Humans of Canadian Memorial: Wilda

How did you get into stand-up comedy?

“Over a lifetime, in a round-about way. As a child, my mom entered me in public speaking contests and talent shows. She could see I got a kick out of entertaining. In my adult life, I’ve been on a quest to find my purpose. I was in a long-term marriage and spent a lot of my energy on things important to my husband. But I was out of sync with myself and finally couldn’t do it anymore. Since leaving in 2008, I have discovered that I like to make people laugh, so when I saw a course for stand-up comedy last fall, I had a gut-sense to take it.

When a comic comes out on stage, it’s good to acknowledge what people see and then blow their stereotypes. As a class exercise, we took turns standing at the front while our classmates jotted first impressions. Several people in my course wrote ‘old’. I was probably ten years older than everyone else in the class, but in my heart I am not old! I realized I had some ageism because I thought, what’s this with not wanting to be perceived as old? So I’ve got some work to do there. I became aware of my stereotypes and realized we all have much common under the skin — our fears and things we’re trying to heal from. I love to say something that makes everyone join with me and each other in laughter. It is healing…when it happens. Sometimes a joke bombs! I’m learning to roll with that, too. I enjoy writing the jokes, so the process is healing for me.”

What’s your faith experience?

“Even though I grew up in the United Church, I pulled away from the church. I knew the problem with religion was in me more than in a particular church. I was an observer for a quite a while and respected the UCC for standing up for gays in the late 1980’s. So I knew that if I were to go back to church, it would be the UCC.

The second Sunday I was at CMUC, the choir sang Do not Leave your Cares at the Door, and there’s a part where the soloist sings: every story is sacred here even yours. And I thought, yeah really? Broken family, an erratic career path, long periods of my adult life where I didn’t go to churches, and a lot of seeking help for anxiety and depression. And I thought, where is the sacredness in that? But I decided to stick around and to see if I could find out. Through this process, I’ve been starting to reflect on how maybe it was Spirit that helped me find yoga, and specific therapists, and a couple of soul-mate women friends. All these experiences contributed to finding myself enough to risk sticking my toe back into religion. And I realized God works in many mysterious ways, only some of them in churches. So the sacredness of story now resonates with me. And I believe we all have a sacred story. So the thing I appreciate about CMUC is the invitation to keep growing because I know that’s what I need to do. I feel called to lead in the community more than in church. One way I attempt to do that now is through comedy.”