Questioning This Whole Comedy Thing

A healthy reassessment inspired by |Hannah Gadsby: Nanette|.

This is not feedback. This is not unsolicited advice. This is me answering a few of the questions posed in the comedy set, plus a few of my own, because sometimes I write humorous performance poems and I’m a fan of integrity.

Where do the quiet gays go?

My first few PRIDEs in Providence, I watched from my apartment because crowds are the worst. This year, I was with my closest friends wearing a purple corset one had gifted to me. It was the first day of my cycle that month so I had terrible cramps and — though I met some very lovely people who are now also counted among my friends (despite their getting body glitter on me which is a god-awful stressor for excoriation, let me tell you) — I still wonder if my night hadn’t been better spent watching from my apartment with a hot cup of rosehip tea.

I write this because I’m sure there are family members out there who, despite reading things I post online, still don’t know I’m very queer. My gender is neighbor and I consider myself a focussexual. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to take multiple opportunities to publicly unpack that for you in the future.

What is the difference between humility and humiliation?

Humility is awareness of something larger than yourself; your family, humanity, the universe, chocolate snickerdoodles. Humiliation is being made small so that something or someone else can feel bigger/better. Use of their words have their roots in our letting go of the words humble and humbling.

It can be humbling to be in the presence of someone we respect and find out they are even kinder than we imagined them to be. It is humiliating to have someone point out how unlike our hero we are in their presence. The difference between humility and and humiliation comes down to whether we are permitted the space to be wholly ourselves and still be in awe of something outside ourselves.

There is no awe with humiliation, we’re too busy staring down at our grubby shoes and wishing we were dead.

Can we just have more words?

Yes, please, every damn day. And, also, while all this “taking back” words like slut (sloppily-dressed woman, feminine version of slob) or spinster (a woman so good at spinning and other crafts she can support herself/doesn’t need to get married, is free to marry whomsoever she wishes for any reason that should please her whatsoever) is happening in little ebbs and flows, let’s also revive a few words for near-constant use.

Remember when everyone was your neighbor? Remember anytime Mister Rogers saw someone he would say their name, or neighbor? That’s my go-to, it keeps me sane/grounded/as chipper as an introverted morning-person who works in a bookstore can be.

Is laughter the best medicine?

Yes, in the appropriate dosage. That means both the amount administered and the method of intake. Think about when you were a kid and learned the difference between someone laughing at you and someone laughing with you.

Laughter comes in two forms: I feel safe and I feel uncomfortable.

You always hear people say they want someone who can make them laugh because what anyone ever wants in their partner(s) is a sense of being completely safe/at ease. We laugh when we’re uncomfortable to diffuse situations and to subconsciously reverse-engineer a sense of safety so that instead of feeling safe to laugh we laugh to feel safe.

Safety comes at “home,” the end of the journey. Discomfort is the journey itself, a road-sign saying “Learning Curve Ahead.” It is not enough to release tension, we must be able to rest completely at peace. We are built to be awake and deal with discomfort, and then to sleep/nap completely undisturbed.

It’s all about appropriate dosage.

Do I have a back-up plan?

Please, I barely have enough energy for the plan I’m working on right now. Sure, all my OCD routines have subroutines, but that sh*t’s just to get me through the day, not my whole life. I have a Bachelor’s in General Studies with no minor or “focus” because my school changed the rules in the 11th hour and it was so hard for me just to reach the 11th hour that when they told me a “fancier” degree would take at least another year or two I cried the whole drive home from that meeting my advisor.

And I didn’t just cry. I was doing that weird laughter-crying reserved for the moments you feel like you’re losing your mind and I just kept saying to myself over and over “F*ck this. I’m so f*cking done. I’m so f*cking done. I just need to be done now.”

And then at my commencement I leaned over the podium and gave the correct pronunciation of my full name when the lady butchered it. Like I do.

My plan is today. My back-up plan is right now.

Why is insensitivity something to strive for?

I suppose, if you were an actual nonhuman machine built for a very specific purpose and being sensitive disrupted your ability to fulfill your purpose that then striving for insensitivity would be something. But that feels more like the prompt for a Wyrd Tale than a journaling prompt that might lead a person to better themselves.

How does anyone get to be the hero of a story?

Evolution. The occurrence of a significant change to one’s way of being on the way from Point A to Point B. If you want to be a hero, you need to make a change.

There’s no other way.

Is anyone ever really born ahead of their time?


What’s the first thing you write in your gratitude journal each day?

My life.

What’s in a name?

Everything you put into it. All your art, all your mistakes, all your living. And it all cycles back onto yourself because the creator is revealed in the creation.

You are revealed in everything you say and do and make. There can be no separation. That’s a cop-out for people who aren’t mentally/emotionally prepared to reassess and potential give up something they enjoy.

But an inability to let go of something that is unhealthy, also means being unable to embrace something infinitely better.

Who gets to be angry?

Anyone who is capable of feeling anger.

Why don’t more people tell their story?

They do not see the value in doing so. Or they see the value, but the value they see isn’t high enough in their own eyes to justify the risk of making themselves vulnerable right now.

When this changes it is an act of heroism because it’s the kind of evolution that creates the hero of a story.

Who is up to the task of being in charge?

Those who demonstrate humility. Those who evolve. Those with the strength to rebuild themselves.

“Why do you keep calling me Sweetie?”

My niece asked me this when I saw her last. I told her “Because you’re a sweetheart, you add sweetness to my life.”

The Polish word for sweetheart is słoneczko, sunflower is słonecznik. I’m only just learning, but I think the idea is that the sweetest people in our lives are the light in our lives. They don’t just make things better, they make things brighter.


Van Gogh was able to give us the sunflowers because his brother loved him. I hope to put something better into the world because I love my niece and my nephew and every child I’ve ever held or will ever hold in my arms.

I never want to be scared to reassess what I’m doing with my work. Scared to do it, sure, that’s nothing new. But scared to make a change?

I’m going to keep enjoying PRIDE from a distance because it’s clearly not built for me and I will find a quieter way to celebrate. Maybe a QueerFest Breakfast? Who knows.

I’m going to continue telling my stories, and working to better those stories day-by-day, because shame/humiliation were the only things ever stopping me. And other people communicating in their various ways that I “need” to take up less room so they can blow themselves up like emergency dinghies isn’t going to fly.

I’m going to keep playing with words and making up words and resurrecting words and laughing at all my nonsense because I feel really secure in all my nonsense.

I’m only ever going to back up to take a wider view (or make sure I don’t lose any important files).

I’m going to be sensitive, and growing, and present.

I’m going to be thankful every day even when that day sucks. So help me, Goddess, I will find something to be f*cking grateful for.

I will never stop reminding people the proper way to say my name. I don’t care how many cousins get it wrong. And they are getting it wrong.

I’m going to use the fire of my anger to make things happen.

I will hold a place for every story to be told.

I will strive in every thought and word and deed to be worthy of all the sweetness and light in my life.

Also published on Medium.