A cat rubbing up against a laundry basket.

Dirty Laundry

I think the main difference between my life with a full-time, 9-5 job and my life now is that I have more clean laundry now.

I’m not saying I was some filthy dirtbag at work or anything. Just that I remember doing laundry was always a scramble. And maybe it still is from time to time. And maybe you’re thinking: “Why is this so-called comedian talking about laundry?” Well, you do laundry, don’t you? We all do freakin’ laundry! It’s just nice to be able to get ready to go to an audition, or to go play softball, or to have a gig at night, and not have to fish out what I want to wear out of the dirty clothes basket, or the floor for that matter in all it’s wrinkly, deodorant-stained splendour.

Also, this is ultimately more about time than it is laundry. It’s nice to have the time to do basic human maintenance.

Sometimes, it’s these little things that stand out and need acknowledging.


What are some of the little things you do to help keep you feeling positive?

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It is awesome!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this thing, and what’s the point of having a blog if not to post? I guess I’ve been feeling the need to post something profound or meaningful like other bloggers I follow who put a bunch of preparation and research into their pieces. But that was never the point of Clown College Confessions.

CCC exists so that years down the line I can remind myself of what was going on throughout the stages of my journey in comedy from clown college onward. And, if it can help / entertain others along the way, bonus round! Let’s take a look at what’s new then, shall we?

Fringe

I’m so stoked to be in a Fringe show this year. Last year I stage managed a really awesome show, but I learned that working the tech could never satiate the desire to be on stage. So, the opportunity to perform this year is a huge #blessing for me. I’m playing a Mom/Teacher (totally my wheelhouse) in a Kids Fringe show called “Boy vs. Fly.” If you have kids, nieces, nephews or you just like cute shows, you should totally check it out.

The poster for Boy vs Fly - the Fringe show in which I'm performing this summer.

It's a bright photo with a cartoon image of the cast. Next to it is the title of the show, along with names of cast and crew.

In the Soil

St. Catharines, or the Niagara Region, I should say, doesn’t have a Fringe festival per se. They do have something called In the Soil, which is organized by the Suitcase in Point theatre company. A huge endeavour to showcase visual and performing artists of the Niagara Region.

I was very happy when I found out Improv Niagara was accepted to In the Soil this year. The point of the festival this year (or maybe every year?) is to present something brand new that audiences have never seen a particular company present. For IN, who regularly perform a short form competition show, we were happy to try something new to us. Narrative longform improv. *insert dramatic sting.

We rehearsed a BUNCH. IN is the first team I’ve really coached/directed, so it was friggin’ incredible to see a few things:

  1. The progress from the first time we tried to run a long form and were like “wait, how do we include all these extra bits if we’ve never just done narrative before?!” Rewind, let’s start from the beginning.
  2. The progress from the first time we got to like, 20 minutes and thought that was a victory, knowing eventually the show we were going to put on would be closer to 50 mins.
  3. Seeing the group come together, learn each other’s and their own individual strengths and weaknesses working them over and over again in rehearsal as we improvised a number of different books from sci-fi to Harlequin romance. Not to mention the discovering the complications of time-travel.
  4. The audience’s delighted response when we finally got to put Off the Shelf on its feet. Knowing the hard work paid off and that people were following along with our story as it built up to a ridiculous blaze of gun-shot sound effects (as these things do.) Ugh, what a fun and special and proud and awesome feeling.

Oh hey, I don’t thing I posted at all about opening a studio space, but we did that too. (Improv Niagara, that is.) Lots of stuff keeps happening, and for some reason I don’t think it’s worthy to blog about. But it is. It’s awesome. And I’ll try to keep it up.

Recycling Matters

Oh yeah, ALSO… the Niagara Region released some of the short videos we created a while back. Check out the first one, and then just keep watching them all and learn to recycle properly, k?

The Improv Niagara crew are about recycling!

What are you working on that’s awesome these days?

Fallout Triumph

How epic was this Friday’s Improv Fallout?! The house was absolutely packed. There was a line-up to get in. A line-up! People came from out of town (read: another country) to see the show, to laugh with us and to celebrate.

The support from the community in Niagara has been absolutely incredible, and I mean that. Because I know what it’s like to put on a show, and to have it fall flat with low support from community. I know what that feels like when you put on a show that you think people will really enjoy, you assemble a great cast, and the concept for the show is really interesting, then for months, nobody shows.

Because I know what that’s like, and because I know how much the cast of Improv Fallout actually cares about getting up there and doing their best, supporting one another, and putting in the effort, judgement-free and enthusiastic, that’s why I feel a whole year of Improv Fallout is nothing short of a triumph.

That’s why I feel honoured when new audience members come to check us out. That’s why I feel proud when audiences return time and again.

This cast is an ensemble. They have grown together. They lift one another up.

No pretence. No competition. They prioritize learning, growing, friendship and in-so-doing, they make funny, funny magic.

I feel lucky to be a part of it.

Photos by Erica Sherwood. Except the one OF her. Who took that one?

Anxiety & The Walls we Build

A thing I’m trying to work on these days:

IMG-8187

Good one, @Headspace!

For me, the problem doesn’t seem to be judging based on what we would like other people to be, but rather judging people based on past encounters or experience we’ve had with them or witnessing them.

Ideally, I wouldn’t judge anyone at all, really. But as a social creature, and an anxious one, I tend to build up walls to protect myself in different scenarios and judgement becomes a defence mechanism used to avoid getting hurt.

Recently, I feel like this defence has been bumming me out more than protecting me, so I’m trying to work on it.

I don’t condone this is in my improv, so why should I live by it?

In an effort to practice mindfulness, I’m trying to distance myself from thoughts about past interactions, observations and assumptions about people and working double-time on just being present with everyone I encounter, so that each new moment is a better opportunity for meaningful connection.

So far, I haven’t been great at it. In my mind, I already ruined brunch with two wonderful colleagues by complaining about situations over which I have no control. I should have just been present, enjoyed their company, and made new moments and memories (rather than obsessing over old, shitty ego wounds.)

But I will continue trying. And failing. And hopefully get better and better at just being with the multiple wonderful humans I have the pleasure of encountering in this incredible comedy community of which I am lucky to be a part.

 

 

 

The loving clock

Babygirl, what time is it?

Clown College Instructor Confession

Sometimes, you teach a drop-in improv class, and a dude who’s never done improv before pitches to your class a “Loving Clock” (because that’s the nature of the game you’re playing – and that was the suggestion he received) – and for the rest of your week (and maybe life) you sweetly say:

“Babygirl, I love you!”

… every single time you check to see what time it is.

***

Have you heard an improv quote that’s either a) positively reinforced your attitude permanently or b) you’ve never been able to get out of your head? What was it?

Shame!

First Time?

I felt instant improv shame earlier this week…

I’ve been reading Mick Napier’s “Improvise. Scenes from the Inside Out” (a book I feel I should have read a long time ago, and feel even more shame about having waited so long to pick it up.) In a Harold show, playing with people with whom I don’t regularly play, I pulled a rookie “This is my first time…” move to initiate a scene.

According to Napier, first day/time scenes are justifications allowing the improviser to be incompetent or uninformed in the scene. Basically, by admitting to not knowing anything, you put the onus on your partner to do all the heavy lifting.

Reading the book, I honestly didn’t think I had a problem with “first days” or too much justification. But as I entered the scene on Tuesday and those words came out of my mouth, I wanted to hit the Rewind button and swallow them back in.

I imagined Napier walking into the theatre, hearing me utter those words, roll his eyes and walk right back out.

Luckily, I had a good partner. And heavy-lifting, he did.

A nice thing about a long form set is that there’s often chances to redeem yourself.

Hit it Harder

Later in the set, I rolled around on the floor for what felt like hours (it was maybe max 15 seconds.) This is a pretty big physical offer, even for someone who doesn’t mind the occasionally large physical offer. In these moments, I felt a strong sense of “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? YOU LOOK LIKE A FOOL” — not only in my own head, but I imagined it coming from the other characters in the scene and every other improviser in the audience.

It had also been a while since I’ve feltĀ those feelings on stage. It’s often my job to be foolish. By now, I’m pretty used to it. But it is interesting to notice that sense of the anxiety to conform still exists in my trained-to-be-silly brain.

Conversely, I also felt a sense of ridiculous joy rolling around on the floor, in the act itself, and the reaction it was garnering from my scene partners. This helped me double down on my commitment to it.

“If you feel like bailing in an improv scene hit it even harder, instead” – Mick Napier

That I did. And I even brought the rolling around back in a later beat.

All this to say that the shame I felt at the beginning of the scene did not stop me from committing. The inner judgement didn’t close me off and make me comment on the scene instead of fully engage in it. It may have even helped me play harder.

So don’t let shame, embarrassment or self-judgement shut you down. Improv needs you to be open, and it’s hard to do that if you’re worried about pleasing everybody, including a director from Chicago you’ve never even met.