DEAR AMY: My 27-year-old daughter, “Zoey,” was just laid off from her IT job out west and now she would like to pursue her long-cherished dream of becoming a comedy writer/performer on stage. She has no debt, money in the bank and a good start on her 401(k). She performed when she was in school, and the director thought she was quite talented at the time (and is quite the personality now), but she didn’t think seriously of going into comedy then. Zoey went the “safe” route and got a computer programming degree and has excelled at everything she has tried. But she is not happy. I support her decision to try something different, but would like her to get some sound advice. We don’t know where to go, and have decided to turn to you. She is welcome to live here with me in the Chicago area to save some money, if she wants. Obviously, we know she’s going to have an uphill battle with this career change, but I believe that since she’s not married and has no responsibilities (other than herself), this is the best time to try it. Have any ideas?
DEAR MOM: The first rule of improvisational comedy is to respond to on-stage challenges with, “Yes, and...” This is your daughter’s “Yes, and” opportunity. None of us really knows what challenges lie ahead, and to some degree life is one lengthy — sometimes comedic — improvisation.
So I’m with you. Zoey should go for it. I might not offer the same advice if she weren’t already solvent, single and with a supportive parent.
Chicago is the best place in the world to learn, develop and exercise her comedy chops. The Second City empire, which was born and thrives in Chicago, offers great opportunities for taking classes. The comedy and improv scene provides a vibrant and target-rich environment.
Your daughter should get (at least) a part-time day job and keep up her IT skills while she is pursuing her new career. She should also work on her writing skills, and join an online or in-person writing group.
It can take years to become a self-sustaining performing professional, but I can’t imagine she would ever regret leaping into this opportunity and responding with a resounding “Yes, and...”
If you and your daughter haven’t read it yet, you will both enjoy Amy Poehler’s charming memoir, “Yes, Please,” (2015, Dey Street Books).
I’m pulling for her.
DEAR AMY: My ex and I have been apart for several years. Things did not end well between us, and I am finally feeling “over” our relationship and able to move on. Mutual out-of-state friends are going to be visiting in-state this summer. They emailed a group of us that they would like to get together. Both my ex and I were included in the group email. I haven’t responded yet. I would love to see my friends, but I don’t have a desire to reopen old wounds and see these friends along with my ex. Mutual friends included in the email have responded that they would get together on a certain date. My ex has not responded that I know of. Any suggestions? It took me a long time to get over a very bad situation. I am fine with my mutual friends being at an event with my ex, but I know I can’t do it. What do you think I should do?
DEAR RECOVERED: I think you should respond to the group that you intend to go and that you are looking forward to it. If your ex becomes aware of this and responds that he will also go, you will have a choice to make. Sometimes, it can both advance and prove your ongoing recovery to make a determination not to let this relationship control your own social choices. However, if you’re not ready, or simply don’t want to face the anxiety of this particular hurdle, you should not have to justify a last-minute decision not to attend.
Even if you do attend, you should build in an escape hatch in case your ex chooses to show up and you don’t want to stay.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).