Monday, September 1, 2014

My First Time: A. K. Turner

My First Time is a regular feature in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands.  Today’s guest is A. K. Turner, a writer from Boise, Idaho who mixes domestic humor and cocktail drinks in equal measure.  She's like a boozy Erma Bombeck.  Pick up any of her books about parenting and marriage and see if you don't agree with me: This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, Mommy Had a Little Flask, and Hair of the Corn Dog.  She is co-founder of the Life Sucks, Laugh Hard live reading series, and host of the “Tales of Imperfection” podcast.  Her work has appeared in Folio Literary Magazine, Traveler’s Tales anthologies, and I Just Want to Be Alone, among others.  She recently signed with Bresnick Weil Literary Agency for representation of her next book, Tasmania with Children and Other Devils.  Online her work can be found at Nickmom, Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and AK Turner.

My First Failure

The topic was "Failure."  This subject speaks to me, because what is humor but the ability to honestly bare your own failures?  I was sandwiched in a three-act lineup between a young man who’d used his parents’ credit card to buy multiple video game consoles in a business scheme that failed, and an off-beat girl who felt she belong in a sepia-colored world and fell briefly into a doomed relationship with a carnival worker.  I felt at home.

We sat on stage awaiting our introductions, in front of an audience of over two hundred people, each of whom had eagerly paid five dollars to be entertained by our failure exhibition.  When it was my turn, I took the mic and told a story involving my prior drug use.  It was about how I waited until I was thirty and a mother to try pot, and the resulting vomiting and diarrhea that occurred in the middle of a dinner party.  The true failure of this story was not only in my body’s violent and embarrassing reaction, but also in my later attempt to apply to the Boise Police Department.  My honesty about the pot smoking on the application brought from the Boise Police Department a prompt rejection with big dollop of condescension on the side.

The rejection turned out to be a good thing, of course.  I let go of law enforcement and focused on writing, and eventually found myself on that stage, about to publish a book, and telling my story to two hundred people.  When I began, the audience had open minds, eyes, ears, and hearts.  By three minutes in, they had given their senses over to me.  They were relaxed, laughing, and listening.  At seven minutes in, when I hit the line of how my body simultaneously voided in all directions, they were all mine.  As I spoke of my failed high, I felt the true high that stand-up comedians refer to, that indescribable feeling of conjuring laughter from a room of strangers.  I’d read to smaller crowds before and done well, three minute pieces at open mic events, but this was a different animal.

I would continue to publish and read in the years to come, often with other female humorists.  The best readings were the ones that hit the audience with an honesty they weren’t expecting, a raw truth in deadpan delivery that shocked them into laughter.  Each time I search for that same incredible high of bringing laughter to a group of strangers, a replica of that top-of-the-world feeling as my first time on stage.  It’s like a drug in itself, but better, because it doesn’t make me vomit and crap my pants in a room full of people.  At least, it hasn’t yet.

1 comment:

  1. Funny, yes, how the failure of one person can morph into entertainment of another. Had read some of AK Turner prior & she never disappoints. Nice to have discovered this blog site.