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……………:)
As I was loading my sound equipment and things onto a cart at Indian Trace Elem., I noticed scores of children coming into the cafeteria so I pulled the cart to the side because I didn’t want to get in their way. No sooner than I looked up, kids came running up to me saying, “I remember you. You’re that funny guy. We love you. Are you doing a show today?” (Well, honestly, I don’t mean to toot my own horn so to speak, but this is a regular occurrence any time I visit a school for a repeat performance. Nonetheless, it is heartwarming and special:) I replied, “Yes, I’m performing today.” And the cheering began amongst them……………..
As I approached the stage, many children followed me in tow and some even asked if they could carry something for me, help me set up for the show, etc. Being that my show’s focus is character and life skills, it always brings a smile to my face when children exhibit such wonderful manners, which everybody knows, are a clear reflection of what kind of character they possess. No sooner than the children started to volunteer to act as my “roadies”, their counselors, some of whom had never met “Mr. L’., came over to retrieve them and get them in their assigned areas for the aftercare school program. But before all of the children had vacated the stage area, a few children heroically blasted out their final comments about me and my show. This is what they said:
“All of the kids love you.” “This is going to be the best day ever” As the great comedian Bill Cosby said, “Kids say the darndest things.” Boy, was he right. If I were to compile a list of statements that I hear on a daily basis, it would surely turn into a national best seller. But it is the moment and context in which the child says something like this that makes it truly special. I hadn’t even performed my show yet I seemingly had 160 admirers who were ready to watch, listen, and learn (and laugh a lot) to everything that I was about to say and do. Needless to say, once I set up my backdrop, sound equipment and props and turned on some pre-show music, children were chanting, “We want Pedro, we want Pedro!” I could only smile and laugh at how wonderful it was that they were demanding to see my show puppet, Pedro.
No need to get into the details of the hour and ten minute performance other than to say it was absolutely fantastic. Thanks to the Indian Trace Elem. kids for enjoying another Stand-Up For Kids performance. Oh, and one more thing………..One of the young college aged counselors, Evan, came up to me as I was packing up the sound equipment and he said to me, “I just want to tell you that I love what you do. It is really great.” You know, kids do say the darndest things! Bye for now………:)
I’m having a blast performing at wonderful schools all over South Florida and the tour still has almost a month to go. The students have been absolutely terrific everywhere that I go and the important life lessons about character and success of self are resonating in students’ minds day after day. My hour long performances are filled with great stand-up, outrageous silliness, and improvisational moments that are truly priceless:)
I am truly grateful to be able to do what I do. I started performing stand-up comedy at a very young age, when I entertained scores of kids in the old neighborhood. That eventually led me to do the morning announcements at Driftwood Middle School in my hometown of Hollywood, Florida. I have very fond memories of recording the school sports news with impersonations of Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, Jimmy Carter, and a host of other well-known people. As far as I know (and I have researched this many times online), I am the only true professional comedian in America who performs separate shows for adults (www.pureinsanity.com) and children.
My dear friend Dr. Janet Dobry, who is the Principal of Robert Taylor Elem. (where I’ve performed many times) in Henderson, Nevada, once said to me following one of my shows, “There is no greater sound than to hear the laughter of children.” Luckily for me, I hear that laughter from hundreds of children on an almost daily basis. So, as I look forward to my next performance at Indian Trace Elem. in Weston, Florida, I say thanks to the many children, teachers, PTAs, administrators, and aftercare directors who cordially invite me to perform in their schools time and time again.
The tour rolls on so look for Stand-Up For Kids in your town…………There’s only one “Mr. L.” Bye for now…………..
A unique and hilarious interactive assembly show that teaches elementary school children about life skills, character, loving life, humor and being a “STAR” Student through the art of Stand-Up comedy.
“Michael is a stage natural” (Ft. Lauderdale News) and evidence of this was seen very early on when he entertained scores of women at his mom’s Tupperware parties.
Michael’s extraordinary ability to bring laughter to people everywhere eventually led him to an open mic night a week after he graduated from the University of Florida. While teaching in the public elementary school system by day, he was honing his stand up skills at local South Florida clubs with the likes of “Carrot Top” and “Larry the Cable Guy” whom Michael has shared the stage with on many occasions.
Since the late 80’s, Michael has compiled an impressive comedy resume that includes performances on the world-famous Las Vegas “strip”, numerous college appearances, comedy clubs and as an opening act for legendary Motown artist Smokey Robinson.
Michael had always seen the need for the public school system to address character education. Drawing from his days as an elementary educator, Michael knew that the best approach for him was to teach character through laughter. So, he decided to utilize his experience as an educator and his charismatic and electrifying performance skills to create “Stand Up for Kids”.
Michael’s unique ability to perform age-appropriate stand up comedy coupled with a powerful and moving message has inspired thousands of children, educators and parents throughout the country. His amazingly energetic and captivating performances cause hysteria amongst the students while they learn what it means to be a “STAR”.
Michael resides in Las Vegas and performs “Stand Up for Kids” and his (adult comedy) show, “Pure Insanity” all over the country. As far as we know (and we have searched many times on the internet), Michael is the only professional comedian in the USA who performs separate shows for children and adults. That’s quite a distinction! He enjoys traveling, hiking, playing sports, studying the Thai language and culture, and bringing laughter and joy to people everywhere.
~ Connie Neely, Art Instructor, Silver Palms Elementary School, Pembroke Pines, Florida