Fight or Flight

I suppose it had been too long since I last fainted. Big thanks to my nervous system for always doing its job. Probably a little too effectively, I’d say.

I didn’t faint when I got my first dose. I figured I’d be in the clear. Everyone mentioning the second dose said it was worse than the first, but only in terms of side effects, not in terms of losing-consciousness-in-the-car-and-thank-goodness-I-wasn’t-the-one-driving-or-I-would-have-murdered-a-bunch-of-people-and-maybe-myself-but-hey-they-would-at-least-have-had-a-chance-because-we-were-relatively-close-to-the-hospital-to-get-the-care-they-required-to-make-it-out-alive.

Yup. I’m a fainter.

Do you have a History of Fainting?

Last time I talked about it live, someone in the audience also fainted, so content warning, I guess?

I do it a lot. The most critical time it happened was on an airplane. Shortly after, the sensations I get when I know I’m about to pass out decided to lend themselves out to general life situations that were a little higher stress than everyday life. Like that time I had to get scalped tickets for a Coldplay concert, and was afraid to get found out by the French police. (As if they give a shit, they’re way too busy being generally racist.) Or that time I was on the island making my way back from Osheaga and it took forever to get onto the metro back to the apartment where we were staying in Montreal. Wait. Why do so many of these panicked situations happen at / around rock concerts? I also fainted at a QOTSA concert. Wait. I’m sensing a pattern.

But hey. Vaccines are no rock concert.

Basically, when I finally had my anxiety disorder labeled, the symptoms matched up with the responses I feel when I’m about to faint. In my late twenties, they began to appear much more often than they should. When I was riding my bike, or sitting on a bus, or riding in a friend’s car or… yeah, you guessed it, at a dang music festival.

I went to a doctor and was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and prescribed medication. They’ve helped tremendously. I’m still an anxious person, but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to faint when I’m driving my vehicle anymore. (That was a scary time to be on a 400-series highway.)

Unfortunately the drugs apparently still can’t seem to calm my nervous system down when I get a fucking needle.

Second Verse, Not the Same as the First

What happened? Why was #2 so much worse than the first?

The first time, a nurse gave my my shot. She asked me if I ever fainted. I said yes. She said not to worry because we were surrounded by paramedics, firefighters, nurses and doctors. This put my mind at ease, I sat in the waiting area and went along my merry way afterwards. I felt a bit of anxiety, because I’m still not a huge fan of needles, (understatement.)

The second time, a doctor gave me my shot. He didn’t ask if I had a tendency to faint. He made some weird comment that when couples come up to him to get their shots, the wife always goes first, and why is that? Maybe it was an attempt at humour to put my mind at ease. Or maybe it was an offhand sexist remark. Anyway, the shot went in, quick and easy just like the first time. I went to sit down in the waiting area once again, and nothing. I felt fine. We left after the allocated waiting period, and I thought I was home free.

My husband and I checked in on each other. How were we feeling? I said just a bit anxious, like last time. He mentioned this time it felt like if he’d smoked a big cigar last night. (Whatever that means.) We were driving with the windows down and it was quite hot and muggy out.

And then it hit me.

I did NOT feel well. I asked Dan to turn the air conditioning on because it felt like there was no air circulation. He turned the air on, and I was like: NOT ENOUGH and pumped the AC to max. Still I was seating like a madman. I told him I was going to faint. I can feel it coming after thirty some odd years. He said I wouldn’t faint. And even if it did, it didn’t matter because I was laying down in the truck so it’s not like I’d hurt myself. Ever cool in a stressful situation, he is.

Then I went. I was gone. I never know for how long. It’s usually a few seconds. Oddly enough, it’s long enough to dream.

I came to and could hear how high the air conditioning was blowing, Dan had begun driving back towards the arena to get help. (I thought you said I’d be fine, Dan!) (He later told me if I hadn’t woken, he was going to head to the entrance of the arena and honk his horn until people came out to his truck to help. I’m not sure how effective that strategy would have been, but I do like knowing he’s a man of action.)

Apparently when I was unconscious, I shot my arms up in the air. I think maybe I was unconsciously trying to shoot the vaccine back out of my body via my fingers.

It didn’t work.

Everything ached, my muscles were all clenched. Slowly they relaxed, sometime on the way back home.

After that, it was just the normal side effects everybody else shared who got their second dose. Muscle and joint aches, drowsiness, and the sigh of relief that thank goodness I didn’t drive myself and end up engulfed in flames in a ditch somewhere in the back roads of Niagara.

TDLR: Get the fucking vaccine.

Woman Seeking Multiverse

First stand-up set in a while tonight at Yuk Yuk’s. I’ll say I need practice. I will say that. I will also say that people were NOT on board with my joke about how hard it must have been for conservative dudes to admit they felt a budge upon first glance of Caitlyn Jenner.  Perhaps it was the delivery. Perhaps it was a room full of conservatives. Either way, I thought it was hilarious.

It’s insane how quickly 5 minutes goes by. When I was writing out my set, I prepared so much more than what I actually had time to perform. I need to practice more.  I need more hours in a day because I love improv too much to give it the back seat.I need Hermione’s Time-Turner so I can do equal parts of both.Time Turner… too geek?Nah. No way.

 

Humour and Remembrance

I just wanted to write a little follow-up, albeit a late one, about the First World War themed improv show I held with co-producer Aaron Peever on Vimy Ridge Day, this past April 9th.

One of my huge concerns about the show was that people, especially the performers, would take it seriously. And, I know the reason I was concerned. I was met with a certain defensive suspicion whenever I mentioned the idea to people. I could tell the instinctive reaction was something along the lines of  a “how dare you make fun of people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom?”-mentality, which I think is certainly reflective of the way we’re expected to feel about most military action nowadays. Either you’re you support the troupes, or you hate Canada, right? And making jokes about the War sure doesn’t sound like supporting the troupes!

Here’s the thing. I hand-picked the improvisers to play in this show based on one fact: their knowledge of First World War history. Some of the cast weren’t even improvisers, but were excited by the opportunity to give their knowledge of history a new platform. In fact, most of the improvisers I asked leapt at the opportunity to play in this world, to combine their knowledge with their amazing abilities to create realistic relationships, characters and scenes specifically within the realm of that era. I mean, some of them were pretty stoked to history-nerd out! (Myself included.)

The platform was wonderful. I chose this cast because I knew they would not mock the War. They would create characters and scenes within the very real context of the War based entirely on their historical knowledge of the events in question and their respect and appreciation of its history. The characters they chose were real. The scenarios, likely, given the context. The result; pure unbridled silly awesomeness. NOT mockery.

We’re all so sensitive to political correctness now, I felt like I was walking on eggshells producing a show based on events that took place nearly ONE HUNDRED YEARS ago!  The more I thought about it, the more I came to wonder why people didn’t really get it. And here’s what I came up with.

1) People, in general, aren’t familiar with longform improvisation, or any improvisation for that matter that doesn’t follow the Whose Line Is it Anyway? model they’ve seen over the years on TV. This, to me, is tragic. Longform improv at its core is about playing real, honest characters and having them tell a story and transport you to a place and a time that, when done correctly, will have you in disbelief that it’s all made up on the spot, but also, in stitches. The scenes last much longer than what you’ve come to expect out of Whose Line, which allows for more time to create very realistic world right there on stage.

2) People have short memories. We’re certainly not the first people to make comedy about the First World War (or any war for that matter; look how many movies came out of Vietnam, and what about M*A*S*H, set in Korea? That show was on the air for over 10 years!)

But, specifically regarding  WW1, how about the greats? Here’s some Monty Python for your faces:

Hell, during the Great War itself, Canada had its own group of comedians who would entertain the troops with their vaudeville act, which went onto Broadway after the end of the War!

a005739

The horrors these soldiers faced during the war are not something we want to mock. Quite the opposite. Why not use humour as a way to help people REMEMBER the war, rather than making people paranoid about even talking about it, lest they express some criticism that might make them seem unpatriotic?

If you still don’t catch my drift, come to Toronto on June 6th, and watch this amazing group of improvisers storm the beaches and pay homage, in our own special way, to the Canadians in WW2.

Windy Inspiration (This is not a post about farts)

It’s still cold, it’s still shitty out, but guess what? I went to Chicago.

That’s right, the Second City itself. I’m a little late to the draw at writing about this, but that’s because I had to spend a bunch of time putting together this cool collage:

Chicacollage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mmm. Collagy-goodness.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you all about the trip in super-extensive detail or anything, as this isn’t a travel blog, let’s be CLEAR about that! But what I will do, is tell you that if you think there’s somewhere in the world that will inspire you, you should visit it, even in the dead middle of February where it’s equally, if not more cold, than your own crap-cold igloo of a town, because it probably will.

Inspire you, that is.

My buddy Sharilyn had mentioned she would be heading to Chicago in February to take a Second City intensive & I happened to be “dark” the week she was planning to go. (That’s TV talk for “the stars of my show had to go to a tropical place and work on their tans,” so we had to stop shooting for a week.)

Nevertheless, bit by bit, the plan came together and sure enough, we ended up in the Windy City, catching a different comedy show every single night we were there. (And bits and pieces of the SNL40 Special, which in hindsight, we should have just watched in its entirety.)

When I was asked at customs what I was doing in Chicago, and I answered “watching a whole wack-load of comedy,” it was a completely plausible answer. I feel like there aren’t many places in the world where you can tell a customs officer that, and not be thrown into some strange questioning cell.

Despite a bout of food-poisoning, the trip was a dream. An frozen, shivering, ice-cube of a dream, but a dream nonetheless. I imagine myself one day, holding a magical green card, actively avoiding some of the dodgier modes of transportation in the city when it gets dark, and performing every night on the various stages that launched the careers of so many of my heroes.

I wasn’t sad when I came back to Toronto. Because it just so happens that a bunch of my heroes started out right here too.

So now it’s back to work, a little more inspired.

SPECtacular!

Mmm. I’ve taken some time in for my writing this week and it feels wonderful.

I’ve even got some headway on the spec script I’m working on, which I wanted to have finished by the end of the month.

It’s still possible.

Maybe.

At least it’s the most progress I’ve ever accomplished in this particular career goal, which is:

  • “Write at least one goshdarn spec script, already!”

I’m doing it.

You’re doing it, Peter!

Nous sommes tous Charlie

I know this is really just a blog about my own personal experiences writing and performing comedy in Toronto, and I don’t really take on topics that are too politically-heated.

In spite of that, the events in Paris today call for solidarity among all of us who poke fun at the world and how ridiculous it can sometimes be.

Nous sommes tous Charlie.

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.