Finding My Thing
by Frenchie Lynn Augustin
I’m the youngest of four kids, three of which are living versions of television sitcom tropes: the smart and perfect one, the trouble maker, and the parent charmer. Not only am I the youngest of four kids, I’m also the youngest of four kids where the closest age gap between them and myself is eight years.
This isn’t to say that I was completely ignored by my parents. My mother made it her mission, as with all of her children, to make sure that I was good at something that sounded fancy: playing the piano, taking voice and dance lessons, et cetera, et cetera. I never really had a say in anything I’d be doing, but that finally changed in the fourth grade when I asked if I could be in a musical being put on by a camp in our town (“Big” was the musical, in case you were wondering. The lead wasn’t as charming as Tom Hanks, but at the age of eight, I was sure he was just as dreamy).
Now, I’m not sure if it has anything to do with being the youngest of four kids eager to find her sitcom trope but I’ve always been a little silly and I liked that. Being silly made my parents laugh at my antics, it made people want to be friends with me, but mostly, it was something I could do that other people couldn’t. It was my thing.
While being silly one day at Big rehearsal, one of the directors came up to me and said I’d be great in a scene with bit role as a toy store worker who would pop in with something the owner didn’t want, look confused, and then leave: my first big break! When show time came, I popped on stage then made my confused reaction and the audience laughed. I made people I didn’t know laugh. “It was probably a fluke,” I thought. But it happened again, and again at all of the shows I performed in. Making people laugh wasn’t just something I could do; it was something I could do well.
Once I realized making people laugh was something I could do, I wanted to do it as much as possible. And thank goodness it was the early 2000s, because lucky for pre-teen me, Whose Line Is It Anyway was on television and if I knew what a calling was at the age of eleven, I’d tell you that improvising was mine. I begged my mother to let me take an improvising class for teens and she agreed. I took the class and I fell in love with improv: thinking on your feet, creating amazing things out of thin air. I loved it. Eventually, the class ended. But my passion for comedy, my need to make people laugh, never went away.
When I came to Arizona for college, I thought was finally free. I didn’t have to keep up with my sitcom creation siblings or try to get my parents to pay attention to my antics. I could just be without worrying about anyone else. I thought. But I found myself trying to keep up with the Jones’ in a different way – other college freshmen who knew what they wanted to do with their lives, friends getting jobs and internships and getting into relationships. I found myself feeling like a kid again –wanting to feel like there was something special about me. For a while I didn’t know what to do until a familiar feeling whispered in my ear:
Make ‘em laugh.
I did have something that made me feel special, something that I could do that I loved: make people laugh. Soon, I started doing stand-up and eventually I auditioned for and became a part of National Comedy Theatre’s Thursday Night Improv Troupe and now, I don’t have to search for something that makes me special anymore. Comedy makes me special. Making people laugh makes me special. Being in a group of people with the same passion I have makes me special. I think that’s why I love comedy so much, why I love being a part of NCT: it means so more than just making people laugh. Every time I walk on stage, I’m making people laugh, but I’m also telling myself, “Hey. You’re good at something. You have something to be proud of.” And as good as the laughter of an audience feels, having something to be proud of yourself for feels even better.