“It’s got to be me,” Loretta LaRoche sings as she ogles herself in a handheld mirror on stage, a jazz quartet playing in the background. It’s a new parody song she’s been working on — bringing together the absurdity of everyday life and American jazz music in a hilarious combination. The piece comments on the selfie outbreak among millennials in a spoof of the classic “It Had To Be You,” made famous by Frank Sinatra.
LaRoche will present her inspirational comedy show at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater, giving Chautauquans a bit of her wisdom intermixed with her wit. She’s an acclaimed stress expert, humorist and motivational speaker, but most importantly, LaRoche said she is an educator.
“Comedy is just part of who I am,” she said. “I’m trying to get people to get the ‘ahh-hah,’ not just the ‘hah-hah.’ ”
LaRoche uses her naturally light-hearted personality to help people see the silliness behind most of their stress. The trick is to not take everything to heart — the day will go on regardless of a missed deadline or an irritatingly long grocery line — and let the little things slide.
This isn’t easy for everyone, though. Some people need to shift their way of thinking, so they can learn to lighten up and not take things so seriously, LaRoche said. Other people just get lucky with a naturally perky personality.
“Some people are gifted with genes and neurotransmitters and whatever else you want to put into the mix that have given them the ability to have a better sense of humor, have a better mood, to be happier,” LaRoche said.
“I probably was gifted with a biology that allows me to laugh more often or to see absurdity.”
She was also raised in an Italian family that laughed a lot and encouraged her to be silly as a child. Her first one-woman shows were put on for her family, trying to make them laugh and be the star of the show at family gatherings.
For LaRoche, what she does comes naturally.
The jazz component is something new LaRoche has been working on, and she plans to add a few songs to the show to accompany her cultural commentary. One of the main themes she plans to touch on is the attachment people feel toward their phones and its impact on society.
“We’re now caressing the phone more than we are other people. I call it phone-fondling,” LaRoche said.
She paints a picture of what she calls the “de-evolution of mankind,” with people hunched over their cell phones, looking down like Neanderthals. She questions the future of the human language, with so many people operating in 140 characters or less and using text-slang.
LaRoche also uses the topic to address how this addiction is affecting our personal relationships. People are constantly checking their phones for text messages or updating their newsfeeds, creating a sense of disconnect with the people around them.
Technology and forms of social media, however, don’t have to be an enemy.
LaRoche uses the same gadgets and social media platforms that she’s commenting on, but the key is to keep it in perspective. People need to power down, and learn that it’s OK to step away from the smartphone for a few hours, or even for a day.
“I think it erases some of our ability to be with each other on a personal level,” LaRoche said. “You really have to look at somebody. The eyes are the window to the soul — they really tell you who that person is in many ways, and if you’re always looking down, you’re never seeing what’s up.”