Many a comedian has died, metaphorically, on the stage of the Comedy Zone over the years. Cindy Kaza may be able to contact some of them when she makes her Duval debut on Aug. 22. The 36-year-old Detroit native, who now lives in Denver, has developed one of the more unusual acts you’re likely to ever see: As a professionally trained “psychic medium,” Kaza does much of her work onstage at comedy clubs around the country. It’s a bit intense for the setting, but Kaza approaches the work with a diligence and sincerity that can be disarming for the cynics who typically frequent such places. She answered a few questions, via email.
Folio Weekly: How long have you been doing this for a living? How long as a performer? In how many cities/states/countries have you performed?
Cindy Kaza: I have been working professionally as a medium for 10 years and have been touring the United States doing live shows for four years. I’ve worked in about 20 states in America and have also worked in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, England, Holland, Germany and France.
How long did it take to gain proficiency? How much training did it require?
I've been diligently studying mediumship since around 2007, but my journey into this field began in 2001. I had my first memorable experience at age 10, but pushed my ability away for several years, as it frightened me initially.
What religion were you brought up in? What role, if any, does your faith play in your approach to the work?
I was baptized Catholic and grew up in a Catholic household. I believe there is truth in all religions and that whatever path a person chooses to get closer to God is his/her choice. Does my faith in God play a role in my work? Yes. I talk about God a lot in my work. I believe the ability to feel the presence of our loved ones on the other side is innately human and that every human being can have his/her own personal experience. Some people are more in touch than others. I always say, everyone can play the piano but not everyone is going to be a concert pianist.
What made you want to pursue this as a career? Who in the industry would you consider to be mentors and/or influences?
The first medium to make an impression on me was my first teacher, Bonnie. She has since passed away. My desire to pursue this career came from my desire to share this with others and to show people that they, too, can have their own experiences. I would love to “normalize” mediumship. … I've studied with James van Praagh (United States), Paul Jacobs (England), Jose Gosschalk (Holland); a few others. I think these three teachers had the most impact on my personal development as a medium. I really admire the work of Lisa Williams and Andy Byng as well.
What sets you apart from your peers in the industry?
What sets me apart … is the fact that I do 99 percent of my live events in comedy clubs. I realize the irony in that but I love working in comedy clubs because I feel I’m reaching a new demographic and I love that people can join their friends in a relaxed environment and have a light-hearted experience. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we experience in life and I find laughter can be a great medicine. (Please do not mistake this as me making fun of death).
What areas in America are more or less open to your work than others?
Honestly, I find that most people are open to talking about mediumship if they're given an opportunity to, so do I find that some parts of the country are more or less open than others? Not really … I work all over the United States and find interest exists in all places. I hope to help normalize mediumistic experiences because they are entirely more common than people believe. What I’ve found is that people are afraid to talk about their experiences but once they’re given a platform and space to do so, they have some pretty amazing stories.
How do you deal with skeptics, hecklers, etc.? How hard is it to maintain good spirits (so to speak) in the face of cynicism and negativity you experience?
I am not afraid of skeptics. I love skeptics, as long as they’re not disruptive to a show, and I think people should be skeptical. I always say that it’s not my job to turn every skeptic into a believer and it’s just not possible, but if the door cracks a little bit for somebody who's very skeptical, I think that’s amazing. I’ve also gotten good at the reverse-heckle. Honestly, it just goes with the territory.
What has doing this work taught you about yourself and your spiritual background?
I have learned a lot about myself doing this work. I've learned that I have to practice what I preach to the best of my ability. I have learned to be strong in the face of skeptics. I have learned to travel the world on my own, which is priceless … and I have learned that forgiveness is one of the most important things for humans to grasp in a lifetime … not just forgiving others, but also learning to forgive ourselves. In my experience working with the other side, I’ve experienced a lot of people coming through to apologize for things they’ve done while here. That’s a lesson in itself for all of us, I believe. The Golden Rule sums it all up pretty well … but if you don’t love yourself, how can you be completely kind to others? Tough lesson we all face in life! It’s as if we’re part of a giant test we can’t have the answers to while taking and I believe the beauty is in the mystery.