HOME   BACK to the Columnist INDEX APR-MAY 2004 ISSUE
This month's

Traci Skene

"Moving Pictures"
Traci discovers why she's a comic after viewing home movies
(November 2001)

"Penile Origami"
Traci's take on Puppetry of the Penis (August 2001)

"Won By A Nose"
Traci yanks a bothersome nosehair out of her head
(November 2000)

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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

Shecky! Chief

Dear Diary

On the bottom shelf of our office bookcase, a torn and stained, 10 x 13 white envelope stands unnoticed amid a row of photo albums. To anyone but the owner, the items contained within its cracked folds would seem unimportant: a silver safety patrol captain's badge, a Holly Hobby diary, a 30-page black-and-white book tantalizingly titled "The Secret Life of Donny Osmond." But to the owner-- who just happens to be me-- those moldy objects immediately put me in touch with the person I used to be: a precocious, hyper-cute, over-achieving grade-schooler who secretly called people "jerkoffs" and once wrote, "I also got my period. What a bummer. I have a feeling it's going to be a bad week." Hmmmm, take away the "grade-schooler" part of the description and I haven't changed much have I?

(If I can believe what I wrote in my diary, as a sixth-grader I was obsessed with sports, with my weight and with older boys. Funny-- as I read these words, I am well aware that March Madness is in full swing and I just started on the South Beach Diet with my husband who, I hasten to point out, is eight years my senior. It's so depressing to know that I was fully formed by the age of 11.)

Also included in my ripped envelope of treasures, are my yellowed notes from my sixth grade graduation speech. Neatly handwritten and doubled-spaced on 5x8 index cards, these words may be the earliest example of my life as a writer and public speaker. (Writing "Shit! Shit! Shit!" in my diary doesn't count. Neither does my oral presentation about gorillas-- for which I got an A+++, I might add.)

Don't worry, I'll spare you from having to read the entire speech. But I did find the first paragraph fascinating. I doubt that any other graduate from Elkin Elementary has ever been so profound.

Nostalgia. What an important word in everyone's vocabulary today. Our mom's remember Johnny Mathis and bobby socks. Our dad's remember D.A. haircuts and Marilyn Monroe. Our principal remembers when he had hair. And we remember Elkin.

Can you believe I went for the joke? "Our principal remembers when he had hair" There I was, standing at a podium in front of my family, wearing a long blue and white flowered dress purchased at Sears and I had the guts to mock the school's main authority figure. That's the equivalent of doing a corporate gig and calling the president of the company an asshole.

But, one joke wasn't enough. Let's continue.

There have been many changes throughout the time we've been at Elkin. The biggest change was moving into the new school. It was very hard for the faculty and pupils to adjust, but after awhile the atmosphere became comfortable to work in. Mr. Benson found out that he could hollar at four classes at one time. This made him extremely happy.

I'm surprised I didn't end my speech by saying, "Try the veal, I'll be here all week."

I don't remember hearing the audience laugh, but I do distinctly remember watching the audience laugh. When I play the moment back in my mind, it all happens in slow motion. I see the bald heads turning red. I see the smiling people turning to look at each other. I see the blank expressions on the faces of my fellow classmates. (To this day, I hate playing to students. They never seem to get me.)

I can't even begin to imagine what my mother must have been thinking. Especially since she no doubt secretly read my diary and knew that I thought all these people were jerk-offs.

Three years later, at my ninth grade graduation, I made a much more serious speech. (I told you I was a precocious over-achiever.) It was 1980.

But, it is not enough to have only leaders of this quality, for the elector must be as strong as the elected. And so, to be part of America and to contribute my part to its growth, I know that the next ten years will be a challenge, and that I will constantly have to make decisions on my lifestyle, values, principles, and even my interactions with my friends. I will have to accept the position of pro or con on major issues. I will have to vocalize my feelings on issues that are of a specific concern to me. For as the '80's reach maturity, so must I. As the years pass, so must my innocence and ignorance. For the next 10 years with my maturity achieved I must surrender my neutrality. I will become a member of the decade of decision.

Five years later, I dropped out of college and became a standup comic. Talk about surrendering your neutrality-- whatever the hell that means.

Try the veal. I'll be here all week. HOME Back to the Top