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In my world, and maybe yours, rompers are for twenty-somethings who hike, drink fancy cocktails and don’t pay rent.

Christine Jelley

My Comedy Debut in NYC

I was sitting on the couch with my smartphone, taking notes on what I wanted to include in a book I wanted to write about my brother. Novella is my preferred size, but a friend encouraged me to write a “real” book, which meant 200 plus pages. Writing about my brother’s journey to become a comedian in NYC and his untimely death in 2015 wasn’t going to be enough material. I needed an arc, so I put the phone down and started petting my pit bull, Nellie. Then it came to me, like a package ordered from Amazon and forgotten about. In the book, after the brother dies, the sister will try to make his dream come true by becoming a standup comedian herself!

Now I had somewhere to go. I wrote jokes, bits, a whole spot. Changed it, rewrote. It occurred to me that this book would be easier to write and a lot more authentic if I actually signed up for the standup comedy class my brother had taken at The Comic Strip in NYC. I Googled it; it was still being offered. Dread washed over me. It was a good idea, but – really? I asked a friend to do it with me. We agreed that it was petrifying and signed up anyway. Eight weeks of classes to be followed by a four-minute performance on stage. The same stage Jerry Seinfeld performed on many times.

My friend and I, in our 50s, were easily the oldest people in the class, and one of the jokes from a 30ish guy from France was never to swipe right on anyone older than his mother (55). “Absolutely not funny,” I thought.

The day of the show, I ran to FI for a quick workout to burn off some nerves. I detoured to the boutique on the way out and found the perfect blouse for the gig – a dark blue, blousy floral with a crochet lace back. With just enough time for a shower, change and a run to the train, I rejected my planned outfit in favor of the new one. I pulled the blouse over my head. It got stuck. Weird. There was a crisscross feature, so I took it off and tried again. It would not go on. It was the right size, so now I was confused and sweaty. I decided to “step” into it, which I did. My legs became cocooned in a narrow opening, and I couldn’t walk. I shimmied it down and decided to see what the heck was going on, so I peered downward, through the neckline, to assess the engineering.

It was a romper. There were two (2) leg openings. Not a blouse. In my world, and maybe yours, rompers are for twenty-somethings who hike, drink fancy cocktails and don’t pay rent. In a split second, I decided to, “Wear it, own it, go for it.” At Penn Station, I met my friend and asked him if he liked my blouse. He said yes, so I bent my legs to the sides to reveal my secret. “It’s a ROMPER!” He started laughing and said that no one would notice.

On the subway, I smoothed the legs of my romper over my leggings. Nice material; soft. We got to the Comic Strip and were directed to the elevated “Comedians Only” seating area, behind the audience. It was a packed house. The emcee motioned to me when it was my turn to go up. I stretched, I prayed, I asked my brother for help.

“Up next is a very funny lady,” the emcee announced. “Give it up for Christine Coyle Jelley.”

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About the Author

Christine Jelley

Christine Jelley is a very funny (and brave) lady and a regular contributor to Fit to Print.

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