The power of laughter in a time of crisis, a guest post by Nicole Kronzer
I had the most magnificent high school theater teacher. I was equal parts terrified and in awe of her because she treated teenagers like we mattered. Part of that meant being honest with us.
So when I went to her with my graduation speech, I got halfway through the delivery and she stopped me. “It’s so boring, Nicole. Don’t write what you think everyone wants to hear. What’s something you learned in high school that you think everyone should remember forever?”
I swallowed. “Uh…the power of laughter?”
“Then write that speech.”
So I did. I delivered that speech to a college basketball arena filled with my fellow graduates and the people who loved us. I pointed out fun facts about the number of calories burned while laughing and the endorphins it creates, interrupting the facts with impressions of our teachers and snippets from the song Make ‘em Laugh from Singin’ in the Rain. The crowd, as they say, went wild.
I look back on that speech now, twenty years later, and think: “Brave girl, Nicole.” And also, “You were right about the laughter.”
My very first book, a YA novel called Unscripted, came out April 21st. It takes place at an improv camp in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve been thinking about laughter and the power of laughter in all sorts of ways ever since high school.
This is such a weird time. My young daughters asked me, “What happened during pandemics when you were little, Mama?” and I tried not to scare them when I answered, “Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime, sweet peas.” And then I tickled them. And showed them the “Horse with No Name” Rex Chapman tweet. When we were done, they still knew this was a singular time, but also that we could persevere.
Laughter does not distract us from the work we need to do, it fills our cups so we can do the work. So we can be strong for the kids who need us.
There’s all sorts of power in laughter. I knew it when I was eighteen and I wrote that graduation speech that brought the house down, I knew it at thirty-eight when I started writing Unscripted, and I know it today at forty, raising two little girls through a pandemic.
There is a lot that could overwhelm me, but I can handle it after watching Parks and Rec or Key and Peele. I can do hard things after giggling with my friend KC as she tries to tape ear buds into her weirdly shaped ears so we can take our separate runs together over the phone. I can read Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin and disappear for a while, rejuvenated when I close the book’s cover.
When times are difficult, we often deny ourselves the very things we need to survive those times: sleep, exercise, nutritious food, and togetherness. Our physical togetherness is limited right now, but laughter can bring us together, and give us the strength we need to keep going.
My eighteen-year-old self would urge you to take Donald O’Connor’s advice and Make ‘em Laugh. Or be the person who does the laughing. Or recommend books for students so they can laugh. No matter how you slice it, laughter will help us come out on the other side, ready for anything.
Meet Nicole Kronzer
In addition to writing books for teenagers, her favorite people, Nicole Kronzer is a high school English teacher and former professional actor. She loves to knit and run (usually not at the same time), and has named all the plants in her classroom. She lives with her family in Minneapolis.
Socials: Instagram & Twitter: @nicolekronzer
About Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer
A funny and timely debut YA about the toxic masculinity at a famous improv comedy camp
Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live. She’s thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she’ll get to perform for professional scouts—including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she’s hardworking and talented, Zelda’s also the only girl on Varsity, so she’s the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they’re alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay? Equal parts funny and righteous, Unscripted is a moving debut novel that Printz Award winner Nina LaCour calls “a truly special book, written at exactly the right time.”
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: 04/21/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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