Do one thing every day that you really really hate, but you know you have to do because it will make you a better performer

Earlier this week I tried something I hate.

A character monologue.

I’m always fascinated by some comedians I know who seem to come up with this plethora of weird and wonderful characters, for which they’ve created this fun universe and they bring them up on stage and speak to the audience in that character for upwards of ten minutes, and people love it. They tell jokes in character. They have funny accents. They dress up.

I just hate it so much.

Not when other people do it. I just hate doing it, myself. It if were to serve a sketch, in which there were several people, no problem. I’ll play a weird and wacky character. But on my own, just speaking directly to the audience? No thank you. Well, that is, outside of comedy school and this past Tuesday’s “Bombaes.”

I wrote and performed a character monologue inspired by something Kate Mulgrew said while promoting her book last month (was it last month?) at the Toronto Reference Library. It seemed to get very little response while I was speaking it, which is bizarre. As a stand-up comic, you’re used to getting a laugh at certain points in your set. But either it wasn’t funny, or it was just not good, I felt like I got nothing back from the audience, apart from polite applause when I was finished my bit.

Stand-up, fine. You’re telling jokes, and the audience responds in such a way as to let you know whether or not your jokes are hitting or missing. Improv, GREAT! No problem making people laugh there. But this? GAH. This is PAINFUL.

PAINFUL! AND DIFFICULT!  AND SCARY!

That being said. If anyone has a solo-sketch/monologue night in Toronto, I’m totally ready for you to meet this gal. She’s a real something else.

 

Elementary, my dears

Well now, my trip on the Bipolar Express has finally come to an end and with it comes the end of my experience with the Conservatory and the beginning of a deep, dark valley of despair and the unknown.

Wow, that got dark quick.

I am, actually, a bit down about being finished with the Conservatory.  In the same way I was sortof down when I was finished Humber.  Because now I don’t have any pre-determined path to follow on a regular basis to achieve a certain goal, or conclusion.  It’s like I’m back at the beginning again.

Chris Martin gets it.

If you’re reading this, maybe you can comment on some tips and tricks you give yourself to stay motivated and to keep creative?  I know, in the Winter months especially, it can be particularly difficult to come home from your day job and feel like working on creative endeavours.  Most of the time lately, I’ve just felt like curling up in my blanket and watching a Sherlock marathon.  (How has it taken me this long to watch that show, seriously?)

On the plus side, I have gone out and done a couple stand-up sets now, so that’s starting up again.  I participated in a show this weekend, an open-mic strictly for ladies at Free Times Café (try their brisket poutine, you’ll plotz.)  Put on by none other than than the fabulous Chicka Boom hosts; Jess Beaulieu & Laura Bailey, the night proved performer after performer of solid, fierce material in one of the most supportive evenings I’ve seen.  Maybe you see a trend here? Catherine McCormick runs an LGBTQ/Women only room = super supportive.  Chicka Booms runs a ladies-only room = super supportive.  All other rooms = hurry the fuck up and finish what you’re saying so I can get on and do my 5 minutes because they’re better than yours, and I’m more important than you, AAAAAAAH ANGER, HATRED AND RAGE!!!

Ok, not true.  Not all other rooms, but these ones do tend to be incredibly supportive and positive.  Not the material; the material ranged from dark and tragic, to adorable cat-related tales and all throughout, making a few dirrrrty stops at one-night standsville and period-town along the way.  From relatable to extraordinary, it was just a damn good night of comic entertainment and I’m glad I spent the evening there instead of streaming the Grammys.

***

On a different note, I got my first call-back EVER the other day.  So clearly my commercial acting career is taking off at incredibly fast speeds!  (SOC auditions are the BEST, amirite?)

Other than that, I intend to  keep plugging away.  I wish we could open this up as a discussion for other comics/performers making their way in the biz, so please share the posts & your own experiences.  Let’s get the conversation going!

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to watch my distant relative keep Cumberbatch in line.   I mean, I’m off to clean the dishes, Mom. 

Brief Thoughts in Passing: Meeting a Locally Renown Casting Director

Ok, so if ever a casting director comes to somewhere to speak to you for free, and you’re really interested in getting into commercials or TV, and maybe her son runs one of the biggest casting houses in the city, and maybe you have some questions you want to ask her, but you also want her to maybe consider you for future projects, or maybe pass your name onto her son for future casting opportunities, maybe, oh I don’t know, maybe… TELL HER YOUR NAME!  

A tidbit of advice brought to you by someone who has only gone to very few auditions. Take it or or leave it.

Audition 2, Wheel 5

2nd Audition of the year, folks.  Not too bad considering we’re not even into January’s double-digits.  I wonder at what point this process will begin to get easier, or at least, less nerve-wracking?  I thought this would be a good role for me, it asked for a bit of tom-boy-ish-ness, and I mean, come on, I was an army cadet for 7 years, I’ve got a bit of that in me, no doubt, but why is it so difficult to bring it up on command?  Especially when there’s someone else in the room sucking out everyone’s energy asking the world to pay attention to “them”?  You know, those people?

The kind of person who, like, your friend would say “I just got engaged!” and immediately afterwards they would chime in with an: “OH MY GOD, I HAVE A HANG NAIL AND MY LIFE IS GOING TO END!  EVERYBODY PAY ATTENTION TO ME!”

attention-whore-nightclub

You know that kindof person?  What are they called again?  Oh right.  Actors.

Anyway, despite the attention-hog, I think the audition went well.  I’m beginning, slightly, to feel more comfortable, and like I have a right to be there.  I don’t know why, maybe because I didn’t go to acting school, but I always sortof feel like I’m imposing on some world or universe I’m not supposed to be a part of; seeeeeecrets.  I think the audition room should be a more welcoming environment, acknowledging and encouraging optimal talent and possibility, rather than petty competitiveness and oneupmanship.  But what do I know?  I’m just a silly comedian.

Speaking of welcoming, I attended the 5th Anniversary of Natasha Boomer’s community-building weekly Wheel of Improv tonight at Comedy Bar.  (And it took me less than 5 minutes to get there.  OMG Love my new apartment!)  I’ll admit I haven’t gone to that show as much as I would have liked.  The last time I went, it was still in the JCB and I had only begun to crush on my now 3 years & counting man-beau (because that’s what improv is all about, amirite ladies???) …and then there was that one time a few weeks ago at BGS’ Holiday party, and there were treats, and treats are fun. (because that’s what improv is all about, amirite ladies???)

“Wheel” is such a positive space; there’s a variety of different levels of experience, and the more people play together, the better we all get, collectively.  So, cheers to 5 years of that sexy sexy Wheel and I hope, especially now that I’m so close, I will motivate my own ass to attend more frequently.

If I lived in Mississauga, I would still be driving home right now.   (What?)

OctUpdate!

Holy Crap.  I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since the Moneyball review.  I have been BUSY, ladies and gentlemen!  Time feels like it keeps speeding up.  I’ve been completing assignments the day before they’re due, staying up past midnight, despite having to work super-early in the morning at the Career Centre.

 

It seems in each class, we’re working on major projects.  There isn’t really one in which we’re working less hard than the other. It’s crazy!  The workload is by vastly greater than last year, but folks, I am loving it.

I’m working on a chauvinist male “bro” character called Brian for my Acting class.  It’s both liberating and challenging to portray the type of male I absolutely despise.

I’ve written and submitted the first draft of a 10-minute play (more dramatic than comedic) play about a soldier of the First World War who visits a French brothel.   Apparently, I’m feeling very nostalgic about my time spent in France.  Like it or not, talking about hundreds of thousands of dead guys for 5 months straight two years in a row really gets into your head.

We’ve completed our clown pieces in physical comedy and are now moving onto different techniques.

In sketch writing,  we’ve been working on two major projects: a parody of a TV show (I chose Star Trek, obvi) and a monologue script based on a person we know upon which we’ll be building characters.

In stand-up, Larry’s teaching us what it would be like to work in a writing room, working on a late-nite host’s monologue.  The humour is very topical, news-related, so it’s been helping us with the LaughDraft news as well (which we will be filming this week after a long hiatus!)

Finally, we’re working on writing a sit-com.  I won’t reveal too much about that at the moment, in case anyone reading this blog decides to steal my class’ ideas and prevent us from ever working on this project in the ‘real world.’

And then there’s all the ‘outside school’ stuff… and work…

Life is crazy!!!

…Just the way I like it.