I am currently enrolled in a Continuing Education course. This is the second CE course I've taken and, though the subjects couldn't have been more different – I'm taking a class on drawing comic strips now, and my last class was about how to control the weather with your mind – I find the group dynamic amazingly similar. If I'm to believe this pattern of two is really part of a larger, more universal phenomenon – and I wouldn't really be me if I didn't rush to judgment, would I? – then I would have to say that any group of CE students in a given class would make a great ensemble comedy.
And I don't mean it in that "my life would make such a funny episode of Seinfeld!!" sense; I mean the students' disparate and weird backstories map perfectly to one of those "rag-tag group of misfits make good" feel-good comedies, like Summer School or Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Act. It's pretty incredible. Continuing Education classes are very different than regular college classes. First of all, it's difficult to find a pencil sharpener anywhere. Additionally, in college the students are never really defined by their motivations. We all get tossed in with a vague sense that this is what we're supposed to be doing at this particular juncture, with regards to life's great plan, and unless you're extremely insightful or sickeningly ambitious, you're not entirely sure what you're going to make of the whole experience.
Continuing Ed is the complete opposite. Everyone has some crazy idea of why they "need" this class, and that need is usually mapped to a bizarre backstory, complete with endearing foibles. (See: "Sister Act 2") CE Students' motives are so clearly defined that they're almost caricatures. In my comic strip drawing class, this is what the caricatures would look like:
Ronnie - had artistic ambitions as a child, traded those in to become a tax lawyer. now he's rich and safe from poverty, so it's time to indulge those lost ambitions again. in his caricature, he would be wearing one of those accountant's visors, with sleeve garters, and he would be holding an old-fashionedy adding machine with its ticker tape spilling out wildly, and wrapping around him like tentacles or mummy bandages.
Leigh - a counselor who deals with troubled kids. her art is to be her power of healing. used to fuck gary panter. leigh's caricature would feature a third eye with white light coming out of it. also, she would be wearing a sarong. and, inexplicably, holding a squash racquet.
Wae-Lo - drawing to free her family from communist Chinatown. in wae-lo's drawing, although she is clearly korean, she would be wearing a traditional karate gi, and smashing a sketch book in half with her bare hands. caricature artists are not known for their racial sensitivity.
Eggbert - he is a scary nerd, and most of his comics feature dudes cutting off women's heads with swords and then fucking their neck-holes. in his caricature, he would be wearing taped glasses, a wizard's hat, and Nerd Bolts™ would be emanating from his fingertips. also, in one hand, he would be holding a glass of Nerd Soda. (patent pending)
Shane - shane is in high school, and often points out this fact. i like him a lot. for shane, comics class is a way for him to tell other, older people that he's in high school. this makes him feel both shy, and like a prodigy. shane's comic strips often feature a character named "Shame" being verbally abused by authority figures, simply because he chooses to spend a lot of time IM'ing with his pals instead of going to bed and acting like a man. i look forward to meeting shane's father, and then punching him in the scrote. in shane's caricature, he is wearing a graduation cap and has a mysterious black eye.
Chastity - chastity is stripping her way through continuing education, the poor thing. she's always falling asleep, and her sketch book smells like strawberry gum. soon, ronnie will make chastity his wife and take her away from all of this. then they'll open up an old fashioned ice cream parlor together, where ronnie will make his own sherbet and chastity will strip-dance. chastity's caricature will have a five dollar bill stuffed in its panties.