By Rachelle Escamilla
"I’m living in a hug", Jacqueline Kabat says as the sun, barely reaching over the pines on the horizon, illuminates her hair, so in that moment, with the fuschias to my left and the wild mustard to my right an omnipresence is created and the space we share becomes that hug.
Jacqueline Kabat believes that comedy improv is one path towards a spiritually whole life and is living a life which mimics that philosophy. She wants to share this little piece of heaven in Aromas with other artists, teachers, and corporations who want to offer workshops and have a place to collaborate with the philosophers, the visionaries, the artists, and anyone who wants to improve the human condition. Jacqueline's passion is building and being part of creative, compassionate, and conscious communities. Her philosophy is: Creativity + Nature + A Supportive Authentic Community = Magic.
"Improv is an unscripted performance, much like life," she says. After 17 years in New York, Jacqueline began living her philosophy - moving her life onto a houseboat in Long Island. In the last year, "I’ve lived with pirates, hippies and cowboys," she laughs. After the houseboat (with the pirates) she had planned to move to LA, and was only passing through our neighborhood, but knew instinctively that the Monterey Peninsula was a better fit [than LA] "I found it calmer and kinder and the community has embraced me." So, Kabat has landed in the tri-county point called Aromas by circumstance and like most visitors, she’s fallen in love with the area so many of us are fortunate enough to call home. "I see Aromas as the center of the octopus, and I’d really like to connect all of these areas," she makes a motion on the table, swooping an imaginary Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz together, the legs of the octopus. Ms. Kabat sees herself as a producer and hopes to connect real deal musicians and comedians with authentic voices. But don’t let the comedic nomad lifestyle fool you, Jacqueline is a heavy hitter when it comes to comedy.
"I grew up," she laughs, "a Jew in the south." There the warmth of her culture and community shaped her existence. Comedy of the Woody Allen variety, she goes on, "was just part of my…," she searches for words while the cawing birds disrupt the silence..."comedy is music, it is life, it is everything."
Jacqueline landed in New York by following her desire to perform and has studied with Amy Poehler, worked alongside Sex and the City’s Mario Cantone, has performed standup on the same stage as Jerry Seinfeld, warmed up crowds at ABC studios and has been getting noticed by big shot comedy producers and writers in Hollywood. Over the years she has conducted team-building workshops for corporations like Procter & Gamble, Southwest Airlines and Bank of America. Ms. Kabat has also provided healing through comedy for small communities everywhere, including the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.
As she tops off my mug and we switch subjects from mantras to media and I ask her about the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina. My mom lives there now, only a few blocks away from that church. I wondered how comedy might deal with such issues:
Interview with Comedian Jacqueline Kabat
"Well," she answers, "Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are prophets really; they handle these situations in a way that allows the audience to see through the problems and I think that outdated paradigms are falling away and we are seeing a renaissance in our communities." She walks over to a table with potted plants where bees are buzzing around pompoms of yellow flowers with pewter green stems. Perhaps she is right; maybe the gloom and darkness positioned at the forefront of mass media is just a facade - some kind of semblance of ugliness, but in reality we can and constantly are reshaping our world with our own contributions. For Jacqueline, it’s comedy.
Comedy is often equated with jabs, low-blows and self-consciousness, but Jacqueline would like to encourage a more holistic understanding of comedy. She says she wants people to sit in the front row, not because I want to pick on them, but because "I’m as invested in my audience as they are in me. They want me to succeed on the stage." Which makes sense: we’ve come to laugh! Mutual respect, kindness and light are overarching themes for Kabat.
Jacqueline Kabat is staying in Aromas for the foreseeable future and plans on hosting community workshops every month. You can find Jacqueline engaging her tribe on facebook where she moderates conversations and provides updates. Keep your eyes and ears open for Ms. Kabat because there’s buzz about a TV show on the Monterey Peninsula among a plethora of projects and productions in which Jacqueline will be involved or will produce. She also offers one-on-one comedy improv/life coaching sessions for clients, "I use the tenets of improv comedy to help clients get back in the flow of their lives. Give them an opportunity to observe their fears instead of marinating in them."
Jacqueline returns to her seat, back to the sun, sun through her hair, pines on the horizon…, there’s this quote, she says as she grabs for her phone, by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I think of the number of women like Jacqueline who have supported me in my life journey and I think of the ways I intend on helping the next generation. As the sun blares down on the glass table creating a kaleidoscope of colors, we hug and part ways, and I head back to Hollister knowing that as long as people like her exist in the world, change is inevitable.
Check out Jacqueline Kabat’s website: www.Jacquelinekabat.com and stay tuned for workshop information here at the Mission Village Voice!