This Remembrance Day in particular, I’m mindful of these men.
These are The Dumbells. They were a comedy troupe consisting of Canadian soldiers during the First World War. Them, The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Comedy Company, and as many as 30 other such troupes performed in France to entertain their fellow troops, and to help boost morale.
It got me thinking that throughout history, there are always people who feel a call to lighten the darkness others experience during difficult times.
They’re out there now too, throughout this crazy pandemic. Trying to make us laugh. Taking our minds off the rising numbers and harsh news, if only for a moment.
Understanding what we’re all going through, and expressing it in such a way as to allow us to carry on a little further.
I strive to honour that particular calling. And today, I commemorate these giants who did under truly extreme circumstances.
Well hot damn, this took a turn. I’m always using my busy schedule as an excuse not to blog. Well, that’s not so much an issue now, is it? With Covid-19 spreading like wildfire (another very serious problem we’re also still facing globally), there seems to be nothing to do BUT write.
Or so I thought. But you’d be amazed all the stuff you can do instead of writing. I’ve managed to get all my physical receipts ready for tax time. Not enough, so I organized my husband’s too. I’m learning to teach improv online. (Yes, and… it’s gonna take some adjusting!) I’m sorting through junk drawers (and bags, anybody else got junk bags from moving so often?) I’m cleaning this and sanitizing that. I’m taking naps. I’m meditating. I’m watching way too much Netflix.
So here. Gah. Here I am, keyboard. Let’s type.
2020 was gearing up to be great and fun and BUSY:
I was about to teach more improv than ever before.
Improv Niagara had just secured a second monthly show, which was to take place in downtown Niagara Falls.
IN was about to make a huge deal about our 2nd Birthday Fallout show.
I was starting to get corporate gigs.
I was getting better at Pilates (ie farting less)
I’d received a newfound confidence from performing The Vagina Monologues in knowing a) I can, indeed, memorize big chunks of text b) I can, indeed, rock full-faux leather performance attire.
The last month of February was BUZZING. I’m telling you, BUZZING. A huge Improv Niagara event in Niagara Falls, followed immediately by two sold-out, explosive performances of The Vagina Monologues at Camp Cataract.
And now it comes crashing to a halt. No more shows. No more events of 250 people or more. Wait, now it’s 50. OK I get it. No more events. Gatherings = virus spreading. Non-essential services must cease.
Yes, of course, for the best. We must do our part to flatten the curve and keep as many people safe as possible. And yet, it is an adjustment. I guess at least with improv, we’re good with making those.
I get it. We’re well into 2020 by now, and I should have done this earlier in the year, but I’m not giving up on me, and the end of 2019 was rough, so just let me do me, OK? OK.
I’ve found tremendous joy in 2016, 2017 & 2018 writing my Year-in-Reviews and I don’t want to miss the boat. And hell, why not feel like it’s January again and not like 2020 is taking off like a rocket into the future and we have no control over it. That reminds me, my Lighthouse Word this year? NOW.
In 2019 I…
had a continued run of successful Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? shows with amazingly talented special guest improvisers at Comedy Bar, allowing more opportunities for improvisers to share the stage with the improvisers to whom they look up.
Completed the Harold Studio Series at Bad Dog Theatre.
Celebrated Guess Who’s Coming to Improv’s 5th anniversary! Brought the show down to Niagara for the first time.
Performed with a new improv duo partner, Andrew Lizotte, in a fun project entitled High Status Idiots.
Voted in another Federal Election. (My guy didn’t win.)
Sold a friggin’ house & moved into a new home.
Raised 150lbs of food for needy people in our community in Niagara.
Nous avons dit adieu à ma très chère grand-mère, qui nous a quitté à l’âge de 99 ans.
So probably the end of the year is why it took me so long to write this year-end post. I realize that now. However writing it now feels very good, very cleansing. My grand-mother was full of joie-de-vivre and a very funny woman. I’m certain she would want me to continue doing a similar path.
Que la santé, l’amour et la réussite vous accompagnent dans tous vos projets.Bonne année!
For the past 2 months, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a wonderful comedy experience by the name Outwit, Outplay, Outlaugh Toronto – a live comedy-version of the popular reality TV show Survivor.
At first, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m not much of a Survivor fan, (much to the dismay of many of the die-hards in the Outlaugh cast.) In fact, my main relationship with Survivor was my obsessed-roommate (at the time,) printing out and posting east new cast above his bed and X-ing out everyone who was voted off. And the buffs. The buffs are cool.
I didn’t expect it to be such a fun and collaborative experience. I didn’t expect to connect with so many awesome Toronto comedians and performers. I don’t know why I didn’t expect these things. The producers involved know a lot of awesome people in Toronto’s comedy community. I guess the anxiety of the unknown made me believe it was going to be a cutthroat and nasty competition, but it was the total opposite. Well, it was still cutthroat, just not quite so nasty.
Every week we had new challenges, wherein we work on different comedic elements and styles, improv, sketch, stand-up. We even created a mini late-night TV episode in Week 3, (that was the day a snowstorm didn’t keep a full house from showing up, and one in which I got to portray my dream-role, that of a WW1 ghost. Hey. It was Remembrance Day. Give me this one.)
I got to work with such a wonderful variety of people I’d never met, let alone worked with before. It was just awesome to work together, knowing that, as well as wanting to win the competition, we were all working hard at creating the best show we possibly could while we were at it, or at least that was my strategy.
Not surprisingly, the challenges helped me realize how incredibly well I work with deadlines. In fact I may even call Jared Laxer (the live show’s Jeff Probst) ((the host of Survivor)) ) up after tonight’s finale to give me some writing assignments and check in on me to make sure I’m getting them done!
The show is so incredibly well produced with Jared, Linda Ellis and Matt Caldwell at the helm, and many others contributing to its smooth running and many moving pieces. There are video confessionals at the top of every show and throughout the live show too, actual immunity idols, and buffs. Again, so many buffs!
Look, I didn’t even mind getting voted out. (*cough*) Luckily, I lasted long enough where I could be in the Jury and my vote will now count in choosing a winner of the entire competition, which happens TONIGHT at the Social Capital Theatre at 8:30pm. So if you’re wondering what to do tonight in Toronto, do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s going to be intense, and it’s going to be hilarious. The tribe has spoken. See this show.
I’d like to share a commercial in which I had the pleasure of performing. It was so fun, and so funny and I was so lucky to be cast in it. I also think it’s real fitting that the first speaking role I get in an ad is for a CBD product. Truly, it all add up!
I really gotta write in this blog more. And not only when friggin’ sweet stuff happens.
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?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
What are you working on that’s awesome these days?
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?
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.