Comedy, Creativity & Crisis

Comedy, Creativity & Crisis

The Beginning

At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I was going to make twelve resolutions (one per month) instead of one big resolution at the beginning of the year that ran the risk of fizzling out by January 3rd.

In January and February, I got a couple of good things done. Then Covid-19 struck and suddenly, like everyone else, I waited and wondered, ‘What was going to happen next?’

The world hit ‘pause’ and my yearly ‘things -to – do’ list turned into more of a personal survival guide.

After a few months though, something rather unexpected happened. Creativity kicked in. I probably should have panicked more but, instead, I took a deep breath and I started to write.

I started working again on jokes and writing projects that I had put off for years. 

There must have been something in the air because so many people that I knew felt the same way. They were writing. They were creating. They wanted to collaborate.

Caveman Brain

Since the beginning of time, creativity and stress seem to have gone hand in hand. 

When the cavemen heard an unknown noise outside of their cave, naturally their first reaction would have been fear.  However, when the dreaded monster turned out to be tiny creature instead, everybody probably laughed out of relief.

Research shows that when something is incongruous to our regular brain patterns, our reaction is sometimes laughter. 

When a punchline zigs instead of zags, we laugh!

Take my wife. Please. Hilarious. 

Sometimes we smile, sometimes we laugh hysterically, sometimes we cry AND laugh.

It’s like watching an episode of Ricky Gervais’ brilliant dramedy called After Life.

Half the time we don’t know if we are laughing or crying.

The Unknown 

When we face the unknown, we sometimes laugh. 

Covid-19 is unknown. We don’t have a cure.  Add that to global warming, pollution, protests, unemployment, Trump and never-ending Zoom calls and you’ve got a real comedy extravaganza (NOT). Over the past four months, I’ve had snickers, cry-laughs, belly laughs and laughs so maniacal that I’m surprised someone didn’t slap me across the face.

No, not everything is funny. In fact, right now, some things are pretty damn terrifying. 

But if we want to keep moving forward for ourselves and others, if we want to help, if we want to contribute, then we have to stay engaged. The best way of ensuring THAT happens is by keeping our right, bright, creative, brain happy. Yes, 2020, we’re mad as hell and we’re going to type, write, sing, dance, joke, paint and perform about it! 

I know I might not be the next Tina Fey, Carrie Fisher or Nora Ephron.

In fact, I’m probably a few lines away from ‘All work, no play makes Jude a dull girl’.

And that’s okay because I’ve always maintained that I would rather pee my pants laughing than pee my pants from fear. 

 

8 Months 8 Resolutions – Play Your Pan with a Smile

8 Months 8 Resolutions – Play Your Pan with a Smile

At the beginning of this year, I committed to making 12 resolutions – one per month.

Then Coronavirus struck. I actually managed to keep up my monthly goals but suddenly, it seemed more important to replace a regular list of ‘things to do’ with ‘things that were getting me through’ a global pandemic.

One of my pandemic survival ‘go to’ tools has been carving out a new routine. Part of my new daily routine includes an evening tradition of banging pots with my neighbours.

There’s a regular gang of us who step out every night for two minutes at 7:30 pm to bang pots, pans, drums and whatever other loud utensils we can get our hands on. You would think that, after all these weeks we would be able to take our show on the road. No, we are NOT perfect (in fact, some nights we are probably ear- shatteringly awful) but, like many other neighbourhoods across the globe, it is our small token of appreciation for all the front-line workers who are doing their best to keep us safe from Covid19.

I have to admit that there have been times, as I was banging my pot, I was thinking, “What does it really matter? We’re not close enough to a hospital for staff or patients to actually hear us.”

However, I suddenly just found out last night that a nurse, a couple of doctors and a former medical scientist live on my street. By now you’re thinking, “Wow, Jude -way to really get to know your neighbours! Way to socialize!”

Or maybe you’re thinking, “Who the hell let you onto that street??”

Look, I probably still don’t know most of my neighbours’ names (but if they have a cat or a dog, I probably know THEIR names).

The point is, we are all in this together. We all contribute something. Big or small.

Thank you to the front-line workers and all of the workers on all of our streets for keeping us safe.

As comedian Chris Rock says, “When you’re in a band, you have roles that you play in the band. Sometimes, you sing lead. And sometimes, you’re on tambourine. And if you’re on tambourine, play it right. Play it with a fuckin’ smile, because no one wants to see a mad tambourine player.”

I’m going to start playing my Teflon fry pan with a great big smile.

9 Months 9 Resolutions – Covid Continues

9 Months 9 Resolutions – Covid Continues

At the beginning of this year, I committed to making 12 resolutions – one per month- rather than one big, ominous resolution for the whole year.  So far, so good. I have been slowly checking little things off my big list, even when a global pandemic called Coronavirus reared its ugly head earlier this year.

But that’s not the story.

This month I was looking for something inspirational…something comforting in this time of unknowing.

I found it in the form of 60’s music! I watched some incredible documentaries that made me feel great.  These films feature music that helped me forget about Coronavirus -albeit temporarily.

The list is endless… Once Were Brothers (Robbie Robertson and The Band), The Last Waltz (directed by Martin Scorsese and hailed as one of the greatest documentary concert films ever),  David Crosby: Remember My Name, Echo in the Canyon ( a documentary about the ‘California sound’ featuring The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and Papas) just to name a few.

I asked myself why I was suddenly craving this genre of music.

It was….comforting. The lyrics, the music, the collaboration, the comraderie – the ‘hippiness’ of it all.

It seemed like a simpler time. A kinder and gentler moment in history.

But was it really? The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights protests, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc. etc. 

It wasn’t a kinder and gentler time, at all.

If anything, it was uglier and more violent.

Perhaps, underneath the trampled protest signs, bullets and bloodshed were the seeds of peace, love, forgiveness and creativity.  Catalysts at the crossroads of folk and rock.

If they could create then, we can certainly create now.

As Bob Dylan once said, “Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

These are definitely challenging times. Many of us feel helpless. Some of us will write, sing, dance or even tell jokes! Because, that’s what we do. That’s how we cope.

At the very least, it will comfort us in the minute and, who knows?  We just might create something beautiful.

Rock on. Be safe. 

xo

10 Months 10 Resolutions – Surviving COVID 19

10 Months 10 Resolutions – Surviving COVID 19

I decided at the beginning of 2020 that I was going to make 12 smaller resolutions – one per month- rather than one resolution for the whole year.  

I started off the year with a small goal.  I was going to watch less CNN. I know. Reach for the stars, Judy. 

Then COVID 19 hit. 

Lately, I’ve been watching so much CNN, Wolf Blitzer should have me on as an expert guest.

Like many, I was in shock. The self-quarantining didn’t help. 

Everything I tried to do, I felt like I was in a spacesuit. 

Daily life seemed heavy and cumbersome. 

Being asked to do nothing was like being asked to do everything.

Where to start? How to start? Did it really matter?

Slowly, the confusion started to clear. 

Like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, I found a manual.

Everyone’s manual is different. Here’s what’s working for me – so far. Ask me in ten minutes.

 

Step #1 Give Yourself a Break

Be patient to yourself. Be kind. Our minds have funny ways of turning on us.

You know you’ve got demons when American Horror Story starts contacting YOU for script ideas.

Don’t beat yourself up in this process.

As Drag Race’s Rupaul says; “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

 

Step #2 Find Your Routine

This situation ISN’T normal so stop trying to do everything like you used to.

Take a look at your old routine and figure out what works NOW. 

Put the rest in the co-pilot seat.

Consider ADDING something to your new routine. 

Pull up a You Tube Video and learn a new recipe or a new language or heck, pull up a Bob Ross video. Who doesn’t love Bob Ross??? Omg, is painting this easy? Could this be my new profession??? Not. Those happy little trees are happier without me.

 

Step #3 Exercise  

Beg your dog to go on yet another walk with you. Give thanks for all those happy little trees. 

 

Step #4 Laugh- a lot- and don’t hoard toilet paper 

Find something that makes you pee your pants laughing. May I suggest Episode 5, Season 2 of ‘Barry’ on HBO.  That’s all I’m going to say.

Speaking of peeing your pants, don’t hoard toilet paper. 

Have you ever watched Survivor, Alone or Naked and Afraid?

Does anyone EVER bring toilet paper to the island as their luxury item?

If they did, they should get their tiki torch put out. 

Don’t be a loser. 

 

#Step 5 – Reach out

In a time of social isolation, this seems contradictory. 

Practice doing one thing for someone else every day. 

Phone, write a short email, or make a small online donation to one of the many non- profit organizations. If you live in Toronto, may I suggest City Street Outreach?

One year from today, it will change who you are. If it doesn’t, it will make a small or big change for someone else. 

Hang in there, Earthlings.

Our blue marble needs a break. 

With the help of our true heroes – doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, cashiers and SO many more – we will get through this and get another crack at getting our mission right.

We owe it to those who, sadly, will lose their lives to this virus. 

xo

11 Months 11 Resolutions

11 Months 11 Resolutions

At the beginning of 2020, I decided that instead of making one resolution for the entire year, I was going to make 12 smaller resolutions – one per month.

In terms of resolutions, it’s the best thing that I have ever done.

Number one, I don’t feel like a failure for quitting my yearly resolution after one week and, more importantly, it gave me an opportunity to change my resolution if I wanted to.

My resolution for January started very small. Replace watching CNN with groundbreaking documentaries. I made a few recommendations last month. I would like to add the brilliant ‘American Factory’ – produced by the Obamas and winner of this year’s Oscar for best documentary.

My February resolution was perhaps a little bit bigger and a little more important than watching less CNN. I decided to look after my health.

My problem isn’t that I’m unhealthy, my problem is that I’m almost too healthy.

I never seem to get sick.

I don’t know if it’s my strong Dutch-Guyanese DNA or stubborn Dutch-Guyanese disposition that doesn’t allow me to admit when I’m not feeling well.  At any rate, I decided to make my health a priority for 2020.

Once I put ‘health’ on my calendar some amazing things happened.

I started going to appointments! What a novel idea.

My doctor nearly fell off of her chair when I walked into her office.

I started checking my appointments off my list one by one.

Happy to say, so far, so good.

I’m very grateful that I’m healthy.

The big bonus – I have peace of mind.

Do we not live in THE best, if not one of the best countries in the world??

Thank you, Canada healthcare system.

People, make your appointments. Look after yourselves!

It’s so simple and it can be life altering.

Stay tuned for next month’s resolution.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

 

12 Months – 12 Resolutions

12 Months – 12 Resolutions

So how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Already hating yourself for giving up Jan 2nd?

Did you know that, according to statistics, most people throw in the towel to becoming a better and brighter person by Jan 12th? Ouch.

So how can we make those resolutions stick in 2020? I recently read an article that suggested splitting up your resolutions into 12 monthly goals.

For January I set a goal of sacrificing my CNN screen time and committing to watch more documentaries.  Yes, I would have to put away my Jay Tapper T-shirt and Don Lemon coffee mug for 31 days.

The results were immediate. I felt happier, more uplifted and confident that the world was not going to blow up – at least not this week.

There are SO many people trying to do good things out there.

Next time you’re on Netflix, check out the following docs…

The Game Changers

Whether you are an environmentalist, an extreme athlete, recovering from or prone to heart attack – this really is a film to watch.

One of my favorite quotes from The Game Changers:

“Someone asked me, ‘ How could you get as strong as an ox without eating any meat? My answer was, ‘ Have you ever seen an ox eating meat?’ ”

~ Patrick Baboumian/ World record holding strongman

Inside Bill’s Brain

Great doc on how Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to change the world for the better.

Fun fact… Did you know that Bill Gates is Warren Buffet’s bridge partner?  Okay, not necessarily a FUN fact but interesting nonetheless. By the way, Warren needs to stop putting so much salt on his hamburgers. We need the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ to stick around as long as possible. Warren – check out The Game Changers.

On Yoga: The Architecture to Peace

12-months-12-resolutions-yoga-near ocean

Celebrity photographer Michael O’Neill travels the world to photograph some of the world’s top yogis and gurus in some of the craziest positions and with the most breathtaking landscapes.

Yes, the documentary inspired me to stretch but perhaps more importantly, you can see the impact of yoga and meditation on creating a happier and more peaceful planet.

On that note, so far so good for January.

I’ll let you know if my next resolution (getting healthier) survives until the end of February.

Laughter Yoga

As part of her keynote and workshop, ‘Relieving Work – Related Stress with Humour’, Judy talks about how you can exercise using laughter yoga!

The Power of Humour

As part of her keynote and workshop, ‘Relieving Work-Related Stress with Humour’, Judy talks about the power of humour – especially nowadays. 

As Stephen Colbert says, ” When we laugh, we can’t be afraid.” 

 

The Positive Formula

 

In her keynote, ‘Relieving Work Related Stress with Humour’, Judy talks about what makes up the ‘positive’ formula – positive thoughts equal positive actions equal a positive purposeful life.

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