Me, as cult leader "John" in Outlaugh Toronto.

2019 Briear in Review

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.

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.
  • Released 7 new episodes of The Constant Struggle Podcast with my brother Nick.
  • Performed many fun sets as Semper Pie with my wonderful improv partner Alicia Douglas, including a few rounds at the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament and on the Stupid Good Comedy Show.
  • Continued writing and performing sketches in The Utilidors with my sketch partner Dave Lahti.
  • Continued seeing a counsellor to help manage my anxiety.
  • Had a super successful monthly run of Improv Fallout with Improv Niagara at Mahtay Café in St. Catharines.
  • Was invited to be a guest judge at the Brock Improv Summit.
  • Got a fun Valentine’s Day make-over on the Marilyn Dennis show with Dan.
That hair though!!!
  • Continued run of successful POPAGANDA shows at the John Candy Box Theatre with the amazing faculty members of the Second City Training Centre & other awesome local improvisers.
  • Taught my first (couple) Level C class(es) at SCTC.
  • Was asked to be the special guest in a few improv shows.
  • Improv Fallout celebrated its first birthday with a sold out performance, fun prizes and a special toast.
  • Changed my phone number. (Real-talk: I never liked the 647 one)
  • Survived another year around the sun.
  • Got to reconnect with an old pal & former roomie who lives far far away now.
  • Got back into stand-up comedy, performed all around Toronto & Niagara.
  • Opened an improv studio for Improv Niagara. Promptly closed it after 6 months because of its drain on resources.
  • Was asked to guest on a few podcasts.
  • Got a callback at Generals!
  • We released the series of informational videos about recycling for the Niagara Region.
Stuff Tie Toss!
  • Performed narrative longform for the first time with Improv Niagara in St. Catharines’ In the Soil Festival.
  • Played another season in the Toronto Comedy Softball League. The Jokebox, my team, took home the championship again, although I missed the finals. 😢
  • Performed in the Toronto Fringe Festival for the first time with the awesome KidsFringe show: BOY VS FLY
You don’t have to throw a shoe.
  • Ran a few improv & mental health workshops for women with Fantastic Funny Folks (Candace Meeks & Alicia Douglas.)
  • Survived a Twitter ban.
  • Had a blast hosting a fundraiser show for my buddy Dan Rosen.
  • Survived my car trying to kill me on College St. Subsequently got a new-to-me car.
  • More auditions this year than ever before. (Thanks Samm!)
  • Went camping for the first time in a long time with Dan under the craziest, brightest Full Moon.
  • Booked my first commercial!
More squeeze, please!
  • Taught stand-up at Second City for the first time.
  • Met the Mayor of St. Catharines at a flag raising ceremony for Culture Days, in which Improv Niagara participated for our 2nd year in a row.
  • Took a really cool photo I hope to be able to share with you one of these days.
  • Made it to our 3rd wedding anniversary with my love, Dan.
  • Took an improv workshop with the former Artistic Director of the UCB, Shannon O’Neill.
  • Made it to Tribal Council in Outlaugh Toronto.
  • 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!

Outlaugh: The final confessional

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.

Episode #10 with RYAN HUGHES is UP!

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e10-hurricast-with-ryan-hughes/

In this episode, Nick & Brie chat with actor, writer & improvisor Ryan Hughes about some of the struggles he’s currently facing in the pursuit of his art.

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Dis Ryan!

Ryan speaks of a few pros and cons of the day job, and what happens when it’s gone. He discusses issues of confidence and mental health. We also delve into a deep discussion about women in comedy and *~*GASP*~* even feminism!
***
With GREAT shout-outs to:
CARLY HEFFERNAN
JESS BEAULIEU & NATALIE NORMAN (THE CRIMSON WAVE)
CATHERINE MCCORMICK
DANIELA SAIONI
ILLUSIONOID
***
Be sure to check Ryan out on Twitter @ryanfhughes & his improv troupe
Peggy Molson @peggymolson
Peggy Molson are competing in the Big City Improv Festival’s “TKO” tournament. Their semi-final set is at Comedy Bar on Tues. Oct. 13th @ 8:00 PM. Go check ’em out if you’re in Toronto.
#StruggleOn

A L’il Rasgal Drops By TCS

Our newest episode of The Constant Struggle podcast is up, and for the first time, we’ve decided to feature a guest on the show. We invited Susannah Kiernan, member of the hilarious duo “L’il Rasgals” to come on by and talk to us a bit about the various challenges she’s had to face in the noble pursuit of her art.

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/93qcz-56b618?from=wp

You can also find the episode on iTunes by searching “The Constant Struggle”

Give it a listen. It’s a great episode & Susannah is a wonderful guest. While you’re at it, follow her on Twitter at @SusannahKiernan and follow us at @StrugglePod.

the constant struggle - banner

 

Struggle on!

 

 

 

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.

 

Watch Sunnyside, Damnit!

Do yourself (and me) a favour and watch Sunnyside. It premiered tonight, and it was super funny, super original and super Canadian.

It reminded me of that improv game Goon River, except, they weren’t speaking in monologues, but it IS about town filled with fun, quirky characters. Although nobody died… so… maybe not so much like Goon River…Oh no wait. Someone died.  Cool.  Totally like Goon River.

Anyway… I really liked it! And not only because I know the creators, writers and cast personally and am super proud of their hard work not only being produced, but finding a broadcast home amidst a dark period of TV history in which few networks are willing to take chances on new ideas in general, let alone great sketch comedy ideas.

The show is co-created by Gary Pearson (who, if you’re a reader of this blog, directed a sketch show I was in back at Humber called #cliché: based on the novel Push by Sapphire) so… it’s cool, we tight. I think I also reviewed one, if not both of his novels here as well. What I’m saying is, I’m a fan.

The cast and writers are ALL people I’ve seen CRUSH around Toronto’s live comedy scene. Stand-up, improv, sketch. You name it, they’re made me laugh doin’ it. I’m super excited for this show, and I’m super excited for all the talented people involved/responsible for it.

Now YOUR job, reader, is to go watch the darn thing and enjoy it. That way, they can keep making it, and maybe more opportunities will arise for the hardworking hilarious people trying to make a living making YOU laugh! It’s a win win!

Is this too ranty for a post about a silly sketch comedy show?  Meh. I don’t care.

Watch Sunnyside, damnit.