2020 Briear in Review

Yeah I know it’s been a weird year, and yeah I get it’s totally OK of all you accomplished this year was staying alive, breathing and not murdering your roommate. I’ve been posting YIRs since 2016 and I’m not going to stop now. If there’s anything we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that among all the chaos, there’s still a whole lot to be grateful for and it’s easy to miss if you don’t take a second to appreciate it.

My lighthouse word for 2020 was NOW. I got into reading some Eckhart Tolle thanks to Pete Holmes and felt it’d be some super great reading for an improviser, an anxious person and for life in general. I think 2020 was the perfect year to have chosen that word, and that NOW couldn’t have come at a better time.

Here’s some of the good to come out of my many NOWs in 2020:

  • Ran two successful in-person editions of Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? & brought it back via Zoom just in time for its’ 6th anniversary.
  • My company held our first corporate events.
  • Continued teaching improv with The Second City Training Centre & successfully transitioned to doing so online since March. During his process, I taught my first Level D class, the highest level I’ve taught thus far.
  • Held my first table read for my sitcom pilot.
Improv Niagara team reading Brie's comedy pilot.
We had La Croix because this was a LEGIT writer’s room.
The cast of Improv Niagara and friends with Colin Mochrie.
Improv Niagara meets our improv hero Colin Mochrie
  • Continued seeing a counsellor to help manage my anxiety.
  • Performed in the Worlds Biggest Improv Tournament with Linda Julia Paolucci as Niagara Balls, and shared that one awesome night playing arcade games and eating garbage.
  • Auditioned a bunch in person, then sent out self-tapes galore.
  • Continued writing sketches with my Utilidors partner David Lahti, closing in on what will one day be an epic themed sketch revue.
  • Maintaining a 17-year tradition of interrupting my friend Curtis in the middle of the Super Bowl.
  • Held a short run of successful Improv Fallout shows at Mahtay Café before things closed down. (Bringing it back via FB Live in 2021!)
  • Held a short run of successful POPAGANDA shows at the John Candy Box Theatre before things closed down. Attempted one online version, which proved to be very complicated.
  • Performed stand-up comedy around the Niagara Region.
  • Recorded seven new episodes of The Constant Struggle Podcast with my brother Nick.
  • Performed many improv scenes and sets in Toronto & Niagara, including a set with the Second City Main Stage cast.
  • Performed in The Vagina Monologues at Camp Cataract (ICYI – I performed the The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy monologue – that’s me to the right, in the pleather.)
The Women who performed The Vagina Monologues on stage at Camp Cataract in Niagara Falls, ON.
The incredible cast of The Vagina Monologues at Camp Cataract in Niagara Falls, ON
  • Participated in a Race & Theatre in Niagara workshop, hopeful more work continues on this front.
  • Premiered our pilot “Time Slicers” at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Film Festival.
  • Built up the courage to ask for something I really wanted.

And then, things happened. Life shifted. From home, I created different NOWs.

  • I binge-watched SO MUCH EPIC TV.
  • Many sweaty Sherwarrior workout sessions.
  • Performed many mini-online shows with Improv Niagara in the early days of the pandemic.
  • Began performing in Toronto-based online shows like Duo Derby and Connect 40, which did a great job of bringing the improv community back together in these tricky times.
  • Grew a vegetable and herb garden in my backyard.
  • Held my second official Writers’ Room. This time, digitally.
Zoom meeting of people's faces, reading Brie's pilot script.
Script Read-thru | Round 2
  • Participated in improv jams and classes with people from around the world from the comfort of my own home.
  • Participated in the virtual edition of In the Soil Festival with the women & enbies of Improv Niagara.
  • Held outdoor, socially distanced improv rehearsals in my backyard and in local parks.
  • Protested anti-black racism, police brutality & social injustice.
  • Spent a few weekends in London, ON working on an indie comedy about a cult.
  • Read 50 new, original Canadian comedy plays.
  • Began co-leading improv & mindfulness workshops with Stream Yoga + Meditation
  • Attended the Our Cities on Our Stages symposium online though Bad Dog Theatre.
  • Improv Niagara’s newest Kids’ Instructor, Simon, offered workshops with the Town of Pelham.
  • IN held a series of outdoor, socially-distanced improv shows at Camp Cataract for the summer.
  • Attended my first Zoom bris.
  • Was invited to guest on Tuong La’s Ranked podcast with Dan & Nick.
  • Celebrated 4 years of wedded bliss at the top of the Skylon Tower.
  • Learned how to grow and harvest cannabis.
  • Booked a role on a French web series for TFO & shot it in December (where I got my first swab.)
Selfie of Brie in full make-up, hair done, on set for the French webseries shoot.
On set as Mme. Gisèle.
  • Participated in an online version of Culture Days with Improv Niagara.
  • Participated in the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women and was reinvigorated by it.
  • Took an awesome workshop with my Chicago improv heroines Susan Messing & Rachael Mason.
  • IN participated online in Dunnville, ON’s River Arts Festival.
  • Improv Niagara wrote & performed a virtual sketch for Suitcase in Point’s Community Comedy Series
  • IN’s held our first ever student show, broadcast live via Facebook (because groups of 10+ were not permitted.)
  • Welland finally got a Starbucks
  • I stayed alive.
  • I breathed.
  • I Didn’t kill my roommate.

I’m thankful for all of the NOWs 2020 brought along and I do wish to continue working in being present and in the moment (luckily I’m in the right field for that.) NOW, my word for 2021 is very different. Stay tuned.

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

HAPPY 2021!

New Episode of @StrugglePod: E09 – Summer’s End

the constant struggle - banner

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e09-summers-end/

Well kids, summer’s over and with that brings a whole new world of struggles, but not without mentioning the break we took from them during the warm months to relax and refuel the tank.

In this episode, Nick talks about his trip to Chicago, IL with his buddies and Brie mentions her voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Atlantic Fringe Fest. Both reference their respective cities’ great garlic-bread-type products.
We discuss new and ongoing projects and how to jump back into them now that the colder months are upon us.
Special podcast shout-outs to:

Special Parks Canada shout-outs to:

  • The Citadel
  • Green Gables Heritage Place
  • Province House National Historic Site of Canada

Special Toronto festivals shout-outs to:

And to everything garlic bread, we thank you.

 

Check it out on iTunes, Google Play or at the link right under the banner!

#StruggleOn

Why It’s Cool I didn’t Play with Colin Mochrie

I went to Wheel of Improv tonight. It was Wheel’s 6th birthday and Colin Mochrie and Rob Norman were Boomer’s guests.

I wanted to play with Colin because he’s famous. I mean it’s Colin Mochrie for Pete’s sake!

Here’s why playing with Rob was better. Firstly, he’s younger and better looking. (Sorry Colin.)

But for realsies, I feel like when you’re in a scene with Rob Norman, he’s constantly teaching you things while he plays with you. Tonight, I played a character with a real competitive edge, all full of conflict and the likes; Rob’s character was docile; a why-can’t-we-all-get-along? type, which to me was a clear message: why the conflict?! It doesn’t have to be a competition! There do not need to be winners or losers. I don’t always have to be loud-mouthed, high-status bullies.

Maybe this is proof that I was too in my head in the scene tonight. Even if it isn’t, I am taking a mental note to be less antagonistic in my character choices. (Even though I got a pretty big laugh by calling Rob a motherfucker.)

Ah well…Happy Birthday Wheel! Thanks Boomer, for everything you do.

Photo stolen from Wheel of Improv's Twitter.

Photo stolen from Wheel of Improv’s Twitter.

JFL Forty-Boo-Hoo

I was feeling a little bummed out lately because my financial situation has rendered it impossible for me to check out any of the JFL42 action currently taking place around town – and I really wanted to go see Family Guy – as much as a bunch of you are probably like “buh, Family Guy is so lame!  My grandma’s more edgy than Family Guy!  Seth MacFarlane can eat his own butthole!”  Well, feel that if you may, but I still really wanted to see the live show – it would have been awesome.  Also, I like a man with that kind of flexibility.  Nevertheless, I’m broke.

THAT BEING SAID… I had to take a step back and remember a little thing called “appreciation.”  Because yes, I may not be seeing the amazing alternative, and not-so alternative (Family Guy) comedic acts taking place in our great city over the course of this week, but I AM, going to see one of my comedy HEROS, thanks to the generous donation of a benefactor who shall remain nameless, (it was Dan,)  the incomparable John Cleese, performing his “Last Time To See Me Before I Die” tour stop at the Winter Garden Theatre.  I haven’t been there since my first year in Toronto, when I was volunteering at my first Canadian Comedy Awards, and met awesome Canadian comedians the likes of Mary Walsh, Colin Mochrie, Luba Goy, among others.

Which brings me to the impending 2013 Canadian Comedy Awards, for which I have been Tweeting semi-regularly. That reminds me.  Can you hold for 140 characters please?

Ok, I’m back.  I got distracted by the “Best” and “Worst” Emmy moments “article” I stumbled upon, but they meant absolutely nothing to me as I didn’t watch the Emmy’s last night.  Rather, I went out and enjoyed prime rib, thanks again to a generous benefactor, who shall remain nameless. (Dan again.  Totally Dan!)

Yeah, so the Canadian Comedy Awards are also coming up – which means I get to spend 4 days in my former home of Ottawa. (I miss you Lisgar House!)  And I’ll get to see some of the best Canadian comedy has to offer.

I think I just wrote this post to cheer myself up.  I hope you don’t mind.  But it kinda worked, so that’s good. Sure I’m missing Marc Maron tonight, and tomorrow – where he’ll be a guest on Strombo, in the same building where I work, and it would be free, and I bet it’s gonna be awesome, but I’ll be working – hard, and a lot – and dealing with… stuff…

But so So SO much more importantly…