greyscale image of a stop sign with the sky and phone lines in the background.

Stop Doing the Thing

Well hot damn, this took a turn. I’m always using my busy schedule as an excuse not to blog. Well, that’s not so much an issue now, is it? With Covid-19 spreading like wildfire (another very serious problem we’re also still facing globally), there seems to be nothing to do BUT write.

Or so I thought. But you’d be amazed all the stuff you can do instead of writing. I’ve managed to get all my physical receipts ready for tax time. Not enough, so I organized my husband’s too. I’m learning to teach improv online. (Yes, and… it’s gonna take some adjusting!) I’m sorting through junk drawers (and bags, anybody else got junk bags from moving so often?) I’m cleaning this and sanitizing that. I’m taking naps. I’m meditating. I’m watching way too much Netflix.

So here. Gah. Here I am, keyboard. Let’s type.

2020 was gearing up to be great and fun and BUSY:

  • I was about to teach more improv than ever before.
  • Improv Niagara had just secured a second monthly show, which was to take place in downtown Niagara Falls.
  • IN was about to make a huge deal about our 2nd Birthday Fallout show.
  • I was starting to get corporate gigs.
  • I was getting better at Pilates (ie farting less)
  • I’d received a newfound confidence from performing The Vagina Monologues in knowing a) I can, indeed, memorize big chunks of text b) I can, indeed, rock full-faux leather performance attire.

The last month of February was BUZZING. I’m telling you, BUZZING. A huge Improv Niagara event in Niagara Falls, followed immediately by two sold-out, explosive performances of The Vagina Monologues at Camp Cataract.

And now it comes crashing to a halt. No more shows. No more events of 250 people or more. Wait, now it’s 50. OK I get it. No more events. Gatherings = virus spreading. Non-essential services must cease.

Yes, of course, for the best. We must do our part to flatten the curve and keep as many people safe as possible. And yet, it is an adjustment. I guess at least with improv, we’re good with making those.

Me, as cult leader "John" in Outlaugh Toronto.

2019 Briear in Review

I get it. We’re well into 2020 by now, and I should have done this earlier in the year, but I’m not giving up on me, and the end of 2019 was rough, so just let me do me, OK? OK.

I’ve found tremendous joy in 2016, 2017 & 2018 writing my Year-in-Reviews and I don’t want to miss the boat. And hell, why not feel like it’s January again and not like 2020 is taking off like a rocket into the future and we have no control over it. That reminds me, my Lighthouse Word this year? NOW.

NOW…

In 2019 I…

  • had a continued run of successful Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? shows with amazingly talented special guest improvisers at Comedy Bar, allowing more opportunities for improvisers to share the stage with the improvisers to whom they look up.
  • Completed the Harold Studio Series at Bad Dog Theatre.
  • Released 7 new episodes of The Constant Struggle Podcast with my brother Nick.
  • Performed many fun sets as Semper Pie with my wonderful improv partner Alicia Douglas, including a few rounds at the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament and on the Stupid Good Comedy Show.
  • Continued writing and performing sketches in The Utilidors with my sketch partner Dave Lahti.
  • Continued seeing a counsellor to help manage my anxiety.
  • Had a super successful monthly run of Improv Fallout with Improv Niagara at Mahtay Caf√© in St. Catharines.
  • Was invited to be a guest judge at the Brock Improv Summit.
  • Got a fun Valentine’s Day make-over on the Marilyn Dennis show with Dan.
That hair though!!!
  • Continued run of successful POPAGANDA shows at the John Candy Box Theatre with the amazing faculty members of the Second City Training Centre & other awesome local improvisers.
  • Taught my first (couple) Level C class(es) at SCTC.
  • Was asked to be the special guest in a few improv shows.
  • Improv Fallout celebrated its first birthday with a sold out performance, fun prizes and a special toast.
  • Changed my phone number. (Real-talk: I never liked the 647 one)
  • Survived another year around the sun.
  • Got to reconnect with an old pal & former roomie who lives far far away now.
  • Got back into stand-up comedy, performed all around Toronto & Niagara.
  • Opened an improv studio for Improv Niagara. Promptly closed it after 6 months because of its drain on resources.
  • Was asked to guest on a few podcasts.
  • Got a callback at Generals!
  • We released the series of informational videos about recycling for the Niagara Region.
Stuff Tie Toss!
  • Performed narrative longform for the first time with Improv Niagara in St. Catharines’ In the Soil Festival.
  • Played another season in the Toronto Comedy Softball League. The Jokebox, my team, took home the championship again, although I missed the finals. ūüėĘ
  • Performed in the Toronto Fringe Festival for the first time with the awesome KidsFringe show: BOY VS FLY
You don’t have to throw a shoe.
  • Ran a few improv & mental health workshops for women with Fantastic Funny Folks (Candace Meeks & Alicia Douglas.)
  • Survived a Twitter ban.
  • Had a blast hosting a fundraiser show for my buddy Dan Rosen.
  • Survived my car trying to kill me on College St. Subsequently got a new-to-me car.
  • More auditions this year than ever before. (Thanks Samm!)
  • Went camping for the first time in a long time with Dan under the craziest, brightest Full Moon.
  • Booked my first commercial!
More squeeze, please!
  • Taught stand-up at Second City for the first time.
  • Met the Mayor of St. Catharines at a flag raising ceremony for Culture Days, in which Improv Niagara participated for our 2nd year in a row.
  • Took a really cool photo I hope to be able to share with you one of these days.
  • Made it to our 3rd wedding anniversary with my love, Dan.
  • Took an improv workshop with the former Artistic Director of the UCB, Shannon O’Neill.
  • Made it to Tribal Council in Outlaugh Toronto.
  • Celebrated Guess Who’s Coming to Improv’s 5th anniversary! Brought the show down to Niagara for the first time.
  • Performed with a new improv duo partner, Andrew Lizotte, in a fun project entitled High Status Idiots.
  • Voted in another Federal Election. (My guy didn’t win.)
  • Sold a friggin’ house & moved into a new home.
  • Raised 150lbs of food for needy people in our community in Niagara.
  • Nous avons dit adieu √† ma tr√®s ch√®re grand-m√®re, qui nous a quitt√© √† l’√Ęge de 99 ans.

So probably the end of the year is why it took me so long to write this year-end post. I realize that now. However writing it now feels very good, very cleansing. My grand-mother was full of joie-de-vivre and a very funny woman. I’m certain she would want me to continue doing a similar path.

Que la sant√©, l’amour et la r√©ussite vous accompagnent dans tous vos projets. Bonne ann√©e!

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.

Normalcy

The Holidays are OVER!¬† Great!¬† Now let’s return to some semblance of normalcy, or whatever normalcy exists when you’re trying to be a comic.

Normalcy

Normalcy

Tonight kicked off the Comedy Bar’s annual Festival of New Formats, which I really wanted to attend, but found myself too tired to after an unusually long commute from Richmond Hill to find fancy cat food, which will supposedly stop Peanut from scratching her own face off.

That being said, my own show is being launched tomorrow on Day 2 of the FoNF and you should totally come and check it out:

Geekomedy jpg

The idea is to incorporate more media into live comedy performances.¬† The irony is that I’m not much of a tech-y, I just really like the idea of incorporating my computer to my comedy, since the funniest stuff I’ve written over the years can probably be found in old FB chat, MSN & ICQ conversations. Anyway, we’ve got some sweet acts lined up, so click on the image above, it’ll take you to the Event page on FB and provide you with ALL the details!

 

Now, before the clock struck midnight on NYE – the day before, in fact, I was privileged to perform in a really awesome show, again at Comedy Bar, in association with the Canadian Comedy Awards:

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Squint & check out that sweet line-up.¬† The entire show was professionally recorded and shortly, I will be given a copy of my performance, so that I’ll have a top-notch quality video of me performing stand-up that I can submit to various festivals and events.¬† I submitted a really shitty quality video to a comedy festival already and have yet to hear back, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.¬† At least next year, they’ll be able to see that I’m not just a series of very pale blurs.

The CCAs are being held in Ottawa this year – and I’m super excited because I will definitely make the trip up for them, so former friends of Ottawa, I warn you now – I will be begging to sleep on your couches/spare bedrooms in the not-too-distant future.¬† Maybe we can hold another show at the Avant-Garde while I’m up there.¬† Who knows?

Only time will tell.

So stay tuned CCA readers…

And check back to find out how Geekomedy turns out!  Or better yet, SEE FOR YOURSELF!  Tomorrow night at Comedy Bar.  7pm.  FREE.  Be there.