All wordplay aside, this is a delightful and informative episode featuring Genevieve (Evie) Jones, playwright, actor, director and mom of Daphne. Evie’s located in the Niagara Region, and chats with Nick and Brie about starting out her artistic career in Niagara, spreading her wings beyond the peninsula and her parents, and the reason for her epic return.
Evie provides us with some deep insight into how the pandemic has been helpful to herself and many artists in finding focus, and the now existing struggle to maintain that focus as the world opens back up.
Writers will appreciate learning more about the process of writing and producing live plays in Canada and the evolution of the artist in motherhood.
Your Key Creative Tips:
Writing, Playwriting, Parenting, Theatre, Acting, Directing, Performing Arts in Niagara and Halifax.
Chances are if you’ve performed comedy in Toronto, you’re likely one degree of separation from this episode’s guest; Gary
Rideout Jr., owner of Toronto’s famous Comedy Bar & Director of Business Development at The Second City in Toronto. This episode dives into Gary’s timeline as a budding comedian-turned-business owner and tracks the many successes he’s had along the way, the struggles that come with taking risks and putting yourself out there, as well as some truly great lessons learned along the way.
With the recent tease on social media announcing the opening of a second Comedy Bar location, on the Danforth, we’re thrilled to get to chat with Gary about his journey in Toronto comedy and his excitement for all that’s to come.
This is an episode for comedians and for fans of comedy. You’ll see what it takes to create a space for an entire community of comedy artists; how to foster that community and the heights where it can lead.
I know we’re on the other side of it now. There’s a promise of being able to gather together again soon, at least outdoors anyway, and here in Ontario. I am so comforted by this.
BUT we’re not completely out of the woods yet, and if you have goals or dreams you’ve been wanting to work towards, I’m here to tell you there will never be a perfect time or ideal circumstances. So just get on the damn horse.
I’m talking about improv, here. But if it applies to anything else you might be interested in learning or experiencing, then let it sink in for you too.
I really want to learn improv, but I don’t want to do it online. Should I do it online anyway?
A question I’ve been asked a few times over the course of the past year and some.
I’d rather eat a piping hot steak and twice-baked potato from the Keg in one of their fancy dining rooms and sip on some delicious Ontario VQA in candlelit ambiance. But that’s not in the cards yet. Is it gonna stop me eating meat and getting drunk? NOT. A. CHANCE.
Let me be clear, I really want to TEACH improv in person. But that ain’t happening any time soon. Am I going to do it online anyway? Oh hell yes.
Online Training – Pros and Pros
I’ve been finding so many great things about running improv classes online right now. If it’s something you’re passionate about, I don’t think there’s a point in waiting to do it in person. You’ll have missed out on however many months of doing this cool thing just waiting to be able to do it in the same physical space as other people. Meanwhile, once we get back in person again you’ll have all this experience under your belt to finally get to take to the stage!
(Actual response I sent someone.)
Who cares if when you play Word-At-A-Time you’re going to ask Tim to repeat his word twelve times? That’s just where we are right now. At least you’re putting in the work. Putting in the time. Building up those 10,000 hours.
When we get back to playing in person, it’ll be that much sweeter. I can’t wait to play mannequins again. Or touch to talk. Or any of the wonderful trust exercises / warm-ups that involves getting all tangled up and then untangling each other.
We’ll get there, but for now – make the most of your situation. Learn as much as you can about the non-touchy part of improv.
Yeah I know it’s been a weird year, and yeah I get it’s totally OK of all you accomplished this year was staying alive, breathing and not murdering your roommate. I’ve been posting YIRs since 2016 and I’m not going to stop now. If there’s anything we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that among all the chaos, there’s still a whole lot to be grateful for and it’s easy to miss if you don’t take a second to appreciate it.
My lighthouse word for 2020 was NOW. I got into reading some Eckhart Tolle thanks to Pete Holmes and felt it’d be some super great reading for an improviser, an anxious person and for life in general. I think 2020 was the perfect year to have chosen that word, and that NOW couldn’t have come at a better time.
Here’s some of the good to come out of my many NOWs in 2020:
Continued teaching improv with The Second City Training Centre & successfully transitioned to doing so online since March. During his process, I taught my first Level D class, the highest level I’ve taught thus far.
Improv Niagara wrote & performed a virtual sketch for Suitcase in Point’s Community Comedy Series
IN’s held our first ever student show, broadcast live via Facebook (because groups of 10+ were not permitted.)
Welland finally got a Starbucks
I stayed alive.
I Didn’t kill my roommate.
I’m thankful for all of the NOWs 2020 brought along and I do wish to continue working in being present and in the moment (luckily I’m in the right field for that.) NOW, my word for 2021 is very different. Stay tuned.
I get it. We’re well into 2020 by now, and I should have done this earlier in the year, but I’m not giving up on me, and the end of 2019 was rough, so just let me do me, OK? OK.
I’ve found tremendous joy in 2016, 2017 & 2018 writing my Year-in-Reviews and I don’t want to miss the boat. And hell, why not feel like it’s January again and not like 2020 is taking off like a rocket into the future and we have no control over it. That reminds me, my Lighthouse Word this year? NOW.
In 2019 I…
had a continued run of successful Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? shows with amazingly talented special guest improvisers at Comedy Bar, allowing more opportunities for improvisers to share the stage with the improvisers to whom they look up.
Completed the Harold Studio Series at Bad Dog Theatre.
Celebrated Guess Who’s Coming to Improv’s 5th anniversary! Brought the show down to Niagara for the first time.
Performed with a new improv duo partner, Andrew Lizotte, in a fun project entitled High Status Idiots.
Voted in another Federal Election. (My guy didn’t win.)
Sold a friggin’ house & moved into a new home.
Raised 150lbs of food for needy people in our community in Niagara.
Nous avons dit adieu à ma très chère grand-mère, qui nous a quitté à l’âge de 99 ans.
So probably the end of the year is why it took me so long to write this year-end post. I realize that now. However writing it now feels very good, very cleansing. My grand-mother was full of joie-de-vivre and a very funny woman. I’m certain she would want me to continue doing a similar path.
Que la santé, l’amour et la réussite vous accompagnent dans tous vos projets.Bonne année!
For the past 2 months, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a wonderful comedy experience by the name Outwit, Outplay, Outlaugh Toronto – a live comedy-version of the popular reality TV show Survivor.
At first, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m not much of a Survivor fan, (much to the dismay of many of the die-hards in the Outlaugh cast.) In fact, my main relationship with Survivor was my obsessed-roommate (at the time,) printing out and posting east new cast above his bed and X-ing out everyone who was voted off. And the buffs. The buffs are cool.
I didn’t expect it to be such a fun and collaborative experience. I didn’t expect to connect with so many awesome Toronto comedians and performers. I don’t know why I didn’t expect these things. The producers involved know a lot of awesome people in Toronto’s comedy community. I guess the anxiety of the unknown made me believe it was going to be a cutthroat and nasty competition, but it was the total opposite. Well, it was still cutthroat, just not quite so nasty.
Every week we had new challenges, wherein we work on different comedic elements and styles, improv, sketch, stand-up. We even created a mini late-night TV episode in Week 3, (that was the day a snowstorm didn’t keep a full house from showing up, and one in which I got to portray my dream-role, that of a WW1 ghost. Hey. It was Remembrance Day. Give me this one.)
I got to work with such a wonderful variety of people I’d never met, let alone worked with before. It was just awesome to work together, knowing that, as well as wanting to win the competition, we were all working hard at creating the best show we possibly could while we were at it, or at least that was my strategy.
Not surprisingly, the challenges helped me realize how incredibly well I work with deadlines. In fact I may even call Jared Laxer (the live show’s Jeff Probst) ((the host of Survivor)) ) up after tonight’s finale to give me some writing assignments and check in on me to make sure I’m getting them done!
The show is so incredibly well produced with Jared, Linda Ellis and Matt Caldwell at the helm, and many others contributing to its smooth running and many moving pieces. There are video confessionals at the top of every show and throughout the live show too, actual immunity idols, and buffs. Again, so many buffs!
Look, I didn’t even mind getting voted out. (*cough*) Luckily, I lasted long enough where I could be in the Jury and my vote will now count in choosing a winner of the entire competition, which happens TONIGHT at the Social Capital Theatre at 8:30pm. So if you’re wondering what to do tonight in Toronto, do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s going to be intense, and it’s going to be hilarious. The tribe has spoken. See this show.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
What are you working on that’s awesome these days?
How epic was this Friday’s Improv Fallout?! The house was absolutely packed. There was a line-up to get in. A line-up! People came from out of town (read: another country) to see the show, to laugh with us and to celebrate.
The support from the community in Niagara has been absolutely incredible, and I mean that. Because I know what it’s like to put on a show, and to have it fall flat with low support from community. I know what that feels like when you put on a show that you think people will really enjoy, you assemble a great cast, and the concept for the show is really interesting, then for months, nobody shows.
Because I know what that’s like, and because I know how much the cast of Improv Fallout actually cares about getting up there and doing their best, supporting one another, and putting in the effort, judgement-free and enthusiastic, that’s why I feel a whole year of Improv Fallout is nothing short of a triumph.
That’s why I feel honoured when new audience members come to check us out. That’s why I feel proud when audiences return time and again.
This cast is an ensemble. They have grown together. They lift one another up.
No pretence. No competition. They prioritize learning, growing, friendship and in-so-doing, they make funny, funny magic.
I feel lucky to be a part of it.
Photos by Erica Sherwood. Except the one OF her. Who took that one?
For me, the problem doesn’t seem to be judging based on what we would like other people to be, but rather judging people based on past encounters or experience we’ve had with them or witnessing them.
Ideally, I wouldn’t judge anyone at all, really. But as a social creature, and an anxious one, I tend to build up walls to protect myself in different scenarios and judgement becomes a defence mechanism used to avoid getting hurt.
Recently, I feel like this defence has been bumming me out more than protecting me, so I’m trying to work on it.
I don’t condone this is in my improv, so why should I live by it?
In an effort to practice mindfulness, I’m trying to distance myself from thoughts about past interactions, observations and assumptions about people and working double-time on just being present with everyone I encounter, so that each new moment is a better opportunity for meaningful connection.
So far, I haven’t been great at it. In my mind, I already ruined brunch with two wonderful colleagues by complaining about situations over which I have no control. I should have just been present, enjoyed their company, and made new moments and memories (rather than obsessing over old, shitty ego wounds.)
But I will continue trying. And failing. And hopefully get better and better at just being with the multiple wonderful humans I have the pleasure of encountering in this incredible comedy community of which I am lucky to be a part.
Sometimes, you teach a drop-in improv class, and a dude who’s never done improv before pitches to your class a “Loving Clock” (because that’s the nature of the game you’re playing – and that was the suggestion he received) – and for the rest of your week (and maybe life) you sweetly say:
“Babygirl, I love you!”
… every single time you check to see what time it is.
Have you heard an improv quote that’s either a) positively reinforced your attitude permanently or b) you’ve never been able to get out of your head? What was it?