What happens when a life-long “class clown” takes a Community Education class in stand-up comedy? Laughs, of course. And, for Cindy Foster, a chance to live her life’s dream. In the months since taking that class, Cindy has performed with some of her comedian heroes and competed in the qualifying round of “New England’s Funniest Comic” at Mohegan Sun.
Cindy Foster is a self-described 47-year-old lesbian and hockey mom from Greenfield who loves to make people laugh but always dreaded public speaking. In Fall 2012, when friends suggested she take Jerry Caruso’s Intro to Stand-Up Comedy class at GCC, Cindy wasn’t surprised. Growing up and at Athol High School, Cindy was the stereotypical class clown. In her 20s, she went to Los Angeles and considered a career in comedy. Instead, Cindy has worked as a social worker and a stay-at-home Mom.
Looking back, Cindy said, “If it wasn’t for that class, I would have missed my calling. When you get the GCC Lifelong Learning Guide in the mail, you’re opening up your little hopes and dreams book. A lot of people think what I thought, I’ll just do this to pass the time. Look closely at what captures your imagination. It’s okay to remember you have a creative side. For a reasonable fee, you could have an experience that truly opens up a new path in your life.”
Cindy is on that new path. Although she thought the way into comedy was to go to New York City or Los Angeles, Caruso’s class taught her the skills and business of stand-up comedy. Most important, the class and end-of-class performance gave Cindy the confidence to turn her talent for humor into work. On New Year’s Eve, Cindy performed with the “Queer Queens of Qomedy” at the Calvin Theater in Northampton alongside Poppy Champlin, Ian Harvie, and Michele Balan. Cindy also has performed with Kelli Dunham at Diva’s Nightclub and was the opening act for Pride Week at the University of Maine in Orono.
Dean for Community Education Bob Barba said, “Cindy Foster’s story demonstrates what I love about Community Education and the reason I cling so fiercely to my assertion that personal enrichment is every bit as important as workforce development, and that there is absolutely no distinction between them when they are done well. Cindy didn’t foresee a career as a stand-up comic. She, like most of our students, wanted to try something she’d always been interested in and to get out of the house. Amazing things can happen when you get out of the house. Cindy opened a door that has her, as she said to me, ‘Livin’ the dream.’ She’s my new role model.”
Cindy is a funny woman, yet she has serious advice for everyone she meets: “One class re-directed my whole life. Don’t spend your whole life thinking ‘I wish I would have. . . .’ The key to unlocking your dreams is just down the road at GCC.”
For information about GCC’s Community Education programs, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/creditfree/ or call (413) 775-1605.
By Mary McClintock ’82
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