Final Report 2004



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ArtsReach Grant : Comedy Club for Kids

Main Library Children’s Department

Final Report 2004


Authored by Lisa Sizemore, Manager of Main Library Children’s Dept. and recipient of ArtsReach Grant
Brief Program Summary:

The ArtsReach Comedy Club for Kids was a program designed to bring a unique arts experience to children from various backgrounds in Metro Louisville. Jennifer Hunt, guest artist, conducted six 2-hour weekly sessions for children ages 8-14. Lisa Sizemore, Manager of Main Library’s Children’s Department assisted in the programming, promotion and implementation of the project.


During the sessions, an average of 13 area youths attended the sessions and had fun learning different aspects of stand-up comedy. They performed in front of their peers and offered constructive criticism of each other’s work. A surprising outcome for the group was due to its diversity; racial and economic backgrounds gave rise to an appreciation of humanity and understanding of fellow people. This happened through discussions of “what is funny.” To children of different ages and backgrounds, varied things are perceived as funny. A lot of older children based much of their routines on what they heard adult comedians perform. Younger children tended to perform more “one-liner” type comedy.
The youth participants developed a strong bond with each other during the length of the program, their skills highly progressed, and their ease with public performance increased as well. At the last session, Alexander Jackson had made a poster board with large words saying: Jr. Comic View. In retrospect, that would be an excellent name for the group. He had all the kids sign the poster, which he had illustrated with funny faces. Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of all was this love and respect of the workshop itself; their pride in being part of the program made both Ms. Hunt and Ms. Sizemore feel the significant value this program brought to the children.
The programmed concluded with a highly attended public performance, an appearance on FOX 41 morning show and an awards ceremony giving certificates of participation and the comedy books to each child.
Fulfillment of Mission, Goals, and Objectives. Project Completion Comments are in Italics:

Program Mission: to instill confidence and self-esteem in children and to promote creative and collaborative thinking through humor. This mission was met and outcomes exceeded my expectations. It was remarkable to watch the growth of self-esteem progress throughout the six-weeks.




Goals:

  • To have children in our library community become exposed to the art of stand-up and improvisational comedy by an intensive art workshop. Children from all over the county (and two from Southern Indiana) were introduced to the art of stand-up comedy.

  • Encourage older children (8-15 year olds) to participate in the summer reading and library programs. Not only did 12 of the 13 children complete the summer reading program, they checked out materials on comedy that was selected for their display. Several participants came into the children’s department at times other than the program to use the resources of the library.

  • Actively involve a group of children in a collaborative setting for a comprehensive art experience. Through use of improvisational games and taking turns performing for an audience (either peer or public), the participants were infused in an arts experience.

  • Develop community partnerships. This workshop is intended to be open to be public, but 10 spaces will be held for two community center’s children who will be picked for the program. We will be working with Parkhill Community Center and Louisville Central Community Center (LCCC). While Parkhill’s participation did not happen (see journal notes), the relationship I developed with LCCC went exceptionally well. My contact there, Helen Swain, and I held weekly conversations, emails and phone calls on the progress of the children from her site.

  • Develop private-sector relationship to enhance program. The Main Library Children’s Department will work with Comedy Caravan, a local comedy club, to learn about experts in the field. I was able to develop a basic contact with Tom Sobel, owner of the Comedy Caravan. He offered his expertise on obtaining local comedians for a guest speaker. Later, Mr. Sobel and Big John Richardson tried to organize a date where we could have the children perform at the Comedy Caravan. Unfortunately, the date was a month after the library program ended and Ms. Hunt and I felt that it was too late after the program to try to have the kids remember their routines. Ms. Hunt and I felt if this program were repeated, we would try to work schedule something at the Comedy Caravan before the program began.



  • Support KERA outcomes to develop multiple-intelligence experience in the areas of drama/presentation and verbal/linguistic skills. We noticed that the experiences gained in this workshop would significantly help the children with their oral presentation and personal history aspects of KERA. The writing aspects I wished were included were a struggle for most of the participants. We noticed a great many learning obstacles that this group of children possessed. For future programs like this, I would suggest the use of non-traditional ways of promoting language experiences, such as using a tape recorder instead of physically writing material for their comedy routines.



Objectives:

  • Engage children in developing personal stories and ideas into a performable stand-up comedic skit. Children naturally have a love of comedy. This series of workshops would help children develop jokes they’ve created, funny stories, and other personal incidents into a comedy routine. This was easily accomplished. All the participants were already naturally talented and inclined for comedy.

  • Provide a varied education on the art of comedy through the workshops including researching/instruction on comedic styles; writing drafts of their own materials; peer evaluation and suggestions; improvisational and drama development; skills and styles of presentation; exposure to different techniques and styles of comedy; plus practice and honing their talent. Refer to program journal notes for details regarding this objective.

  • Document progress throughout the workshops. By providing binders and writing information, we will give the participants a place to hold any informational handouts and creative writing drafts. Participants did use their binders for keeping track of any handouts as well as their development of their routines.

  • Celebrate their progress with a performance and a small reception afterwards. A glorious experience for all! We had a several groups come in for the performance and the participants truly felt special and tasted a few of their 15 minutes of fame.

Budget Reconciliation:
Arts Reach $400 Funds:

Date/Items

Description

Cost

5/17/04 Funny Bones Books

Books for giveaway to participants.

$182.07

6/28/04 ½ fees due to Jennifer Hunt

Fees for artist

$200.00

6/28/04 Kroger

Snacks for light reception

$15.47

Total ArtsReach Grant Funds




$397.54


Library Programming Funds Contributions:

Date/Items

Description

Cost

7/10/04 ½ fees due to Jennifer Hunt

Fees for Artist

$200.00

Total Library Programming Funds




$200.00


Library Supplies/In-Kind Contributions:

Date/Items

Description

Cost

June 2004

20 Blue Binders for Participants to keep track of writing routines. Avery Active Reference; Navy Blue. $4.50 each.

$90.00

June 2004

20 Pocket Memo books for kids to jot down funny stories or jokes. $1.55 each.

$31.00

July 2004

16 Videocassettes for recording final performance and TV appearances for participants. 4 4-packs at $6.76 each.

$27.04

July 2004

1 8mm camcorder tape

$2.99

August 2004

Cost for mailing videocassettes to participants via media mail

Approx. $15.00

Total Library Supplies Cost

Approx. costs, library may have received a 10 – 20 % discount. Total cost reflect full catalog prices for supplies.

$166.03



Budget Reconciliation, continued

Librarian Hours/In-Kind Contributions:

Date/Items

Description

Cost

June 2004

2 hours preparation each week, plus 2 hours during program each week at $18.08 per hour. (16 hours)

$289.28

July 2004

2 hours preparation each week, plus 2 hours during program each week at $18.08 per hour. (8 hours)

$144.64

July 2004

3 hours preparation and time spent at FOX41 morning program at $18.08 per hour.

$54.24

Total Librarian Cost




$488.16



Other In-Kind Contributions:

Date/Items

Description

Cost

7/1/04

“Big” John Richardson. Guest Comedian volunteered 1 hour of time.

Time worth $100.00

Total




$100.00

Total Cost of Program: $1351.73

Cost per Participant (average 13 kids per week): $103.98
Artist Evaluation:

At the beginning of the process of developing this grant idea, it was my intention to select an amateur, semi-professional or professional comedian to conduct the sessions of the comedy club. As time grew near when I needed to name an artist, chances were slim that I could secure a comedian. After talking with ArtsReach artist Jennifer Hunt, I was certain she could conduct the sessions with her background in improvisation. She and I would work together to find comedians to be guest speakers during the workshops.


Selecting Ms. Hunt proved to be a wise decision. Her professional presence and her never-ending patience with the children were essential in making the workshop succeed. Her experience with other library groups and with children in an education setting provided her base of making a program like this work.
Ms. Hunt’s resume is included at the end of the grant proposal section of the final report binder.

Program Evaluation:
Replication of Program: This program was highly popular and the sign-up list filled up very quickly. We had nearly 30 people on the sign-up and waiting list for the program before it began. In the end, we had 13 participants who attended very regularly over the 6 weeks. After the program ended, the children begged that it be continued next year and that they would have the opportunity to repeat it. I think this program could be replicated at any public library in Louisville with great success. After the completion of the program, I had several suggestions for improving the program if repeated:

  • Increase the amount of money paid to Ms. Hunt or guest artist to $100 per hour or $600 in relation to the $400 we paid her. She deserves more and her time put into the program was greater than the amount we allotted for her.

  • Build in $50 or so to pay guest comedians or at least reimburse them for mileage. This would also help in recruiting comedians to come and share their experiences with the children.

  • Decrease age range in children, see described above. Either use 8 –10 year old or 11 – 13 year olds. Either do two separate workshops or concentrate on one age group.

  • Use tape recorders so kids who have difficulty writing can record themselves.

  • Ms. Hunt gives the following advice from the book 101 Mental Tricks: we are funnier in the morning and people are more receptive to humor in the morning. (People are more social in the morning; more inclined to project/paperwork in the afternoon).


Evaluation of Participants: With the whirlwind of activity surrounding the final performance of the children, I neglected to handout the survey for evaluating the children. However, Ms. Hunt and I spent so much time with each participant and had such a wonderful rapport with them, I feel comfortable on commenting on the progress of each participant:

  • Corinna V., age 8 was the first to sign up and the first to show up to every session. She was by far the shyest participant, but steadily increased her ability to stand in front of the group easily. Her kind personality made the “boy majority” take her under their wing and protected her by giving positive feedback.

  • Edward R., age 10 was one of the older males to take the program very seriously. His assignments were completed on time and his routine was well thought-out and timed. His funny story about caterpillars falling out a tree onto his sister he shared on the first session was a great indication to his dedication to the program.

  • Jade H., age 8.; another shy girl who was very dedicated to the program. Her jokes were always carefully chosen and very sweet one-liners that made everyone in the group giggly at their simple sweetness. Her self-esteem steadily increased throughout the program. Her comedy routine didn’t advance much in complexity, but her confidence did.

  • Stephon N., age 12, was one of the participants who’s summer was significantly made better by his participation in the program. During the six weeks, Stephon brought at least 10 friends and family to the library at time other than the workshop to use the libraries materials and computers. His “ownership” of the program was really touching. His pride of being part of the group showed and he was prepared for each session. Stephon was really shattered when he accidently slept through the final performance and arrived an hour late. It took Ms. Hunt and I about 15-20 minutes talking with him to get him to forgive himself. He really would like the program to be repeated in the future.

  • Alex J., age 13 was definitely the super-ham of the group. His strong physical comedy persona had us laughing each and every session. His intelligence, talent and encouragement from his family helped make him a star of our program. His talent provided him with a super high energy level that Ms. Hunt and I needed to bring down at times. And although his humor often “crossed the line” of appropriateness (his familiarity with comedy was adult humor from the Comedy Channel), he was quick to tone-it-down for the younger audience present. Alex also had a strong sense of belonging and spent time before the last session creating a large posterboard celebrating the finale of our program.

  • Chris S., age 7.5 was the youngest male and his youthfulness helped us discuss the philosophical question of “what really is funny.” Chris often volunteered to the group that he didn’t understand what the older boys were talking about when they took their turns to share humor. The older guys relied upon comedy material from the television that often had adult language and subject matter. The younger kids didn’t understand what was funny about what they did, so we were able to discuss the different ways stories or jokes are funny to different age and racial groups. Chris’s comedy routine really advanced during the six weeks of the program. He began telling one-liner jokes that he created himself, using puns mostly. When he saw some of the older kids using a more routine like approach, he decided that is what he wanted to do as well. The last 3 weeks, he worked on a routine that followed Ms. Hunt’s guidance of using material that came from his personal experiences.

  • Dejan (Dan) T., age 13 was the oldest participant and a real surprise guy. When he first started attending sessions, he seemed to be “forced” into coming to club by his mom. But as the weeks progressed, I noticed that his mom just wanted him to be part of group. He had a good understanding of stand-up comedy and was the first in the group to break out of the “one-liners” and develop a more traditional routine. At this time, about 4 weeks into the program, we learned he is an Bosnian-American who’s stage presence for comedy is excellent. As one of the older kids, there were some times where he felt too old to participate in the drama games Ms. Hunt conducted. But in the end, his pride for the group was as strong as the younger kids.

  • Katrina B., age 12 was the oldest female in the group and simply hilarious. Her impressions of an alien during a drama game were out-of-this-world! Like many of the other kids, she was an intelligent child with a tendency to annoy the other group members by shouting out the punchlines to others’ jokes when they were performing. Also, Ms. Hunt and I discovered after talking with her mother that a learning disability prevents her from writing down information when she is not prepared to. So, her participation reminded us of the diversity not only in race and age, but also in learning abilities. For the final performance, Katrina creatively grouped one-liner elephant jokes into a clever routine.

  • Victoria B., age 8 was an enthusiastic participant. She had a wonderful stage presence and being Katrina’s younger sister, she felt comfortable at all times in the group. She stayed with the younger type humor jokes for her performance and thoroughly enjoyed the group dramatic activities.

  • Louis B., age 15 was an LCCC student mentor who came with the kids and helped keep the younger LCCC on task. At first he just sat back and watched, but as the program progressed, so did his participation. By the fifth week, he was working on a routine himself and enjoyed being in front of the group to share his routine. At the finale performance; however, he didn’t feel able to get up in front of the audience to perform.

  • Michael C., age 12, another LCCC site camper was very extroverted and enjoyed mastering his stage persona. He had a “cool attitude” and stage presence. Like all LCCC kids, he had some difficulty keeping on task during the 2 hour sessions. He listened and learned the basics of what our comedy club should be and had an excellent attempt at creating funny stories from his personal experience to add to his routine.

  • Jamon B., age 11, a LCCC camper was extremely high-energy and very funny also. Ms. Hunt and I spent a lot of time trying to direct his energy in a positive manner. He and his brother Jamal are both very talented but have some aggression and/or learning issues. Jamon loved to participate in the group activities but had difficulty working by him or completing assignments. At the last performance, he performed a song he heard on the Comedy Channel, as he was very nervous.

  • Jamal B., age 12, another LCCC camper who was intensely funny. His stage persona was very professional and appealing. He also had problems setting down his routine to paper and I think he would have benefited from having a tape recorder to work on his routine. He missed the final performance.

  • About 5 other children were involved in the sessions at one time or another, but these 13 children were dedicated to coming to every session.


Time Spent: I followed the timeline closely, neglecting only the part of handing out surveys to the children at the end of the program. Specific notes:

  • The publicity and promotional materials took a great deal more time to create than I imagined.

  • Locating comedians to be guest speakers was extremely difficult. Ms. Hunt found Big John Richardson during the month of June. I think the major obstacle was asking them to meet with our group on a volunteer basis.

  • Although I followed through as best as I could, I felt there was little I could do to encourage the participation with Parkhill Community Center. I was glad that I had initially asked for partnering with two centers so that I had the experience of working with another metro government site.

  • Probably the best inclusion of the timeline was keeping a journal of the sessions. It made the final report much easier to write and has helped me remember details of the program I would have normally forgotten.


Community Impact Statement: Some of the most positive comments I received were from the parents and grandparents of the participants. They were so appreciative that their children had a place to show their personalities in a positive manner. The children also felt that they were able to be “super stars” and had a moment that truly boosted their self-esteem. This workshop provided the participants with a repeated positive library experience.

Full Workshop Overview, Journal Format:

June 3, 2004 - First Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room


After reminding Tammy at Parkhill CC several weeks ago about the CCforK, I had the feeling that she probably would have trouble rounding up 5 youths to be transported to the program. This was confirmed yesterday, when I was finally able to talk to her in person. She informed me she wasn’t able to commit to having the 5 kids come to the program. So, we opened the program up to 15 public slots, and 5 slots for the LCCC group. Helen Swain worked with me to make sure the kids from her site would be here, and indeed they were.
12 children total showed up for the program/ out of 20 folks notified. We met in the children’s dept and went down to the centennial room. Jennifer Hunt was well prepared for the group. We started out with introductions; each child went on stage and introduced him/herself. Then we began discussing the synopsis of the program sessions. 5 sessions would be dedicated to learning comedy skills and the last session would be a performance for the public. (work-in-progress performance.) Jennifer then led the kids through a series of warm-up vocal and body exercises. You could tell the kids were really getting into this. Almost all participated whole-heartedly and were enjoying themselves.
We then took a break and showed 2 youth performances from www.kidscomedyclub.com. Jennifer constructively criticized the performances of the comedy routines we had projected. The kids also made a comment that on what they thought was funny/not funny of the kids’ performance. Ms. Hunt instructed the kids on what was appropriate comedy to share with kids their age. She also talked about that comedy often reflected a person’s real life. Comedians talk about things that happened to them, or people they know and try to turn events into funny episodes. In essence, comedians can only do material about things they know. Ms. Hunt then had the kids start making 3 lists (she made a list herself to give the kids examples):

  • Hobbies: pets, rollerblading, reading, movies, skeet shooting, canoeing, swimming, hiking.

  • Jobs/Chores: waitress, office manager, clean house, scoop poop, dishes, baby sit, homework.

  • Things that Make me Angry: sauerkraut, my brother, etc.

The kids put these lists into their binders.


After the program, I had phone calls from 3 individuals who really wanted to join in. Ms. Hunt and I discussed that really not having 20 kids total would probably be a good idea, since the energy levels of the participants was really high. It looks like we will have a total of 16 participants. All-in-all, a very excellent start to the program.

June 10, 2004, Second Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room


Today’s session was a bit more energetic. The children were getting more familiar with one another, and with that the comfort level of performing was eased. This also meant that the children were getting a bit unruly at times, as their energy levels skyrocketed throughout the program.

The class concentrated on working on group activities such as : Alien Interview. In this improvisational activity, one participant was an alien and another was an interviewer who had to speak alienese and interpret what the alien was saying and also speak the native language of the alien. Children in the audience asked questions such as, “what do you like to eat on your planet?” or “Tell me about your family.” After a few questions, Ms. Hunt had the children switch parts so all kids could get a chance. This activity was a big hit.

Then we worked on the definitions of different types of comedy (stand-up, physical, word puns, etc). Ms. Hunt gave examples of jokes that contained puns. We looked words up in the dictionary we didn’t understand to get a better meaning of them. I had gathered many joke books and the kids, at the end of the program, checked them all out. Kids who had new jokes shared them with the group. Assignment for next week: gather three puns from the book they checked out to share with the group on the third week.

June 17, 2004, Third Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room


Kids were supposed to bring their three puns. Nearly all remembered to do so. The entire 2 hours of this session was spent taking turns on stage and developing a “stage presence” while doing jokes. Ms. Hunt instructed them how to walk on stage and introduce themselves to the audience. The kids in the audience was getting into this and clapping heartily and also shouting out support to the kid on stage. Some of the older kids were having difficulty keeping focused while in the audience or paying respect to the kid on stage. The three kids with the most difficulty paying attention were from LCCC. I spoke with our contact there; Ms. Swain and asked her to give them some positive reinforcement for being respectful. I noticed that when Jamon Brown pulled out some plastic lanyard string to tie knots, his level of uncontrolled excitement decreased incredibly. He was able to listen to the kid on stage and have a calmer participation. All the kids save two of the younger girls had no qualms of performing in front of the group. Indeed, we have really reached the demographics I was intending in the proposal for the program.

Our “group” was set. I could tell the kids who would be here regularly by now. I must admit that I am quite amazed at the strong commitment that most kids in the club have to the group. I hope that this will be a highlight of their summer.

What we discovered during this session was the wide variety of experiences that the older children in the group have that the younger children do not understand. The olders (11-13 year olds) were much more aware of the stand-up comedy scene in Louisville and have gained a lot of knowledge of stand-up on the television. They are watching the comedy channel and also keeping up with situation comedy shows that include stand-up comics as leading actors. Because of this, their humor is much more on the adult side and we’ve had to talk about “toning it down” for the other participants and for the performance where we might have young kids at also. Assignment for next week: kids needed to bring 8 jokes.

Ms. Hunt spent a lot of time offering constructive criticism on the delivery of their jokes and stories, having them slow down the speed of their speech and enunciating words and volume levels so the audience will be able to understand them.


June 24, 2004, Fourth Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room
This day is what I’ll call the “fourth-week slump.” The kids from LCCC didn’t bring their 8 jokes, which prompted me to let Ms. Swain know for them to bring it next time. The activity we began the day with was “follow the leader”. One person in the group closed their eyes and Ms. Hunt chose a different person to be the leader. The leader started making movements with their hands/bodies and everyone else in the circle copied him/her. Ms. Hunt then said the word “change” and the leader …followed by everyone else, changed the movement. The person who was “it” had to guess who the leader was. After awhile, the kids really got into it. The second part of the workshop we divided the kids into 2 groups. About half the group had brought their assignment of 8 jokes with them, so Ms. Hunt worked with them on delivery of their jokes. She circled words she wanted them to emphasize and coached them on presentation. My group had not written out their jokes, so we spent about forty minutes trying to do so. Jade, Louis and Alex worked hard on writing down jokes, but Jamon and Michael were really struggling. Jamon had wonderful ideas, but difficulty putting them down on paper. (Later, Susan Moore suggested the use of tapes and tape recorders as a way of helping them work instead of writing).

With a few minutes left, we listed to some kids who had their routines worked on…Katrina was really good with her elephant jokes and Dejan was hilarious. His will be one to look for at the performance.

Susan Moore contacted Norm Morton, community relations manager, on how to light the stage in the Centennial room and to send a press release to the media.

Big John, a clean-cut comedian, will be coming next week to encourage the children with their comedy skills.

Assignment for next week: have comedy routine memorized for the performance in two weeks.

I am making posters and invitations for the comedy club performance on July 8th to give to the kids on July 1 so they can distribute them among their family and friends.


July 1, 2004, Fifth Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room
We had a guest artist come today: Big John. He is a “clean-act” comedian, which implies he doesn’t use foul language or humor to get his audience laughing. John Richardson (article from Louisville Scene of C-J is included) walked into the room and immediately had the attention and respect of every kid in the club. He started asking the audience, “All right be honest: Raise your hand if you look at me and see a big black man.” Everyone raised their arms. Then he said, “Now, raise your arm if you see in front of you a cuddly Chewbacca.” Some of us raised our arms (some kids don’t know about the character of Chewbacca from “Star Wars”). He then went on to discuss with the kids what his journey to becoming a comedian has been. He recently stopped working his day job to dedicate his time to developing material and marketing himself as a comedian. He also taught us the different stages of comedianship: Emcee, Feature Performer and Headliner. Headliners are the tiptop performers like Chris Rock and Bill Cosby; they could also be comedians who travel the circuit with success. Feature comedians are usually who people pay money to see when they go to a comedy club. Emcees are the show starters, who have a few minutes to warm the crowd up for the Feature Performer. Headliners have “made it big”. Right now, Big John is an Emcee; working at places such as Comedy Caravan. He also supplements his income by entertaining at business affairs.

Every kid had a question for him ranging from, “where do you find your jokes,” to “who is the most famous person you’ve met.” Big John explained the way he developed his material – by paying attention what’s happening in life. His routine contains humorous stories, more than one-liner jokes. We asked how he prepared for a show and he answered by: reading the newspaper, watching TV, talking with family and friends. When he notices that what he has said is funny to the group around him, he works on developing the story to be funny for a public audience.

He told the kids to be mindful of the material that is funny to their friends may not be funny or appropriate to a public audience. (This hit home for Jennifer and I, as we have been trying to express this to the kids. Big John was able to state this in a manner the kids understood.) I asked him if he wrote his material down on paper and worked hard at editing it. He said his style was more thinking about a story, and then thinking about it some more. (So, I wasn’t able to stick the kids with the write, write, write & edit, edit, edit your material, just like Big John does!). Another point Big John stressed was the idea of “crossing the line” with comedic material. This act is when a comedian goes beyond humor and ventures into the area of insulting. The “line” is very fine and can be defined differently by audience. He explained (and Jen and I understood it only, I bet) that comedians like Andrew Dice Clay make themselves a headliner by continually crossing the line, but he compared them to a shooting star. They are really hot for a moment and then they burn out forever. Another point Big John made was about creating one’s own material, or giving credit where credit is due. He explained that if a comedian went onstage using Big John’s material, other comedians working would let that comedian know that he was using Big John’s routine and to cut it. If that comedian doesn’t cut the stolen part from his act; he is basically blacklisted from comedy clubs and will not perform again.

Big John also talked to the kids about growing up and being the kid who always made everyone laugh. The kids really connected with the facts of his youth and I believe this is where the kids developed respect for him. It was a pleasure to have Big John as a guest comedian for the kids to meet. Although the kids would have liked him to do more of his comedy routine, his professional attitude and ease with speaking with children made him a valuable asset to our ArtsReach comedy club. I am thankful that Jennifer found him, and I am grateful for his generous spirit to encourage the children (he came and spoke without asking for a fee).

Big John remained for a few minutes to see some of the kids’ routines and complimented them on their performances. He also offered constructive criticism, which the children took well. I told the kids about the possibility of being on FOX41 news on the morning of July 8th to perform and that the library had notified the media of their “work-in-progress” performance. They became very excited! I distributed posters for the kids to take home and put up at their churches, homes, neighborhood. I also gave them copied invitations to pass out to family and friends welcoming them to the next week’s performance.

July 8, 2004, Sixth Session. 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Main Library’s Centennial Room


A group of us met at the Main Library at 7:30 a.m. to drive over to the FOX41 studios for the morning show, where we were met by Cara S., morning show producer. Every child present (Alexander Jackson, Edward Reed, Stephon Neal, Jade Hamby, Corinna Vendette, Chris Sizemore) was able to do two jokes from their routine on the show. They were all very good and had excellent TV presence. It was remarkable how well they looked on TV.

I arrived early and had Sasha (library volunteer) and Chris Sizemore setting up the refreshments. We had cookies, pretzels, apple juice, coffee and ice water. In addition, I picked some wildflowers and put them in 3 cups on the refreshments table. We covered up the goodies (as the kids would be eating them up before the program) and set up the room for the performance. The 1:00 session started in the Centennial Room and all children were really excited. We had 1 hour to practice before the “work-in-progress” show at 2:00. About 1:15, a group of 80 kids from Refuge Church came in and we went into the library staff lounge to practice with the cordless microphone. When we stepped back in to the Centennial Room. There was a real feeling among myself, Jen and the kids of the moments before a theatrical performance. That sweet, nervous energy was present, as well as the anticipation of doing a solo act.



I introduced the program to the audience, stating what we had been doing during the past 6 weeks and how far the kids had come. A TV crew from WHAS 11 was present and I set up a video camera to record everyone’s performance. I will be sending all participants a copy of the performance. Big John also came, which thrilled the kids, and later we discussed working more with Comedy Caravan in the future. After the performance, Ms. Hunt and I distributed the certificates of participation and the book Funny Bones: Comedy Games and Activities for Kids to each participant.






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