IndyFringe: Scars, by Sears

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By John Lyle Belden

One of the benefits of the Fringe festival format is that it allows performers to work on new and developing material. It gets a sort of dress rehearsal before an audience who bought inexpensive tickets to be part of the process, rolling with the technical glitches and jumbled lines, seeing the genius at work behind the eventual polished product.

Lissa Sears, a standup comic who has more worldly experience than most who picked up the mic only a few years ago, is developing her one-person show, “Scars” over the course of this year’s IndyFringe. Wendy saw a lot of potential in its first-ever presentation last weekend, and what I saw last night shows something truly special and inspiring in the making, and I encourage you to be part of the process.

Being a very out-and-proud lesbian is about the most ordinary thing about Sears. The first “scar” was internal, the onset of multiple sclerosis at age 25, temporarily paralyzing one side of her body. In her discomfort, she says she had rather it be cancer, which can be cut out. “Be careful what you wish for.”

As she approaches 40, a lump in her breast has her seeking “a girly doctor” and entering chemotherapy, and eventually surgery. Still, “you gotta embrace the suck, or the suck will embrace you.”

Throughout her journey, she defies any weakness in her body by taking up boxing, martial arts and distance running, even doing the Indy Mini Marathon with a walker. A chance encounter with performer and former Colts kicker Pat McAfee has her trying out and enjoying standup. She meets other celebrities, including the late Louie Anderson.

Removal of her breasts means she can go topless (though she’d rather not show her belly). This also leads her to the “flattie” community and more opportunities to spread a message of pride and empowerment.

Her personal motto is, “Don’t tell me I can’t,” and I wouldn’t dare say that of this constantly improving showcase of her ongoing brave life. Help a feisty, funny woman as she focuses her story, Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, and Friday night and Saturday evening, Sept. 2-3, at the Athenaeum.


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