2 Quick Improv Tips for Performers & Producers

In my experience as an improviser, improv instructor and improv producer, there are two things that have just come to my mind; little tidbits of experience I would like to impart onto anyone who might stumble upon this blog seeking profound insight:

  1. It’s probably not a good idea to try to sell drugs at an improv audition. (Like actually, not just in a scene.)
  2. If want a clean show, you should probably let the cast know before they start playing “Sex with Me.” Definitely before they engage in a slo-mo sex scene.

Yours truly.

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The Other Side of the Table

Another first for ol’ Brie here. This week marks the first time I’ve ever stood behind a table and held auditions of OTHER people for one of my* projects.

(I helped a friend audit once, a little while back, but it doesn’t count because I had nothing else to do with the project. Shout-out to Mishi here!)

Though it wasn’t a ginormous audition for some big-time movie, or some grand Broadway production, it still felt really freakin’ cool! It’s me, scouting for people I don’t know, who may or may not help me build this brand new-project here in Niagara. It’s so fun and exciting! We even had a write-up in the paper about it and everything:Screenshot 2018-01-28 22.46.44.png

We’re going to hold another one in February because we’re still a little short on numbers, so I get to do it all over again next month. Hopefully with a whole bunch of people who are super-interested and excited to entertain the Niagara Region by making fun shit up on the spot.

Gimme a Yay! This is so exciting!

*When I say “my” of course, I mean “our”. “Our” being Dina and I and anyone invested in the existence and success of Improv Niagara.

The Constant Struggle, Episode 3

If you’ve browsed elsewhere on this website apart from the front page, (or the article about the WWI brothel, which continues to get more hits than any other post,) you’ll know that my brother Nick and I have been working on a podcast over the past few weeks that deals with the ongoing struggles creative types face on their journey to accomplish their artistic goals.

This month’s episode is no exception as we delve further into overcoming rejection, navigating networking events and just getting it done!

Check it out:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/8rght-5622a1?from=wp

If you like it, and you’re interested in sharing your creative struggles with us on an upcoming episode, feel free to write to us at constantstrugglepod@gmail.com.


 

*** *Note: the books we referred to during this episode are:

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder

Elephant Bucks: An insider’s Guide to Writing TV Sitcoms, by Sheldon Bull

The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), by Chris Hardwick

Le Workshop

Well blog, I’m sorry.  It’s been a while.  I know you’ve  been sitting here, waiting for me to feed you, but I’ve been busy.  I know that’s not a good excuse, but I’m here now aren’t I?  So let’s get to it.

Huge news.  I’ve recently been OFFICIALLY hired by The Second City to lead improv workshops in French and English as part of their Educational Company.  Last Friday, I lead my first workshop at a high school in Brampton and I was absolutely thrilled to go back to feeling the way I did when I was a tour guide, or a cadet instructor, but for something I like even more than First World War history and paramilitary youth engagement; improv!  Good old fashioned make-em-ups!  Hopefully one day I’ll have the same impact on a kid’s life as Daniel Ayotte did on mine when I was a young Rosario  Tanguayan in Welland; making things up on the spot and feeling tremendously free; even for an 11 or 12 year-old, who was already pretty void of responsibility.  Sure, I may have lost it for a while there after high school, pretending to be a very serious political scientist, but it’s such a joy to have it back and to now get to share it with others.

Le sit, le stand, le bend.

Le sit, le stand, le bend, mes amis.

Also great, my boss at el-dayjob  and I worked out an arrangement so that I can continue to work at both companies without conflict… of course I had to clear it with my team, the union and Human Resources, but that’s the joy of kindof working for the government.

In addition to that, I have a new comedy troupe in the works.  We’ve performed one improv spot to date, and we’ve got a few sketch shows in the works.  Right now though, we’re all very concerned about our Second City general audition.  After such a great year working on Conservatory material, it’s wonderful to start thinking about the next steps the Toronto comedy scene has to offer, and though that sometimes feels very scary and uncertain, it also lights a fire under one’s ass to get producing funny ass shit for the world (and mostly your friends, peers and family) to see.

On the home front, my Peanut has fallen ill with a bit of a weak liver.  She was hospitalized for two days last week and let out right before my birthday, which was a phenomenal gift!  Though I have to feed her myself these days because she’s not got much interest in eating, she is doing a bit better.  She used to hide under the bed all day, but now she surfaces up onto the bed and appreciates a good cuddle.  Hopefully she will become stronger (and hungrier) as the days progress.

Recovering Nut

Recovering Nut

As a result of the Nut issues, I had to cancel a gig this past week, and I feel absolutely horrible about it; they were very understanding, but there’s something about not-showing up for a gig, especially when the people who run it are awesome in every way, and it involves Star Trek cosplay, that really bites total butt.  Tina Fey talks about saying yes to everything, but at that moment, I had to say yes to making sure this tiny creature under my care survived the night off her IV, even if that meant omitting the strenuous process of putting a sock in my hair to simulate Captain Janeway’s awful hairdo from Seasons 1 – 3 ST Voyager.

Was there an on-board stylist?  Computer, hairstyle variation 372-D.

Was there an on-board stylist? Computer, hairstyle variation 372-D.

Writing  all this helps with stress.  I’ve been feeling it pop up a bit more frequently lately, maybe because so much seems to be happening all at once.  But it’s not as bad as this dude on the streetcar after the Blue Jays game who kept making really loud exhales whilst punching the side of the streetcar wall.  I suppose we all have our own techniques of dealing with stress, but I awful concerned this dude was going to have a total Hulkesque breakdown and just smash the back of the streetcar and go running down Bathurst Street jumping on cars and crushing them in his wake.

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Wait for it… SMASH!

Maybe he just needed a nap.

Speaking of which, the hour has arisen, I must bathe and retire for the evening.  Thanks for reading! 🙂

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.