Emily and Evy are Marin Academy’s 2011–2012 spirit captains. As members of the student senate, spirit captains participate in the leadership of the school, and also add some levity and humor to the experience. MA’s Spirit Week 2011 is October 24 through 28.
Why did you want to be a spirit captain? What are your goals for the year?
Evy: I’ve always been interested in student council. I’ve always wanted to be a part of planning school events, but I’m not the presidential type. Emily and I ran against each other to be class rep in fifth grade, but neither of us made it. I can’t speak for Emily, but I’m not that serious. I wouldn’t have voted for me. [laughter]
But I’ve wanted to be a spirit captain since freshman year. Literally. Since I went to that first assembly. I wanted to do something where everyone was included. Before I was a senior, I felt like seniors were off-limits. Now that I am one—even though I think we’re great and I want people to bow down to us [laughter]—I want to be approachable. I want people to feel like they are part of MA. We want to connect people, and I think we’re doing that.
Emily: I’ve never been involved in spirit things before. I’ve never been to a spirit dance because I don’t like dances. I go bowling every year. But what if the dances appealed to people who didn’t usually like dances?
We’re working on making things inclusive. It’s a goal of ours, so there will be changes. All of the spirit things are going to be broader. Maybe it was just me, but it was hard to dress up like a gnome for gnome day last year. It was hard to dress up as a psychedelic zebra. Again, maybe it’s just me. [laughter] But we want people to be who they are, and feel like they are part of this. I want the humor to relate to everyone. I want our jokes to evolve within the community.
I believe this is the first time that we’ve had two female spirit captains. Do you think it is a groundbreaking moment? Why do you think it’s such a challenge in our culture to let young women be funny?
Evy: I think it’s definitely groundbreaking. I don’t want to say I’ve been discriminated against because I’m a girl, but I think it’s easier for guys to be funny. I find that a lot in improv. It’s harder for girls, and you have to work harder. Guys can act like girls and it’s hilarious, but when girls act like a guy isn’t not that funny. If girls are tomboys, it’s normal enough that they are not harassed. There is more of a contrast for guys. That’s just a little thing, but it’s telling.
Emily: Guys are so comfortable in society, and people are so comfortable with exactly who they are. To be funny, you need to be yourself, and be honest. In my humor, it’s the truth. You point things out that people don’t want to say, but people know about. There isn’t as much as a stigma to do this for guys. But for girls, it’s harder. For example, a feminist joke—that is too close to home.
How do you experience humor?
Emily: At the root of humor is people being able to identify with something that in a different context would be uncomfortable. Comedy is a relief the moment you see someone doing something you were too embarrassed to do. It brings you together.
Evy: A lot of comedy is making fun of society. Playing up stereotypes. Guys dressing up as girls is challenging those societal barriers. Saying, “I don’t care if you think I’m gay, transgender, etc.” A lot of comedy is also about messing up and not being funny. Especially improv. You’re putting yourself out there and failing most of the time. But when you do succeed, it’s so exciting.
They say that at the heart of comedy is pain. You two are funny people. Does that concept ring true with you at all?
Evy: I’m not sure which pain that refers to—pain for comedians, or for someone who’s being made fun of? I think there is a fine line between classy comedy and mean comedy. I’ve done both, but I try to stay away from being mean.
For me, comedy is a way to express myself. Especially now that I’m a senior, I’ve become more confident, and experiment more with my humor. So that might be the pain part—when the jokes doesn’t work.
Emily: The best jokes are in your own voice and are about things that actually happened. You can’t make it all up. You have to have really good timing. Someone could have told the exact same story, but if it’s not personal and doesn’t have good timing, it wouldn’t have been funny. It’s easy to tell a boring story.
You both have brothers with big personalities. What’s it like without having them at school?
Emily: My brother and I are similar in outlook, but not approach. We were in the same class last year, but I took it first. It was the first time for that. He’s not introverted, but then I realize when I’m around him that I talk more than him. I assume he’s funny because he laughs at my jokes. [laughter]
Evy: I’ve always kind of lived in my brother’s shadow. We tapdance together, do plays together, we’re both funny. I love being like him and he’s a great person, but at the same time, I need something that sets me apart. For me it’s being spirit captain. It’s one of the only things he can’t tell me how to do because he didn’t do it. He does know best a lot of times, but it can get annoying being told all the time.
At the same time, it’s very weird. Weird driving myself to school, doing plays without him. I’ve never experienced that. I loved having him here, but it’s also good for me to finally do my own thing and figure out how to be a leader and not rely on him. I would rely on him even for comedy—he would proofread my speeches. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do on my own. I’m more proud when I do it on my own.