Birthday Reset

Confession time: I  had a great Easter/birthday long weekend.

It was the perfect reset I needed to help me put things into perspective and refocus my goals, but also celebrate and reflect upon another year on Earth. And despite a slip and fall accident resulting in an incredibly bruised and sore coccyx, I’m doing that thing right now where I might be producing my very own Dopamine and Serotonin. Happiness, folks.

My birthday fell on Good Friday this year, which is great for sleeping in, and not so great for feeling the contemplation and sorrow that are typically aligned with this particular holiday. That being said, I have a commitment to Improv Game Show, a weekly comedy show I co-produce with Cassie Moes every Friday evening, and we typically go strong, even on holidays. This particular rendition was very well attended; the cast was excellent and Gillian English (my very darling friend and the show’s host this week) went so far as to invite my friggin’ improv hero, Rob Baker, to come play the set with us on account of it being my birthday. The following shot I think demonstrates how I felt about the news:

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🙂

The evening continued with drinks and chats at SoCap, which is quickly becoming my home-away-from-home and then across the street for food and more drinks with members of the cast, other improvisers and friends. I’m so thankful to be a part of this awesome community. What a super swell birthday! 😀

Speaking of which, the following day, my monthly improv baby; Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? took place at Comedy Bar, and was filled with wonderful audience members and hopeful participants. I got to play a few good scenes, and to watch some that ended up like this:

11024610_939177692773145_8952240762142397804_nSo, pretty good time overall.

I was so lucky/happy/ #blessed to have had Jan Caruana agree to be the Special Guest improviser this month, because she’s such a fantastic performer. She’s got such a great mind for crazy references, and it seems like her brain works so super fast to come up with really great scenes, so it was such a treat/joy to get to play with her, and to watch her play with those who were lucky enough to get their names pulled with hers! That show is so much fun and personally, I think people should make it a priority to attend. (Maybe I’m a bit biased…)

ANYHOO. I went back down to Niagara on Sunday for Easter proper. Spent the day with my family, who surprised me with a birthday cake, even though I’m twenty-nine again and so technically a grown-ass adult. (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.) It was so lovely to be surrounded by the whole fam-damily. I won’t go into too many details, because my personal life is MY OWN BUSINESS DAMNIT! But I will take the time to brag about how awesome my 94 year-old grand-maman is; she was singing songs from back in the day and dancing as best she could; enjoying her chocolate eggs like a champ and chatting us all up. Here look & tell me you don’t think she’s the cutest grand-maman in the world:

With the added benefit of getting Easter Monday off, because I sortof work for the government-ish, I got to get in an important meet/chat and a headshot shoot, both of which helped put my mind at ease on a number of different things pertaining to my life/career at this stage of the performance-game.

This was a wonderful long weekend filled with wonderful people, and I think this happy feeling is going to last a while; at least for the first five minutes of my administrative workload tomorrow morning anyway.

My butt still hurts. But I’m alive.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

…And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all

I recently finished working as a production coordinator on a TV show, the first TV show I’ve *really* worked for. (ie. gots paid)

One of the tasks to which I was assigned in my last job was to collect the scripts and segment descriptions from the Associate Producers on the show and send them to the hosts. The documents they would send are referred to as “greens” in newspeak. Three times a week I would send out an email to the APs asking if their greens were ready. Eventually, in an attempt to make this process more interesting for them, and for me, I started doing stuff like this:

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Right? That subject line makes you think!

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Getting creative with Google Translate.

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 It’s true. Don’t go to Chicago for the fish.

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Then I started to incorporate imagery to my silly emails.

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He’s not, for whatever that’s worth. He’s just the only one with “green” in his name that I could think of…

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I sometimes made them relevant to the people I was working with… (we did fashion segments)

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I incorporated some of my own taste…

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 Briefly turned into a greeting card company.

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…Got political. (Not shown, the email where I just directed all the APs to the Green Party of Canada’s website, I must have deleted that one. Or CSIS had it removed from my PC.)

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…Got Kermi-ed.

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…Got sporty.

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…Used idioms to describe my feels.

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Got market branding involved.

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…and finally sent them all off with an epic psych-out.

I feel like a few are missing, (I most definitely deleted the one where I sent a picture of a nice, healthy crop of marijuana.)

The point of sending them wasn’t to make a blog post out of them all. That was never the intention. But because it brought me joy to take a second out of my day to think of some silly way to make my co-workers day a little bit funnier, or happier, or at least to distract them for a millisecond, I thought I’d share them with you. I was, after all, pretty lucky to get to work there.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Tomorrow)

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!

Days Go By and Still I Think of…

…all the great stuff I learned last week!

All right, maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m a total dork, but I am sortof obsessed about learning about comedy. I probably don’t watch enough stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, I do read about it often enough, (currently on Bruce McCulloch’s “Let’s Start a Riot,”) and I suppose one of the big fears I deal with regularly is how much I should be “learning” vs. how much I should be “doing.”

One of the major problems I face with my own comedy is time. I have a Mon-Fri 9-5 job, which is great for paying back debt, but not so great for staying up late and going to multiple shows and partying until all hours of the night at the local open-mic/watering hole. (I do this extremely rarely.) I’ve tried to strike a balance by producing many of my own shows, thus giving myself ample play time, but also seeing many of the acts around town who inspire me and more importantly, who make me laugh.

Another thing I’ve just taken on, is the co-creation of the “Women in Comedy Toronto” group. It seems, so far, that people are really excited about it, and based on the first couple events we’ve had, it’s really evident that this is the kind of community group from which women in the Toronto comedy scene can really benefit. For example, last week Christina Walkinshaw came by to talk to us about her career in comedy thus far, her writing process, tales from the biz, and many other fascinating tidbits, and I tell you, it was inspiring!  I think anyone who was in attendance will tell you the same.

Also, on Wednesday, I attended the I ❤ Sketchfest event at the Steamwhistle Brewery, where they screened the premiere of Bruce McCulloch’s “Young Drunk Punk,” which was excellent, and I’m sorry I didn’t give it it’s own page, like I did with “Sunnyside“, I just ran out of time.

Which is my point. By this point, it’s Wednesday; I’ve helped a friend film her one woman-show, produced a 2+ hour talkback with one of Canada’s most amazingly hilarious female comics, supported my favourite Toronto comedy festival… and I haven’t had time yet to do any of my own writing or work.

Problem solved: Thursday, I booked, produced, and performed in a show put on by my improv duo, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Friday, I produced and performed in Improv Game Show (and I won! Thanks again Maddox! [as if he’s actually reading this!])

And alas, the weekend called for fun family celebrations in Niagara, which are lovely, but don’t really allow for much writing time. (Nor should they. Family time is important, dangit!)

So, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that it would be nice to have a little balance. Maybe last week was just crazy, or maybe I’m over-committing to stuff. Either way, I’d love to know what your solutions are to feeling like you can never get fully on top of the multiple things you’re trying to accomplish?

My brother recommended I read Chris Hardwick’s “The Nerdist Way,” and it already seems like a great process for helping people achieve their goals. But I’m already looking at it like “I don’t have TIME to create a fancy CHART with all my WANTS AND DESIRES on it, and make it pretty with pictures?!!?”

And again, so much is the nature of an anxious person.  Sometimes we have so much to do, and we can’t just… take… a … breath. It’s always go go go. Sometimes what we need is to slow down, and only in those times can we think clearly and make a plan towards actually accomplishing our goals. Like finishing this damn spec script I’ve been working on for MONTHS. (The outline is now finished. Thank you.)

Sometimes it’s about balancing a crazy week with a following week of cuddling up with your computer at home with a nice (several) cup(s) of coffee in a cozy hoodie.

That’s where I’m at this week.  Until I’m not.

 

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.

The Actual Year in Review & Optimism

We find ourselves at the beginning of another New Year, and like many bloggers, this is as good an opportunity as ever to think back over the past year and try to find some meaning in everything before moving on to the next.

Here goes:

1)  I turned 30.

2)  My best little friend and partner Peanut (my kitty cat) died.

3)  I got let go from work.

Am I ready for a new year?  Yes please.

Ok. So maybe I’m oversimplifying things by focusing on some pretty negative and shitty experiences. Like, maybe turning 30 isn’t so bad. And losing a pet is awful, but we know they don’t live forever when we bring them into our homes at the get-go. And when they’re super sick, sometimes it’s best to know they’re no longer in pain.

And as far as the job goes, I wasn’t a huge fan of the position quite honestly, and really welcomed the change. Also, because I’m a unionized employee, I was found another position within the corporation and have been totally loving the new challenges, coworkers and environment.

One year ago, I moved into an apartment in Bloorcourt; the heart of Toronto’s indie comedy action. I thought it would be the best place to live/be. As it turns out, my apartment overlooked the neighbour’s balcony and they could see directly into my tiny bedroom/kitchen, their cigarette smoke and blathering idiocy seeped in through my window, which was often left open given the ridiculous lack of temperature control in the building. I moved in 2014, again. Up the road, and this time, with my partner of 4 years, Dan. It’s already nice to have food in the fridge, cable TV, and someone to hug when I get home from late-night comedy shows who isn’t a cardboard cutout of Seth Rogen hanging behind my front door purposed to frighten off potential intruders.

I gave birth to a few babies this year: 50 Shades of 50, The Benoits, Exit, Pursued by a Bear and my fondest little project, Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? Each of these groups/shows have brought joy, fun and a stage to play throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful to all those involved, you know who you are. And if you don’t think I’m talking about you specifically, I am, so don’t worry. You’re amazing. I also adopted Improv Game Show, who continues to grow every single week; and I am as proud as an adopted parent could be of its’ potential.

Non-metaphorically, I welcomed a new brother into my family this past summer, as he and my sister threw the best damn wedding I’ve ever attended. And I’ve been to a few weddings in my short years on this earth, folks. This was hands down, the best. It brought my whole family closer together and it was such a gosh-darned delight to see my now 94 year-old grand-maman stand-up at her walker to boogie down to a few tunes.

I got to work with my brother and my boyfriend on a comedy project; a TV pilot about my hometown. Though nothing came out of the competition part of it, we still plan on creating something together out of the concept and working on other projects as well. We might totally be the next Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but like, Canadian, …and funny.

I was hired by my dream employer last year to teach improv workshops for students both in English and en français; and every chance I get to share a teensy bit of what improv has done for me to other people is like a tiny little miracle.

I went to New York City to learn more about writing humour. I read both Keith Johnstone’s and Rob Norman’s book to learn more about improv. I read Mindy Kaling, Martin Short and Andrea Martin’s books for inspiration and am now onto Amy Poehler’s. I listen to podcasts about comedy and improv and society and life and I am more motivated than ever.

2014 was a good year. Tt felt like momentum was beginning to pick up. My hope is to keep up the pace and trudge on forward. It’s an interesting thing, finding what you love and working towards doing it as often as possible and trying to make a life out of it. It’s not easy all the time, but it sure is something.

Even though I still miss Peanut like fucking crazy.

Happy New Year my darlings. To an amazing year ahead!

NOMO: An Anti-Movember Intercession

Don’t get me wrong, Movember, the fundraiser, is great. I’m all for men and women raising money and awareness to help deal with men’s cancers and the mental health issues that surround these types of illnesses.

But the act of Movember; the growing of the moustache, the questions that arise, the variety of complexities involved, well that’s a whole other bag of facial hair, if you ask me.

Here are just a few reasons I’m not so sure about Movember:

1.  I might mistake you for your father.

moustache_old_school_medium

Look, your Dad might have been good-looking back in the day. And I know a lot of dudes look up to their fathers. A lot of them don’t. Whatever. But I genuinely worry that you might show up, and I won’t recognize you behind your Dad’s genetically identical facial hair.

What if I call you mister? You might like it, but I don’t want to be subjected to the humiliation that would ensue.

What if we go out somewhere and someone mistakes me for your daughter?

When we got to a restaurant, people will automatically give you the bill, which given my current financial status might not be terrible, but it is inherently sexist, so we can’t be having any of that!

Worse though, what if your moustache has controlling elements on your psyche and makes you act like your father as well?  What happens then, huh?

 

2.  If you get something stuck in there, I won’t know whether or not I should tell you about it, and that might drive me crazy.

hxEPrZT4ELg

Is it from something you ate? Did something just fall out of the sky? How did it get there? Is it food? Is it a non-food substance? What the heck is that on your face?!

So many questions as to the life-story of the crumb stuck on your upper-lip. I’m nice and all, for the most part, but I might not tell you about it just to see how it plays out.

You’re not used to facial hair.  You don’t know the weight it carries?  You could be walking around all day with an entire strip of the bacon you had at breakfast and you would just think “well, I guess my Mo’ is growin’ in nicely” but NO!  You got BACON in there, sir!

 

3.  If you can’t grow it out properly, I will likely lose respect for you.

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Yup, I can be that shallow.

If you participate in Movember and your moustache is all splotchy and uneven, I’m going to have a whole heap of criticism ready. You want to talk modern theories of masculinity?  I’ve got plenty of ammunition right here in my Feminist Political Thought background; about what it means to be a man; how you are perceived amongst your peers let alone around women,  how you should look and act, and most importantly to this circumstance, how your facial hair should represent your sense of self.

If none of that adds up, I might call you on it, bro.

4.  Regardless of if it DOES turn out OK, it will still never look as good as Nick Offerman’s.

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Mo-Perfection

… SO WHAT’S THE FRIGGIN’ POINT?!?!?!?!

5.  What if you’re ACTUALLY an old-timey prospector, and Movember is your one chance to act like yourself after years of hiding clean-shaven, in plain sight, in a time that isn’t even your own!?

TheOldProspector

That speaks for itself, I think. How can any of moderns deal with that? I’ve seen Outlander.  That shit gets messed up.  Although it can be a little kinky at times…

 

6. How am I supposed to tell the difference between if you’re a sketchbag or just growing a moustache for Movember?

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I wanna wear your skin!

This is important for the average woman. I know it sounds terrible, but if you’re just a dude wearing a ball cap representing your favourite football team, that’s one thing. If you’re doing the same thing, the football team happens to be from the South, and you’ve got a weird moustache-thing going on, well then I have to ask myself some questions and ponder walking on the other side of the street.

 

7. And lastly, what if you decide to keep it beyond Movember?  

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I can’t even…


***

*For all intents and purposes, I do actually support Movember and agree it is a hugely worthy cause, so please support it. Here are two mo-growers to whom I’d like to encourage people to donate; my brother Nick’s mo: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/828278, or my captain Dale’s mo: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/3138449  *Sorry if I’m too late mo-bros*