High school performer uses comedy to cure the alienated teen
May 31, 1999
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- The massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School sparked a number of earnest prevention efforts by lawmakers, parents, school boards and even comedians.
As experts hit the airwaves to talk about warning signs and Washington passed bills to toughen gun laws, Michael Pritchard took a decidedly more comedic approach.
The former night club performer traded smoke-filled rooms for an even tougher circuit -- high school auditoriums. His animated comedy routine evokes both laughter and serious thought from his teen audience.
"Freshmen year, we're all like penguins," he begins. "We're smarter in sophomore year, we're like sheep. Stay together, get into herd, they won't get us if we're in a gang (laughter) ..... we have no cars!"
The audience erupts in laughter and it appears Pritchard has connected. But can comedy really cure the alienated teen?
"Absolutely, there's no doubt about it," Pritchard said.
He said that Columbine gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would be easy to spot in one of his audiences.
"I know I could have connected to that sense of pain, because I do it every day," he said.
"To their rage, because they sit silently with their teeth clenched .... they want you to know they're angry because they want you to peel the onion of pain."
Pritchard connects by listening as much as he talks.
"You guys can get any type of gun you want, right?" he asks the crowd.
Sometimes the kids don't laugh, and that suits Pritchard just fine. He knows he's getting through when the audience falls silent and begins to ponder his question.
"I don't have a lot of money and I don't have a lot of fame. But I do have a sense that I'm using my talent in the right way."
Correspondent Don Knapp contributed to this report.
School lesson: Deflect bullies, prevent violence
National School Safety Center
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