Today marks the millionth day of the pandemic that I didn’t do Tai Chi or try to play the piano. I did take my DVD player – which holds the recording of my old Tai Chi instructor with all her plain, unspoken sincerity – down to the kitchen several weeks ago where I envisioned myself going through the moves before dinner, except the only time I tried, I was also nursing a rum and Coke which seemed profane somehow, like it was something I would never want my beloved instructor to see.
The piano is a different matter. I emptied out the piano bench a few weeks ago where I found hand-written music scores which I ultimately figured out were in my father’s handwriting. The scores were of old songs, the kind he would have played in one of the dance bands he found part-time work with when I was growing up. How they got in my piano bench, I’m not sure. But, though I took all the music books and whatnot out of the bench, I’ve yet to put a single finger on a key.
I was engaged in some productive endeavors today, I will say that – a Commission on Aging committee meeting, work on my husband’s book, irksome emailing back and forth with a government official, clearing out files, filing the 990-N for my wee nonprofit. So I’m not just lounging around here. But, still, at five o’clock, I kicked back and watched my first Master Class which was Steve Martin “How to Tell Funnier Stories.”
It was delicious.
He talked about timing, which, I think, you either have or you don’t. And speaking with your body which so perfectly describes Steve Martin. But he also advised to stay ahead of the audience, walk past the joke, and always create the illusion of the first time. He talked about laying things in – another term for creating a running joke – and how precision creates movement. But the best was this: be uneven.
Be uneven, he said. Don’t have a predictable rhythm. Joke. Laugh. Joke. Laugh. Instead, scramble the rhythm and the pacing, the sound and the movement, don’t let the audience think they know what will come next. And I thought – that’s me! I’m all about being uneven. My hair’s uneven, my day’s uneven, my writing’s uneven, all of it. I am the essence of uneven. It was thrilling to be sympatico with Steve Martin.
Tomorrow, I might just do Tai Chi and play the piano just to jack up my unevenness. Or not.