Spotlight on Jim

Which ASAP session are you a part of?

“I'm in Comedy Bootcamp.”

How did you find out about ASAP?

“I first saw ASAP in the newspaper in Newport News last summer, and I read about it and thought, ‘Wow, that looks like fun.’ And then I thought, ‘Gee, that would've been great to have done.’  Later in the fall, I saw a flyer at a local coffee shop for the upcoming Comedy Bootcamp, and it was the last day to register. So, I pulled the flyer off the wall-- so nobody else could get it, which was a very nice thing to do-- and I called the number. They were already full, but they took my name and information down, and I went in and submitted an application anyways! I got into the class for the Spring. I really didn't expect to be accepted into the class when I applied, but I made it!”

What can you tell me about what ASAP can offer other veterans?

“ASAP as a whole has a wide range of different kinds of art programs to offer. I'm in the comedy stand-up class, and they've got an improvisational comedy class, and a writing class, both of which I think, I might be interested in. They've got some other things like music classes that are probably not my forte, but [the programs offer] veterans a chance to explore parts of themselves that they haven't yet been able to. The other thing ASAP offers is a great stress reliever. Just about every vet has some kind of issue. We have issues, and so, whether it's serious issues that are requiring treatment, or issues that should be receiving treatment, or those that have been identified or not, and even just the normal issues someone might have with life, [that] militarily is a tough life; ASAP’s programs give you a chance to deal with it.”

What has ASAP taught you about yourself?

“Wow. You know, in the Comedy Bootcamp, from week to week, I can see a real change in what I'm doing, so that what I'm writing, sharing, and performing, is changing dramatically. At first, I was trying to tell, like, a whole story, or even just my story, and it was really all focused on me and the story I was trying to tell. Now I'm learning, ‘Hey it's comedy; the audience is supposed to laugh.’ It's not all about me when I perform; it's about giving the audience the opportunity to laugh-- letting them enjoy themselves. So, if they only get part of the story, that's okay, as long as they get all of the laugh--if they get that moment of rest. I am getting creative respite out of the class, out of the exercise, or out of the writing, interacting, and the performing. If they get a moment of creative relaxation and freedom just from some laughter and the humor, that’s what this is about. Humor is healing, and if I can give that to the audience, that's great. So that's one thing I've learned; I've got to focus on that audience and give them a gift.”

What have you brought to ASAP?

“I am bringing myself and one of the things I'm learning (especially this past year)[is that] we all like to think about extremes. And, as I get ready to retire for example, when I think about going on to my next job, my next placement, what I am going to do, I think, ‘Well, you know, I want to put my best foot forward and somebody will give me a position based on my strengths.’ But what I really bring is that I am getting in touch with my weaknesses, my challenges, and my difficulties-- and there is a deep well of humor there. So, through all of those challenges, it can't all be darkness, but rather a mixture [with  brightness]. I'm learning to balance the challenges  and the positive things I'm experiencing in life. I think I'm bringing some component of each into the class. We're all learning, and we're all encouraging one another; it's a really encouraging environment. I am bringing receptivity  and I'm also bringing encouragement, just like all of the other students are. Everyone is bringing that for each other.”

What is your favorite memory of ASAP so far?

“One of my favorite things is the cheering that happens when the students get up to do their routines or when they finish and go to sit back down. We all cheer for one another, and from week to week, any one of us might have jokes that may be good or not so good. We're all writing our material, and we all know as we get up there that some of our jokes are better than others. Today, I've got some that I can look at and say, ‘That's not my best stuff, but I'm trying it for different reasons.’ Like today, I'm really not as concerned about the material I'm presenting as I am [about] my presentation. I'm focusing more on the pauses between, and the way I present, rather than the jokes themselves. So, it's really not that important if the jokes are that good today--I mean, it'll help if they laugh a little bit! It's not about how well we do, because it's a learning environment: we all cheer for each other, and that's really great. As people are going up, and as they are sitting back down, we cheer for each other, and any feedback [is encouraging].  It's, ‘That joke isn't as've got better stuff,’ or ‘That joke doesn't work as well for you.’ It's never, ‘You're terrible.’ So, it's that positiveness.”