The Most Interesting Person in the World

Today was my first experiment in riding the TTC as a clown. I just got back from a week with Patch Adams in Costa Rica, inspired by our experiences in hospitals and on the streets. People in Costa Rica are so responsive, willing to be playful, and acknowledging your presence. Bringing this home to places where people still need it (like at Bay and King) is a challenge, but I will embrace that challenge.

The first skill to clowning in Toronto is not being emotionally dependent on people’s reactions. Yes, I want smiles, laughter, eye contact. But I don’t expect that. I will be happy with people pretending not to notice me but me catching them looking my way; with someone pointing me out to her friend and laughing while avoiding catching my eye; even with a growl or head-shake while staring at me defiantly. But my motivation is to amuse myself. So, when I’m surrounded by a packed subway car and no signs of life, I will look at my surroundings and pretend to be propelling the train further, attempt to do chin-ups but mostly accomplish grunting, and react with huge astonishment as we head towards Davisville and trees and the outside world become visible.

That said, it wasn’t bad. I had one woman video record me on her phone for a while. I performed my juggling routine with my new, hi-tech Invisible BallsTM. A streetcar driver showed me his buttons, which say things like “Treadle” and “Cab.” He pushed “Gong” a few times, which is like when you get a trucker to pull their horn (and I didn’t even ask!)

My first eight minutes into this adventure, the subway driver announced that they would be changing crews at the next stop. Then he added, “If you have any questions, ask the person with the red nose.” Then he added, “Her name may be Bozo.” Again he added, “I mean the clown.” I felt so proud! I looked around with my waving-hand gesture and puffed-out chest, being all, That’s right, I know everything! Come and ask me!

A few stops later, the man sitting closest to me introduced me to a woman getting on by saying, “She works for the subway.” I responded, “I get paid in smiles!”

At the end of one hour, what did I accomplish? Many people did smile. Some even while acknowledging me. One woman liked my impersonation of a woman on an ad. And the best comment was one guy, who called himself depressing, said when he exited, “I’m on my way to the hospital. Thank you for brightening my day!”

It’s just like clowning in the hospital. That brings it all back full circle.

Advertisements

Passion.

What happens when you feel passion so intensely, so all-encompassingly, that you pursue your passion to the ends of the earth. Will it result in… explosion?

That happens to be the case with Heart Strings, a new Canadian musical that takes place in Ireland. Everyone behind the scenes is full of passion: Reynold Nethaniel, the playwright, who has revived the play many times with different casts, from its Fringe Festival run with live musical accompaniment, to its latest incarnation located at Annex Live. The owner, who is full of passion for his new restaurant/musical venue, and his chef, fresh from California, so passionate about his food that he’s been offering the neighbourhood free samples of his original creations, until he pares his menu down to exactly which offerings he wants to keep. And the cast of the show, including two dancers, some of whom attend the Randolph Academy up the street to pursue their passion for the stage, and others who are just trying out theatre and discovering a new love.

And then there are the characters of the play. Every one of them is passionate about something: whether it’s music or love, money or revenge. And each one pursues his or her passion until the very end.

And, yes. That means explosion.

Along the way, there are some beautiful musical numbers. There are characters who love each other so openly and without conflict that it’s actually refreshing to see. There is some intrigue, with a few twists and surprises that I don’t want to spoil.

One thing I can say is that if you don’t see the play this time around, you may well in the future. Because this play might just be revived and return until such time as everyone in Toronto has seen it. That is how far Reynold will pursue his passion.

Buy your tickets now: http://heartstringsplay.weebly.com/index.html

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to inform you of my existence. I am a broke Nigerian prince who has been watching you for six years. I know about your impending divorce with Rosalie, and the German Shepard who died in your arms last week. I also know the birthdays and school grades of your ten-year-old son Tyler and your six-year-old daughter Angela.

The reason why my royal family and I have been keeping tabs on you is because of the recession in our country. We have resorted now to imparting and exporting cheap Chinese goods with the royal alien nation of Nantu of the Mars colony.

They have just run out of toothbrushes. And we want yours.

Sincerely,

Abdul Mawaki

For years I’ve been doing work that was fun, but I thought had no benefit.

People would tell me that what I did boosts people’s confidence and morale; that I make people laugh and forget their worries; that I make people comfortable and help them meet others.

I always thought – what a useless skill! Can’t people get that on their own? Why would anybody need me for that? Why can’t I heal people from gunshot wounds or something? That takes an expert; what I do, people can figure out on their own.

Now I am alone in a foreign country, disorganised and confused, slated to perform for an audience of probably zero, and all my skills fail me. My confidence is shot. I have no morale. I am awkward instead of confident, alienating everyone I meet, driving away networking opportunities and crushing every possibility of having a vacation fling. I’ve been unable to get outside my own head, to stop worrying and start enjoying, lost the art of having fun or being fun to be around. I’m now terrible at my job, counterproductive at everything I do, and worst of all… I’m losing faith in myself and my abilities.

I have reached the point where I so desperately want my mojo back… I would pay someone to help me!

I’ve been looking (and failing to find) just the right book, magazine or movie to put me in the right frame of mind.

If only there were someone who could truly put me at ease, make me laugh at myself and the world around me, make me feel useful again and know my place in the world. Someone to give me the ability to pick myself up after a failure, the confidence to approach a stranger, the charm to impress a producer, the buoyancy to make friends in a foreign land, the chutzpah to grab someone and kiss him! To have that ability again – what wouldn’t I do?

To my surprise, not only would I pay whatever it costs, but I wouldn’t feel shame in doing that. And I wouldn’t judge someone else for paying to feel like themselves again.

Who can I turn to in a time like this? I guess it’s high time the cobbler actually has some good shoes. I need to tell myself, probably for the first time in my life – what you do does have value! It does make a contribution to the world. Now don’t ever forget it, because I never want to see another person lose their mojo and feel like this again. Never stop being charming, because there are people in this world who need that!

20120301-122258.jpg

I was just having coffee with Robert Lantos, and he mentioned, based on our previous conversation with Stephen Spielberg, that I should really talk to James Cameron about my move idea. He loved the idea, but felt it would be a better match for M. Night Shyamalan. On a chance encounter to meet with him, I ran into Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen. They had just been dining with Peter Jackson, who had the exact same idea for a film! But his was set in France. I decided to run home immediately and tweak the script, and now realise — this is a perfect film for you to make!

I do hope you will see the benefit of making this, as Judd Apatow has been after me to send him this idea, and I am hoping you will approve before Wesley Anderson catches word of it.

Sincerely,

~ Lauren B. Stein
Film Extraordinaire + Life Enhancer
http://www.Laurentina.me

p.s. Please do not doubt the sincerity with which I composed this letter.

Reading the Spring 1994 issue of Whole Earth Review, I came across an article that, within it, carries the essence of my entire existence. It is a funny article with pictures.

You can read more of the article here. To see it with the pictures, look at the magazine next time you are at my space. But the part that I will now incorporate into my manifesto, the most important words of wisdom, I copy here:

Follow Your Boredom

The Hasidic Jews believe that every object in the world has divine sparks trapped within it. This includes roofing nails, mind you, and peanut brittle. The mission of humanity is to release these divine sparks, so that they can ascend to heaven. The best way I know to fulfill this mission is to engage things in play. Find the thing in the world that grates on you with its lifelessness. Then find a way to tickle it, to play with it.

Too much human effort is being spent producing lifeless junk. We need a legion of Doctors Frankenstein — mad scientists who are anxious to breathe life back into the dead things around us. Consider yourself hereby deputized.

-Daniel Meyerowitz

Do you spend more than half of your free time either online or under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Does your entire group of friends have more commonalities than things that make each member unique?

Do you balk at the idea of seeing a movie that hasn’t been Hollywood-approved?

Hi, my name is Lauren, and I’m here to help. I don’t want to startle you, but you may suffer from Normal Disease. Two-thirds of all North Americans suffer from this lifelong affliction. Symptoms include a boring life, low morale, job dissatisfaction, and nothing to remember you by when you’re gone. Often people who suffer from Normal Disease choose to spend their time escaping reality, whether under the influence of drugs, alcohol, unconsciousness, watching tv, movies, or absorbing things on the internet. While they can sometimes appreciate the efforts of Interesting People, they often don’t become one, for fear of failing, or because they are too comfortable in their unhappy lives, because they are afraid of what their friends might think, or because they think it would be too much effort.

Luckily, Boring Disease is not fatal, though it may result in living death. I have very good news for you. There is a cure.

Scientists have been working round-the-clock in efforts to save people like you from drowning in your own typicality. They have come up with steps you can take toward increasing your confidence, morale, love life, maturity, and general sense of happiness in the world.

1. Step outside of your comfort zone. Travel somewhere foreign that doesn’t involve a hotel. Spend time in nature. Watch an experimental film. Do something potentially embarrassing. Go somewhere that you might meet people completely unlike your friends, family members, and the boring people you tend to spend time with.

2. Find a hobby. Don’t be afraid if it is something your friends might not approve of. It might even be an obscure hobby, that doesn’t involve buying things. Revel in it. Learn as much as you can about it. Don’t worry if this might seem like a weird or nerdy way to spend your time. If discussing this hobby makes the light in your eyes twinkle, then please, please engage in it.

3. Find someone, or a group of people, who is out of the ordinary. This can be a weird uncle, that coworker everyone is slightly afraid of, or that local celebrity you think you’re not cool enough to talk to. Or it can be the kind of people who go to Pagan festivals in the forest, or who spin fire in Bellevue Park, or who put on variety shows. Once you have latched on to the type of people who think outside the box and develop their brains or abilities, learn everything you can from them. Get them excited about what they do. (Flattery may be a door-opener, but don’t harp on it for too long). Their excitement is contagious.

4. Spend more time with yourself. Yes, really. You are interesting, even if you don’t know it yet. Turn off your computer, take your hand out of your pants, and clear thoughts of worries and external influences. Don’t worry, those things will still be there when you’re done. Now, try to think about things you don’t usually think about. What makes you truly happy? What are your earliest influences? What lingering childhood issues still affect you? What is your opinion of the way the world works? If things were different, what could the world look like? What would an economy look like if it didn’t have money? What if fashion weren’t determined by an industry, but by you and your friends? What would clothing look like if it were designed by animals? Or made to look like furniture? If you met God in an elevator, what would you say? How would you even know if you had? Has anything supernatural ever happened to you?

5. Do something creative. Write. Paint. Improvise. Sing. Dance. Talk to a plant. Work on your manifesto. Produce something that you could show, share with, or perform for your friends.

There are many things you can do to help yourself, and fellow zombies, lead rich and fulfilling lives. We at Laurentina’s Improv Club are just one of many groups out there to help.

Please get the boost your life so desperately needs. There is a cure for Normal Disease. Together, we can fight this.

Categories