Happening in Kansas City
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Don’t you hate when you just can’t remember whether you’ve been somewhere before? Marsha Warfield doesn’t quite recall whether she’s ever performed in Kansas City. She probably has. She’s hit up a lot of comedy clubs for gigs, even some that aren’t around anymore.
However, the actress and comedian best known as Roz, the no-nonsense bailiff on the 1980s TV show Night Court, does know this: She will be here this weekend, performing April 25-27 at the Comedy Club of Kansas City. I had the chance to chat with her, asking about her career in comedy and acting and her life now as an out gay woman.
Warfield got her start in her hometown of Chicago in 1974 doing stand-up comedy. She opened for musical talents and for other comedians. At the time, three-act comedy shows didn’t exist. She took what she got. Eventually, she made it out to Los Angeles. Between 1977 and 1978, Warfield was doing improv at comedy clubs and was even on The Richard Pryor Show, which only lasted for four episodes in 1977. However, it wasn’t until 1986 that she got her break on Night Court.
At the time she auditioned, the cast of Night Court was grieving for two of their ensemble members. Selma Diamond, who had played the bailiff, passed away, and later, her replacement, Florence Halop, died as well. The writers weren’t sure about adding another full-time bailiff. The call went out, though, and Warfield did the audition with a pack of cigarettes in her hand, then left.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d get it,” she said. “I was scheduled to perform in Seattle, so I got on the plane and got the call that ‘You got it. We’d like you to start next week.’”
And she did.
“It was nerve-wracking, coming into an ensemble cast, but everyone was very welcoming. Harry [Anderson, who played Judge Harry T. Stone and had first performed as a magician] and I were talking before we started filming, and he asked, ‘How you doing?’ And I told him, ‘I’m nervous.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘I’m not an actor either.’”
The creators and writers weren’t sure whether they wanted their new bailiff to be a regular on the show, and Warfield filmed three or four episodes before they decided to keep her.
To perfect her role, Warfield enrolled in an acting class, and by the second lesson, they wanted her to get an acting book. The second lesson was “Keep it simple.”
“I closed the book and never went back to class,” she says.
Warfield played Roz as an observer, a newcomer, much like she was, to the zany, no-holds-barred antics that the court got up to. “Roz is me, and not me,” she says. “She looks a lot like me.”
Her patented look that communicated: “Y’all are crazy and this isn’t going to work” played into Warfield’s interpretation of Roz, which was that she was just there to do a job, until she punched the clock and went home. She was always available, though, to tell the others: “I told you it wouldn’t work.”
Warfield kept up with her stand-up work during Night Court and later Empty Nest, a spin-off from Golden Girls. She took a break for a while, but now she’s back on the comedy circuit, with material from her life, particularly as a recently out gay woman. She’s a seasoned, freaky granny, with no filters. She performs with perspective about what’s important, about how much you could miss if you’re worrying about tomorrow. And as someone who lived with a concealed identity, Warfield knows all about that.
In previous interviews, Warfield has explained that when she came out to her mother, her mother said she respected Warfield for telling her and asked her not to go public with the news until after the mother’s death. Frustrated that her mother never told her that she had already known, Warfield couldn’t shake the negative stigma of being gay for a long time. She came out publicly in 2017.
“Being gay in America is dealing with not knowing how to fit into all these boxes, and a lot of them are negative,” Warfield said. However, when she came out to herself, she thought: “Oh, that’s why I’m different.”
Now in her 60s, Warfield has stopped arming herself to face the world and instead can just be herself.
Warfield says she envies younger generations for the freedoms they have in a culture that is more accepting.
“In some ways, it’s easier for them, and in some ways it’s harder,” she said.
Her generation called people like her “tomboys” and viewed being gay as a threat. But she’s hoping to change that conversation. She has never experienced exclusion based on her orientation, she says, but as an older black woman, Warfield is no stranger to forms of discrimination. She uses her platform as a performer to talk up her identities ٲ– gay, black, older – and she works to build up and empower anyone like her.
“What I have to say are not just jokes; they’re shadows of people who have something to say. I have an hour on stage – why wouldn’t I talk about what I care about? And make it fun and funny, too?”
Warfield calls her herself a keyboard warrior too, and is a proud online social justice warrior, sharing positive posts. Her favorite ones are about beautiful, vibrant, sexy old ladies.
“Yeah, baby, let the goddess rise.”
If you go
Warfield’s performances at the Comedy Club of Kansas City, 1130 W. 103rd St., Kansas City, Mo. Her shows will be at 7:30 p.m. April 25-27. On April 26 and 27 (Friday and Saturday), she will play an additional show each night, at 10 p.m. Tickets: www.thecomedyclubkc.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
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Is there any cost?
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“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.