Happy Birthday Mom

As many of my regular readers know, my mother passed away (somewhat suddenly) a couple of months ago.  Today would have been her 65th birthday and I wanted to post a few comments about her as a way of remembering.  She was always very supportive of my comedy aspirations, both the first time I tried comedy back in the early 90’s, as well as my recent jump back into the pool again.  While she never had a chance to see me before she died in this incarnation, much of the reason that I am doing comedy comes back to her.

Whatever else she may have been, my mom was very smart, very creative, and very funny.  She had a very “different” outlook on the world, and most of my sarcasm was inherited directly from her I think.  From my first memories, one of the main things I remember out her was the sarcastic way she looked at the absurdity in the world, and how she managed to stay sane despite the absurdity.  In an odd sort of way, even in death she has been helping out my career … the call for my set at the Great Canadian Laugh Off came, literally, while I was in the Funeral Director’s office making arrangements for my mother’s funeral, and just last week I was asked to be a part of a Second Life TV program called The Late Show, taping later today, on her 65th birthday.

Not only has she informed my general attitude about comedy, she’s even given me some material.  Some of the first material I ever “wrote” came almost directly from memories of her in my childhood.  She always looked at the world from a slightly different angle than anyone else, and that was as true in her child-rearing as it was for anything else.  Most parents, I think, have some sort of way to break the tension when their kids misbehave … I know one common line I have heard is “If you kids don’t settle down, I’ll hit you so hard I’ll knock you into next week.”  My mom took that one step further … perhaps just a little too creative for her, or my, own good.  One of her favorite sayings to break the tension around our house was “If you kids don’t settle down, I’ll rip out your arm, and beat you with the bloody end!!!”  Another personal favorite was “If you kids don’t settle down, I’ll pick you up by your heels, and beat your head against the sidewalk.”  And long before the line came out in the Terminator, I heard from her “If you kids don’t settle down, I’m applying for a retroactive abortion!!”

No matter what else is going on, that sort of thing is going to have an effect on a kid.  But as an adult, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I can admit that I probably wasn’t the easiest kid to raise.  I’ve pretty much been a smart-ass since day one, and this final story illustrates that well.  Its more about me than my mom, but it might be a good illustration of why she came up with sayings like the ones above.  I was three when this happened … I was out playing in our yard, and I managed to wander off.  My mom caught up with me a block or two away and grabbed me, yelling “Why did you run away?!?!?!”  I can clearly remember looking up at her, an innocent look in my three year old eyes and replying “I didn’t run away Mommy … I walked!!!!”

So, with the benefit of hindsight, experience and perspective, I can look at that situation and say with a lot of confidence that, if that was MY kid standing there talking to ME like that … I’m picking the bugger up by his heels, and beating his damn head against the sidewalk.  Frankly, remembering things like that reminds me to cut her a lot of slack, and gives some insight on why she needed such creative stress-breakers.

I tell those stories a lot on stage, especially lately, and she is never far from my thoughts, both consciously and sub-consciously.  Without her intelligence, wit, and skewed perspective on the world, I wouldn’t be doing comedy today in any form, so for that, I can’t thank her enough.  Rest in peace Mom, and thank you for the laughs, and for the love.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Elron, I’m so sorry for your loss. But it is indeed wonderful to know you will always have such wonderful memories to look back on and to share. Mothers do have a knack with comedy. My mom says ‘Let me tell you something funny………’ and promptly proceeds to tell you a joke she has told you at least 3 times, and laughs till there are tears in her eyes. Just to remember her like this makes me smile. I stumbled on your blog while trying to find out if Jazz 38 is still operating in Lagos where I live. As it is the hairs on my head stand straight, as I seriously need to find some relaxation from the hustle and bustle, which by the way has multiplied since 1993. Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks Tad … I hope the Lagos hustle and bustle isn’t getting to you too much. As far as I know, Jazz 38 is a relic of the past now. Fran died in the late 90’s from what I heard, and Tunde shut down the Awolowo Road club. I gather he did open some sort of youth music centre out by Chevron on the peninsula somewhere, but that was after 1998 when I left Lagos, so I never saw it. But if you’re looking for good Indian food some night, and assuming it is still there, check out the Sherlaton on Awolowo Road as well. Can’t recall the address exactly, but its still the best butter chicken I’ve ever had, even a decade after I left the place. Hope you enjoy Lagos … its not the nicest place in the world, but its also pretty far from the “craphole” that many people make it out to be :).

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