When she was a little girl, Simone found she had the ability to make people laugh – and she really loved that. She also had a natural talent for mimicry and enjoyed doing send-ups of popular celebrities of the period (Late 40’s, early 50’s) for her family.
Fast-forward half a century or so (mostly “so”), and Simone is still trying to make people laugh… sometimes unsuccessfully: “I’m really a very funny person. It’s just that some people don’t realize it”.
I: So, Simone, how on earth did you come up with the idea of combining drumming and comedy?
Me: Well, I’m aware that the sight of a little old lady playing that big ol’ djembe drum is beyond weird and gets everybody’s attention right away. Wow! A ready-made audience! It began one day at a performance in Everett (Washington). I walked out on the stage and my drum was sitting in the middle of the stage. I arranged the straps and slipped it on. It protrudes like a gigantic phallus between one’s legs. You could hear a pin drop. I looked at the audience and said, “Remember when this was an apron?” and everyone roared. That’s when it dawned on me, “Hey, I think I got something here!
I: Where do you get your comedic ideas from?
Me: Mostly from the tragedy…er…miracle of aging. If you don’t find some humor in the rotting – strike that, I meant aging – of the body and the mind, you are pretty well screwed. Although, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t mind being pretty well screwed at this point.
I: Don’t some people find your humor somewhat crude and offensive?
Me: I hope so. (But if there are kids in the audience, I do tone it down.)
I: Any past highlights for the STAND-UP DRUMMER?
Me: I was selected to perform for a talent show put on by The Stranger, Seattle's alternative newspaper and also for Bumbershoot’s Got Talent. Bumbershoot is, of course, this ginormous arts festival held every year at the Seattle Center. I was one of nine people picked to compete and I made it into the finals. I came in third, but considering that the winner was a 9-year old boy juggler, I felt pretty good about that. Honestly, I think I made it into the finals because there were two emcees, both comics from New York (yay), and at the end of every act they would stand on either side of the contestant and ask a few questions. Well, I was still wearing my drum and whenever either of them said anything even remotely humorous, I would give them a loud BA-DUM-BUM on my drum, which caused the audience to laugh, which pleased these guys no end.
I: How long does your act run? Who would enjoy it the most, do you think?
Me: I just love your questions! My act can be any length – from 10 minutes to an hour. And while my humor can be blue at times, I can also bleach it so as not to offend younger audience members. But most of my humor arises from observing the aging process and so it has special resonance for older women. At least those who want to find something to still laugh about. And when they're through laughing, they can dance...
What’s in a name?
It depends on how you look at it. Your name can be “only” the thing by which you are known – or it can be a reflection of your highest vision of yourself, a source of power, strength and inspiration.
Through the telling of my story – my journey to LaDrumma – I will attempt to answer the most common question asked of me: How did you get into drumming? I will accompany my story with my drumming.
You’ll be encouraged to think of the many ways in which names affect our lives, for good or ill. Find out what’s involved in changing one’s name – from a legal, social and a spiritual standpoint – and listen to some of the surprises that were in store for me when I legalized my name (first as well as last) in 1996. You’ll also hear some fascinating facts on the subject of names – like how relatively recently in Western history the concept of a last name is, and the roles names have played through the generations.
At the end of my show, we’ll find out how others feel about their name. If there are folks present who have picked their own names, like me, or if their names have played a significant role in their lives, they will be invited to share their story with all of us.