It takes a village

Last night, my Niagara-based improv ensemble premiered our competitive-style “Improv Fallout” show for a standing-room-only house in downtown St. Catharines. It was, to be brief, incredible.

Mainly, I wanted to point out what else went behind the production, because it was one of the first times in my career as a comedy producer that I had a team of individuals around me, supporting a project so enthusiastically that ALL these things happened:

  • First of all, they actually invited people to come friggin’ see them perform, so we packed the house ’til it was, as mentioned standing-room-only.
  • When given the rehearsal schedule, some performers requested additional rehearsal time to ensure their performance would be up to snuff.
  • They showed up for rehearsal like, AN HOUR before their call to help set up without being asked.
  • They created an art wall for the show JUST FOR FUN.

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  • One of the performer’s partners agreed to work the Box Office.
  • One of the performer’s partners took really great photos during the show.
  • A performer who WASN’T EVEN ON THE SHOW agreed to collect email addresses so we could continue to spread the word about our group and ran back and forth to help make sure the show ran smoothly again, without being asked.
  • One of the performers fearlessly approached people asking for suggestions before the show started.
  • One of the performers hand-crafted voting circles with one colour on one side, and the other on the other side, which was challenging she admitted, but worth it because they looked so good!
  • Some of our performers took to social media before, during and after the show to share the experience with others.
  • Some of our performers learned how to use social media for the show.
  • One of the performers went to Fabricland for the first time in her life to actually buy fabric to be used to discern the different teams on stage.
  • Our tech created a special playlist for the show to get the audience feelin’ funky.
  • One of the performers risked his neck to drape the curtains in such a way as to make the space look a bit more ascetically pleasing.
  • One of the performers drove a long long way to come to the show even though she’d worked all day and had to go right back immediately after the performance.
  • One of the performers refused payment until it was physically forced onto him. (That’s right, the performers were paid.)
  • All of the performers were super supportive of one another on stage as well as off stage and, even after being “voted off” the show stayed intensely engaged with participating in the show with members of the audience and online.
  • I’m probably forgetting a million more things…

 

It’s INCREDIBLE to know that this wonderful collaboration is what it can feel like to create live comedy.

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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!

Sketchfest: 2014 Edition

It’s Sketchfest season again everybody!  Hooray and celebrate!  This year, I am not working quite as diligently with the organizers as I’ve done in the past, mostly because I’m too busy with the day job to sustain all the evenings of hilarity and drinking and fun times.  Fun times are exhausting, you guys.  Anyway, I have been checking some of the shows and so far they have been GREAT!

Speaking of great, I wrote another article for She Does the City and it 100% has to do with Sketchfest, so please go ahead and check it out:

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The idea was that I interview all the all-female troupes (Templeton Philharmonic, Ladystache, 2 Weird Ladies, LadyBusiness & She Said What) participating in this year’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival & find out more about them, their style, and why the readers of shedoesthecity.com should check them out.  It was a lot of fun.  I quickly became aware of why podcasts are so popular, because interviewing other comedians is really fun and insightful.  I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, because transcribing takes a LOT of time, but the sitting down and talking to funny and interesting, hardworking and genuinely great people was a lot of fun!

Tonight, I’m off to check out the Kids in the Hall (if only 16 year-old Brie knew how many opportunities she would get in the future to see these guys live) as they do a live reading of their film Brain Candy.  It’s going to be great!  I love how they all hated one another when they made this movie, and now they’re revisiting it as older, cooler buds.

As the festival continues, I will attempt to post more, but don’t just sit here and read.  Make sure you go out and see as many shows as possible.  This is seriously such a great comedy festival, a wonderful place to study styles and methods of performing the art and basically just a really sick party.

My highlights of the fest so far are:

  • Bri-Ko (but they’ve already went back to Chicago, so you missed them.  Sorry.  Check them out if ever you’re in  Chicago though, because they blew my MIND!)
  • Peter n’ Chris (they’re done with Sketchfest too, but you CAN check out this video pilot for their new webseries thing coming out, which is a lot of fun.  It’s called Hardly Men and you can catch a glimpse here:

It’s Latin so it’s Gotta Be Good

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Last night I had the pleasure of hosting a fantastic comedy variety show at Musideum; that word, that name… you know any venue with a Latin suffix is bound to be awesome!  This amazing little space on Richmond St. was filled with hundreds of musical instruments, a beautiful grand piano and, in this case, a bunch of hilarious performers and a super-supportive audience.

The weekly show is put on by The Sandbox,  comedy troupe formed in the Second City’s Conservatory program, who’ve stuck together to continue their comic journey.  Damnit, now I’m describing the Conservatory program as a journey.  What have I become?

Anyway, The Sandbox kicked off the show with some great fun and lively improv.  They were followed by a musical comedy troupe called The Sour Keys, who were super impressive.  They performed songs ranging from adorably punny to really disturbingly cute.  Next on the bill was 2 Humans, a great little sketch duo set to perform at this year’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (so go check them out!)  Finally, closing the billed show was a solid and hilarious improv set put on by well-known troupe Sneak Attack.  The night wrapped with an improv lottery jam, in which yours truly was invited to participate; and I was a dinosaur and a horned-up old lady at the LCBO hitting on a 19-year wine salesman.  Playing within my range, y’know.

Oh, did I mention there was a gigantic, awful, miserable snow storm yesterday?  And yet,  the Musideum was packed to the brim for the show with a warm and very supportive audience of people who just seemed happy to be there and were rewarded and delighted by the night’s hilarious performers.

What a fun night of comedy!  Even better, there’s a new Comedy Night at Musideum every single Wednesday, so next time – you can be there to experience the fun for yourself!

 

Getting Even with Sketch Com-Ageddon

I’m sure you’re sitting on the edge of your seat right now just dying to know how the debut performance of Getting Even with Chesapeake turned out, so I won’t keep you in a state of suspense.

Or will I?

HAHAHAHAHAHA Blah blah blooooooooo lalahfjdhfkdakda.

No, I won’t.  It went fine.  We didn’t move on in the competition, but it was fun to be performing sketch comedy again in a non-academically-obligatory kinda way.  It was also great to perform in an non-entirely Humber-based audience.  Helps to shed some objectivity on life in general, as a whole.

Buuuut that being said… congrats to troupes Sketch & The City, Jape and Parker & Seville for moving on to the next round of the contest!

I’m going to go back to Sketch Com-ageddon tonight to catch more of the action because I loooooove sketch comedy! (And because performers get a 4-free show pass.)

Good luck to all you bloodthirsty troupes!