Do Your Thing

Brenda Bussulwa

The night was young with a handful of students preparing for a free laugh, and not willing to be disappointed. As Michael Dean Ester hopped his way onto stage, some students seemed unimpressed, that is, before he opened his mouth.

The Theatre was quiet as everyone waited for the comedian to begin. There was no segue, no introduction, there was no moment where it was obvious he had even begun his act as he introduced himself, but without all of that, he had the audience laughing in seconds.

Part of his act included interaction with the audience; he called them out and asked them questions. He even remembered their names when he picked on them again, proving to all of us that he was a true comedian by not having anything pre-planned. It gave the audience the impression that he was just winging it and making his jokes as they came to him.

The whole theatre rang with the sound of laughter; enough to make it seem like it was a full house. He roped in the audience by getting to know them and finding out the different things they were interested in. His jokes ranged from his own family life, in a loving way, back to things we all could relate to, such as encounters at places like a drive through or work.

To many this could have seemed like some comedian trying to earn his paycheck just to put food on the table. Ester however, seemed like a man who was after more. His act was not just the night of a comedian, but the night of comic inspiration. For those who have experienced listening to speakers who are trying to be inspirational, often times they remember it taking too much time. They remember feeling like it’s always the same message; that you can’t give up, you need to push through, you can do anything you set your mind to, and all the things we’ve heard enough times for them to lose their effectiveness.

Ester on the other hand, was something else, something unexpected. He brought up his past experiences of being at UNH and recalled someone who influenced him deeply. He gave credit to Professor Yoder for asking him, in a very philosophical way, who he was? Ester also accredited Yoder as the reason he was able to be on stage. After all he has learned, he wanted to give us the same wisdom.

Ester also talked about two impressive people, Bill Gates and Thomas Alva Edison. He reminded us that Bill Gates is a man earning “14.7 million dollars a year, no, an hour,” but never finished his education. The comedian joked that he regretted finishing his education, or else he too could have been a millionaire. He brought up Thomas Alva Edison, who received “a lifetime achievement award for his incredible bodies of work,” but as he got to the podium he turned it down because he had never done a day’s work in his life. For him it was fun. The humor was in how everyone lives in a society that loves to complain about the work that they do, and the jobs they willingly place themselves in. The joke was on the audience when they realized the numner of work days that were ahead of them; “twelve thousand,” which up to us could be twelve thousand days of fun or twelve thousand days to complain about.

Ester conversed with the audience, making them feel as if he was someone they knew. As the show wore on, we could feel the tone changing as we realized we were learning something we should hold onto. This, however, did not change the humoristic atmosphere. We were thrown questions that needed answers. “What would you study if you knew you couldn’t fail?” “What is it that excites you?” and “Are you good at it?”

He pointed out to the audience that they can’t confuse their major with their dreams. When he brought it all together it was simple, it all came down to what he had learned from Professor Yoder. He changed roles in his performance and he played the part of that Professor. Ester asked: “Whose education is it?” the audience replied, “mine.” “Whose dream is it,” the audience replied, mine. “Whose life is it now?” and the audience replied, “mine.”

The most important thing he had learned, and passed on to us, was that word; “mine,” and that all one needs to do is “their thing.” He did say he avoided the obstacles that got in his way; instead he looked at it optimistically, pointing out to the audience the good and the bad. The good being that there are professors and others who have found “their thing” is to be here to help students find theirs. The bad being that there are those who have abandoned “their thing,” and are very willing to help us abandon our own.

A person’s success depends on if they happy, not on the amount of money they make. So before Ester ended his show, he called out to the audience one more time, in that sergeant voice, and asked them those same three questions. With each question, they responded with the word mine. Voices rang through the place stronger than the laughs had, and as the audience answered the last question shouting in unison, “Mine damn it,” he let them go do their thing.