A HECKLER UPDATE
By: Lauren Anderson
For those of you reading this blog from the start, you may recall the post I wrote about being heckled onstage for being fat during a corporate improv show a few years ago.
For those of you new to this: you can catch up here.
I was only about 6 months into my time with Solcana, and everything was changing and I was just starting to really “feel myself” and identify as an athlete. And then BLAMO. Knocked out at the knees.
I remember having a choice to make. I could hide away the pain and the aftermath of that incident like I had done a jillion times in the past, and keep on keepin on… or I could write about it.
I decided to write about it. I was terrified to use my relatively new blog medium with Solcana to speak out about what happened. I mean, could I really let it all hang out like that? Turns out, I could. And man, the response I got was unbelievable.
So many people reached out in solidarity, and in love.
Then The City Pages picked it up for their blog, and it was spread even further. People I never met sent cards into the Brave New Workshop for me. Thanking me for sharing my story.
I was overwhelmed. I still am just thinking about it. And I realized that I can’t shut up about it ever again. I am now compelled to keep being radically honest about my body.
Because it dawned on me. If we keep breathing these stories out into the world, then maybe we can save each other from isolation. Maybe we can change how bodies are talked about and perceived. Maybe we can come together and heal. Not just our bodies, but our souls too.
A lot has changed since those early days of me at the gym. I am still very much on a learning curve, and it never stops being terrifying. But with each attempt, I get bolder. With each story I grow stronger. With every reach out, I am met with a hand reaching back at me.
And it’s this powerful reminder–I am not the only one.
This spring I was given the opportunity to add my Heckler story to a show full of stories about bodies. It would be part of the 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival in a show called SIZE.
I remember being so scared at the idea of it, but also exhilarated in equal measure.
Even though the story was already out there, it was still somewhat removed from me. I could hide behind the safety of my computer and divorce myself from the person that wrote it if I needed to.
But what would it feel like to stand in a room full of people (and my peers) and share my story about the flesh– IN THE FLESH?!
And that’s when I knew I had to do it.
This year marks an anniversary in my life. I am celebrating 50 shows at the Brave New Workshop. More than any other performer in it’s 60 year history. That’s a lot of stage time.
And the BNW is also a writer’s theatre. Meaning that every sketch you see on that stage is written by the cast performing it. We have this unique opportunity to write about what we are thinking and feeling. It’s very very satisfying. And just part of the reason why I love my job.
But storytelling? About something that personal? And DRAMATIC?! Dare I?
Well, I dared. And I’m doing it right now.
It’s been SCARY AS HELL. But also tremendously thrilling.
I haven’t been that nervous to perform in ages. My heart racing, my breathing rushed. But speaking out the story live and in person, feels like the slow-motion-walk-away-action-movie-moment that I have been craving.
I am standing in a room, reaching out my proverbial hand again, and I can feel “hands” reaching back at me. And I am so grateful for the reminder, that I am not alone. We all have “Heckler stories”.
I was texting with my friend Gabby this morning and I said, “It’s been such a ride doing this show. It’s good to feel so terrified and then do it anyway. It’s the ultimate reclamation. And I’m so grateful for you being there.”
And she responded, “Totally. It’s beautiful to see.”
And I couldn’t help but agree.
* * *
After one of the shows, I was standing outside feeling “next level” feelings about it all.
I was kind of in line waiting to see another show when an older man turned around to tell me that he was a fan of mine, and loved watching me at the BNW. I was very flattered.
Then, on a dime, he started talking about James Corden and how much I reminded him of the big British actor who does “Carpool Karaoke”, because–
“He’s a big guy too, but still so agile, and quick on his feet. You know, like you.”
I was so surprised that this was happening to me, mere moments after the show I had just done– that I LAUGHED IN HIS FACE.
It bothered me that he said this, but not like before.
Because I have metabolized the pain of comments like this. His words are meaningless to me now. And I started to feel odd compassion for the guy and his lack of understanding.
What’s it like to live in the dark like that?
He was about to go on– and give me more “compliments”– when in an ultimate power move I put a firm hand on his shoulder and kind of shook him to shut him up.
Like a boss in Mad Men taking pity on a rookie employee sticking a foot in his mouth.
I said, “You have yourself a good night.” And I walked away.