I had an emotional experience at the most recent Comedy Coven show and, like any millennial without access to a therapist, took to Facebook to post some late-night thoughts on the feelings of frustration that fueled us in our angsty early stages, only to gradually give way to gratitude. The response to this post was straight-up heartwarming and made me feel even more supported and heard, so I've reposted the text here:
Okay, a few things. First of all, thank you to everyone who attended Comedy Coven SWEET XVI: Just Desserts tonight and to everyone who makes what we do possible. To close the show, I gave a lengthy, emotional, and hopefully funny speech about the strong foundation we've been able to build thanks to our audiences, our comics (Michael, Will,Sarah Jean, and Heather all absolutely killed it tonight), and folks like Dylan, Jeana-Dee, Julia, Andy, Dan, and Marites who have offered unwavering support for all of our weirdo creative ventures. For me, and probably for Stephanie and Tricia too, comedy is, at its core, about being vulnerable, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have access to a space in which I am free to explore the heaviness of trauma, queerness, and alienation through silly jokes about pop culture and junk food.
It was pretty surreal, after getting as emotionally raw as I've ever gotten during a comedy performance, to hop on my bike and catch an Against Me show just a few blocks away. Suddenly I found myself in a totally different, but similarly safe and welcoming, space. This time, I was part of the audience--in this case, a screaming, sweating, crying, tangled mass of largely queer and certainly alienated people. I thought of the tragic Orlando shooting and how, in the aftermath, many folks in the community spoke of the idea of sanctuary, and of the importance of spaces that make room for mutual acceptance among members of a marginalized group. That message didn't entirely click with me until tonight, when it hit me that I'd been given the privilege of this back-to-back safe space experience--this strange sanctuary double feature.
As I said onstage tonight, Comedy Coven has become a primary source of positivity in my life, but it was originally borne out of anger, alienation, and feelings of exclusion; that was our impetus. No matter what successes we achieve moving forward, that motion will likely always be driven by an undercurrent of angst and agitation (which has as much to do with who we are as individuals as with the identity we've formed as a group). But that fighting spirit is something I'm glad to have, because it allows for rawness and vulnerability onstage as well as in our personal lives. It allows us to be genuine, and I hope that that translates to a powerful and connective experience for our audience. That's the effect that we're going for. Because walking is still honest.
When Against Me took the stage for their encore, Laura told us, her audience, that we made her "feel safe and welcome." Of the many things I learned tonight (Fruity Pebbles make for excellent milkshakes! My posture is pretty terrible! Comedy Coven's crowd takes Solange very seriously!), the most resonant lesson was that we all have the right to seek out spaces in which we feel safe and welcome, and the responsibility to help create those spaces for others. Honesty and vulnerability are powerful tools. And Comedy Coven has shown me so many ways to use them.
Again, I am so thankful to our audience, our support crew, one of my favorite bands, and my best friends for leaving a lasting impact on my memory and my heart. I will never forget that night.