So Stand-Up For Kids performed at five South Florida schools this week (Egret Lake Elem., Stephen Foster, Coconut Creek, Pembroke Pines Charter Central Campus, and Belvedere Elem.) as part of the 21 schools tour for October and November. What an amazing week of terrific shows, smiling faces, and great memories as I continued to visit schools that have never seen the show, one in which a former bully acknowledged that he was changing his ways, and a campus where a little boy stood frozen as he saw me enter the cafeteria in advance of setting up for the day’s special event.
No matter how many times I show up at a school where I’ve never performed, it never ceases to amaze me how curious the children are to know what they are about to see and who I am. It’s just so funny to hear their questions as I am hauling my sound equipment and things into the cafeteria. “Are you a magician? Do you like pizza? Why do you have such curly hair?” hahaha……..I always have such great banter with these kids, partly because it’s my nature to never pass up an opportunity to inject my silliness into a conversation with a child and also because it’s just so much fun to hear brutal honesty from children.
Sometimes their honesty makes me laugh and other times it leads me to believe that the message that I am conveying to them in my show is really resonating in their minds. As I walked into a school this week for a performance, a group of kids were walking into the cafeteria and upon noticing me, one of them stopped suddenly, looked over at me, and said to his classmates, “Hey, I remember him. This guy is hysterical!” As a comedian, there is nothing more comforting than knowing that you are “pre-sold” to your audience. Needless to say, those kids were ready to laugh before I even broke into one of my high-energy stand-up routines. Of course, as often as I hear kids say such heartwarming things like this, it’ll never get old to me. The fact is that everyone likes compliments:)
But the comment from this week’s shows that still sticks out in my mind came from a boy named Caleb. After asking the audience for a volunteer, I randomly chose him from the audience. He definitely held his own in the wake up of the comedy frenzy that I directed his way, everything from improvised comments (honed and perfected from years of stand-up in clubs, colleges, theaters and every type of venue imaginable) to kid-like gestures and movements that I employ to raise the hysteria, all the while weaving my life skills concepts in and out of the insanity. Caleb had such a great time joining me onstage that after the show, he made sure to be the first one in line for an autograph, as well as to suggest that I should come to perform at his church!
As I continued to sign for scores of kids and converse with others while my hand scribbled my namesake across tiny bits of paper, on the backs of notebooks, and on grammar homework worksheets, Caleb made sure to tell me something that will forever leave a lasting impression on that day for me. He said, “Mr. L., I used to be a bully.” Now, my show’s focus is on life skills, character, and being a successful loving person in life and I really believe that a positive approach to teaching kids about self success is paramount, but upon hearing his comment, I simply replied, “What happened?” He went on……..”I decided to change.” I said, “That’s good, Caleb. I’m proud of you. Please remember everything that I talked about today.” “You really should come to my perform at my church”, he pleaded. “I know that they will love your show.”
Finally, it was time for him to go back to class so I bid him farewell and jotted down my blog address for him again because he said that he needed it for a friend. I told him that I was going to write on my blog about my performance at his school and he excitedly asked if it would be posted tomorrow. I promised him that I would mention him on my blog and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree! At that moment, I noticed another class of children filing out of the cafeteria and one of the kids said to his teacher, “Can you bring this guy back next year? He is hysterical!” And the beat goes on……………:)