Comedian shares tips on how to face unexpected challenges

Comedian July Valentine Clark shared her experience with facing unexpected life challenges after her husband’s ALS diagnosis. Valentine Clark encouraged people to utilize the “yes, and” guiding principle of improv during her July 20 devotional. (Hannah Miner)

Lisa Valentine Clark, comedian, actor and host of “The Lisa Show” shared the principles she has learned that allow for good improv during her July 20 devotional.

“Yes, and”

Valentine Clark said the guiding principle of improv is ‘yes, and.’

“It means that you accept whatever is offered to you on stage and add something to it. That’s it. You don’t deny it or question it, you just take it and move forward,” Valentine Clark said. 

The principle of “yes, and…” requires a person to be in the moment and listen to what is happening around them, she said.

Even when people have a “blerg brain moment” in improv, Valentine Clark reminds faculty and students that it is the troupe, the community of actors they are performing with, that makes all the difference.

Valentine Clark shared her experience of her husband’s diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease which has a life expectancy of two to five years. 

As his health deteriorated, Christopher, Valentine Clark’s husband, often made jokes about his health condition as a signal to others to do the same. Christopher kept teaching. He even earned full professor status at Utah Valley University. 

Valentine Clark said even with a body that was not whole, he could give a complete blessing. When Christopher could no longer move in the fall of 2019, he was able to use an expensive technology to type with the subtle movement of his neck, and the click from the pressure of his last remaining moving finger to write individual priesthood blessings for each of his five children. 

After living with ALS for 4 1⁄2 years, Christopher died on June 5, 2020.

“He was the greatest example of taking the offering, and working with it to make something, many things, beautiful. Christopher lived with this ‘yes, and…’ attitude, focusing on what he could do, which was a lot,” Valentine Clark said. 

Finding a way to live with the bad offering

“We can act in faith in the face of fear, whether it’s the trauma of death, maybe, or the unknown, and certainly the future,” Valentine Clark said. 

While many do not find themselves facing a terminal diagnosis, they are promised guidance as they make the next “yes, and” decision or action to move forward in unexpected times, she said.

“I have learned that a lot of humor and joy is found in the unexpected, or seeing the unexpected happen.”

The ultimate way to practice “yes, and”

Valentine Clark encouraged the audience to seek Christ and develop the ability to receive personal revelation which she said is the ultimate way to practice “yes, and.”

Even when it is hard, Valentine Clark encouraged faculty and students to remember to think of life less as a performance and more as a working rehearsal.

“Personal revelation becomes so vital because it accounts for the elements we cannot see, when the needs are immediate,” Valentine Clark said. 

She reminded the audience that they can’t have personal revelation without honesty and vulnerability. She shared that when people ask themselves the big questions in life, they get to choose what they offer moving forward. But she cautions people to remember that it is important to remember who they are, and what they want.

“Our hopes and dreams are so closely tied with happy expectations. But ultimately, our faith is in Christ, not in a specific outcome,” she said.

Valentine Clark closed by reminding the audience that even when life is unexpected, anyone can still find the good in God. 

“I didn’t want the outcome I am living with. Caring for a terminally-ill husband, while navigating a new career, and raising five children, mostly teenagers, while navigating death, a funeral, and mourning during an isolating global pandemic, is not as glamorous as you might think. But I know that God is good, the Lord hears my prayers,” she said.

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