Aden Kirschner will speak my death.
Well, provided we still know each other when that happens – and I’m hoping that won’t happen any time in the near future – but one night, long ago, I told her that I would want her to speak my death and she, perhaps in a bout of goodwill or pity or inebriation, agreed.
For those of you who never read any Orson Scott Card, a “speaking” is a special kind of eulogy by which the speaker eschews the traditional flowery prose and perfumed filters by which they talk about someone’s life, and instead speaks directly as to who that person actually was, warts and all. Only a special kind of person can do that, and that person is Aden Kirschner.
Aden’s intellectual honesty is what makes her an ideal candidate for this. She holds no quarter for other people’s bullshit, and certainly holds no quarter for her own. She knows who she is, warts and all. As a result, she’s always ready to learn and grow – her cup is always half-full, and she takes a pragmatic account of the situation.
You know those times when you’re in a workshop with some amazing visiting improv guru that everyone is swooning over? Well, sometimes the improv guru says something really ubiquitous and possibly jejune.
Y’know, something like “if you don’t ground your character, then your scene will always be in orbit”, or “listen to your partner’s energy shifts and not what your partner is planning” or “you should do good improv and not bad improv” or (insert own cheap platitude here that — while certainly is not untrue — lacks the specificity to be genuinely useful except in the broad abstract tones of a cat playing a piano). That.
If you find yourself ever in that scenario, I very much hope Aden is in that workshop with you. Aden’s hand will be up, asking for clarification. Many times it will be the only hand up. It will be the only hand up because of three very important reasons.
- She will speak truth to power
- She has the self-awareness necessary to know when she does not understand something fully, instead of fooling herself into thinking she does
- She is not ashamed in any way for not understanding something that everyone else does, or pretends to
That, my friends, is true confidence. That, my friends, is what being actually brave is all about. That is courage. This is one of the many things that makes her a good improviser. Aden is never too cool for school. Ever. “Being Cool” is the enemy of Fearless Love, and Fearless Love is what improv is all about.
Short-Form? Long-Form? Aden can do both extremely well. Aden doesn’t care if you want to snub short-form. She likes playing in it, and that’s what matters. She holds no ill-will toward you if you hate it or think it’s tacky. She won’t take it personally. She’ll simply note your opinion and move on. It’s people like Aden that inspired me to join up with ComedySportz in Austin, and why I continue to do ComedySportz here in Minneapolis. There’s no room for “cool” in ComedySportz.
Who knows why Aden is the way she is? Maybe because she’s done so many unusual things in her life, that it’s allowed for her to have to face up to her own strengths and weaknesses and get to know them intimately. Ask her about the time she lived in a commune, or the rock bands that she’s been in, or her relationship with her family. There’s a lot there.
Somewhere in there were the things that made our Aden – an Aden who is brave and fiercely loyal to her friends and loved ones. I always imagined that if there was a crest of some sort that represented her clan, it would have a lion on it, with a sword, slaying a dragon or some crap like that. Maybe a rainbow in there somewhere. The point is, Aden is a Paladin. And I for one am glad this Paladin is on our side.