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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

The Vulnerability of Comedy


Laughter is medicine. It has a healing power like nothing else and Kamloopa beyond any academic authority has absolutely taught me that. Laughter the act of laughing is a vulnerable one, you've chosen to listen and open yourself up to publicly and confidently display your position on a idea or action. We lean into vulnerability and embrace bravery to get to laughter and through that journey we open up so many pathways inside of us.

As a writer getting to these access points is incredible important and necessary to meaningfully move people. Colleen Murphy taught me that we can't write to get people to do something specific we can only write to move people, where they go we can't control. We can hope that they take action in areas we want but as writers the power we have is to move people.

Writing characters that laugh and lean into joy has shown me the power of how comedy moves us to these access points. Not only is an unexpected joke a delight, I'm finding that it's a secret passage way into our humanity, a river that winds through the many emotions of the human spirit. With every chuckle that flows into a hearty laugh and crashes into a big belly laugh, we travel deeper and deeper into the honest and distilled versions of who we are. This place where the rivers of us fork into the spirit, this estuary of courage is where the power to move people occurs.

With Kamloopa the last thing we say before the ceremony is "have fun." Bearing witness to Indigenous women truthfully living in happiness and humour has been one of the most powerful acts of this journey. When we were rehearsing I challenged the Fire Holders to make each other corpse/or laugh uncontrollably on stage. Beyond their characters I wanted them to see if they could get one another to break and they were successful on a number of occasions. You can listen to our podcast that shares with you how this challenge made the actors feel and what it felt like from the inside of these laughter inducing moments here. If you're looking for some laughs and happiness you're not going to want to miss this episode.

When I laugh I find that with each flutter of the diaphragm it unlocks my heart, my spirit and my truth. In a time when I think we live in a vulnerability scarcity and we walk around with so much armour around our hearts, a laugh helps me take one piece of armour off. What we are finding with Kamloopa is that piece by piece, laugh by laugh we in communion bare ourselves and by the end we've all unsuited and able to unabashedly receive one another. We've journeyed through that river into ourselves powered by laughter.

We've also been discussing that because laughing in public takes confidence, we ourselves are finding strength, endurance and power in this sort of spiritual training. The Fire Holders touch on this in the podcast with their relationship to their costumes and how through the humour and courage that their characters have with their clothing and bodies, we are reclaiming how we feel about ourselves off the boards. The powerful acts we engage with by having the confidence in relationship to our bodies we have the ability to laugh at ourselves and with one another. Being able to laugh at ourselves takes a lot of confidence.

I also believe that this act of reclamation with Kamloopa of how Indigenous female bodies have been portrayed and this assertion of having sovereignty over our bodies is what allows the witnesses to journey with us in the transformation into the animals of Kamloopa. The power of how the Fire Holders conduct themselves, confidently stewards in these animal evolutions. Embodiment that beings with laughter.

I find writing comedy to be much more challenging than writing drama but I love a good challenge. I love studying the architecture of a good joke, situation, act, vocable, movement, sound and experience. It's a double bingo because I find a lot of joy in the study and I think that's what I want to be focusing on, I think it's what our community needs right now. Finding the power to illuminate the joy in moments and situations when it seems impossible is a task I joyfully and humbly take on.

So here's to the challenge of making joy.

With laughter, humility and love,

Kim.

p.s Kamloopa is on at Persephone Theatre and tickets can be purchased here. We also did an article with Eagle Feather News which you can read here. I also spoke with Shauna Powers with CBC Regina and you can check out that interview here.

p.p.s for those who've listened to the podcast this is the song I was trying to remember in rehearsals not this which is what I kept singing. :P


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