Laughing at Labels
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
As a keynote speaker and a comedian, life has not always been Hiltons and Marriott’s. I’ve found myself in some other unusual places!
So I’m sitting in a factory surrounded by women from other countries who are fast at work on their sewing machines making. . . stripper clothing (not a joke!). That’s right, clothing for strippers (also known in the entertainment industry as “dancers”). I couldn’t talk with these women due to the language barrier, but I’m sure the joke was on me as they wondered what a tall, gawky-looking girl like me was doing there. They probably figured I was the bottom of the barrel when it comes to dancers – maybe a dollar store dancer or something.
That was many years ago, and I happened to be there not because I was looking for new outfits for my comedy career, but because I had a day off between comedy club gigs and I was staying with a comedian friend who also had a lucrative stripper clothing line going on the side. I could hang out in his factory and use the internet all day for free. (Hey, those were the dial-up days and I needed a phone line!)
I love my job as a comedian and keynote speaker not just because of all the cool people I meet and the interesting industries that I get to learn about, but also because I find myself in all sorts of unique situations. Comedy encourages strange bedfellows, and as such, I think one of the most useful skills we comedians have learned is not to judge and label these situations. We just go with the flow!
Going with the flow isn’t so easy, but in the long run it’s more productive than slapping a label on something. Once you determine that something is bad, or good, or weird, or inappropriate, then the label colors how you feel about it and how you react to it. Many times, these labels tend to hinder rather than help the situation. You can’t sit in a stripper clothing factory and worry that you might have taken a wrong path in your career: you have to just enjoy the moment.
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