Wooden Anniversary with the 6ix

Thanks to Facebook, it’s  now easier to get super-reflective on the stuff you’ve been up to over the past, well… since you joined Facebook…. For example, on this day, 7 years ago, I visited Lyon, France. I had a panic attack in a taxi on the way to a Coldplay concert and wasn’t quite sure at the time what was going on. I carried on anyway because I would eventually stand so close to Chris Martin, I’d hoped to catch a bead of his sweat in my mouth. I would later discover Lyon is the hometown of the first CBC employee who would call me a friend.

See how close?

See how close?!?!

On this day 1 year ago, Gill and I had our first improv set together as a duo at Winprov at the Cage. We called ourselves Exit, Pursued by a Bear. A name combining her love of Shakespeare and my desire to be chased by bears. I would later discover we were bound for more than just that one performance. We founded a monthly show for emerging and established comics to come present and perfect their material all while doing the same with our own craft. This would eventually bring us out to Halifax, where I am currently enjoying performing daily hour-long improv sets for completely new and different audiences than those from our Toronto base at the Social Capital Theatre one Thursday night per month.

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“…unusually surrealist…”

At this time, 5 years ago, I was settling into my new apartment in Toronto, having up and left my life in Ottawa. I had some big dreams, which is apparently rare for someone leaving the civil service. I was happy because if I walked a few feet away from my apartment and gazed through the trees, I could see the CN Tower, not knowing how significant that landmark would become to me. I went back to school. I was weeks away from performing stand-up comedy for the first time. Months away to writing my first comedy sketches. Years away from producing my own shows and touring the country, working in one of Canada’s most significant cultural establishments as well as one of North America’s most recognized comedy institutions, from meeting my future husband, (still not used to saying that,) meeting new best friends, new amazing colleagues & immensely talented creative partners and laughing more and harder than ever before.

I would later discover Toronto (dramatic pause) …is my home.

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Happy anniversary, you beautiful bitch.

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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!

I Did Stratford

The Stratford edition of Comedy Before the Frost is now history and marks the first out-of-town comedy show I’ve produced (well, co-produced.)

I think I would qualify it as a success in that people we do not know were in attendance and paid money to listen to us tell jokes.  Not thousands of people, but people.  One of whom had reserved in advance for a group – as a birthday celebration.  We were part of someone’s major life event!  (If you consider a birthday a major life event, which I do.)

I was especially touched when I noticed my good pals from Sarnia in the crowd; friends I’ve known since high school (actually, I think I knew Josée before high school, she can correct me if I’m wrong,) who’d made the trek down specifically to see me perform.  That’s dedication, folks. That’s friendship.  They traveled further than I did to get to that venue.  These two are the best kind of people there is.  Afterwards, they treated us comics to drinks and billiards, which is like…gold for comics.  Sweet liquid, billiard-y gold.

Jerry Shaefer, our host, performed some really funny, interesting and unique stuff – which I was really excited to see because it didn’t fit in with the regular run-of-the-mill host.  He took some time to look into work we’d all done in the past, which was really nice and considerate – and he told stories, played characters and was just damn delightful to watch perform.  The birthday-boy was especially excited when he found out Jerry used to be on the Red Green show.  Apparently he was a huge fan.

We also made connections that will hopefully lead to more shows in Stratford, a lovely town in which to perform.  A town you KNOW values live entertainment.

If thy beist thou boyfriend

But first, time to get our sights set on Ottawa and Montreal.   I’m hoping for a bigger crowd for both these shows, and to recognize a few friendly familiar faces.

Also, more liquid billiard-y gold would be nice.

Be Excited!

I’m excited about all this stuff happening for LaughDraft and I’m simultaneously frustrated.

There’s lots to be excited about.  For one, there’s the upcoming Halloween show at Comedy Bar:

 

This is exciting because:

  • Its’ the first time we perform at Comedy Bar;
  • It’s the first time Humber contributes to our troupe (Free Food, anybody?);
  • We’re performing ALL NEW sketches;
  • It’s Halloween!
  • One of my sketches got in;
  • We might make some money if enough people come, which will help us with future projects, etc.

We were also selected as the one troupe from Humber to be submitted into the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (which my class friends and colleagues are quick to point out is only due to the fact that we are currently the only performing-sketch troupe in the program so far this year.  To which I say: Default performance in SketchFest is better than no performance at all.)

Why this is exiting:

  • Two of the Kids in the Hall are performing in this festival. OMG!;
  • Other AMAZING sketch troupes are performing in this festival;
  • Our program coordinator at Humber, Andrew Clark, likes us enough to recommend us to the organizers;
  • We get to showcase 15 minutes of our best material to date (none of which was written by me… sigh.);
  • We get unlimited access to see all the shows in the festival;
  • Vest of Friends got to do it last year, and this year they might make it to Just For Laughs… just saying…;
  • Etc.

For everything there is to be excited about, it’s difficult because there are always some people ready to downplay the achievement, however meager it may be in our just-beginning careers and for what purpose?  I simply do not understand.  Are they still in that “it’s cool to be apathetic” stage?  Do they simply not want to be a part of this but feel obligated to stay on?  But again, for what reason?  I just don’t get it.

I wonder if it’s to do with the fact that I’m older.  Or  that apathy has naver been in my nature. I crave DOING.  I crave things to give a shit about!  Maybe it’s relative to what you put in.  I put a lot into LaughDraft, creatively and professionally.  I do a lot of the organizational aspects of it, I try to keep our meetings on track.  I often meet with Andrew to discuss Humber’s involvement and have done since the very beginning.  Because of that, I expect the same enthusiasm from all the others.  Here’s the problem.  It’s not them. It’s me.  Maybe I just have unrealistically high expectations. When something excites me, I expect it to excite the others in the group.  And it does some.  And others not.

And who cares, at the end of the day?  It’s no big deal.  But I do.  That’s the problem.

Cancer Humour

Here’s an insight into one of my most terrible jokes:

  • “The worst thing about attending a cancer party, is that you can’t complain about the food.  Sure you’re chicken may be rubbery, but that guy’s dying of fucking cancer!”

I don’t mean to mock anyone’s struggle with cancer.  It’s just that sometimes, it’s so hard to not to be able to do or say anything helpful or comforting, that just saying anything, even if it’s the opposite of comforting, helps me deal with such a heavy reality.