WHITE HALL — Christian Dancer, a 2012 graduate of White Hall High School, is now a student at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff, serious about his studies. The son of a minister, he’s long been active in youth activities at his church. At WHHS, he earned prizes for his excellence in art and woodworking, and won a prestigious Brandon Burlsworth Award for his inspirational leadership with the 2011 Bulldogs football team.
Considered reserved and a bit shy, he’s even been involved in community endeavors, including volunteering at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff. He would seem a perfect poster boy for impeccable behavior and pursuit of academic excellence.
But those who know him best agree — there’s something funny about that guy. Dancer not only hopes that they’re right in their collective estimation, but also that others will share that opinion as they get to know him. It could well mean the world to Dancer, who is looking at a career as a comic.
He took a big step in that direction during the past summer, when he ventured to Chicago for a two-week instructional session at the renowned Second City Comedy School. The opportunity was a graduation gift from his parents, Dean and Kelly Dancer.
“I didn’t know what to expect before I got there since this was my first adventure into comedy,” the younger Dancer said. “Being at Second City, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful cross-section of individuals my age and get to know them in an environment outside of the normal school setting.
“Being with my classmates really broke the barriers down and made me see different views on comedy,” he continued. “We would work together toward a common end, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to meet and get to know the people that I otherwise would have never met.”
Dancer said he’s actually been employing humor for much of his youth. He just hasn’t done so in a broad setting.
“Humor helps me focus on the brighter side of things that happen, even if they are bad,” he said. “Sometimes it takes time away from the situation to put it into a humorous perspective. But in the end, I try to use humor as much as possible.
“Growing up, I was quiet and seemed shy, but actually I would be around people gathering information and putting stuff together,” he said. “Once I got to know people, I opened up to them not only with humor, but friendship.”
Others were initially unsuspecting of his humor, he said.
“Many people thought I was serious and shy,” Dancer said. “Even people who had been around me for years didn’t realize my humor. I only shared my jokes with my immediate family. Most people were surprised to hear that I was even interested in looking at comedy.”
Dancer has no siblings, but his parents and extended family members have a passion for humorous conversation and combine to provide one another with plenty of comedic fodder. Each contributes “something different,” Dancer said, adding that a lot of people may have sometimes mistaken his inability to get “a chance to get a word in” during family gatherings as shyness.
He cites his family as being his chief inspiration for funny material. Otherwise, it’s movie star Adam Sandler
“I believe I have seen every movie and skit he was in,” Dancer said of the former “Saturday Night Live” headliner.
Dancer, who will be returning to Chicago for another Second City experience next summer, said his first visit there strengthened his confidence in using “humor to break the ice when meeting people.”
“I am trying to find my niche as to where I fit in the comedy world by watching comedy shows, visiting comedy clubs and doing research,” he said. “I’m not sure where my comedy path will take me, but I’m doing my best to work on it so that when I go back to Second City, I’ll have a better direction and focus so that I can make the most out of working with the talented teachers and students there.”
Saying he’s not kidding about being in funny business, Dancer said he feels “comfortable practicing humor any time I get the chance.”
“It would be nice to practice with an audience,” he concluded, “but there isn’t a place in the White Hall/Pine Bluff area to do that at this time. I’m hoping that will change.”
Perhaps it can, if someone’s willing to help a young man chase his dream.