The Importance of laughter

I never normally do this; usually its Tallulah who bangs on and puts up her video. Or Holly who offers her invaluable insights and such but today I feel compelled to write a sentence or two about what we are doing.

When I was still at drama school I heard about a theater practitioner called Augusto Boal and the incredible work he had done using theater as a way of working through social injustices. He inspired me to study at the theater school in Paris,
Jacques LeCoq, whose primary focus is on devising your own work. I was passionate about making work which impacted people. Often times one can think of actors as vain or simply self serving in their choice of profession and I had battled my own feelings of worth when spending days pouring over grant catalogs looking for financial aid to help pay for my training at Jacques Le Coq. In these great grant tomes were entries and offers of funding for people going to Africa and saving lives and things and me asking for money to study clowning and mime seemed frivolous in comparison. I questioned the importance of my vocation.

I did find the funding and went on to LeCoq. I created a theater company with Letitia, a fellow clown and graduate from the school. We performed street theater for a year in festivals in Paris and the North of France. We were even paid by a local commuter train company to animate the platforms for the commuters during rush hour. The train company saw the value in lightening a 9-5ers mood.

I went onto work in London in theater, film and television and gradually stopped creating my own work. I became what I had always been in fear of becoming; an actor who simply waited for a call from my agent. I needed a change so I packed all my worldly belongings and with a small sandwich bag full of cash, moved to Los Angeles, questioning what I still wanted to do. I had fallen out of a love with a fickle industry and had forgotten why I had wanted to do this in the first place. Through the encouragement of a dear friend I created my clown, Tallulah, and through the dedication, creative talent and support of my dear friend and collaborator Holly, Feathers and Toast was born.

Holly and I have faced enormous doubt and challenges over the past 3 years. We have questioned what, why and how we can make the show work. We’ve thought of cookbooks, greeting cards, TV shows, vlogs, festivals, guest blog posts, live shows…we’ve done it all. At times when we face the abyss unsure of how to continue we receive messages of gratitude for the show. Seemingly small things like this morning when a stranger shared this weeks vlog about happiness and when I thanked him, he said he just wanted to spread cheer. That moves me beyond belief to know that thats what Holly and I have created. Cheer. Even though our audience is small and the finance has yet to come, we are making a difference.

And that leads me to a clown who made me cry on Saturday night. I come across so many campaigns asking for support for films, webseries, art projects, comics and such and unfortunately most of them I am not in a position to help. But I watched this film and saw the difference this clown, this red nose, is making in a dire situation and I was reminded of the value of comedy and the value of our work. I was reminded of how important the service of making someone smile is. The power of laughter. It is not an indulgence, but a necessity. As Harpo Marx once said if you can make someone laugh for 10 seconds and forget their worries for those 10 seconds then you have done a wonderful thing.

Reilly Dowd, the director/producer of this documentary about a clown in a refugee camp has been making this film for 2 years. Her dedication at bringing a story of hope and joy to the screen through one of the worst humanitarian disasters the world has ever seen is extremely admirable. So there we go. I don’t need to bang on for much longer, if you’d like to watch the video about the clown please do so below and thank you again for all your support of Feathers and Toast.