By Davine Ker
Madonna was one of my first inspirations, growing up. And the older I get, the more I can relate to her message: Express Yourself.
We celebrated Thanksgiving at my uncle’s this year. I spent most of the evening conversing with this random stranger, “the stranger of the year,” a very nice Caucasian man with a gray beard. My dear uncle loves to invite new faces every year at his party. That random man’s name was Mike. He stood out, being so tall, amongst all these Cambodian folks, classic Thanksgiving turkey, side dishes, Asian noodles and egg rolls.
We had a heated discussion about the current educational system and parenting styles. As a comedian, I used humor to smoothen the atmosphere, and Mike seemed surprised I spoke with such vehemence about my take on these topics. When the conversation started to steam and clouded both our bias tunneled experiences, I jumped off my chair, rushed to my notebook to write everything down before I missed my train of thoughts or lose some funny momentum. I love those moments where I get into a stream of consciousness, triggering tons of associations and ideas for my comedy set.
Mike asked: “This is strange. So every time you hear something funny, you write it in your notebook? Why is that?”
Me: “Some people collect Fabergé Eggs, I enjoy writing jokes. I never leave the house without my notebook. I try to document every funnies that might be inserted into my comedy set”.
Mike: “OH! You’re a comedian?!? (is it THAT surprising?) Well, I am sure I gave you TONS of material just now.”
My inner thoughts: “Oh, what would I have done without you, mister Mike. How would I come up with any material without you? I must hail and worship you until the end of times…”
Classic comment. People love to think my entire set came from their strikes of geniuses. I also got the: “Oh! Lucky you get to do that. I should have been a comedian too…” and blah blah blah, with the explanation/excuse me why they are not doing it etc., etc. Who knows, perhaps he could be a comedian. The truth is, everyone is funny. But comedy is an Art. Being funny isn’t enough. Comedy is a flow, a point of view, a rhythm and a magic formula. Farts are funny, but farts aren’t comedians.
In the beginning, I was terrified by the idea that I could offend an entire Nation. Delusional, don’t say. Being Cambodian and from a well-respected family, I feared that my content would ripple all the way to Cambodia and offend the people from my motherland. I was lucky to have a dear friend who brought me back to Earth and said “Davine, you know, if you do offend Cambodia, that would mean you made it big. Until then, no one has heard your set yet, so just say whatever you want. Just stay yourself. ”
And since then, I have been working on not holding back. Just being me. While comedy is one of my greatest passions, comedy also became my job. And once I understood it was a job, my outlook on my comedy journey became more transparent. My job is to make people laugh while I perform. If people laugh, I have done my job. As simple as that.
While some people come out of the closet, just recently, I came out of the kitchen. My uncle spread the word and told my entire family I was doing comedy. This is a big deal, since the comedy lifestyle isn’t what my parents wished for me. I clearly did not grow into that quiet, docile and submissive Asian lady they groomed me to become…
Writing comedy can be a brutal process at times. It forces me to introspect a lot, look back at my own pains and tragedies, but it also helps me cope and have a different perspective on things. The stage is my therapy session, as it is for most other comics I have met. Our adrenaline is to be able to share our experiences to the world.. This sense of connection. This dance between me and you, dear audience members. Getting personal while getting on the stage and sharing messy slices of my point of views. A delightful feeling that always leaves me hungry for more. More stage time. Performing on the stage is my shameless addiction. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life: connect, laugh & share stories. Personal stories. “Are you afraid someone will steal your jokes?”. Not when it is my personal experience that I am sharing. That, no one can steal.
Now back at collecting moments and stories I can share with you all. Writing a material list and working at being this material girl…
Having received the life time achievement award for snappy shoes and dress styles from PC world magazine, Comedian Davine Ker is leading the anti-vaccine movement against computer viruses. Davine makes a point of swimming the Potomac river every morning before performing on stage so her jokes are always clean. Her motto is “Give a kid spaghetti dinner for breakfast and he’ll never cry at lunchtime.” Be sure to like her Facebook page by clicking here.