Naomi Snieckus & Alastair Forbes To Perform at next GWCI?

I’m so stoked to announce that this Saturday’s show features none other than Second City Main Stage alumni: Naomi Snieckus and Alastair Forbes. And if YOU attend, YOU might get to play with them!

Get to know more about these two phenomenal improvisers/people and read on:

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Naomi Snieckus is an actor, writer, improviser, voice over artist, and director. She studied at University of Waterloo and then Ryerson Theatre School before moving to Vancouver for five years. An alumnus of the world renowned Second City in Toronto she wrote and performed in 5 shows and met her funny man Matt Baram. She is a founding member (along with Matt Baram) of five time Canadian Comedy Award winning The National Theatre of the World and performs and produces: Impromptu Splendor, The Carnegie Hall Show and The Script Tease Project. The National Theatre of The World is a company in residence at The Young Centre For The Performing Arts in Toronto. They have traveled internationally to Berlin, Israel, Amsterdam, England, New York, South Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles as well as throughout Canada. Naomi won the Canadian Comedy Award for best female improviser in 2010, as well as best female in a TV Series (Mr.D) and was nominated for an Actra Award in 2013 for her work in Mr.D.

STAGELA_STAGEComedypx468Alastair Forbes is a Second City Mainstage Alumni, Dora Award nominee and two-time nominee for the Canadian Comedy Awards Best Male Improvisor. You may have seen him on your TV (Insecurity and The Ron James Show, CBC; The Bridge, CTV;Breakout Kings, A&E; That’s so Weird, YTV) on your big screen (My Ex Ex) on your stage near you (Theatre by the Bay, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Centaur) or have seen his voice on your radio (Go!, CBC Radio One). He has written for YTV’s That’s So Weird and is a story editor on a CTV development project Matt and Jeff. Oh, and yes, he’s probably that guy from that commercial you saw. You can catch him almost every week performing at the Comedy Bar or with his critically acclaimed improv troupe Bonspiel!

For more information, check out:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1510937449152943/?fref=ts

The Arrival and Departure of the Bipolar Express

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On Saturday, December 14th, my Second City Conservatory class completed our year-long training program at the Second City Training Centre teaching us how to improvise and develop premises for scenes used to create a Second City-style production.  We performed it on the Main Stage at 3pm.  I arrived home in Streetsville at 3am.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my comedy career to date.

Because I feel this blog post won’t truly be able to describe the sheer joy, thrill, pride (the good kind), love and fun that resulted from that day’s performance, I thought maybe instead, I’d offer up a few things I’ve written down over the course of the last year that I thought were worth remembering, and if anyone else happens to stumble upon this page, maybe you’ll find it helpful in your own pursuit of improvisational nirvana:

  • When you get lost, Stop & Explore;
  • Really Listen – like, the way you have to when someone with a heavy accent is speaking to you and you want to make sure you don’t give them the wrong advice, or send them in the wrong direction, unless you do it on purpose for hilarious consequences, but seriously, listen up!
  • Stuck asking questions in a scene all the time?  How about using a little thing called your emotions.  Be affected by the offers you’re receiving.  If someone says something mean, be angry, DAMNIT!  Don’t just try to think up some clever comeback.  Stop trying to be so damn clever, will you?
  • Learn the Dinosaur Game, because it’s fun.
  • Be present in your scene.
  • Like a fine wine, let those special moments breathe in your scene;
  • Shut the fuck up backstage!
  • If and when possible, use pyrotechnics.
  • Play real life characters, give people something with which they can identify.
  • Read Lord of the Flies;
  • Don’t be afraid to kill your babies, (even if they are great songs you worked your ass off re-writing)
  • Forgive yourself; the 2nd time you run a scene will probably be the worst.  Know that, and run it until it works;
  • Push your limits, and don’t rein it in until you’ve gotten as far as you can go – and then some.

It also helps to work with an amazing group of people who are all hilarious and wonderful; all from different stages in the game;  all dealing with their own crap outside the classroom,  but all of whom have had a remarkable impact on my comedic education thus far.  I was really lucky to get to work with such a great group of individuals and at the risk of sounding corny, I’m ridiculously sad that we only get to play together once more.

Oh that’s right, I didn’t mention the REMOUNT?  Well, for those of you who didn’t make it out on the 14th on account of the absolutely awful weather conditions, book off Friday morning from work because we’re boarding The Bipolar Express one last time on Thursday, January 23rd at 11pm at the Second City Main Stage and trust, you do not want to miss this party.

What a year, CCC readers. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I don’t normally like wrestling…

I was feeling a bit frustrated the past couple days because I really wanted to check out the opening of the new Second City main stage show, We Can Be Heroes, but tickets were sold out and short from showing up and sneaking in, I couldn’t really afford to go anyway. I attended one opening when I worked there and it was such a great atmosphere among the crowd, which was filled with Second City alumni and friends of the community just buzzing over the accomplishment and excitement of putting on a brand new show.

So, I wondered what I could do that would be comedy-productive, since checking out the new revue wasn’t happenin’.  I decided trying to get on at Yuk Yuk’s that evening would be that thing.  It feels like it’s been a century since I last performed stand-up comedy.

I signed up for Humber night and was put on the stand-by list.  I pretty much swam to the club in yesterday’s crazy downpour and enough people hadn’t shown up that I was given a set in the middle of the line-up.  The sent went really well.  The club wasn’t packed, but the crowd was so into it, they were laughing heartily.  Ahhh… music to my ears!  Granted, I was a little out of practise, but – I was still pleased with how it turned out.  It was also great to see some Humber folks, past and present still going hard at working on their craft.

When I got off stage, I checked my watch and realized there was still time to make it to the Second City Training Centre Tuesday night improv drop-in that I normally don’t drop-in on on Tuesday nights because I typically have class.  And after 8+ hours of work and 3 hours of improv, I’m normally pretty pooped.  Anyway, I went – attended, participated as “The Mighty Cheese” (which is now my wrestling name) and had a fun time playing some silly improv games in what is admittedly far to close to an actual WWE wrestling format for my comfort.  But we gotta break out of those comfort zones, n’est-ce pas?  I played a game working on emotional levels, and another sortof confusing larger group scene which was… shall we say… interesting?

What a fun and productive day!  New jokes were told, new improvisers were met, new underwear were worn (I wish – I’m broke!)

Next on the agenda:  I’m getting new head shots!   Sidenote:  I’ve been meaning to get this done for MONTHS!   (It’s FINALLY gonna happen!!)

This is the look I'm aiming for!

This is the look I’m aiming for!

#geekomedy

Last night, I produced the first ever edition of Geekomedy, a show intended to incorporate aspects of media & technology into works of comedy.  I myself made a silly intro with the Voice Plus voice-changing app on my iPhone (my BROKEN iPhone!) and later incorporated the technological element of the George Foreman Grill to my show, by making an audience member a panini.

See what a difference technology adds to humour, folks?  Paninis!

The wonderful and dynamic duo Laura Bailey and Josh Bowman improvised a conversation on Facebook chat for a segment they called “IM-prov.”  Proof that some of the funniest writing people can produce is at home in front of a computer screen IMing to friends/family/ex-lovers recently escaping the confines of the closet.

I heard a comment from someone who walked into the segment late, about how strange it was to walk into a dark space lit only with a screen, to complete silence, and to still be entertained thoroughly simply through the act of reading a comic scene take place right before their eyes.

See kids, reading CAN be fun!

Next up was a PowerPoint presentation by Ashley Moffatt – hilarious as usual, Ashley incorporated elements of her regular routine, but added some flash to it with amazing photos of her famous plant wigs and, dogs.  Dogs everywhere.   I think PowerPoint stand-up is such a great idea, similar to the way SNL’s Weekend Update’s jokes are amplified by silly graphics, or Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s stuff – it adds to the joke.  The joke itself is funny, but with the right animation, it can take a chuckle to a full-blown guffaw.

Camille Côté was up next, regaling us with the tale of an incredibly awkward textual encounter she got in after meeting face-to-face and talking to him for a whole of 10 minutes, who later make very bizarre assumptions about her in txt form.  She made a good point about how some guys can be really brave, but only behind some form of screen.    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to eating my bagel now.  (wink wink)

Finally, the fabulous physical comedy of Jorge Viveros brought to the stage a real-life Angry Birds game, where members of the audience could throw Jorge, the angry bird, into stacks of cardboard boxes for FUN!

Many thanks to the audience members who came out to support the show, even though right off the bat, the host told us we all stunk.  (Thanks a lot, Bob Banks!)  It’s OK though, he was referring strictly to our hygiene and not to the quality of our comedy, which makes it better, right?  Right?…

Anyway, here’s hoping there’s more interest in tech-themed comedy down the line.  I think the next logical step would be installing a transporter directly in the Comedy Bar,  saving time AND the need to dress according to the climate. (And allowing for an easier stumble home post-alcohol-consumption.)

Robo-Brie OUT!

CON-gratulate Me

Great news, folks – I was informed last night that I’ve been accepted into the Second City’s Conservatory Program!   Huzzah!  My audition went super well last week, despite my being fully stuffed of delicious prime rib because I’d left directly from our office Christmas luncheon (…if ever there was a first world problem…)

Then, I found I was way too sweaty to perform well in an audition so I ran to MEC to purchase a new sweater, which I did not wear at the audition because I thought it fit funny.

But it’s warm and cozy and I’ve been wearing it ever since immediately after the audition.

Anyway.  I begin classes in January so stay tuned to find out more! 🙂

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For more information about the Conservatory program, (Mom!,)  click on the image below:

 

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Death & Rebirth: The Circle of Life…and stuff

 

There it is folks; shaking the President’s hand as I walk off with a brand-spankin’ new college diploma. The end of an era; an era filled with ups, downs, highs, lows, rape jokes and more uses of the c-word than I’d ever thought possible.  Yesterday, at the Toronto Congress Centre, along with a handful of my fellow colleagues, my parents & my man in attendance, I completed the final element of the Humber CollegeComedy: Writing & Performanceprogram.  And no.  That does not mean you get to stop reading my blog now.  Because as the title suggests, the end of my time at Humber is, just that; an end. An end to the daily classroom routine, an end to 9am stand-up & improv comedy classes, but I think most notably an end to one hell of a LOT of stressful social scenarios.

Phew.  Breath it in, readers.  Closure.

That being said, it also marks the beginning.  The beginning of a life devoted to humour.  From here on in, the performance and the quality of my work is in my hands alone and will not be judged or criticized by the same group of 11 others day in, day out.  (Until/if I get a job in a writer’s room.)  It’s the beginning of new sketch troupe potentials (Cumin Rice Violation, anyone?), the beginning of spec script writing, story writing in general, play writing, book writing, writing writing, the beginning of job hunting for something in the biz, as lame as the job may be.  The beginning of a life in which I received a hug from Andrew Clark. (Victory!) Also, very excitingly (ALMOST as exciting as the hug,) it’s the beginning of my improv training at The Second City.

I had my first class today with instructor Brian G. Smith who, I’m told, is an excellent teacher.  (So far, this stands true. :P) My classmates come from all sorts of different walks of life; journalists, mothers, actors, tradespeople & they all seem super nice/fun/cool.  Many of them took Level B together last term, so they’re all very tight & familiar with one another, but they’re quite warm and welcoming, so you don’t get that sense of high school cliquerie.

It’s also the beginning of my life with an air conditioner. (Better grad gift than a frame, I’ll be the first to admit.)

Beginnings.  Lots of them.

I intend to take on these new beginnings with poise, dignity and of course, humility.  Oh hey?  Did I mention I got top of my class at Humber?  Yup.  Honours Award for Academic Excellence.  No big deal.  What?

I’m actually really super excited about this. #nerd4life