Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Marsha Grisham, or What I Learned from JB

"Marsha Grisham?" he asked. "Oh, I've worked with her. I was one of her dancers"

JB meant Martha Graham. He was pretending to be a name dropping braggadocio, a character that made me and other coworkers laugh. We knew by his barely perceptible tone of sarcasm that JB was well aware of getting the name wrong.

"I've also worked with Alan Hayley. I was in one of his original dance troupes."

I'll always keep a special place in my heart for JB, and not just because we can carry on entire conversations by quoting Bette Midler lines from Beaches, or from the Divine Miss M's comedy album "Mud Will Be Flung Tonight!"

JB: "One time I mixed Midol with speed - I had my period six times in one day!"
Me: "But I had to give up speed . . . I started to understand what Charo was saying."
JB: "Where're those Hebe's that wrote this act?"

JB taught me something important about comedy that I will never forget. I am not naturally funny, as much as I would like to be. I admire funny people, people like JB that can keep us in stitches.

"If you're going to make a comment in jest," JB explained, "if you're just being facetious, make sure to say it in a character voice, so people will know you're joking."

I can be one of the most inappropriate people I know, with what comes out of my mouth. I'm still learning, even at my age, the balance of when it's okay to let loose with inappropriate remarks, and when to censor myself. JB's advice has been useful more than once while trying to achieve this balance. I'll always be grateful to him for that.

When working with dancers and talking about favorite shows, the jazz and burlesque styles of Fosse inevitably come up. And JB would inevitably pipe in.

"Bob Foster? Oh, I've worked with him."

JB is also a skilled and talented photographer. The photo above is a kind of spontaneous moment that he had captured of the two of us.


Regina said...

LOVE THIS! i was lauging as i read it! xx

Peter Varvel said...

Regina, yes! Isn't he Divine? :)