It’s an interesting combination- piano teacher by day; standup comedian by night. To tell you the truth, I went for years denying my comic abilities, never telling the other grade school moms about the person I really was. None of them knew I’d spent most of my life, six days a week and sometimes threes shows a night, in smoky comedy clubs trying to make people laugh.
I didn’t want to admit my recent past because I felt too many negative connotations come to mind in the words “standup comedian" - drinking, drugs, lewd material and perhaps irresponsible parenting. Living my teenage years at an all-girl’s Catholic boarding school, I’d been engrained with a lifestyle that was not a match. And so I kept my past and dreams a secret.
I took off many years from standup comedy when my children were small. After my third child was born, I missed them all so much when I would go out to do a show at night. I continually thought, “Why am I here? I want to go home. " Eventually the desire to be with my children at night combined with a healthy dose of exhaustion convinced me that I could leave standup comedy and lead a “normal" life. In retrospect, the lesson learned is - never turn your back on your dream - it will catch up with you, if you’re lucky.
What happened in those years that I stayed away from the stage? I wrote and wrote and wrote. (Eventually that writing would become my first show entitled, “BIG PEOPLE, little people!") It was easy to write. I found my children endlessly amusing - let’s change that to downright hilarious. I thought to myself, “What if adults acted like children?’ “How long would it take for an adult who acted like a child to be committed?" Maybe less than a minute?
My son wore his Power Ranger costume to the grocery store. If I did that nobody would think I was cute. They’d commit me. They’d call the authorities. They’d call 911. They’d say, “Bag Lady in Aisle 6!"
What if I started screaming in church and tried to run up the aisle? Nobody would say, “She’s kind of cranky today. " No! They’d hustle me out and everyone would be very “disturbed".
What if I ate a spaghetti dinner and left the sauce all over my mouth and ran it through my hair? How do kids get away with this stuff!
And it made me laugh. And I wrote it down. And I’m still writing it down today.
The other day I was teaching a six-year-old girl a beginning piano lesson. In all her innocence, she started her own interesting conversation with me. “Mrs. Edwards. don’t you hate it when you’re on the monkey bars and you forget you have a skirt on, and your underpants show?" And I said quite matter-of-factly, “Yes. I do hate that! And I know just how you feel!"
Sally Edwards is a professional keynote speaker, corporate comedian and standup comedienne who began her career studying improvisation at Chicago’s Second City. Sally has been featured on Showtime’s Comedy Club Network, A&E and NBC TV’s Friday Night.
Sally is now a frequent guest on Chicago's WGN Radio.