Don’t Get Newsfeedged Down
Pascal’s “Fire” and Kids with Fevers
I kept three of my four children home from school with fevers and coughing, thinking “Wow, I’m such a great mom, the kids get rest and I’m a hero because I didn’t send them off to infect other children.”
Big mistake! By the end of the day, I had started coughing and I crawled into bed before anyone else with a fever. In the haze of over the counter drugs and chills I had the strangest thought, “I was about due for another fever to get some inspiration.” What’s that now, Stephanie? Did you just say inspiration from a fever? Yes, person reading this, that’s what I said. Have you ever awoken from a fantastic dream and thought of the most brilliant concept, line of dialogue, or joke? Many comedians, including myself, have notebooks on our bedside table because these come frequently and if you don’t write it down, well, it dreamily returns to the ether, never to be seen again.
Don’t get me wrong, not all lines written from the subconscious are brilliant, take author Claire MacMurray. In November, 1939, MacMurray wrote an article called “Thanksgiving Nightmare” where she discussed dreams. MacMurray presented a supposed episode of a woman named Mrs. Amos Pinchot. Waking in the night, Mrs. Pinchot, still half asleep, realized that she had dreamed up the most prophetic poem imaginable. She couldn’t risk losing these lines of ultimate truth and scratched them down on a scrap piece of paper, only to read them the next morning as:
Men are Polygamous
This crazy, wonderful, moment between dreaming and wakefulness, even Pascal’s “Fire” came to him between 10:30 and 12:30 at night and was such a moving epiphany that he sewed the page into his clothes and wore them everywhere only to be discovered by a servant after his death.
Some of us get these wonderful moments of brilliance in the shower; many plots have been dreamed up when we are relaxed and in a state of…well, in a state when there’s no god damn paper anywhere!
So, this illness, that I’m experiencing right now has been met with just a smidgen of joy. The last time I had a feverish revelation was for my Second City Conservatory class show. We were bringing in sketches and I proceeded with “Okay, I was really drugged up on cough medicine but this is what I came up with” and after describing a scene set to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet: where two people are looking at want ads and then see each other from across the stage, they begin running, in slow motion, each changing their appearance as they run (the woman shaves her arm pits, the man puts a roll of socks down his pants, the woman pulls up her breasts, the man takes out his retainer). When they come together they are both putting on their glasses and suddenly give a glance up and down at each other and then embarrassed, they walk off in opposite directions. My teacher, Nick Johne’s comment was, “You should get sick more often” and one of the very funny and physical actors of the class pulled on my arm and said, “I really want to be in that with you!” It was a hit in the final show, my scene partner even put in my retainer for the scene, a real trouper!
So, Stephanie, you may ask, is this all just a silver lining story? Should we just try to figure out the positivity in everything? Well sure, maybe a little of that. Remember I’m high on a variety of medicines and puffers right now. But, I will tell you this. On the second night of this fever, I came up with a screenplay idea and the title of my next book, so yeah, I guess the glass is half full right now….I’m going back to bed.
About the Author
Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer. www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / (647) 899-3342 Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy