Published : Wednesday, December 27, 2017 | 1:54 PM
One of my favorite actors is Lucille Ball. Her wit, her humor, her shrewd business mind, and her position as one of the first women to run a major movie studio cements her place in entertainment history. Besides, who can’t help but laugh out loud at those wild and zany episodes of I Love Lucy?
Every summer when I teach the leadership course in the Summer Conservatory for Middle School Girls, I dedicate a lesson or two to Ms. Ball and her famous show. After a brief discussion of her history, I show the girls an episode or two of the iconic situational comedy. I watch in awe as they laugh over and over at the sketches filmed in simple black and white devoid of special effects—just plain and simple humor. For some of them, this is the first time they have seen episodes of the shows and for others, it’s something they’ve watched with their parents or grandparents. Regardless of the first time or the tenth, there is always one consistency -laughter. When the episode comes to an end, I’m always met with the same plea, “Please Ms. McCarthy, just one more episode” and let me tell you that it is so hard to tell those girls no.
After the episode, I ask them to share their thoughts about Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, and the show as a whole and I am always surprised by their insight. I ask them to imagine what it must have been like for a woman to lead a major sitcom in the 1950s and each year they say things like, “she’s so funny and makes it look so simple” or “she’s really talented because it looks so easy” or “I expected that the guys would be funnier” or the one that gets me every time—“she’s so brave for doing that as a woman.” When they get to that point, I remind them of a famous Lucille Ball quote—“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”
Last week, The Washington Post published an incredible article entitled “Want to raise an empowered girl? Then let her be funny.” The article outlines the importance of encouraging girls to have a sense of humor—something we have forgotten in our quest to empower them. There’s an abundance of research on the social advantages that come with a strong sense of humor. Humor conveys intelligence. Funny people are seen as more confident and competent. The ability to crack a joke shows social ease and can turn awkward elevator silence into a golden moment of human connection.
The article quotes psychologist and author Lisa Damour who says, “One of the things that happens to girls is that they are encroached upon by the world and one of the things that humor can do is. . .help girls stand up for themselves in ways that people don’t retaliate for.” Lisa Damour is the author of “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood.”
At Alverno Heights Academy, our mission is to empower each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be. That can mean a doctor; a lawyer; an artist; a teacher; an actor; a scientist; a comedian; and yes, even all of those things together. Our goal is to encourage the girls to be who they imagine but also to be confident, to be brave, have humility, and a sense of humor.
Even our faculty and staff remember to find the humor in everything and tomorrow night, you can witness some of that humor (and let’s be honest, bravery) first hand! Join us this evening, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Learning Technology Center as Alverno’s Comedy Sportz team takes on the Alverno faculty and staff in a few rounds of competitive improv—you won’t want to miss it!
But it’s more than just our Performing Arts program that encourages students to have a sense of humor. It’s in every aspect of Alverno life. At Alverno Heights Academy, humor, humility, and bravery goes a long way in the classroom, on the stage, in the science lab, and on the field and court and we want to empower your daughter to find that humor, discover that deep roaring laughter, and the confidence in herself to be the person she imagines.
While this hasn’t been a Ricky Ricardo production, I hope you will consider joining us for Comedy Sportz on Friday, November 3; Appetizers with Alverno Heights Academy on Tuesday, November 14; Open House on Saturday, November 18; or a Visiting Day on November 8, November 29, and January 10.
Who knows? Maybe among us is the next Lucille Ball, Tina Fey, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, or Betty White. I don’t know that for sure but I do know that there are a lot of firsts among us and at Alverno they certainly can be.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Your friendly Vitameatavegamin girl,
Sara A. McCarthy ’05, M.Ed.
Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management
About the Author
Sara McCarthy ’05 is the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Alverno Heights Academy. After graduating from Alverno in 2005, Ms. McCarthy earned a Bachelor’s degree in American History and Sociology with an emphasis in social injustice from the University of San Francisco and a Master’s degree in Education from Azusa Pacific University. This is her sixth year at Alverno and she currently oversees the admissions process, scholarship and financial aid, as well as all marketing and enrollment management for the school. Ms. McCarthy is also the moderator for Alverno’s Ambassador Corps, who are in integral part of the admissions and recruitment process. In the past, she has traveled with Alverno to Italy, Washington DC, and Paris and is currently investigating opportunities for a future school trip to Europe.