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?  

december-calendar

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*

Great Improvisors Support You All. The. Time…Even while you’re Doing the Dishes

OK folks, something you should know about me is that I HATE doing dishes. HATE it. But the tedious, mundane and often unsettlingly repugnant task was made much more tolerable this evening as I put in my earbuds and cleaned away while listening to and learning from Toronto improv sages Adam Cawley and Rob Norman’s podcast The Backline. In it, the two share their personal experiences and discuss valuable insight into the wild and wonderful craft of improv.

If you give a shit about learning improv, you should listen and take notes.

Click the image below and download the shit outta this podcast.  I’m sure the guys won’t care WHAT you’re doing while listening along…

 

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Finally, screenwriting

I have finally begun writing a fucking script!  I’ve been telling myself since graduation from Humber “Brie, write a spec script, Brie, write a spec script.  Do it do it do it now!”  But I didn’t.  I don’t know why?  Procrastination?  I guess it’s because I can always go out somewhere and perform.  It’s easy to put off writing by justifying the fact that you need to go out and do and see shows; to stay connected and to make sure people out in the community remember your face and that you do in fact, live and breathe.  However, equally, it’s important to have a base of written work in case someone asks you to write for their TV shows one of these days.  (Or so I dream.)

I decided not to write a spec script.  Rather, I’ve had an idea mulling around the ol’ brain box for a number of years now, and I’m finally putting the ideas down in writing and creating my first script for a sitcom pilot. Of course we did work on similar tasks while at Humber.  We collaboratively wrote a workplace pilot, which was altogether a very interesting learning process.  But it was the entire class working on it, so my contribution was pretty limited.  Nothing you could show to an agent or whatever.  We also wrote pitch packages in our writing class, which was also an interesting exercise, and I was told to get writing an episode, but I never quite found the desire for it.  It was a fun project to work on, but I didn’t see the show ever realistically being picked up.  It was about army cadets, and I don’t think there’s a huge interest in youth paramilitary activities.  At least, not since 1945 anyway.

In addition to the writing of words, I also caught a few live shows this week.  On Monday, I attended the Humber College New Faces ’14 show.  (I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since my face was new!)  It was a classy show and featured a guest performance by none other than veteran comic Dave Thomas.  Last year, I left the Industry Show with a sense of joy, maybe because I knew some of the performers still, and I was still riding high from my own experience from the year before, but this year the connection was a bit different.  I now look at the shows more critically, thinking: “if I were ever to direct a show of this magnitude, I would do this differently, or I wouldn’t do this at all, or I would definitely consider this… etc.”  Maybe having taken the Conservatory program at The Second City has given me more experience and a different approach to putting on a massive revue, but whatever the case,  I felt differently about this show than I had in the year prior.

Then I thought about the aftershmooze.  There were some people I would really have liked to chat with, but the room was clearing out and it seemed like everyone wanted to go home because it was friggin sweaty in there.  Also, I felt like what’s the point of talking to someone if they’re really there to see and mingle with the people who just performed a huge show that took months of preparation and 2 years of training?  It wasn’t my night to shmooze.  Or was it?  Who knows?  Are there appropriate conventions to shmoozing? It was a great night to catch up with my ol’ teachers.  Ever since high school I’ve found it slightly easier to connect with the teachers than to most of my classmates.  I know.  What a nerd, right?

Anyway, it was a great show, and it’s always a cool production to see such young, hopeful talent rockin’ their jokes & performing their little hearts out on the Main Stage.  It’s also a great way to get motivated to get my own butt back in gear!

That being said, I also attended a show put on by a great Toronto improv troupe; Fake Cops.  Every month they put on a free show at The Ossington. This week, they had some pretty awesome acts.  It seems like a great show to be able to explore; to make crazy choices and see where that takes you.  To do a set where you end up covered in cereal, or to perform with a mic stand wearing a wig.  Either way, the result was laughter!  There was some weirdness and some messiness, but it was all good, it was all interesting, and the night had a really good vibe going on.  I highly recommend checking this one out (and I’d love to get on it one of these days, if any Fake Cop ever reads this blog.)  Passive-manipulative social media marketing.  That’s my bag!

Aaaaaanyway,  I suppose I still have a job to go to tomorrow.  I best be off to bed.   Bonne nuit WordPress!

My New Hair Doll

Maybe I’m ready to start writing again.  I had a pretty brutal couple of weeks there, but things are slowly beginning to become funny again.

As most of you might know by now, my itty bitty Peanut recently passed away.  However, she did used to shed a lot, so I have since collected and created a fur-doll with her remnants.  It’s almost as though she hasn’t gone at all!

 

New necklace.

New necklace. Why yes, that is regurgitated cat fur!

I’m also somewhat looking for jobs as it has become necessary since I’m on the verge of losing my current one.  I can’t say  I’m happy with my employer’s decision, so to make it right I will be spending my remaining time there repeating work I’d already completed to render my redundancy notice accurate.

My bridesmaid’s dress has arrived from China.  When I told everyone at work it was too big, they all congratulated me for having lost weight.  I didn’t tell them I ordered the dress 2 sizes too big.

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Just take a couple inches off…

My new sketchprov troupe (that’s what you call it when your troupe performs both sketch and improv comedy) “Red Herring” are excited to announce we’ve applied to our first comedy festival; the Detroit Improv Festival.  Fins crossed. I hope we get in. I really need the motivation to get my damn passport renewed. For some reason,  the call of chicken wings from Buffalo just isn’t strong enough for me these days.  We also have a few cool shows coming up in May and June. It’s always so great working on a promising new project that can actually go places, like Detroit!

It’s Spring.  The Earth is waking up and so am I.  <—- who says that shit?  

(I do. Sometimes.)