Talented at mimicry and as perceptive as a social psychologist, Pedro can have twelve kids rolling at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, twelve kids rolling on the floor laughing during homework room is often what we try to curtail at Kids Club. They do say that in comedy, timing is everything.
We had been practicing our skits for the Talent Show for about a week. The kids had learned the rhythm and main punch-lines of their skits, and we began practicing them in front of each other as we tried to puzzle out what would make a parent laugh.
One group of our girls struggled.
“Is it time yet?” They mumbled nervously from their seats, the rest of the group looking on. They delivered their lines without missing a word, but there was caught in a cloud of nerves, the humor failed to appear. When they finished, no one laughed. Even after the group offered positive feedback, the four looked dejected.
“I don’t like our skit,” one of them blurted before huffing into a seat.
The next day, the same group returned. They let the other two subgroups practice their skits first. Once the two groups had finished, they squirmed, stalling before going up to the four chairs in the center of the stage to practice.
Before they ambled on stage, Pedro, one of our Kids Club clowns, popped up. “I’ll help them,” he yelled with a laughing smile as he plopped into one of the chairs set up for the girls’ skit. Immediately, the girls’ faces featured small smiles. “You’re going to pretend to be a girl?” they asked incredulously.
“Yiissss,” responded Pedro, feigning a prissy voice and throwing a hand delicately to his throat. The girls giggled.
They began. “Is it time yet?” Veronica inquired boldly, a smile curling her lips.
“Is it time yet?” The next girl asked, and looked expectantly and Pedro.
He crossed his eyes, sat up straight and fluttered his eyelashes as he passed along the questions. The rest of the group roared. Pedro continued his antics for the entirety of the skit. By the punch-line, the girls leaped off-stage, thrilled at the reception they had received.
At the end of the day, I beckoned Pedro with a hand. “Hey, I want to thank you for what you did today.”
“Did you see how the girls felt about their skit yesterday during practice?”
“Bad,” he said immediately, “because no one was laughing.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “How did they feel today?”
“Good,” he said, realization beginning to fill his eyes, “because I helped them and everyone laughed.”
“Exactly,” I said. “You used your gift to build them up and make them feel good. You made them excited about their skit in a way that I couldn’t do. Thank you.”
He stared up at me for a moment, then nodded and looked way. He thought for a moment then looked at me very seriously. “I can help them at the show, too” he said.
While he ended up not performing with them, the girls practiced more confidently until the final show, where they delivered their skit flawlessly. Pedro knew that timing matters in comedy, but he learned that comedy’s power can last much longer than a single laugh.