Kevin was the weird kid in class. The one that got teased. The one the other kids thought was different, and therefore, worthy of being terrorized.
And they were right. Kevin was different.
Kevin had strange things he did all by himself at home.
At first, he was amazed by them. Then he started to wonder how they were made. Soon, he was making them himself, experimenting, and ruining his parents’ outfits for materials.
It didn’t take Kevin long before he was performing, discovered as a puppeteer, and became one of Jim Henson’s crew.
And then Kevin created Elmo, one of the most loved Sesame Street characters ever created.
Watching the documentary Being Elmo, which is about how Kevin created Elmo, there were a few things that I took from it that I thought were interesting and related to comedy:
1) One person suggests that Elmo is Kevin in his purest form, if Kevin could act that way without everyone thinking he was weird. Because apparently it’s not weird for parents to encourage their children to believe that a furry red monster loves them and for the monster to bestow more affection on the kids than most parents do. People are weird. It’s ironic that the children around Kevin growing up tried to squelch the raw beginnings of a talent that brought about a character that expresses what kids are apparently drawn to most.
2) The thing kids picked on you and disliked you for as a kid is apt to be a talent that sets you apart as an adult. I have found this to be very true of me. I’ve made my career mostly as a writer (and yes, doing well and getting positive attention at this got me more than a few nasty looks and comments from my fellow students), and I spent most of high school, and let’s face it most of my adult career, trying not to make people laugh. It was often not okay to be a funny girl when I was growing up, and keeping your mouth shut in a boardroom can be a highly valued skill. Of course, those aren’t the only weird things about me, just the two most relevant at the moment. If there’s an Olympic event that involves compulsive hair twirling or ability to communicate exclusively in eyebrow that may change.
3) It is important to immerse yourself in a world with other people who are succeeding with a similar talent in order to learn and grow from them. The hard part may be in finding them. Fortunately, Toronto has a great comedy community, so if you are here and going to open mics regularly you will most likely meet people.
4) The most successful adults were often the weird kid in class. Be weird. You could do worse.