way into fame and fortune.

If I resist, I fear they will make me walk the plank, pushing me off to drown in the deepest sea of despair.

How much volume can my voice have in a country full of shouters?

I don’t know.

But just as I was not a clown, a tongue-talker, a wrestling fan or a political enthusiast, I am also not part of this abduction that has happened in my nation.

I will try to be strong and not find a dopey way to slink into the shadows of sameness. 


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Getting in Character…June 22nd, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Chalk art 2

From Act II: Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

Let the scene speak for itself.

The problem in the world of theater is that we often spend too much time on costuming, scenery and promotion.

If the quality is not present in the writing and the characterization, it will soon become evident that we’re just trying to tie a ribbon on a mutt.

Such is life.

Yet if you are determined to get in character you have to decide what you’re going to pursue.

Is it excellence or is it merely acceptance you’re seeking?

Excellence is finding what you want to communicate and then practicing it until you’re completely satisfied with your take.

Acceptance, on the other hand, is hoping to be received well without actually doing well.

In a generation which screams for “unconditional love,” we end up with a phony representation of the sentiment without the transforming power of the true emotion.

Excellence is a quiet determination. Acceptance tends to sport some arrogance: 

  1. Accept me.
  2. I’m fine.
  3. What’s your problem?
  4. People are stupid and don’t get it.

Excellence stands and faces the world without fear proclaiming, “I am satisfied and overjoyed with my profile. Come and see.”

Acceptance, on the other hand, is only fulfilled when praised.

There’s a gentle meekness in the pursuit of excellence which allows the scene to play out while we faithfully insert our portion, inheriting the stage.

And souls who pursue excellence end up getting what they want because the work itself is the blessing instead of a flaccid universal acceptance.

 

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