POST 'The Elephant in Every Room I Enter' - take the time to notice
What's it about?
It’s like having a one-way conversation with your best friend about their week. Gardiner Comfort does a one man show, where he takes you into the world of his experiences with Tourette Syndrome and attending a national conference with people just like him.
What did I experience?
The best word to describe the moments before the show would probably be hella awkward. Wait. That’s two. Okay, two words. Hella. Awkward. I try to get to the theater early to get a good seat, since there aren’t any reserved ones. I accidentally walk into the wrong place, even though the e-mail said where to go. Forgetting and getting lost is kinda my thing. I’m told to go a couple buildings down, so I thank them and run into awkwardness part two, where I try to open a closed door. I rush out of there as fast as I can, trying to pretend like that was intentional, but who really does that intentionally?
I get to the theater and pick up my ticket. I’m about 25 minutes early, so I had to wait. The waiting area is small, and I make eye contact with this cute guy. Being an awkward child, I decide to take a walk around the neighborhood for a couple of minutes before it starts. Cute guy or freezing in the cold? I think I’ll take the cold on this one. Haha. I get back, and the place is packed now. I stand to the side and notice that everyone brought someone with them, and then there was me. Hella. Awkward. I just stood there looking around, avoiding any and all eye contact. I swear a million years passed before we were let in or maybe it just felt that way because I stared at the same parts of the room for SO.LONG.
We’re finally let in, and not realizing that I’m all the way in the back, I have to do that awkward excuse me thing. You know? Where you have to pass people’s chairs to get to the one you want. I scope out the room as I walk in to make sure I limit the amount of excuse me's I have to make. I find a pretty decent seat in the third row, and thank God I can wait in a more open space.
The show begins, and Gardiner Comfort comes to the stage. After a couple of minutes of monologue, I begin to suspect he might be the only character we see. I later learn that I was right. He speaks about Tourette Syndrome, which is a neurological disease with involuntary repetitive movements or sounds. He talks about his experiences growing up with it. How it affected him and his family. About the conference he’s attending and meeting people just like him. It felt like I entered his head and heard every thought.
Can I just say he’s hilarious? The entire show, I felt like he was my best friend telling me about his week and what he was going through. There's this hilarious scene where Gardiner sees a woman on the street making very odd body movements, which he hilariously re-enacts through interpretive dance. They make eye contact, and he learns that the woman was actually a man. The two have a conversation about how a "lightning bolt" passed through the man. Gardiner learns that those weird body movement was the man getting struck by "lightning." Yeah. Okay. The accent he does for the man and the entire dialog had me in tears. It was the best accent. When he spoke as the man, he embodied the character. He became this whole other person. He also gets major cool points because of his re-enactment of Hamlet with no words. Just interpretive dance. Words can’t even describe how funny that is. I’ll just leave you to imagine what that would look like.
Many times during the show, however, he would say these heartbreaking lines that made we want to go into the fetal position, partially because they were sad to hear but also because I related to them. He could go from talking about moments at the conference with funny jokes to serious, tear-jerking stories. Gardiner mentions how Tourette’s effected his sister. He tells the story of how she wrote a note to her mother one day, and it said, “Nobody notices me. I’m five.” Ohh. I know that feeling, and even writing that gives me chills. I can’t help tearing up a bit. Gardiner also tells another story about a gay actor he meets at the conference, who says a line I wish could be true. The actor says, “I wish everyone could look at someone for their face value instead of judging before.” I just wanted to yell, “PREACH!” The very last line hit me right in the feels though. Right. In. The. Feels. It’s a line that I related the most to, even now. Gardiner says the closing line of, “For a moment, I’m a genius and not a fuck up.” I was obviously a hot mess by the end of this. R.I.P. tissues.
That’s what I loved most about the show, the relatability. Not just in those heartbreaking moments, but the ideas throughout. The stories. The jokes. I didn’t expect that. I found myself constantly relating to Gardiner in some way. Like when he spoke about fitting in. As he’s leaving the conference, he reflects on his experiences and the people he met. He becomes saddened because for once, he was in a place where he felt normal. A place where he fit in, and he wasn’t alone. I felt like he was reading my mind over the years. Like he knew me, which made me feel like at the end of the day, we’re all human. That sounds really obvious, but we all have these things in common and there’s beauty in everything if we just take the time to notice it. That’s who Gardiner is. Someone who stops to take the time to notice.
After each show, I love to draw a scene that had an impact on me. This closing line resonated so much with me. I just had to draw it.