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!

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.