Yesterday, while taking the stage at UCBeast for our final 101 class performance, I felt confident. We have been training for eight weeks to get up to this point, and we have grown so much together--we have grown to become a family. Our class was split into two groups, and I was a part of the second group. As we stepped on to the stage, I felt a surge of relief. We're gonna kill this, I thought. Halfway into the performance, there was a skit focused on a family, and I was suddenly dragged onto the scene as a girl that was being recommended as a dating partner for their son. The son's immediate reaction was "well, i could use some ethnic flavor." At that point, i stood there, cold. It was so awkward. I didn't even know what to say. I know it was a heat of the moment thing because as improvisers, we're supposed to say whatever comes to our mind first; and that--race--of course, was brought up, unconsciously. I can't begin to explain how much I dread the race card. Granted i know it's the first thing people see when they see me, but did they really have to use that? I still remember the first day of class when a girl said, "you speak ching-a-ling-ling," and i was furious. It made me question whether all they see is my race. After the first class, my race was never brought up again... until yesterday, during the performance, where there was a live audience. I felt embarrassed, but the show went on, and we patted each other in the back, and it was over.
I know in comedy, there has bound to be a time or moment when what's funny is a person's race. It can sometimes come off subtlely or suddenly without the other person (initiating the race card) knowing that they just pulled out the race card to get a laugh. And as the person receiving the punch on the other end, i just know it hurts, a lot, even if what was said isn't supposed to hurt or had any type of ill-intention.
As i move forward in improv (yes, i plan on honing the craft), i wonder how many more times i have to endure these types of awkward situation. I wonder when will race no longer be the butt of the joke, but rather, something meaningful. I guess the search for that answer continues. Onward.