Hey bullies! All those homeschooled kids you mocked in high school or middle school are about to bring you a belly of laughs by making fun of themselves in a new Fringe Fest virtual show debuting next week.
“Class of One: A Comedy Show about Homeschooling” features seven local comics and performers who have either been homeschooled growing up or are doing it themselves for their children in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They’ll share their touching, funny and cringe-inducing stories from home through stand-up, improv, sketch, video, song and more. For 75 minutes on Zoom, each performer tells real and overdramatized stories of their childhood, covering the good, the bad and the lonely of this avenue of education that many parents and children are finding themselves thrust into today.
Show creator Christine Olivas is a stand-up comic and was homeschooled for much of her youth. During a recent interview with dosage MAGAZINE, she said that when her parents taught her at home in the 1990s, things were perceived a little differently than they are now.
“Homeschooling has been normalized today, but when my religious parents did it in the 90s, it was anything but normal,” she said. “Back then, it was called truancy.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Olivas said she has produced eight virtual shows and each of the performers in “Class of One” has done virtual open mics.
“This is a group that has really adapted – maybe because we had to before,” she said.
Kayleigh Liggitt, 27, is a Bucks County native and now lives in Philly. She admits she is the “hard-boiled” one of the group, having been homeschooled for all of grade school, straight through to 12th grade. By this, she means she believes she was the most sheltered of her colleagues.
“I only went to kindergarten – partly because I was a problem child and mostly for religious reasons – my mom decided to homeschool me to she could kind of dictate what information I was getting and so I was getting a very religious experience. I didn’t know evolution was real until a couple of years ago. So, that was exciting,” she said.
Steve Bickel, the only comic of the troupe who is on the teaching side of homeschooling, offers his quirky parental perspective to “Class of One.” Unlike his peers, who were taught at home as a youth by parents who opted to homeschool, he says he had no choice.
“It’s been a [expletive] nightmare!” He laughed. “I [didn’t expect] to be doing this because of a pandemic. I don’t have any religious beliefs. If anything, my beliefs are to get them the hell out of the house as quickly as possible.”
The team has encountered some hiccups performing virtually. Paul E. Reese, the show’s technical producer, is responsible for flipping backgrounds behind the comics and says the biggest challenge is not letting the tech stuff get in the way of the performances.
Tina Marie, the newcomer to the group, juggles at one point during the 75-minute live show but enjoys audience interaction.
“From an amateur comic perspective, it is very hard to adjust to the lack of audience feedback during your section of the show,” she said.
“I know people like juggling whether or not I can hear them laugh or cheer, so that kind of has helped.”
The show debuts Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 26, same time. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.