No matter what kind of day you’re having, odds are there is something funny to be found if you look closely enough. This can be difficult to believe sometimes but more often than not it’s true- if you have the gift of knowing how to view life with an eye for humor.
Amy Lyle has that gift and uses it often.
It’s what allows her to embrace all of life with grace, even if sometimes it’s a clumsy grace.
Amy Lyle grew up in Marietta, Ohio, a rural Appalachia community right next door to one of the poorest cities in the United States. Her community was a mishmash of old money and no money, with families like Amy’s smack dab in the middle. Her father had a steady job with the phone company, which meant Amy’s family was more comfortable than many in her area. It’s the kind of place a lot of people are born and die in, never roaming far or escaping public assistance.
Amy and her friends were the first in their families to go to college; “We were the blind leading the blind,” she says. Life then led her down a path familiar to many – marriage and a steady paycheck. Far from her roots, she lived in Atlanta and traveled with her husband in their pre-parenting years. It seemed like she would go about her life in a predictable fashion until unpredictability became her norm.
Her corporate life took a hit with the recession. Her marriage ended, and her sister passed away. It’s easy for people to lose their joy when faced with times like those, but joy is as much a part of Amy as water is to the sea, and humor is with her everywhere.
“They asked me to speak at the funeral and that was a big mistake because I was trying to cheer people up at a funeral and that was inappropriate,” she says. Her mother was among the unamused as Amy’s talk morphed into a gentle roast of the sister she’d loved and lost.
It’s a survival mechanism sometimes, an icebreaker other times, and when properly deployed, humor is a force against stress and depression.
Her mother may not always get the joke. Her editor occasionally cringes as well. But that’s all part of it. Humor is a matter of personal preference, and not all palates are the same. Through it all, Amy rolls on.
Today she is remarried. They are a blended family of six and Amy’s days in the workforce have lost their predictability. She’s gone back not to the roots of rural Appalachia, but within herself, to the thing that drives her.
Amy Lyle is blazing her own trail in the world of comedy.
Like any industry, one must earn success. If the plan went as she wanted, says Amy, she’d have written one screenplay, sat back, and answered Paramount’s call when it came after her for movie rights. But the phone offered a silent rejection while an attorney offered a blatant one; “You’re a nobody,” he told her. She needed to do something worthy of recognition in the comedy industry before anyone would represent her.
It wasn’t an easy rejection. Nobody likes failure. But Amy found a way to make that particular failure a set up rather than a setback.
The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures: A funny memoir of missteps, inadequacies, and faux pas is her first book, uniting people through shared stories of hilarious moments attached to failures in all walks of life.
So many people responded with such high praise for that book that she published another one the following year. We’re All a Mess, It’s OK is a book of essays and short stories from people all over who contributed their own historical moments in this celebration of the absurdity often found within frustration, defeat, or humiliation.
Today, the attorney who gave her that tough-love feedback is representing Amy and her new screenplay. She even came within arm’s length of seeing that screenplay turned into a film.
Then, Hollywood collectively brought punitive politics into play by boycotting the state of Georgia.
Funding for her film vanished in a heartbeat.
If Amy has any strong feelings on those Hollywood politics she doesn’t let it show. Instead, she laughingly recounts stories of seizing opportune moments to ask people to help her replace Hollywood dollars with other ones.
“You don’t happen to know anyone with millions of dollars, who supports the arts, do you?” she may be heard asking someone she meets. It was a question like that, offered in her cheery, confident, comical style that got a “yes” that could be a game changer.
If there is one thing Amy Lyle is not, that is shy. She will loudly and proudly drop names of those she supports and those who support her. She’s lucky to have a long list of both. Russ Still, of Russ Still and the Moonshiners, is one of those people. A song from the band will be heard in Amy’s new tv show (more on that in a moment) and Amy just couldn’t resist pressing forward with her friend and asking him if he knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone who has millions of dollars and an affinity for the arts.
“Don’t be afraid to ask,” she says. Most people want to help and are happy to do so, but you’ve got to ask them first. As for getting a “No,” you ask?
“I’ve heard lots of No’s!”
It’s all part of the process.
Amy Lyle is pursuing her version of the American Dream and using humor as her platform to do it.
It’s a slow climb but she can see the top of that mountain she the journey is truly an adventure for her. She’s landed a recurring appearance on Atlanta and Company and is simultaneously developing funding for her film while preparing to launch her very own tv show, in her very own style.
The studio already has 15 shows. There is no space to shoot another. So, the powers-that-be told her, if you can find a space, you can have a show.
Amy’s forthcoming show will be filmed in a broom closet. Literally. And it promises to be hilarious.
Any of this could be daunting, but Amy takes it all in stride and forges ahead with a positive mindset. She loves what she does and she loves finding ways to wrap that into another passion of hers- giving back.
The Place of Forsyth is a local organization she’s grown to know and love. She is all too glad to do book signings or perform to support their charitable work that helps people in times of need. Women fleeing domestic violence, people without homes, and others facing challenging times all benefit from the work of this organization and Amy is a big supporter of this work.
It’s a common misconception, she says, for people to think they cannot help because they are not rich. In reality, though, a $5.00 pack of underwear can make an enormous impact on someone who does not have that basic comfort.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Sometimes it’s time, and sometimes it’s resources, but everyone can help someone else. – Amy Lyle” quote=”Sometimes it’s time, and sometimes it’s resources, but everyone can help someone else. – Amy Lyle” theme=”style5″]
There is a dream within everyone. The difference between living that dream or stifling it is often courage. Amy knows she is choosing an unsteady path but she is easing on down that road with a laugh and a grin, and making her family proud. Her daughter made that clear.
“I’m so proud of you because you’re following your dreams,” her daughter told her.
That’s when Amy felt a renewed sense of assurance in her decisions.
“Now I realize- You can really follow your dream. It may take years and years but you don’t need a lot, so why not follow your passion, whatever that may be?”