By Sarah Richards
Leanna Conley’s advice to those who want to be humorists, whether in stand-up or sitting behind a desk, is “self-awareness…to be humorous, tell the truth, know yourself, and don’t worry about being funny. It will flow if you be honest about your story.”
For author, humorist, and stand-up comic Conley, humor is “getting the strength to look at something objectively, laugh, and help yourself heal from tragedy that happens to everybody. Anything from a bad day to an accident to the loss of a parent. Nothing is immediately funny…people aren’t saying ‘hey, hey, you know, wow that was a great funeral. What a laugh.’”
On September 25th, Conley gave a presentation at the Milton Campus on “Using Humor to Deflect Pain and Depression in Everyday Life.”
The event centered on “how I’ve used comedy in my life to get over tragedy. I talked about how my husband had a horrible accident where half of his legs were burned off.” She went on to talk about her mother, who was a “backstage mother and very forceful.”
She was even living in New York on 9/11 and lost friends.
Charlotte Sweeney, the librarian at the Milton Campus, asked Conley to speak at the school after listening to her at last year’s Foo-Foo Festival.
The goal of the 45-minute presentation was that Conley “just wanted to impress upon people that you do have that [humor] as a tool.”
The session was less about stand-up and a little more about comics, like Robin Williams; shock value comics, Michelle Wolf; observational comics, Ali Wong; and physical comedians like Jim Carrey.
Conley credits a local writers’ group, WriteOn! Pensacola, and Toastmasters, an international public speaking organization, in preparing her for such an event.
For her, humor was a way of surviving childhood, as she would use humor to distract her mother from her depression at living a different life than what she had envisioned. She saw the power of levity, for her mother “would literally go from being so angry to pausing and just laughing out loud because I would make a joke.”
Conley’s book, “The Janet Chronicles,” is based on her mother, who is “the gift that keeps on giving…It’s a crazy world in Janet’s world.”
Her philosophy? “Tragedy plus time sometimes does equal comedy.”
For more information on Leanna Conley, visit http://thedailyjanet.com/