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I've always believed that one cannot survive transition without the ability to laugh at the situations one finds oneself in.

So when, as frequently has happened, someone tells me I just need to get a sense of humor, I am a bit taken aback.  I have a well-endowed sense of humor.  Perhaps the problem is that what was said or done just wasn't funny.

So anyway, I ran across something interesting recently.

The Switch was originally going to be a webseries.  Due to a change in funding, it is now the pilot for a television series.

The Switch is a magical-realist transgender comedy, one that delights in pushing the envelope and in holding a queer & quirky mirror up to our own lives.  And at the heart of it all is Sü, the weird experiences she has, and the people she shares them with.

Meet Sü. Last week she was an upwardly-mobile software manager, at a place where her coworkers all knew her as Erwin. Life was normal enough and good enough. When Sü came out as a transsexual, she promptly lost her job. Her apartment followed.

Sü called in whatever favors she could, and that’s where our first episode leaves her: an out transsexual, unemployed and sleeping on her ex's couch at the unfashionable bottom of the rabbit hole that is the East Vancouver Queer Underground. Thrown into a world of marginal living, social inequity and quasi-legal employment, will she claw her way back to her old status? Or, to her horror, will she adapt and thrive?

Here's a snip:

In the "featurette" Sü is played by Domaine Javier, who you may remember from her role in suing California Baptist University under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act after she was expelled for being transgender.

Original funding was to be through Kickstarter.  The news of the effort made the rounds until a different funding source was uncovered.

From the Facebook page:

Firstly we would like to mention that we're no longer making a web series.  Due to the support of our fans, the international publicity we've received and the interest we've had from a few notable TV networks, we will be shooting a pilot in the summer to shop around to find the best home for our beloved show.

On that note, we would like to introduce you to the newest member of The Switch family, the Director and Executive Producer - Monika Mitchell.  We feel incredibly lucky to be working with Monika and we can't wait to have her bring The Switch to life.  Monika is mostly known for directing episodes of certain series such as Da Vinci's City Hall, Exes and Oh's and Robson Arms.  However you'll be able to catch her feature John Apple Jack later this year.

We would also like to add that we cancelled our Kickstarter campaign as we decided to take the show in a different direction.  We want to thank everyone who supported and contributed to the campaign.  We are truly grateful.  We hope that you will continue to support us in our new endeavours.

Season One was to consist of six half-hour episodes, shot in Vancouver, Canada over the Summer of 2013.   Instead, just the pilot episode was shot this summer.   The rest of season one will hopefully be shot in the Spring of 2014.With the new funding came some changes in the cast.  Julie Vu is now playing Sü Phan.
Growing up in a traditional Vietnamese family, it was hard for Julie Vu to be who she really was.  She found her voice on YouTube and made a name for herself as a beauty guru.  She now shares her life as a transgendered woman in hopes of inspiring others.  She is an advocate for the LGBT community, and is proud to play Su in her first acting role.

Julie doesn't just play Sü, she is the real life Sü.

The show is written and produced by Amy Fox, who also plays a role in the show, and the other folks at Trembling Void.
Whether it's working with molten metal, kicking ass in the Simon Fraser Student Society's hotly contested withdrawal from the CFS, running for City Council as a Supervillain, doing Queer improv with The Bobbers, or organizing feminist guerilla art-ivism, she seeks ways to cause trouble.

To her surprise, transition brought a strong interest in power tools, dashing suits and binding.

Here's Fox from her 2011 run for Vancouver council.

Being soft butch and MtF was bold at the time.  Now there's like a half-dozen of us in the city, there's a Tumblr feed, and I don't feel so special.  Still, it screws with people, which makes me happy.

--Amy Fox

The pilot episode will be accompanied by a short documentary called A Different Trans 101.
"Trans oppression” doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It almost always intersects with misogyny, race, poverty, ability, colonialism and sex-work, amongst many other oppressions.  Let’s start learning here.

We could tell you about pronouns and etiquette as our intro.  But instead, if we notice that trans people are heavily marginalized, the most important thing to understand is that people are getting beaten down from a variety of social forces.

I located this message from early July:
The pilot is slated to be Broadcast on OUTtv, both on TV and online.

--Amy E. G. Fox

Shooting of the pilot episode wrapped July 27.

Originally posted to TransAction on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Voices on the Square and LGBT Kos Community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you! (9+ / 0-)

    Very interesting.  

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:32:54 PM PDT

  •  I love that the ex (9+ / 0-)

    is a freaking assassin. In a sitcom? That cranks up the quirky so hard the knob snapped off!
    Plus, I was just thinking somebody should do a show like this. If Biden was right about the impact of "Will & Grace", it's past time.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:38:47 PM PDT

  •  A mild joke from the '60s women's lib movement-- (10+ / 0-)

    Guy:  "Do you know women don't have a sense of humor?"

    Fem:  "No, but if you hum a few bars, I'll fake it."

    The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

    by Mayfly on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:46:53 PM PDT

  •  Somehow.... (7+ / 0-)

    I'm reminded of the old Artist Formerly Known as Prince symbol....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:11:16 PM PDT

  •  I'm going to have to watch for this! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven, civil wingnut, NonnyO, The Marti

    I'll probably have to watch it online, but I'll be watching for it. Thanks rserven! And, for the record, if we didn't treat our various challenges and disabilities with humor, I think we'd all crack. Maybe that's part of what's wrong with the tea party people et. all. No sense of humor so they cracked?

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:28:35 PM PDT

  •  Humor relevant to many... (8+ / 0-)

    ... is something we can all relate to and makes us more "human" to others who can't identify with others who are "too different."

    It's the difference between laughing with someone over a shared bond vs laughing at someone because they are not like us.

    I remember a lifetime ago (I was still young and naive) when a concentration camp survivor cracked a joke about something on TV.  I was so shocked I don't even remember what it was about.  My jaw dropped and I couldn't laugh.  This person was joking about an abominably serious topic!  I never did find Hogan's Heroes all that funny, for instance.  I knew my uncle had been with a tank group with Patton's 6th Army that opened one of the concentration camps (I've since figured out it was probably Buchenwald, but I haven't verified that) and that experience plus the rest of his war experience made him damn near drink himself to death (he stopped drinking before I have any conscious memories, but I could never, ever get him to tell me about what happened to him in the war; I only found out after he died that he got a purple heart and another medal - I did make the mistake of asking him about the Red Cross after being warned never to ask a WWII vet about it; I got my ears blistered and never made that mistake again).  Potok touches on the topic of "Jewish humor" in Wanderings, and from that one can glean that historically their humor comes from a dark place and was a way to cope with the horrors that have been visited upon them for some three thousand years.  Fiddler on the Roof has some dark humor in it.  In fleeting moments, even darker humor comes out in God on Trial, about the men in a concentration camp putting God on trial.

    If you don't find death and dying a humorous topic, don't ever become a hospice worker or go near anyone who has a fatal condition.  The hair-raising humor a dying person comes up with is guaranteed to make the listener inwardly scream with horror and run in the opposite direction.

    My mother came up with "Dr. Kevorkian, where are you?"  After her youngest grandson came up with the phrase "hose in your nose" to refer to Mom's super-extra-long oxygen hose attached to the machine which could stretch the entire length of her mobile home, she "had to be careful so she didn't trip over the hose in her nose."  She thought her youngest grandson was terribly clever and funny, so she actually over-did that 'hose in the nose' thing.  So, okay.  I can smile now, but the first time to hear those jokes was pretty horrifying, and many years before that I'd already gone through a hospice course and the oncology nurse who was also a nun had the rudest jokes about death and dying I'd ever heard.  She said she got all her best material from her patients!

    Humor can often be analyzed (I know: Who the hell analyzes humor?  I do.).  The "formula" for humor is:

    Tragedy + Time = Comedy

    Humor as a coping mechanism I get!  I do that one quite a lot and the majority of political snark and satire comes from using humor as a coping mechanism to get through really drastic times.  The Bushista years are still Comedy Gold, and - unfortunately for us - the Obama years have become part of that tradition and will continue to be until the next president takes office.  Snark is always part of Daily Kos and other political web sites.  Satire - the snarkier the better - is 99% of the reason political junkies are slavishly devoted to watching Jon Stewart and Stehen Colbert; their talent and writers are the rest of the equation.  Really, some of the jokes just write themselves.

    African-American comics broke all sorts of barriers when their audiences could identify with very real human situations that had nothing whatsoever to do with race.  I don't know anyone who can't identify with Bill Cosby, for instance.  His humor is topical and one does not need to be black to "get" what he's joking about.

    Who the hell would laugh at midget jokes?  Well, if you knew the third grade teacher I once knew who was part of a community theatre group I was in many years ago, you'd be rolling on the floor.  He was a midget (that's what he called himself - he went back and forth between referring to himself as 'a midget' and 'a little person'), and I've never heard such rude midget jokes in my life!  The way he told the jokes invited us to laugh WITH him, not AT him or situations other little people might experience.

    Years ago there was a young woman who had one of the diseases that makes for shaking - cerebral palsy, I think?  I was prepared not to find her funny in the least because I'd read somewhere that she made fun of herself..., until I heard her routine.  She invited her audience to laugh in empathy, not laugh at her with ridicule.  It worked - and I don't know how others took her humor, but after a while I forgot she had whatever medical condition it was (the fact that I can't remember the name of it is probably because it became something not to be feared if treated with humor, so hat's off to her for teaching her audience another form of empathy).

    Michael J. Fox cracks jokes about his medical issues.  It's very disarming when someone with a medical condition invites strangers, friends, or relatives to laugh with him and his predicament, but not laugh at him or pity him.

    In the video above, the humor of the person who 'came out as a tran' works because the humor includes the very real nightmarish problems of being unemployed (without just cause) and being forced out of a home/apt (without just cause).  Only another trans person could understand the trans angle of the humor, but anyone (regardless of sex, gender, whether straight, gay, bi, trans, or something I'm not remembering or never heard of yet) who's ever faced the other two problems can relate with those two angles.  Plus which, the way the humor comes across, the audience watching is invited to 'laugh with empathy,' not 'laugh at with ridicule.'  That latter is the key:

    If the audience is invited to laugh WITH a storyteller in empathy, they have the freedom to find the situation funny because they can relate with some kind of empathy, even from a different angle than the person telling the story.  If the storyteller implicitly invites the audience to laugh AT someone with derision (like a playground bully would do), that's just cruel, and whatever had the potential to be humorous is just a cruel "joke" - and most assuredly not funny in the least.

    So, while humor can be a very delicate thing, when phrased just right and inviting the audience (even only an audience of one) to laugh WITH her/him in empathy, it can be a very effective tool in breaking down barriers and lead to greater understanding and more empathy and gaining friends and allies if one needs them in political fights.

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:34:29 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for this lengthy analysis. (6+ / 0-)

      I find it quite on point.

    •  as someone (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VeggiElaine, NonnyO, rserven

      with his share of health challenges, humor helps a lot.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films. "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," he reported. "When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval."
      •  :-) I heard about this years ago... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, wilderness voice

        As a fellow chronic pain sufferer (different conditions), with the advent of the computer age this form of "laughter is the best medicine" is easier to accomplish.

        I've gone through the selections of humor (esp. Britcom shows, some drama series) on YouTube (usually no ads to deal with, mercifully) and on Hulu (ads, but the commercial breaks are not as long as on network TV), marked them, and when I'm dealing with any of the things that are painful, I take a mental break and watch any of those shows.

        Probably wouldn't work for anyone else, but I combine humor with life-long educational pursuits (started as reading during bouts of insomnia all of my life, which is how I have acquired the largest library of anyone I know).  I was doing "immersion learning" long before there was a term for it.  With the background book info regarding archaeological digs and history, now it comes to life via video and info from archaeological digs, computer animation, etc.

        So, I can go with humor &/or good drama &/or mysteries &/or fascinating historical/artistic/educational info.  Anything to distract from the pain of a bad back and such..., and that often also leads to genealogy research for myself and/or for other people.

        Getting one's mind off of pain is the key to keeping pain from multiplying and avoiding self-pity.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 11:40:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  En"lighten"ment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven

    Regardless of the comic/tragic aspect, what I find refreshing & wonderful is that the crime stories point to a real need for awareness of trans issues & much needed institutional changes, The Switch just shows the everyday difficulties transpeople face,  comedically, like what the Daily Show does with general news.   & to me, that matters!  The crime reporting raises awareness of deep cultural flaws but this does too, in it's way.  

    The true crime reporting tells a story about for instance a transwoman who meets the Mr. Wrong in the middle of the night in a bad part of town; Su finds a roommate who's an assassin; this is a way of exposing the dynamics of the situation type via fiction.

    I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. --Anna Grodzka

    by VeggiElaine on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 10:29:59 AM PDT

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