The Actual Year in Review & Optimism

We find ourselves at the beginning of another New Year, and like many bloggers, this is as good an opportunity as ever to think back over the past year and try to find some meaning in everything before moving on to the next.

Here goes:

1)  I turned 30.

2)  My best little friend and partner Peanut (my kitty cat) died.

3)  I got let go from work.

Am I ready for a new year?  Yes please.

Ok. So maybe I’m oversimplifying things by focusing on some pretty negative and shitty experiences. Like, maybe turning 30 isn’t so bad. And losing a pet is awful, but we know they don’t live forever when we bring them into our homes at the get-go. And when they’re super sick, sometimes it’s best to know they’re no longer in pain.

And as far as the job goes, I wasn’t a huge fan of the position quite honestly, and really welcomed the change. Also, because I’m a unionized employee, I was found another position within the corporation and have been totally loving the new challenges, coworkers and environment.

One year ago, I moved into an apartment in Bloorcourt; the heart of Toronto’s indie comedy action. I thought it would be the best place to live/be. As it turns out, my apartment overlooked the neighbour’s balcony and they could see directly into my tiny bedroom/kitchen, their cigarette smoke and blathering idiocy seeped in through my window, which was often left open given the ridiculous lack of temperature control in the building. I moved in 2014, again. Up the road, and this time, with my partner of 4 years, Dan. It’s already nice to have food in the fridge, cable TV, and someone to hug when I get home from late-night comedy shows who isn’t a cardboard cutout of Seth Rogen hanging behind my front door purposed to frighten off potential intruders.

I gave birth to a few babies this year: 50 Shades of 50, The Benoits, Exit, Pursued by a Bear and my fondest little project, Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? Each of these groups/shows have brought joy, fun and a stage to play throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful to all those involved, you know who you are. And if you don’t think I’m talking about you specifically, I am, so don’t worry. You’re amazing. I also adopted Improv Game Show, who continues to grow every single week; and I am as proud as an adopted parent could be of its’ potential.

Non-metaphorically, I welcomed a new brother into my family this past summer, as he and my sister threw the best damn wedding I’ve ever attended. And I’ve been to a few weddings in my short years on this earth, folks. This was hands down, the best. It brought my whole family closer together and it was such a gosh-darned delight to see my now 94 year-old grand-maman stand-up at her walker to boogie down to a few tunes.

I got to work with my brother and my boyfriend on a comedy project; a TV pilot about my hometown. Though nothing came out of the competition part of it, we still plan on creating something together out of the concept and working on other projects as well. We might totally be the next Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but like, Canadian, …and funny.

I was hired by my dream employer last year to teach improv workshops for students both in English and en français; and every chance I get to share a teensy bit of what improv has done for me to other people is like a tiny little miracle.

I went to New York City to learn more about writing humour. I read both Keith Johnstone’s and Rob Norman’s book to learn more about improv. I read Mindy Kaling, Martin Short and Andrea Martin’s books for inspiration and am now onto Amy Poehler’s. I listen to podcasts about comedy and improv and society and life and I am more motivated than ever.

2014 was a good year. Tt felt like momentum was beginning to pick up. My hope is to keep up the pace and trudge on forward. It’s an interesting thing, finding what you love and working towards doing it as often as possible and trying to make a life out of it. It’s not easy all the time, but it sure is something.

Even though I still miss Peanut like fucking crazy.

Happy New Year my darlings. To an amazing year ahead!
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My New Hair Doll

Maybe I’m ready to start writing again.  I had a pretty brutal couple of weeks there, but things are slowly beginning to become funny again.

As most of you might know by now, my itty bitty Peanut recently passed away.  However, she did used to shed a lot, so I have since collected and created a fur-doll with her remnants.  It’s almost as though she hasn’t gone at all!

 

New necklace.

New necklace. Why yes, that is regurgitated cat fur!

I’m also somewhat looking for jobs as it has become necessary since I’m on the verge of losing my current one.  I can’t say  I’m happy with my employer’s decision, so to make it right I will be spending my remaining time there repeating work I’d already completed to render my redundancy notice accurate.

My bridesmaid’s dress has arrived from China.  When I told everyone at work it was too big, they all congratulated me for having lost weight.  I didn’t tell them I ordered the dress 2 sizes too big.

toobig_

Just take a couple inches off…

My new sketchprov troupe (that’s what you call it when your troupe performs both sketch and improv comedy) “Red Herring” are excited to announce we’ve applied to our first comedy festival; the Detroit Improv Festival.  Fins crossed. I hope we get in. I really need the motivation to get my damn passport renewed. For some reason,  the call of chicken wings from Buffalo just isn’t strong enough for me these days.  We also have a few cool shows coming up in May and June. It’s always so great working on a promising new project that can actually go places, like Detroit!

It’s Spring.  The Earth is waking up and so am I.  <—- who says that shit?  

(I do. Sometimes.)

 

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.

imgres

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. 

Craigslist – Stealer of Dreams

You want one piece of advice, starting out comedian?  Don’t move to the suburbs.  

This lesson I learned the hard way and tried to rectify by responding to an ad on Craigslist for a reasonably priced basement apartment at Bloor and Ossington.  Fantastic location for a striving comic.  Less than 5 minutes walk to the subway.  Stumbling distance to Comedy Bar.  Perfect.  I went to check the place out and everything.  It wasn’t great.  But with a woman’s touch, it could look pretty damn adorable down there.  Also, my pet cat Peanut has a way of making any living space adorable.

The landlady agreed that I could bring by a deposit for the apartment and I was thrilled.  I would be moving back downtown.  After 2 years in Etobicoke, and a brief stint in Mississauga in an attempt to save some money, I would be back in the centre of the action, and I could not wait.  I could dream-taste the downtown garbage-day air already…

 January 1st 2014;  with Second City’s Conservatory program now complete, moving into a new place, I’d have more time free than I’ve had in a while.  Time to get back out there.  Do more stand-up, more improv, more storytelling.  Maybe meet some people willing to work together in a sketch troupe.  Get working on my writing; spec scripts, originals.  The whole nine.  Productivity ahoy!  This is going to be THE year.  But then…

RENEGE!

The landlady informs me in a poorly structured e-mail (weird, for a former teacher) that her current tenant is not able to leave when he said he would.  Which begs the question… WHAT THE FUCK were you posting an ad on Craiglist for if you weren’t even sure your fucking tenant was going to be leaving?  It’s like.. “Here!  Do you want to buy this car?  Yes? Well too bad, you can’t  It’s not for sale, sucker! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

-1

 

I’m fairly certain that’s the entire point of an online marketplace.  You don’t put something up, unless it’s good and goshdarn available!  I’m sure somewhere there’s a law against this type of flaking, but because no money was exchanged, it’s really just a matter of screwing over the person you lead on, then crushing her hopes and dreams.  (Dramatic, much?)

I know an argument can be made for the fact that it is possible to be a performer and live in the ‘burbs, but personally, I feel as though I’m wasting SO much time on the commute, which drains my energy and my drive.   If I stay in town after working an 8 hour shift, to see a show  instead of say, going home and preparing dinner, then going back to town to see a show, I’m saving time, but draining my wallet.  Ultimately, it’s a vaccuum of wasting time and money on eating out, gas, parking etc.  I think living in town, even though rent is more expensive, the ultimate savings occur in time.

So now it’s back to the drawing board.  I’m off to spend hours on Craigslist, Kijiji, ViewIt.ca and other such sites in an ongoing search for a convenient, not horrible location that won’t break me financially and/or morally (that’s right, I’m not moving to Parkdale.)

Keep your eyes open for me please, friends.  And never, ever move to the suburbs if you want to keep performing comedy at this early and fragile stage.

Remember Excitement?

Yesterday, I walked down to the basement, or to the “Brie-cave” as my brother refers to it.  There, my cat was in her litter box, taking care of business, as it were.  She looked up and saw me, and was immediately filled with such joy and excitement that she felt the need to run out of her litter box before entirely finishing her business.

It was like a slow motion scene from a movie – her liquid cat discharge spraying everywhere!!

(I feel the need to mention she recently had to switch cat food to a hypo-allergenic brand, and it seems her internals are still adjusting to her new cuisine.)

She leaped onto the couch where I was now sitting and smeared a giant streak onto my oh-so-comfy blanket, which immediately made its way into the washing machine.

And so I got to thinking about life.  I mean, when was the last time you were SO excited about something you literally just shit everywhere?

It must be very freeing.

Gonna keep my butt in the sink for the next 2 weeks or so!

“Master says I gotta keep my butt in the sink for the next 2 weeks.. minimum!”

 

CatChatz – Episode 6 – New Years Resolutions

A new year – a new CatChatz.  Managed to get the new one edited in one day – Thanks Snow Day!

This episode has Melanie and Shelley making up New Years Resolutions for their cat friends, Peanut and Indy.  We’re also joined by guest-star Dina Senior, my all-time truest-non-blood-related friend in the world, who is ready to pump you & your kitty up this year!

Check it out:

 

Go on, give it a click!

Meow! Meow!