It is awesome!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this thing, and what’s the point of having a blog if not to post? I guess I’ve been feeling the need to post something profound or meaningful like other bloggers I follow who put a bunch of preparation and research into their pieces. But that was never the point of Clown College Confessions.

CCC exists so that years down the line I can remind myself of what was going on throughout the stages of my journey in comedy from clown college onward. And, if it can help / entertain others along the way, bonus round! Let’s take a look at what’s new then, shall we?

Fringe

I’m so stoked to be in a Fringe show this year. Last year I stage managed a really awesome show, but I learned that working the tech could never satiate the desire to be on stage. So, the opportunity to perform this year is a huge #blessing for me. I’m playing a Mom/Teacher (totally my wheelhouse) in a Kids Fringe show called “Boy vs. Fly.” If you have kids, nieces, nephews or you just like cute shows, you should totally check it out.

The poster for Boy vs Fly - the Fringe show in which I'm performing this summer.

It's a bright photo with a cartoon image of the cast. Next to it is the title of the show, along with names of cast and crew.

In the Soil

St. Catharines, or the Niagara Region, I should say, doesn’t have a Fringe festival per se. They do have something called In the Soil, which is organized by the Suitcase in Point theatre company. A huge endeavour to showcase visual and performing artists of the Niagara Region.

I was very happy when I found out Improv Niagara was accepted to In the Soil this year. The point of the festival this year (or maybe every year?) is to present something brand new that audiences have never seen a particular company present. For IN, who regularly perform a short form competition show, we were happy to try something new to us. Narrative longform improv. *insert dramatic sting.

We rehearsed a BUNCH. IN is the first team I’ve really coached/directed, so it was friggin’ incredible to see a few things:

  1. The progress from the first time we tried to run a long form and were like “wait, how do we include all these extra bits if we’ve never just done narrative before?!” Rewind, let’s start from the beginning.
  2. The progress from the first time we got to like, 20 minutes and thought that was a victory, knowing eventually the show we were going to put on would be closer to 50 mins.
  3. Seeing the group come together, learn each other’s and their own individual strengths and weaknesses working them over and over again in rehearsal as we improvised a number of different books from sci-fi to Harlequin romance. Not to mention the discovering the complications of time-travel.
  4. The audience’s delighted response when we finally got to put Off the Shelf on its feet. Knowing the hard work paid off and that people were following along with our story as it built up to a ridiculous blaze of gun-shot sound effects (as these things do.) Ugh, what a fun and special and proud and awesome feeling.

Oh hey, I don’t thing I posted at all about opening a studio space, but we did that too. (Improv Niagara, that is.) Lots of stuff keeps happening, and for some reason I don’t think it’s worthy to blog about. But it is. It’s awesome. And I’ll try to keep it up.

Recycling Matters

Oh yeah, ALSO… the Niagara Region released some of the short videos we created a while back. Check out the first one, and then just keep watching them all and learn to recycle properly, k?

The Improv Niagara crew are about recycling!

What are you working on that’s awesome these days?

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New Episode of The Constant Struggle Featuring The Dandies’ Dale Wells

Our latest episode of The Constant Struggle podcast is up and this time, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dale Wells, improviser and co-founder of The Dandies & Holodeck Follies.

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e12-follow-your-passion-with-dale-wells/

close-shave-2013-dale-wells-c-neil-muscott

Dale speaks about the benefits and challenges producing live comedy shows in Toronto. We talk about the history of Star Trek improv in the city, about geek culture, and about his show; Holodeck Follies, kicking butt at this year’s FanExpo. Dale and Nick chat about what it’s like to be a Dad artist with a day job. We bring up his love of singing and the various ways in which improv can bring joy to your life.

What a positive guy!

***
With GREAT shout-outs to:
ANDIE WELLS
NATASHA BOOMER
ROB ARISS HILLS
THE 404s
GARY PEARSON
MARK LITTLE
KEN HALL
ALAN LEIGHTIZER
TODD VAN ALLEN (COMEDY ABOVE THE PUB)
GILLIAN ENGLISH &
TODD GRAHAM
***
 Be sure to follow The Dandies on Twitter @TorontoDandies & catch the next edition of #HolodeckFollies at Geek Hard Live!
#StruggleOn everybody!

Back to Something

Ever notice how new beginnings always surface in September, even though you’re not going back to school? What the heck is up with that?

Maybe it’s because my recent trip out East had a very “wrap-up the Summer” sortof feel to it. And I actually didn’t get much of a summer because I was working pretty much constantly throughout the PanAm Games. So it was nice to get a little summer/end of August break and do a little travelling… and then do 10-days straight worth of performance. (Not really, there was one day where I didn’t perform, but I did 2 shows on another day, so it totally makes up for it.) It was nice to be a tourist and to visit a part of the country I’d never seen before. I got to check off two Canadian provinces I hadn’t yet been to. I’ve now got the ENTIRE East Coast checked off! #PointsMe #GottaCatchEmAll

But then immediately upon my return it was like BOOM: Here’s the shit you put aside the past few weeks galavanting amongst the “friendlies.”  (what I have decided to nickname people from the East Coast.)

All of a sudden I was like: “Oh crap! My contract with CBC Sports is up! I’m unemployed!” Luckily, HR’s wheels were in motion while I was away and have secured me a new position amongst the Corporation’s Communications, Marketing, Brand & Research Department. (Seriously, who wants to talk about how much they hate the unions, because I will kick you in the face to defend mine.)

Show-producer-wise, Exit, Pursued by a Bear came back after a successful Fringe run, with great reviews and lovely audiences to our monthly show at SoCap with TWO paying customers. (I love you Dave & Alanna) and one drunk dude who just kinda walked in and out of the show at his leisure. I don’t want this to sound complain-y. It’s just sortof a matter-of-fact consequence, but now we’re forced to rethink our show. Whether to and where to keep doing it, if we indeed want to keep doing it. It looks like we do. Personally, I get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to perform alongside some of my favourite the troupes and people in the city looking for stage time. And it allows Gill to play together as well, because over the past year of playing together, and certainly after 10 days in a row playing together, I like to think we’ve become a pretty dang good duo. (Now, if our duo could get into a couple improv festivals to showcase it, that would be great.)  <– THAT, was complaining.  (Note the distinction.) 😛

I just auditioned for Toronto’s French improv league: “Les Improbables.” If I make it into that, there go all my Tuesday evenings, which would require adjustments to shows I run and play in, namely “The Drill” at the Second City Training Centre, but also other great shows that take place on Tuesdays at that venue. That’s a big decision to make.

I need to make time to write a potential one-woman show. I want to work on my stand-up. I might apply to teach improv to seniors. It’s GWCI?’s birthday and I need to learn to bake a cake. I want to write my original pilot. I need to write more specs… and on and on and on with the things I still want to accomplish this year.

At least I AM sure about one thing. I am NOT going back to school! (Although, I could use a bit a bit of those deadlines and discipline.)  There should be an app that’ll make me feel horrible if I hand some life project in late. Get to work, nerds!

Keeping Your Head Above Water

Blink once and you’re trying to stay awake driving to Montreal in a rental car because your own recently decided the breaks didn’t want to work and the tires were on strike. Blink again and you’re over two weeks later, riding first class on a VIA Rail train, eating zucchini, potatoes and scrambled eggs that taste vaguely like ham, even though I don’t remember if it said ham on the menu, and sleeping off the two-week long blur that was the Festival St-Ambroise FRINGE Montréal.

This was my first experience ever performing in a Fringe Festival. I’ve attended some Fringe festivals in the past, notably last year in Toronto and my last summer in Ottawa, where I volunteered in exchange for a few free performances. Let me tell you folks, performing is a whole nother ball game!

But one totally worth mentioning in CCC as the next great leap into comedy performance outside the protective walls of clown college. Even though clown college helped out a bit along the way. The truth is, Fringe is tough! In general, and particularly when you have to leave half-way through the festival to go back to your day-job on those few days you don’t have shows.

I ain’t no Spring chicken any more either, if you know what I’m saying. When I drive somewhere and arrive at 2am, I find it pretty damn tough to be fresh as a daisy and raring to go the next day. Which, apparently, is crucial in promoting your Fringe show. Luckily, my trusty partner was available and on location throughout the entire duration of the Montreal Fringe, and did more than her share of promoting, being interviewed, flyering, postering and chatting to friends and strangers alike trying to promote our show.

One thing I’ve learned, is that it’s helpful to have a tag-line. And I totally just thought about that, even though it makes sense, as that’s precisely what you need if you’re pitching TV shows, or movies or whatever because inevitably, people will ask over and over again “What’s your show about?” When your show is entitled “Water Wings,” it’s sortof vague, (which is amazing and appropriate, because vague is the French word for wave… oh I amuse myself,) it helps to have a quick, catchy way to summarize it in order to peak people’s curiosities and spark their desire in seeing your show.  With help from our wonderful director Pamela Barker, we’ve settled on a theme, rather than a tag.  And that theme is transitions.  Water Wings are a major transition – they help keep you afloat while you’re learning to swim on your own.  Just as each of our scenes, in one way or another, reflect transitions, both actual and metaphorical – relationships beginning and ending, people growing and learning, half-genie/half-horses using magical powers to turn people into inanimate objects.  You know, life!

Blink once again and you’re at the airport, waiting for your delayed late-night flight to Winnipeg, ready to do it all again.

Debt’s Ugly B***hole

I’m normally smarter than this, and know better than to stay up past 12 if I have to work all day and take a four hour flight immediately afterwards, inevitably landing somewhere I’ve never been before.  Actually.  Come to think of it, that situation hasn’t really arisen as of yet. Normally I wouldn’t have had to work.

People have been telling me I’m lucky to get the time off work to go to the Fringe, but am I?  When I got hired, I made my ulterior career goals known.  If the aim in hiring administrative support is retention, then really, if I want to go to Winnipeg for 3 weeks, and take a day off here or there throughout the year afterwards, jeez.  Just let me be.

I realize this is a silly thing to say and that people work for the tiny amount of time they are granted off, considering the amount of hard work and effort goes into surviving just the day, let alone the week, the year, the 30+ years to feed your family, pay off your mortgage and retire comfortably, but damnit.  I don’t feel that’s me.

In a dreamworld, I would fly out to Winnipeg, someone would catch my show and think: “my these girls are damn gifted writers, here:  have your pick of TV shows to write on, or radio shows, here’s something I want to pay you to write” etc.  If only it were that simple.  If only I had those 8 + travel time hours a day I use up to go to work Monday to Friday, to stay at home and get my ideas written down, my creativity challenged, that would be the best.  But debt is sticking out its nasty butthole right in my face, and it’s damn stinky and needs to be payed back.  Like, now.  Or else light a match or something, because peeeeee-yew!

So, post-Winnipeg, it’s belt-tightening time. But until then, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come check out our show!  FOR REAL!  It’s really good!  And it’s a lot more fun when there’s more people in the audience!  COME ON!!!! I NEEEEEEEEED THIS!

I mean.  *Brie gets up from the floor.

Good night everyone.