Support Live Local Theatre

This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching my Dad perform in a production of Mary Poppins put on by the Port Colborne Operatic Society; an organization in which he’s been involved for 39 years!  The production was spectacular. The costumes, the singing, the FLYING! I mean, come on!

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Re: Flying.

It hit me this year, seeing the PCOS’ productions every year since I was a kid is likely responsible for my desire to perform. I remember watching the plays and thinking: “ One day I want to be up there!” Although that’s since changed to “I want to be up there, but like…by myself with a microphone… or with a small group of people making things up on the spot… or performing something I’ve written myself… likely with less singing, like WAY less singing.”

My parents put me in performance from a young age. Dancing and playing the piano. I can’t begin to imagine a childhood without live performance, or without art.

So, consider this is a plea from me to you. No matter where you are, or who you’re with, go see live performances of plays, of comedy, of music of whatever you can! And bring a friend, a child, a niece or nephew, a parent or aunt or uncle, a Tinder date, ANYBODY.

You never know whose life you might inspire.

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See: acting.

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New Episode of The Constant Struggle Featuring The Dandies’ Dale Wells

Our latest episode of The Constant Struggle podcast is up and this time, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dale Wells, improviser and co-founder of The Dandies & Holodeck Follies.

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e12-follow-your-passion-with-dale-wells/

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Dale speaks about the benefits and challenges producing live comedy shows in Toronto. We talk about the history of Star Trek improv in the city, about geek culture, and about his show; Holodeck Follies, kicking butt at this year’s FanExpo. Dale and Nick chat about what it’s like to be a Dad artist with a day job. We bring up his love of singing and the various ways in which improv can bring joy to your life.

What a positive guy!

***
With GREAT shout-outs to:
ANDIE WELLS
NATASHA BOOMER
ROB ARISS HILLS
THE 404s
GARY PEARSON
MARK LITTLE
KEN HALL
ALAN LEIGHTIZER
TODD VAN ALLEN (COMEDY ABOVE THE PUB)
GILLIAN ENGLISH &
TODD GRAHAM
***
 Be sure to follow The Dandies on Twitter @TorontoDandies & catch the next edition of #HolodeckFollies at Geek Hard Live!
#StruggleOn everybody!

#BrieCIF2015

I did it! I performed AND participated in this year’s Big City Improv Festival! Huzzah. My first time performing in the festival! Youpidyday!

My own. My precious. (Also, that's not my thumb)

My own. My precious. (Also, that’s not my thumb)

My first performance in #BCIF2015 were interesting an unexpected. Such, I suppose, is the nature of the art we practice. I was asked by my former teacher Robin Duke to perform in a show with other Humber alumni. I said yes, because Robin Duke. It was a while before I realized this show was actually part of #BCIF. It seems that because Humber is a sponsor, this is the show they contributed to the fest. And I got to be part of it. Yay.

In all honesty, I really didn’t know how to feel about it. I remember improv not to be one of the main focuses of the Humber comedy program. In fact, here’s what I remember about improv class at Humber:

  1. Alan Guttman continually blowing my mind in class, dropping his early Second City and Johnstonenian wisdom and;
  2. Adam Cawley running a longform workshop, which likely convinced me to sign up for Second City classes.

The students interested in performing stand-up seemed to outweigh those interested in improv in number and in willingness-to-give-it-a-try-ingness. All I’m saying is, it’s hard for someone who’s hiding behind a microphone to completely throw themselves into improv; it’s a art that requires a lot of letting go. I think one thing that makes stand-up do their thing, is an inability to let go; and also, in fact, a desire to to instead repeat the thing most people would let go over and over again in exchange for the laughter of strangers. Don’t get me wrong, I love that laughter, but I think I like spontaneity and discovery a wee bit more.

That being said, I was incredibly pleased and delighted to find out that improv at Humber is stronger than ever. Our show featured short form games. The performers were quick, they played fun characters and they were SMART. I got to play a super fun scene with the wonderful Ashley Comeau who was generous enough to give me a gift that allowed me to have SO MUCH FUN. All she had to say was “you looooooooove her” to cool guy Malik Powell and the game was afoot.

Following that set, I ran over to a friend’s house for, get this: her birthday, pizza, carrot cake, the Blue Jays victory, a tasty butter tart & a Liberal majority in Parliament. I excused myself and ran down to Bad Dog where I had my SECOND EVER SHOW in BCIF. Two shows in one night! I waited years for one show, period. This is like a woman who can’t get pregnant, so she overdoses on fertility meds and ends up getting quints…OR so is my understanding of reproductive medications.

So, an 11pm BCIF edition of Improv Game Show was show #2. On a Monday. The same day the Blue Jays were playing. And everyone was watching a pretty historic election. And despite all of this, the show was great! The energy was fantastic. Oliver Georgiou hosted and rocked the night! Our tech Scott, who I just met for the first time that night was freaking hilarious. ALL the improvisers were GREAT and the games were so much fun. We play this game all the time, and yet this edition felt particularly special.

The following day, my 1950s-inspired babefest Fifty Shades of 50 performed a magical set in the cabaret space. It was pretty wacky, there was a lot of talk about fart-smells, and we mentioned a character named “Little Noah No-Arms”. So…you know… improv gold! I love this format & performing with these women so much.

Here’s a shot my camera took of us mid-action:12042790_10101301938113596_5355067159631151847_n

There were many other performers and performances at this year’s festival filled with hilarity and greatness. But that’s not what this post is about. This is a different post.

In this post, I did it! I performed AND participated in this year’s Big City Improv Festival! Huzzah. My first time performing in the festival! Youpidyday!

 

 

Ten “New Year” Thoughts

Quick musings on the start of my new job and what feels like a new year (because of how we’re socialized as children to see the school year to be a new year and even though I have’t been in school for a few years, it still feels that way…)

  1. I need to see a physiotherapist for my shoulder. For real. (but AFTER softball season’s over.)
  2. I’m getting pretty tired of administrative work. Can someone please pay me for my thoughts, and not my ability to print shit soon?
  3. It’s way better to take the streetcar at 7:30 AM than 8AM. That half hour makes an insanely stupid difference in TTC service.
  4. I miss working on Steven and Chris.
  5. I miss working with the people at PanAm.
  6. For two days, I feel like I’ve been in control of my schedule. Let’s see how long that lasts. (My guess, until the first JFL42 show I see.)
  7. I’m getting pretty sweet at editing our my podcast. Even though sometimes I have to splice together pieces that, for continuity’s sake, make no sense whatsoever. (Example: Let’s go bowling.)
  8. You should be on and listen to my podcast.
  9. I haven’t performed in like, 4 days. I both miss it, and am incredibly relieved to be doing other creative things that don’t involve hourlong train commutes.
  10. I went to the gym! #PointsMe

Thanks for indulging me.

A pre-emptive apology to my Toronto Fringe-performing friends

Given the recent surge in Facebook invites, either I’ve become increasingly more popular (not likely) or it’s the Toronto Fringe, and all the performers I know in this city seem to have a show this year. And believe me, I would love nothing more but to enjoy your talents on a weekday afternoon, the time you so desperately need an audience, but I’ll be at work.

Anything in the early afternoon too, yup. Working.

In the evening? Probably just leaving work. If I’m lucky.

Shit, the project I’m working on these days has be so busy that when I DO finally get off my shift, it’s all I can do to not fall asleep on the streetcar, call the 501 my bed and ride it fully unconscious until the morning comes and I’m forced to exit and stumble into the freezer that is my current place of employ.

Not that I’m complaining about the fact that I am employed. I’m happy about that. In fact, I’m dependent on it.

You’re all such a tremendously talented bunch of amazing folk.

But what I am saying, is that I really REALLY will try to see your shows, but if I can’t, I’m sorry. And I wish you the best of broken legs throughout such a wonderful festival.

Bon courage!

Do one thing every day that you really really hate, but you know you have to do because it will make you a better performer

Earlier this week I tried something I hate.

A character monologue.

I’m always fascinated by some comedians I know who seem to come up with this plethora of weird and wonderful characters, for which they’ve created this fun universe and they bring them up on stage and speak to the audience in that character for upwards of ten minutes, and people love it. They tell jokes in character. They have funny accents. They dress up.

I just hate it so much.

Not when other people do it. I just hate doing it, myself. It if were to serve a sketch, in which there were several people, no problem. I’ll play a weird and wacky character. But on my own, just speaking directly to the audience? No thank you. Well, that is, outside of comedy school and this past Tuesday’s “Bombaes.”

I wrote and performed a character monologue inspired by something Kate Mulgrew said while promoting her book last month (was it last month?) at the Toronto Reference Library. It seemed to get very little response while I was speaking it, which is bizarre. As a stand-up comic, you’re used to getting a laugh at certain points in your set. But either it wasn’t funny, or it was just not good, I felt like I got nothing back from the audience, apart from polite applause when I was finished my bit.

Stand-up, fine. You’re telling jokes, and the audience responds in such a way as to let you know whether or not your jokes are hitting or missing. Improv, GREAT! No problem making people laugh there. But this? GAH. This is PAINFUL.

PAINFUL! AND DIFFICULT!  AND SCARY!

That being said. If anyone has a solo-sketch/monologue night in Toronto, I’m totally ready for you to meet this gal. She’s a real something else.

 

Woman Seeking Multiverse

First stand-up set in a while tonight at Yuk Yuk’s. I’ll say I need practice. I will say that. I will also say that people were NOT on board with my joke about how hard it must have been for conservative dudes to admit they felt a budge upon first glance of Caitlyn Jenner.  Perhaps it was the delivery. Perhaps it was a room full of conservatives. Either way, I thought it was hilarious.

It’s insane how quickly 5 minutes goes by. When I was writing out my set, I prepared so much more than what I actually had time to perform. I need to practice more.  I need more hours in a day because I love improv too much to give it the back seat.I need Hermione’s Time-Turner so I can do equal parts of both.Time Turner… too geek?Nah. No way.