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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Sunday, February 3, 2013
by Martha Chaves
Staying alive, besides being the title of that Bee-Gees tune and the John Travolta movie, has been one of the main motifs of my existence. Not only because I'm from Nicaragua, a war-torn country plagued with poverty and social injustice. Not only because I was born in the midst of a fundamentalist Christian family, in a macho-oriented society and I am a lesbian. Not only because I am an uprooted immigrant who was sent away to Canada by her parents, all alone, at the ripe age of 17. But staying alive has been my quest also because I am a stand-up comedian dammit! To stay alive is the name of the game in stand-up comedy as much as it is in bullfighting.
The stand-up comedian is like a matador: every audience is a different bull that has to be slaughtered. It's no coincidence that the main terms associated with stand-up have to do with either killing or dying. If you make the audience eat out of the palm of your hand, you KILL, you SLAY, you DESTROY; but if the audience gives you nothing but silence - the silence that resonates with the strength of a thousand explosions in the epicenter of your crumbling ego - you DIE, you BOMB you get ANIHILATED. Granted: Nobody ever said that it would be easy. There's even that famous quote, “dying is easy, comedy is hard.” But nevertheless, I have been doing it for almost 18 years and if I were to die tomorrow...I would still be very pissed off about being mortal and about not dying as a famous millionaire (like, say, Jerry Seinfeld) but I would die with the satisfaction of knowing I was one of the few lucky people in the world who spent most of her life doing a job she loved.