Friday, April 29, 2011

In Character: Peter



Where does funny come from? I don't know, beats me.

It's all in the...wait for it — darn, too long...missed it — TIMING.

Maybe angels randomly hand out funny bones to newborns because we all know funny can't be taught. Funny ya got or ya don't got.

If you got it, a sense of humor can be cultivated, and it should be. It's the healthiest antidote to pain.

When a third-grader, Peter, came in to audition for Shakespeare Club, he was efficient. He'd worked on his audition and was all business when he entered the room, gave me a once-over, strolled to the chair, sat, and answered my questions as if he were dressed in a mini three-piece pinstriped suit and interviewing to be the new CEO.

I didn't see the funny.


That is, until he was cast as Francis Flute, the mechanical assigned the role of a girl, Thisby, in the play within the play. It's a little confusing. But Peter followed it.

"So, I'm a boy playing a boy playing a girl."

"Correct. Can you work with that?"

Peter and I were alone in the school library and at my question he flung his forehead onto the tabletop and his shoulders shook with laughter.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Francis Flute is a bellows-mender and I sketched a lousy version of a bellows to explain this to Peter.

Peter has the confidence of a kid who can waltz into a classroom wearing a purple shirt, tie, striped trousers and jaunty cap, as if we were all living on Carnaby Street in the 1960s.

As it turns out, Peter's version of Francis Flute is also a chef, because Peter's journal entries often include his fantasy career in the culinary arts.

"Well sure, Peter, maybe Francis Flute is a bellows-mender and a chef and he could be planning the wedding banquet for Duke Theseus and his bride, Hippolyta."

Peter gave a nod as he approved the idea.

"Okay, I have to ask how strongly you feel about making an audience laugh because I see some real opportunities here for comedy with a capital K. For example, it might be worth finding a Thisby voice."

Peter read a Thisby passage in a high-pitched voice and again, pressed his forehead to the table, cracking himself up.

"And what about this scarf? You could wear it when Francis becomes Thisby."

"Oh, a fitting," Peter answered, taking the scarf like a pro.

Peter has every girl in the club in the palm of his funny hand. There's no aphrodisiac like funny.

Believe me, Justin Bieber isn't funny, and girls are going to figure that out.

Our Thisby, née Francis Flute, née Peter, has all the funny.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
I wanted to be in Shakespear club because I want to learn to act better. Today in Shakespear club I learned when Shakespear was born. If I was a protigey I would be a chef.

If I was Francise Flute I would live in C.A. have a mantion be a profeshinal chef...bake kakes.
—Peter, 3rd grade

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