Winston, the long-time lobby doorman at the Training Center building, passed away this week. The UCB office staff found out about his death last night.
The thing I loved about Winston was that he was such a positive presence in our building. He was always smiling and full energy. He always had a…
This just makes me really sad. He was such a positive person. He always had a kind word and we chit-chatted while waiting for the elevator. We talked about how taking the stairs was sometimes a good idea because everybody gets to the UCB at the same time to go to classes. He talked about the weather. Just chit-chatting but it was cute. He also had so much fun just opening the door for us - and when we tried and it didn’t work, he would just get up and wave his arm and say “be patient sweetheart, it’ll always work.” I usually don’t like being called “sweetheart” or “babe” or anything like that by men I don’t know, but coming from him, it was such a sweet word. He always complimented me on my smile and said “keep smiling, it’ll work out for you.” I actually looked forward to seeing him every time I went to the training center and was wondering why he wasn’t around in the past few weeks. He will be missed.
My friend Patrick Noth created the most bad ass improv gangster rap of all time. By improv gangster rap, I mean it is all about the improv community and it will melt your face. It’s a theme song for the show Improv Nerds with Brandon and Chelsea.
Reblog if you’re an improv nerd.
This is all over tumblr b/c it rocks! Nice work, dude!
After I listened to it five times I had to reblog just to publicly declare my allegiance to this song.
OK, I HAD to reblog this! If you missed it, which I am sure you didn’t…
I went to a diversity meeting on Sunday at the UCB. The group meets every month or every other month do discuss diversity in comedy and do some improv together. Being an Iranian-French woman in my 40s, I feel like I definitely qualify as “diverse”… although I must say I am a super-minority – I don’t know anybody else with my background at our school, or in the world of comedy. Maz Jobrani and Nasim Pedrad are both from Iranian descent, but we don’t share much more.
This made me start thinking: when did I become “diverse?” How did that happen? I wasn’t born diverse – or I don’t think so. It probably started the day we left Iran, in the mid-Seventies, before the fall of the Shah. I was 10 years old, I was holding my doll, and I got on that plane thinking of the new adventures we were going to live in this new country, France. I was a child, but I distinctly remember the trip, the arrival, the settling into the new life. What I didn’t know, the biggest secret ever kept, is that once you emigrate, you become a nomad. Once you decide to live a different life than the one your parents lived, there is no turning back. You will always be different from those you knew, and different from those who live in your new life.
So we arrived in Paris, settled down, studied in French, rooted for the French soccer team, became French. Yet, spoke Farsi at home, ate Iranian food, listened to Persian music and laughed at Iranian jokes. It’s hard to be an immigrant in your own country, because don’t get me wrong: I am 100% Iranian and 100% French. A few years later, I got the itch again: I needed to go away, explore the world. So I moved to New York. Then to London. Then to Boston. I traveled back to Iran. To Brazil. Throughout Europe. To Canada. And now, I am back to New York with an itch again for going back to Europe and traveling across Asia and Oceania.
Here are a few things I learned from my life as a nomad:
Once an immigrant, always an immigrant: So it’s not so much that you are always going to be considered diverse or out of place, it’s that you are always going to be the outsider coming in. You will always have cultural references people won’t understand, an accent that is a little odd and different, and come out as arrogant if you say “I knew THAT.” But you also have the outsider view that gives you a better perspective, and for that, people will always listen to you.
You are home nowhere, yet you are home everywhere: Just drop me in the middle of a city, any city in the world, and I’ll find my way around. Instead of considering myself out of place, I found a way of being home everywhere. Just think about it: a city is like Grammar or math - once you know the rules, you just need to apply them. I feel home everywhere. Citizen of the World. Like Peter Ustinov. An urban legend when I was growing up said that Peter Ustinov was the only person who owned a Citizen of the World passport. He spoke 8 languages, and knew how to be funny in at least 6 of them. He was my role model. Yes, I am THAT old.
The first time you “change”, the first 6 months are the hardest, and then assimilation accelerates: It’s not like you become Borg and resistance is futile. You don’t assimilate THAT way. It’s just that you learn faster. The first time you immigrate, change a company, change lifestyle, the first 6 months are just hard. Everything is a struggle. And then, magically, everything starts falling into place. Except that it’s not magic - it’s just YOU learning how to make things happen. And then, when you change again, 6 months become 4, then 2. And then you just go for it within a matter of days.
The older you get, the better it gets: Being different is usually a burden for kids because of the other children - children are cruel with each other because they have no filter. Once you learn to embrace your difference, it’s extremely rewarding though. I remember receiving poems from my classmates and secret admirers about being “a Persian Princess who filled the air with your presence,” being compared to “Beautiful, embalming jasmines” instead of plain roses, yet having to struggle because the “cool kids” would always call me names. But you know what, who are the losers today? The cool kids. So when you grow up, and grow older, you realize that being different, is knowing more. And knowledge is power.
The moral of the story is, being diverse is certainly not a walk in the park, but it is worth it in the end. You don’t need to prove that you are unique. You just are.
What are your diversity stories and lessons learned? Feel free to share!