Swings and Roundabouts

Not feeling very funny today but I feel the need to write. Partly prompted I’m sure by the fact that I should be rehearsing for my SOLOCOM festival performance this Sunday in New York. It’s this level of procrastination that may lead me to clean the kitchen later today.

It’s been an odd weekend, very emotional with both the good and the bad. On Saturday I performed my show, A Superior Type of Girl, at the AKA (Adoption Knowledge Affiliates) conference. I was more nervous about performing it here than in a theater full of friends. AKA is an incredible group that supports all those involved in adoption – adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents. I didn’t know how my story would resonate, whether the humour would come across and whether it would even be seen as appropriate for the subject matter.

I planned my escape route before I even got onstage. This goes back to my stand-up comedy days where I quickly learned what to do after a bad set — head down, don’t make eye contact, get out of the club as quickly as possible and be in the car before people even realize you have gone. It would be a little more tricky at the AKA conference as I had props with me, my briefcase, a stool, a suitcase, making for a potentially more comedic exit. But Erik was at the back of the room so perhaps I could just hide behind him if it all went horribly wrong.

Fortunately (as Erik is far too thin to act as an effective buffer) the show went very well and I got some lovely feedback from the audience. It was hard to hear that for some people this opened up old wounds and I don’t think I will ever get used to my work bringing people to tears but I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity. The conference director definitely took a chance on me and on bringing a very different type of content to the schedule. I’m glad that it paid off.

It was hard to bring energy to Saturday morning after staying up late watching the news come in from Paris. It was hard to talk about the discovery and then the loss of my French identity when I felt even more love for the French than I think I ever have.

I had talked to my half-sister Ingrid on Friday. Her 17 year old daughter was going to be in the Sunday Times breaking her story about the Elite Model agency telling her she was too fat to be eligible for London Fashion Week castings. The Times is a subscription only site but the less picky¬†Mail picked up the story too. Scarlett is stunning and when all of this happened earlier this year she and Ingrid went through such a horrid time. I’m so proud of them both that the truth about this nasty agency is finally coming out. Plus I really like being able to tell people that my (half)-niece is a high-fashion catwalk model who has walked for Prada and Valentino. And who is incredibly bright and plans to study Japanese at University. I’m sure there’s shared genes somewhere among us, right?

This week I have to gear up for the premiere of my solo show in New York. This is a longer version of the ‘Superior’ show with a lot more about my French identity.¬†Right now my heart isn’t really in it. A few people have asked me if I’m going to change the title of the show. It’s called ‘A Fate Worse Than French’ (it came from a comment that someone made to me last year when they heard my story, if that makes it any better). I understand. It sounds inappropriate, it seems in poor taste no matter what the provenance and yes I expect I will change it. If I cannot feel comfortable promoting it to strangers then what’s the point? But at least my NYC friends who are coming to see it this weekend know me and the basics of the story.

I only just realized when I look back over the weekend how everything ties together. France, performing my show, Ingrid and Scarlett. Yes, I’m making it about me, but isn’t this how we make sense of things? I understand all those people changing their Facebook status, posting photos of themselves in Paris, recalling anecdotes. No-one has the right to tell us how to express our solidarity and to berate us if they don’t feel the same way. We all want to find a way to connect and to share that connection with others. And without wanting to sound like an after-school special, that’s certainly been my lesson for this weekend.

I’m sure I’ll be funny again soon.

 

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