There are two things that I really enjoy.
Humor of the "I just flew in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired" ilk and doing accents. This basic level of yuks is about on par with my expertise in actually sounding like someone from another part of the world but hey, I confessed to enjoying speaking with an accent, I didn't say that I was any good at it (although once in a while I surprise myself and pull it off - but I can never seem to repeat the magic).
There is also a third thing I enjoy. That is teaching. And when the three converge my classroom suddenly turns into a lounge act in the Catskills. I get on a roll and create characters on the spot. They all have their own personalities and ticks. And naturally they all speak with an accent. These 'performances' are encouraged by my students who laugh and giggle at every witty bon mot.
But sometimes the characters I create come back to haunt me.
One such creation came about on a slow, dreary Monday morning following an especially hectic and exhausting weekend. I was moving rather slowly. My thoughts were of slipping into my comfy bed after school and getting some rest. But there I was teaching. So to help keep myself awake and to add a touch of entertainment value I created "The Old Woman". For the life of me I do not know why it became a woman instead of a man - perhaps it was funnier at the moment.
This old woman spoke with a funny accent which I never did pinpoint. I just know it was not my usual speaking voice. She also moved really slowly and would fall asleep in the middle of a sentence. So there I was talking and nodding off. Each time I did this the laughing children would scream and tap me until I was awake. All this nonsense got me fired up and soon I was no longer dragging.
The old woman hung around for a bit as the students would ask me to "do the old woman" or other characters that I had come up with. I always happily obliged until the day my class was chosen to be observed by some important, hoity-toity visitors.
There I was in the middle of a well planned, stunningly executed lesson when I heard "do the old woman". Uh-oh! I shot the kids a 'not now' look and kept going. But they are slow to take the hint. Again, "do the old woman".
Realizing that I must address this I cleverly responded with "Oh, you mean the old man?" as I smile and look towards our visitors. They reply, "No, the old woman. Do the old woman."
They are blowing my cover. Here I am all proper and perfect and they want me to feign sleep and do some indeterminable accent. Oh, what the hell. I do it. We all laugh. The lesson is actually better. The students are engaged. They are learning and enjoying themselves. Everyone lightens up a bit and when the guests leave they shake my hand and smile. We all learned a lesson that day and mine was to just be myself.
But, I did add another character later that week. Can you guess?
Yes, an old man.