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This Kansas City Mime Says You Should Laugh At Life's Mundanity Right Now

Beth Byrd-Lonski
Courtesy of Beth Byrd-Lonski
89.3 KCUR
Kansas City mime Beth Byrd-Lonski poses for a photo outside of Benton House of Blue Springs, a senior living community in Blue Springs, Missouri.

Beth Byrd-Lonski recommends poking fun at the monotonous existence many of us currently find ourselves in.

If you think a mime is someone who is more expressive with their body language than their actual words, it might be confusing to meet Kansas City mime Beth Byrd-Lonski.

She loves to talk. And laugh. And she especially likes to make other people laugh. (Then again, maybe that’s just her experience as a clown coming through.)

In previous years, Byrd-Lonski has regaled us with conversations about dancing on the Kansas City streetcar, clown conventions and even burping on cue.

Emmett Merrill
Beth Byrd-Lonski has been a mime and clown in Kansas City since 1985.

One day this past week, Byrd-Lonski brought her unique talents to residents at an assisted living community in Blue Springs.

After planting herself outside a safe distance away from patios and windows, she performed her routine to individuals and small groups, slowly working her way around the building.

“It was a wonderful assignment,” she says. “It was very gratifying to find a way to perform for them.”

Byrd-Lonski wrote the routine specifically for this performance because she wanted to do something that would poke fun at the particularly dull day-to-day life the residents (along with the rest of us) currently find themselves in as a result of social distancing.

“I just put myself in their position,” she says. “They are staying in their small, one room apartments, right. And they’re seeing the same thing day after day, and they’re cleaning the same thing time after time.”

After setting the scene with furniture identical to what the residents had in their own apartments, she interacted with herself and let her props take on a life of their own. As mimes do.

“My rag I was cleaning with became my damsel in distress scarf, you know. I offered it to myself and I gladly accepted."

Afterwards, Byrd-Lonski was happy to see the residents applaud and wave from afar.

Courtesy of Beth Byrd-Lonski
Byrd-Lonski performs for residents outside of Benton House of Blue Springs.

It’s especially interesting to perform for older people during a national crisis like the one we’re in now, she says, because they’ve already been through so much: The Great Depression, World War II.

In that way, they’re way ahead of the rest of us.

Her suggestion for anyone trying to get through the mundanity of the moment is to look at the repetition in your life and try to laugh at it.

“Just put that humor brain on and look at the same things that you've been dealing with,” she says. “You’re not going crazy, honest. You're just making fun.”

Don't get her wrong. Beth Byrd-Lonski is well aware of the magnitude of unfunny things happening right now. But she also thinks the only way we’ll get through this is with creative fortitude.

“What else are we going to do?” she says.

Beth Byrd-Lonski spoke with KCUR at the end of a recent episode of Up To Date Special Coverage: Coronavirus In KC. You can listen to their entire conversation here.

Whether it’s something happening right now or something that happened 100 years ago, some stories don’t fit in the short few minutes of a newscast. As a podcast producer for KCUR Studios and host of the podcast A People’s History of Kansas City, I help investigate questions and local curiosities in a way that brings listeners along for adventures with plot twists and thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer in the end – but my hope is that we all leave with a greater understanding of the city we live in. Reach me at mackenzie@kcur.org.
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