When I transferred to NYU for my junior year of college, I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do...or rather admit to myself what I wanted to do. I wanted to write. But in my neighborhood writing wasn't considered a valid career. I went to the student advisor, to try to figure out what I needed to do to get to write. He really didn't have much to tell me, but he did pull out a flyer advertising a meeting looking to form a new student organization, a college humor magazine, and said maybe I should check it out. I did. And with that, I had found my college tribe. I've written about the Plague before. It really was a important time for me.
He was a film major. I remember a short he made about Christmas decorations. The Plague produced a stage show that we wrote, produced and directed. The results? We meant well. There was the time the Plague got to decorate the front window of the building that housed the student clubs and activities. We did a parody of an amusement park called the Plague-ground. John was front and center for each.
I don't totally remember the exact events, but I know we took a class in stand-up comedy together. The only thing I remember about that is when the teacher asked John, who is from Jamaica, Queens, where he was from, John answered, "Jamaica." When the teacher asked "Queens or the island?" John replied, "the island." And he let the guy go on believing that he was from the Caribbean responding to each question with this deadpan wit. I was flabbergasted! You could just do that with people?? I couldn't wrap my mind around it, John was fearless.
From that class we met a guy who was "working" with some people who were doing comedy. He thought we were funny and invited us to join. Turns out that a group was looking do some type of film but wound up doing a comedy fanzine instead. It was called "Salvador Deli," and we wrote with them (I need to pull them out and scan them for the blog). That group ended up in NJ creating a comedy show for a public access station there. We wrote and acted in the show. As of now, the only two sketches I posted were ones I wrote or co-wrote and performed in. The first sketch was a cold open explaining what we were doing. John and I were two of the reporters. We're knelling in front of the camera because the "stage" for the press agent wasn't high enough and we needed the camera shot over our heads.
We were also part of a theater troupe, Pen to Stage Productions, which was a writer-driven group. John wrote a lot of stage pieces for them. He got to direct. He got to act. He was a comedic force to be reckoned with.