Last night, my Niagara-based improv ensemble premiered our competitive-style “Improv Fallout” show for a standing-room-only house in downtown St. Catharines. It was, to be brief, incredible.
Mainly, I wanted to point out what else went behind the production, because it was one of the first times in my career as a comedy producer that I had a team of individuals around me, supporting a project so enthusiastically that ALL these things happened:
- First of all, they actually invited people to come friggin’ see them perform, so we packed the house ’til it was, as mentioned standing-room-only.
- When given the rehearsal schedule, some performers requested additional rehearsal time to ensure their performance would be up to snuff.
- They showed up for rehearsal like, AN HOUR before their call to help set up without being asked.
- They created an art wall for the show JUST FOR FUN.
- One of the performer’s partners agreed to work the Box Office.
- One of the performer’s partners took really great photos during the show.
- A performer who WASN’T EVEN ON THE SHOW agreed to collect email addresses so we could continue to spread the word about our group and ran back and forth to help make sure the show ran smoothly again, without being asked.
- One of the performers fearlessly approached people asking for suggestions before the show started.
- One of the performers hand-crafted voting circles with one colour on one side, and the other on the other side, which was challenging she admitted, but worth it because they looked so good!
- Some of our performers took to social media before, during and after the show to share the experience with others.
- Some of our performers learned how to use social media for the show.
- One of the performers went to Fabricland for the first time in her life to actually buy fabric to be used to discern the different teams on stage.
- Our tech created a special playlist for the show to get the audience feelin’ funky.
- One of the performers risked his neck to drape the curtains in such a way as to make the space look a bit more ascetically pleasing.
- One of the performers drove a long long way to come to the show even though she’d worked all day and had to go right back immediately after the performance.
- One of the performers refused payment until it was physically forced onto him. (That’s right, the performers were paid.)
- All of the performers were super supportive of one another on stage as well as off stage and, even after being “voted off” the show stayed intensely engaged with participating in the show with members of the audience and online.
- I’m probably forgetting a million more things…
It’s INCREDIBLE to know that this wonderful collaboration is what it can feel like to create live comedy.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching my Dad perform in a production of Mary Poppins put on by the Port Colborne Operatic Society; an organization in which he’s been involved for 39 years! The production was spectacular. The costumes, the singing, the FLYING! I mean, come on!
It hit me this year, seeing the PCOS’ productions every year since I was a kid is likely responsible for my desire to perform. I remember watching the plays and thinking: “ One day I want to be up there!” Although that’s since changed to “I want to be up there, but like…by myself with a microphone… or with a small group of people making things up on the spot… or performing something I’ve written myself… likely with less singing, like WAY less singing.”
My parents put me in performance from a young age. Dancing and playing the piano. I can’t begin to imagine a childhood without live performance, or without art.
So, consider this is a plea from me to you. No matter where you are, or who you’re with, go see live performances of plays, of comedy, of music of whatever you can! And bring a friend, a child, a niece or nephew, a parent or aunt or uncle, a Tinder date, ANYBODY.
You never know whose life you might inspire.
Our new episode of The Constant Struggle podcast features actor & improviser Alex Wong. Click on the images below to find our more about his awesome acting journey and his cool new webseries “In Real Life”:
In this episode, Nick & Brie chat with actor, writer & improvisor Ryan Hughes about some of the struggles he’s currently facing in the pursuit of his art.
Ryan speaks of a few pros and cons of the day job, and what happens when it’s gone. He discusses issues of confidence and mental health. We also delve into a deep discussion about women in comedy and *~*GASP*~* even feminism!
With GREAT shout-outs to:
JESS BEAULIEU & NATALIE NORMAN (THE CRIMSON WAVE)
Be sure to check Ryan out on Twitter @ryanfhughes
& his improv troupe
Peggy Molson are competing in the Big City Improv Festival’s “TKO” tournament. Their semi-final set is at Comedy Bar on Tues. Oct. 13th @ 8:00 PM. Go check ’em out if you’re in Toronto.
Episode 6 of my brother and my podcast, The Constant Struggle, is up & we’d love it if you’d giver a listen.
This time around, Nick’s got a new writing deadline he wants to get to before he takes off to Scotland with his family. Will the trip inspire him to write something while he’s over there? We’ll see!
Will Brie survive her month of insane-work hours and continue to work on her comedy all throughout, or will she have a complete mental breakdown along the way?
Find out, by downloading the episode on iTunes or checking it out right here:
Oh, and if you want to sign that petition to help get Kevin Smith Canadian citizenship, click here:
Struggle On, friends!
Given the recent surge in Facebook invites, either I’ve become increasingly more popular (not likely) or it’s the Toronto Fringe, and all the performers I know in this city seem to have a show this year. And believe me, I would love nothing more but to enjoy your talents on a weekday afternoon, the time you so desperately need an audience, but I’ll be at work.
Anything in the early afternoon too, yup. Working.
In the evening? Probably just leaving work. If I’m lucky.
Shit, the project I’m working on these days has be so busy that when I DO finally get off my shift, it’s all I can do to not fall asleep on the streetcar, call the 501 my bed and ride it fully unconscious until the morning comes and I’m forced to exit and stumble into the freezer that is my current place of employ.
Not that I’m complaining about the fact that I am employed. I’m happy about that. In fact, I’m dependent on it.
You’re all such a tremendously talented bunch of amazing folk.
But what I am saying, is that I really REALLY will try to see your shows, but if I can’t, I’m sorry. And I wish you the best of broken legs throughout such a wonderful festival.
On a day like today, the first day this month that I’ve had to work full time hours on the weekend (just Sunday this week, in the coming weeks it’ll be expected of me Saturdays and Sundays), more than ever I feel the need to promote the latest episode of Nick & my podcast; The Constant Struggle:
This episode was taped on Father’s Day, and we discussed the grind of getting your creative work done under not-so-ideal circumstances. I have a feeling the next episode is going to talk about more of that because this month I will have even less time to do the things I love, which is pretty crazy disheartening.
It’s getting more difficult to manage the balance of work and passion. Work seems to be weighing more heavily. Too bad I’m not a millionaire, y’know? Anyway…
In this episode, we give shout-outs to:
- Drop & Give me 20 stand-up show (Marc Hallworth)
- Robert Ariss Hills (improviser, graphic designer)
- Dan Dingwall (a dude)
- Susannah Kiernan (triple threat)
- Ken Hall (improv guru)
- Alexis Bernstein (networking queen & creative expert)
- The bird clock
- Porter Airlines
Books & Movies
- Save the Cat (Blake Snyder)
- Whiplash (2014)
- Inside Out (2015)
- The Moment (Brian Koppelman)
- WTF (Marc Maron)
- The Crimson Wave (Jess Beaulieu & Natalie Norman)