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Carrie Fisher: Turning Problems into Punchlines

One of the things everyone admired about Carrie Fisher was the way she turned mental illness into a career. In so doing, she helped so many “come out” about their own secrets. In her books, her speaking appearances, and her one-woman show, she revealed what it was like being bipolar. “Having waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything,” Debbie Reynold’s only daughter quipped, “I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. It’s better than being bad at being insane, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?”

Carrie knew what all us standup comics know: that a problem can be turned into a powerful punchline. As a standup comic for 17 years and teaching comedy for 20 years, I found that when I joked about a problem, it made whatever I was dealing with more manageable. Laughing at a problem is empowering. I’m not just the victim. I’m the narrator, acknowledging it, taking charge of it and making fun of it.

I felt this full force at 21. Filled with rage and sadness after a difficult breakup, I took to the stage at the Hollywood Improv and proclaimed, “I just broke up with someone. We had one thing in common. We were both madly in love with HIM.” In the moment of laughter, something lifted.

When teaching comedy, the “normal” people in the workshop weren’t very funny. I remember one girl who refused to admit that anything was wrong. “No, I’ve never been rejected. I have a wonderful husband. My kids hug me every day.” There was nothing funny about that. Nobody related to her. To be funny, we had to find the courage to cop to the weirdness of our mother’s housekeeping, the fears of coming out as a gay man to a redneck father, showing that what is inside didn’t control us, but rather was the butt of a joke that led to laughter and healing.

“I wanted to tell my father I was gay, but he was always cleaning his gun,” a comedy student said on stage, winning over the audience.

My father would beat me with the belt my parents gave me for Christmas. When I was asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” I would say, “Socks!” another comedy student said to thunderous guffaws.

“Life is a cruel, horrible joke and I am the punch line,” was said by Carrie Fisher

It’s not easy being that open. In fact, it’s scary. It may be easier to tell these kinds of jokes in the privacy of a class, but going public takes guts. That’s what distinguished Carrie Fisher from many others. In her one woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” she took the risk of directing her humor at her parents, saying, “I'm a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.” Instead of distancing herself from the audience by identifying her background as privileged, she freely showed the difficulties and pain, finding the way to mine it for laughter.

Here is a clip from her show on “Hollywood inbreeding 101.”

She didn’t shy away from showing the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. Interestingly, this true confessional didn’t create estrangement. We know that the two women reconciled and became close. Carrie’s honesty may have allowed her mother to understand what went wrong and try to remedy it. As Debbie Reynolds said, “Carrie and I have disagreements and stalemates, but we still walk away loving each other."

On showcase night, my comedy students were reluctant to invite the person who would be the butt of their jokes. One woman was particularly fearful as her entire act revolved around making fun of her mom. She joked about her controlling nature, her obsessive cleaning, painted on eyebrows, and her holding up supermarket lines with excess coupon cutting. She was terrified of seeing her mother after the show. Her mother rushed over to her, hugged her and said, “You forgot to say I’m a hoarder. Here are some jokes I wrote for you to do next time!”

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds can serve as role models, teaching us that laughter can bring us closer together. It’s a better tool for healing than denying. Our secrets are often what’s funniest about us.

Follow Judy Carter @judycarter.com
Judy teaches online http://comedyworkshops.com

Surviving Holiday Stay-overs: Home is Where the Heart is… and Where Murders are Committed

Staying at someone’s house over the holidays, guests have to follow house rules and they can defy all logic.

Spending Christmas at my best friend’s house seemed like a great idea. It was especially perfect since I’d rented out my house for the entire holiday season so I’d have a place to go and be with, not only my dogs, but also someone I’ve known for 25 years. But, you can know someone for 100 years, and you don’t really know them until you’ve lived with them in their house for 24 hours. Because, there I am in her kitchen hearing a hysterical voice I didn’t recognize telling me, “You put a wet bowl in the dry section of the sink!”

Dry side and wet side of sink
I knew what a wet bowl was. But what sort of sink has a dry section? Laura and I have a terrific history. We’ve helped each other though break-ups, she’s cared for my dogs when I’ve gone away, we’ve traveled together happily, and she is one of the most generous people I know. But in her own home, I sadly discovered, Laura has more rules than Homeland Security. And apparently Christmas is a Code Red.

This wasn’t the first time I’d discovered that someone could be very different when you’re staying at their place. A love affair on vacation in the Caribbean went awry when I went to Ohio and found that great, hot sex didn’t happen after I’d put my lover’s garlic powder in the wrong place and messed up an elaborate filing system of spices. My getting on top of, into and in between sheets on a bed that had been made with hospital corners led to another cataclysmic fight. Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where the rules are. And they’re not to be broken.

Laura had a specific approach to trash. Anything smelly was to go into the metal can. Other things went into the trash compactor. I got out my notebook and made a note, but a smell got by me and there was trouble. I got trashed because of the trash.

She also cared that the dogs’ mouths get wiped after they’d visited their water bowls so as not to mess up the floor. Each time I heard a sound that could mean impending danger, I ran into the kitchen. The kitchen became an area of stress. The refrigerator was only to be opened for glimpses and there was a serious time limit for those. Laura came running down to ask, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to find cream cheese,” I whispered, wondering why she seemed so alarmed. Turned out she was alarmed because of the alarm.

Freezer with labeled food and alarm
“The refrigerator alarm went off,” she told me. “You kept it open too long.”

Not wanting to offend again I opened the refrigerator and snapped a photo with my iPhone. That would allow me to check the inventory except that the milk blocked many things. I had to move it and take another picture. It was a far from perfect solution but the only way to elude the alarm. I didn’t want the cops to come because I was searching for cream cheese.

Heater was off at night. It was winter. In my room, the thermometer said 51. I could see my breath. My dogs and I cuddled for warmth, but I still had to sleep in my ski underwear.

Day two I learned that cereal bags were to be heat sealed with a Food Saver machine, showers were to be squeegeed, and all stainless steel faucets had to be towel dried. I tried to argue, “But, it’s water. It dries on its own.” In this house, water was tantamount to Muriatic Acid.

What may have been my biggest screw up was as Laura was putting away the dry items on the left side of the sink, I put a dog dish I’d washed out on top of the dry items. In my defense, I’ve never washed my dog’s dish as they understand that licking them clean is their job. I was wrong to expect praise for cleaning the bowl and was chagrined to be scolded for putting it on the wrong side of the sink with the dry items. True, it was wet, and it didn’t belong ON TOP of other dry items.

“Do you understand what you did?” she asked giving me a disapproving look.

Pantry with Labels
“Yes, I do.” I said, hoping to keep things at bay. “I got dry stuff wet again?”

“I want you to repeat to me what you think I’m saying.” she said, combining the worst of all my elementary school teachers. I was exhausted because of my freezing room, still hurt at having been reprimanded for missing a portion when I cleaned the dog pee off the tile floor and when I neglected to wipe my dog’s paws off thoroughly enough earlier this morning. All this combined to make me suspect she wasn’t enjoying spending the holiday with me or maybe she was picking up where my mother left off years ago, telling me each thing I didn’t do right. It didn’t matter. At that moment I wanted to grab a knife, put it into her and then leave it on top of the dry items. But if blood would stain the tile, I would hear about it, and I couldn’t face my life without my BFF, not on top of a Trump presidency.

So, rather than stabbing her, we actually talked and both realized that we were triggered. I told her about a childhood where I was blamed for everything and she talked about a childhood where she wasn’t seen, heard, or appreciated. We hugged. We cried. I dropped my Kleenex on floor. We both looked at it and before she could talk, I said, “I’ll pay for maid service.”

We laughed and that made everything okay, as it often does.

Join Judy's free webinar: "Finding Extraordinary Stories in an Ordinary Day" Weds., Jan 4th 6pm PT 

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When my BFF, Judy, called to tell me that she had rented out her entire house for the long Christmas weekend and she would like to come and stay at my house with her dogs, I said “yes!” immediately. I love the idea of holidays – especially Christmas. I’m just not so much into the execution of them. So, when Judy called, I was right in the midst of my usual Christmas season routine of not shopping, not decorating and not planning anything special. I thought her staying with me would be fantastic with us hanging out, cooking, eating, walking our dogs together, watching movies, doing whatever we want because we can. This is exactly what I love about not planning – being open to spontaneity and the unexpected. It was going to be a perfectly fun and relaxing holiday weekend. After all, I'm an easy going person.

I have known Judy for about 20 years. We have gotten especially close over the past 5 years as we have helped each other through some difficult times, traveled together to exotic destinations just because the opportunity arose and we are both curious and adventurous and shared thousands of personal, political and “if I ran the world …” stories. And, though we are about as different as two friends could be, in that Felix Unger and Oscar Madison sort of way, we are also about as compatible as two people could be and ALWAYS have a blast together. I consider her my honorary sister and had no hesitations about having her and her dogs stay with me.

So now I have a plan for Christmas and it perfectly fits my take-it-as-it-comes and make-it-your-own-great-holiday lifestyle.

On Christmas Eve, Judy and her two dogs arrive and settle into the guest room and then we stay up late chatting and munching on goodies until we head off to our respective rooms to sleep. I had told Judy when she arrived that the room she was staying in was evidently one they forgot to insulate when they build my house because it is always significantly colder in the winter and significantly hotter in the summer than the rest of the house. I made sure she knew how to work the space heater, told her about the down comforter in the closet if she needed it, showed her the thermostat and asked if she wanted the central heat on or off overnight. She is like me and said she prefers it off.

The next morning, I wander downstairs to see that Judy has already been up and had her tea. I do not actually see Judy, smell tea or see a tea cup, but I do see the dots of white from the foamy milk Judy likes in her tea on the counter and the spoon with still-clinging tiny white milk bubbles on it nearby. Okay. I go to get a treat for my dogs and notice that Judy has also had some nuts at some point the previous night. Not because I saw Judy have nuts, but because the lid to the jar is askew in such a manner that if you were to pick up the jar by the lid, it might just come off in your hand and the rest of the jar would then be all over the floor. Note to self – fix that. Speaking of the floor, one of Judy’s dogs is one of those “water dogs” who likes to drink from the water bowl and then stick his whole snout in the bowl up to his eyes when he is done and enjoy the feeling of the water dribbling out of his mouth as he walks through the house. I didn’t see Cody drinking water, nor do I see him in the kitchen, but I do see a trail of water from the far end of the kitchen that streams past the oven and the refrigerator and then rounds the dining room table. At the end of the trail, Cody lays on the dog bed looking refreshed and hydrated. Alright, a little clean up task for me. I go for a cold bottle of water just then but encounter something crusty on the refrigerator handle as I open the door. Hmmm. That wasn’t there before. I wonder what the hell that is.

None of these little Pig Pen-esque idiosyncrasies about Judy is new to me, or to anyone who has known her from more than an hour. Another close friend of hers characterizes Judy perfectly when she said that Judy “has a very causal relationship with her belongings.” What I’m starting to realize, is that when mi casa es tu casa, with Judy, that includes all of my belongings on that list of things that she does not feel a need to fret much about.

So, I tighten the lid on the jar of peanuts, take up the water bowl so the dogs drink outside, throw a rag towel on the floor and mop up Cody’s drool, put the spoon in the dishwasher, scrape the crud off of the refrigerator handle and wipe up the milk. I also make a mental note to let Judy know about a few house rules when I see her.

When she appears from the bedroom a little while later, she tells me she did not sleep well at all because she was “freezing all night.”

“That’s terrible,” I said. Personally, I hate being too cold, especially when you’re trying to sleep.
“Did you use the space heater?” I ask.

“No” she says, “I was afraid to leave it on.”

That’s fair, I think. I’m a bit paranoid about them tipping over and causing a fire myself.

“Did you get out the down comforter?” I ask.
She wanders away without answering.

I should also mention that, while I am not a clinician, Judy has what appears to be some form of ADD and I had already met my one question quote for her attention span.
It turns out, she never heard me say there was a comforter, again, because it was the second or third item in the list of things I told her about in the guest room.
So, I do mention her not to put a water bowl down unless she is supervising Cody’s drool habit and that the hand-washable stuff in the side of the sink with the drain board should be emptied when dishes are dry before newly washed items are put on top of the formerly dry items, the refrigerator door beeps if you keep it open too long and the temperature is being compromised, etc. And, no worries, it is Christmas day and we are going to fry a turkey in the turkey fryer she brought over and have a fantastic day. I am excited because we were going to do that together last year, but she was sick over Christmas.

So Judy decides to get the turkey out of the fridge and prep it for the big event. She puts it in the sink and begins what looks like a wrestling match with it – and even though Judy has a knife and scissors, she does not appear to be winning. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a healthy fear of food-born organisms, especially in poultry. I’m seeing turkey juice and bits flying around the “wet” side of the sink and landing on the counter, the “dry” side dishes, the faucet, handles, cabinetry, and just about everything in an 18 inch radius of Judy and the turkey. I slowly back away from the situation like it’s the biohazard zone.

Oh god, I’m thinking, how will this disaster end?

Well, fast forward to turkey prep continuing with Judy injecting it with marinade on my center island, thus contaminating that entire cooking surface as well, to Judy asking me for a jar of poultry seasoning and proceeding, not to shake it all over the raw turkey, but to put seasoning in her hand, rub it on the turkey skin and then ACTUALLY pick up the jar with said hand, stick a finger in the jar with turkey slime on it to get a pinch more for an area that needed that extra bit more coverage. In my mind, large portions of my kitchen were cordoned off by virtual police crime scene tape.
Nonetheless, the meal is coming together and I’m feeling pretty confident that the proper cooking temperature and plenty of bleach-based cleaner will make everything okay. The deep fryer is filled with oil, plugged in and…. not heating. Yup, I guess when Judy dropped the fryer as she was carrying it a bit haphazardly into my garage the day before, it dislodged the part of the contraption that communicates with the heating element to actually heat up.

Well, plan B became pouring the cold peanut oil out of the broken fryer into a pan, heating it on the stove top, deconstructing the raw turkey and frying it piece-by-piece. Here are the highlights:
Me: “Judy, is that the plastic cover for the meat thermometer that you have in the boiling oil?” Judy: “Oh, I was wondering about that,” taking the now melting cover out of the pot of oil.

Judy: “Do you have tongs?” Me: “Yes, in that drawer.” From that drawer where there are two sets of sturdy, grippy tongs, Judy selects the third set – ice tongs. Cut to Judy with a very slippery, five pound turkey thigh and leg hovering over a very full boiling pot of oil on a gas range and the slow motion action of me yelling “Nooootttt thoooose tonnnnngs…” as the thigh slides from the weak and not-at-all-grippy tongs splashing down into the pot. About a cup of hot oil erupts out on to the neighboring burner which, thankfully, was not lit. I admit that I did retrieve the fire extinguisher from the laundry room and place it on the counter next to where Judy was frying. And I might have let slip a phrase such as, “I prefer not to have my house burn down today.”

I could go on and on. REALLY. And, needless to say, Judy and I were quite perturbed and had a few cross words with each other. But what matters is, we really, really love each other and want to be friends until we are in assisted living together. And, in order to do that, we need to resolve differences and move forward. So we did. We wanted to find a solution, so we talked about what happened and each of our emotional triggers from the day. We felt heard, close and loved. And we could laugh about it. Being the problem solvers we both are, we decided to hire a cleaning crew the next day, so we could continue our stay-cation, and our friendship. And, being the generous, fair and high moral character person that Judy is, she paid the entire cleaning bill. Merry Christmas to me!

That dinner, when it was finally cooked, was delicious, and filled my body and soul. I love you Judy and I always will.

10 Reasons Why It's Easier to be Jewish at Christmas

There was never an official diagnosis, but I knew my seasonal, winter depression was a case of serious HOLIDAY ENVY caused by being Jewish at Christmas.  Oh sure, we had Chanukah. It’s billed as “the festival of light” but it’s really Christmas-light. “Dreidel” isn’t even in MS spellcheck. You won’t find a latkeh with Judah Maccabee’s face on E-bay.
Growing up, my family tried to put on a festive face. We’d stick a tarnished menorah in the window, our way of saying “us too” in the neighborhood’s winter wonderland of sleighs, reindeers and elves, each house giving off more light than a shuttle launch. We had those blue and white streamers attached to banisters and we spun plastic Dreidels, but what I was lusting for was Santa, the first unavailable man in my life. I yearned to sit in his oversized lap and whisper what I wanted. Unlike my mother, he wouldn’t have scoffed, “You don’t need a training bra!” He would have, I knew, found me adorable and “ho ho ho’ed” at my jokes, making sure I got not only the training bra, but a cocker spaniel puppy as a bonus.
Judy in Ugly Chanukah Sweater
If I was caught moping, I’d be reminded, “We have our own holiday.” Uncle Norman never tired of telling us about the victory of the Jews over the Hellenistic Syrians in the battle of the Maccabees – hardly your warm-hearted, Hallmark moment. Christmas and Chanukah are apples and oranges. The story of Jesus born in a manger to a virgin is a guaranteed ratings win over a forgotten tribe, even with the long-lasting oil miracle thrown in as a B-story. If there’s a miracle, it’s that anyone converts to Judaism when it means giving up chocolate Easter bunnies and eating bitter herbs! Christian holidays have been “Disneyfied,” escalating in proportion and visibility. Christmas has the longest shelf life of any holiday, which is why my holiday depression extended to spring, when the last of the Christmas decorations would finally wilt from the heat.
You’d think eight days of gift giving might make up for something, but not when your family is “practical”. They didn’t want to “spoil” us. On the first day of Chanukah, I’d get one glove. On the second day, I’d get the other one. And we lived in LA, where nobody wore gloves. By day three we were out of brisket and the fun of trying to shove candles into slots filled with last year’s wax had worn off. I wanted to be part of the ritual of holiday shopping, but the only presents I needed were for were the newspaper delivery guy and my hairdresser, people whose last names I didn’t know. Everyone would be saying, “Merry Christmas” and I, who thought of myself as quick-witted, would be stumped for a response. This was no piece of honey cake.
Never mind how many scientific theories or vaccines our people have come up with, in December, we’re not a main event. Try looking for Chanukah wrapping paper in the Rite-Aid in North Dakota. Even in Manhattan, where Hispanics speak fluent Yiddish, a supermarket had put out matzo for Chanukah. And don’t think I was the only Christmas wannabe; Jewish superstar Barbra Streisand made a Christmas album. That’s right, our Yentl! You don’t get Taylor Swift singing “Chillin’ in the Gefillen.”
I’m not sure when things were recast for me, maybe when I heard “Put on your yalmuka. Here comes Chanukah”. As unlikely a guru as Adam Sandler got me out of my funk, getting me to see there is, in fact, a bright side to celebrating the holiday of lights. I had time off and didn’t have to go to church. Christmas Eve I’d gotten into a first-run movie without dialing Fandango. Their holidays get more press, but that’s all they get; we get theirs and ours. And if we want to take a day off, we can make up a holiday. “I can’t come in tomorrow because it’s the first day of “Cha…anything”. I started counting the perks.
Here are 10 REASONS why we Jewish people should be happy at Christmas:
1. We’ll never end up in an emergency room because we fell off a roof putting up reindeer.
2. We’re not traveling during black-out periods to see family. Because of the quirky timing of Chanukah, we can actually use frequent flyer miles.
3. There’s none of that lying to our kids about Santa Claus or pretending the toys are made by elves, not by children in China.
4. We’re not pressured to be happy, which is why it’s not such a Jewish thing to commit suicide during Christmas.
5. Nobody will ever knit us a red wool sweater with reindeer on it.
6. We don’t have to climb a ladder and hang tinsel on a tree with most of it ending up clinging to our clothes.
7. We’re not spending most of January standing on long lines, without receipts yet, to return a fondue set.
8. We can send cards, such as a New Years or Passover card won’t get lost in a huge stack of Christmas cards.
9. Less cholesterol in Potato Latkes than ham.
10. And if this were the only perk, it would be enough. We get jelly doughnuts for dessert, not a Christmas fruitcake with dried maraschino cherries on top.

Personal Story about the Election Results

Trump, OJ, a Ventriloquist, and a Penny

It was 5:30am on Nov. 9, 2016, the morning after the election and I was probably the only person in the world (of the sober ones, anyway) who didn’t know who had won the presidential election.

After driving to Nevada and knocking on more than 300 doors for Hillary Clinton, I couldn’t handle watching the results. So, when the news started to look bad for her, around 8 pm Pacific Time, I took a Xanax and pulled a Scarlet O’Hara, “I won’t think about this today.” I knew there would be plenty of time for that.

Waking up at dawn the next day, I took a deep breath, turned on my iPhone and saw a text from CNN noting, “Hillary won the popular vote.” I breathed a sigh of relief thrilled that justice prevailed! People voted against sexism, racism, and hate. Having my country pick her over him was a personal victory for me as it healed my personal wounds of my mother being excluded from the workplace, and it distanced us a bit from the anti-Semitism and discrimination imposed on my immigrant grandmother. It even felt like a step away from my own history of being sexually assaulted.

As I went to call a friend I canvassed with, I saw the p.s. that while Hillary won the popular vote, Donald Trump was, nonetheless, our next president.

I burst into tears, instantly transported to another time I’d watched something equally unjust, remembering Oct. 3, 1995. It was a sunny day in Seattle, and I was in a hotel room with the TV on, waiting to hear the verdict in the OJ trial. It could not have been clearer that he had murdered his wife and her friend, Ron Goldman. His blood was on her gate. Ron Goldman’s blood was in his car. His size bloody shoe prints had been found on her walkway. They didn’t need a home movie of him to be sure what happened. The phone in my hotel room rang, letting me know that my 2pm private comedy consult had arrived. I was in Seattle doing a week’s engagement at a comedy club, and taking in some extra money by doing consultations.

“Send him up,” I said, turning off the TV.

I opened the door to meet Roy, a chubby, nerdy man in his 40s, with a shabby suitcase in hand, that looked no less ratty than the toupee on his head.

“Hello, nice to meet you,” Roy said, so softly, I could barely hear him. I remember wondering how this soft-spoken guy could command an audience when he barely kept my attention and I was only three feet from him.

Roy sat on the bed, which I later realized was a bit strange. As I pulled up a chair, he opened his suitcase and took out a rather large wooden dummy, dressed in a miniature suit and tie. “Oh no!” I thought, hating ventriloquists and their dolls. But I tried to comfort myself that it would be over in an hour and this guy had paid in advance. Roy busied himself, straightening out the dummy’s tie and then propped it up on his leg.  

“So, you need help writing material for your ventriloquist routine, Roy?” I asked.

Then, with the dummy on Roy’s knee, a booming, assaulting loud voice yelled, “Hey lady, pay no attention to Roy. I’m the one paying you. That idiot Roy is a jerk. He can’t think of anything funny. Got any zingers? Come on, time is money!”

Roy then said softly to the dummy, “Hey, come on, Frankie, be nice. Judy, this is Frankie.”

“Hello,” I said, fretting that I was having a conversation with a fucking doll.

Frankie, the dummy said, “Hellllllooooo, gorgeous! What do you say, we get rid of the old guy with the bad toupee, and you and I make a little whoopee in your hotel room?”

Note to self: Never have a consult in a hotel room.

Changing the subject, I said to Roy… “Did you want me to watch your act and write some material?”

Frankie, maybe now aroused got even louder, “Hey, hot tits, come a little closer, I want you to grab my hand…”

“I’m not grabbing anything,” I said.

Roy persisted. “Oh, come on, Judy, play along … just shake his hand.”

That’s when I started questioning how much did I really need the $200 for this consult. I checked my watch. It had been 15 minutes. What should I do? Try to get through the next 45 minutes, or give him his money back and tell him to get out?

I shook his hand and a large wooden dick popped up on the dummy.

“Wow – you just gave me a woody! Get it?!”

I froze. This was a new low -- being sexually assaulted by a grown man with a doll. I usually had a quick one liner, but I was thrown by Roy’s pretense that it’s not him, it’s the dummy. I had to make a decision.  If I just sat there, would that make me a comedy whore?

Swallowing back bile, I said, “OK, that’s a hack joke. Let’s work on some good ones.” I pulled out my laptop and sat there writing jokes as the rest of the hour progressed at glacial speed.

When he finally left, I realized that I was probably the last person in the country to hear the OJ verdict.

My heart was pounding as I turned on the TV and saw a smiling OJ. Not guilty.

I broke down and cried, afraid about our country. How could it be that in America, grown men could carry around a doll that that sexually assaults women and think it’s funny? What kind of country are we in where a man can murder his wife and her friend and walk away free?

My fear gave way to anger, and I made a decision to stop being nice. I would rage at every man I met.

My first victim was behind the fish counter at Pike Place Market. He charged me for a pound of crab, but I saw it wasn’t a pound, but rather .9 on the scale. I screamed at him, “You are cheating me, you SOB!”

I yelled at the men honking their horns, “Shut the fuck up!”

And when a black man came up to me asking me for spare change, I screamed, “Why should I give it to you? What have you ever given a woman?”

But, instead of turning away from me, this older man in tattered clothes calmly asked, “What’s the matter?” I told him about how the world treated women. How my mother was denied a career just because she was a woman. I told him about being assaulted by my father and there was no one to believe me, and that a man could kill a woman and get away with it.

When I finally ran out of steam, he asked, “Do you have a quarter, a dime and a penny? Don’t worry, I’ll give them back.”

He held the three coins out in his open palm and asked, “What do you notice about these three coins?” I shook my head. I didn’t know.

He said, “The penny is the only coin where the president is looking to the left. The others are looking in a different direction. You see, Lincoln freed the slaves. When I was 12 years old, living in Alabama, I watched my uncle get lynched. I saw them hang him from a tree. I’ve seen many things in my life, but I never thought I would see the day when a black man accused of killing a white woman doesn’t end up in jail. Times are changing.”

As we sat on Pike Place Market. I shared some fish with him and we watched the sunset. I wondered if I’d had his history if I’d have had his reaction? If I had walked in his shoes, would this be a day of celebration?

And now, so many years later, OJ is in jail, the world tilts to the left, and back to the right, and it is a slow journey to justice.

That made me stop deleting my Facebook friends who LIKED Trump. Instead, I sent a message to a Trump supporters and said, “If you tell me what happened in your life that made you vote for Trump, I will listen.”

Anger can take a long time to dissipate so I’m now hoping that Roy and his dummy Frankie will be the only act that agrees to perform at Trump’s Inaugural.

Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.