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Diversity in Diversion

Editor's Note: Kaye Leslie works at Scotiabank in Toronto as a Manager of Workforce Diversity. She has written and published a chapter on disability and seniors that has been incorporated into a textbook, which is being used by faculties of Social Work in universities across North America. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling and cross-country skiing.

Two years ago, I was sitting in my office with a colleague when she casually stated that she thought I should go on Amateur Night at Yuk Yuk's. I laughed and said that it was one thing to make her laugh, but it was a totally different thing to make a room full of strangers do the same.

But before I knew it, she had signed me up with assurances that she would be there for moral support!

My brother was shocked to hear that I was going to debut as a comedienne. When I said, "Well, it's only seven minutes long. That will go fast, don't you think?", he replied, "It will if anyone laughs."

My mom, on the other hand, was more concerned about me telling off-colour jokes.

I was very nervous when I arrived at the theatre for my first night.

I asked the Master of Ceremonies how I would know when my time was up, and he said that a red light would come on in the ceiling. When I reminded him that I would probably not see it, he simply responded, "Then I'll just yell, 'Hey, blind lady, get off the stage!'"

The rest is history. To my relief, the crowd was very receptive, and I was invited back.

Since then, I have joined Lisa Merchant and her group of female comediennes, "The Eclectic Circus". It is a wonderful group of very funny women who are just starting out in comedy and perform at Second City.

Once again, I was blessed with a very receptive crowd, and my many personal anecdotes about being vision-impaired went over very well.

It's fun to be part of such a lively and energetic group of people, and it's a nice diversion from my everyday work life.

But...

I'm not quitting my day job!

Photo: Kaye Leslie with guide dog "Kirk".

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