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!
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With GREAT shout-outs to:
CARLY HEFFERNAN
JESS BEAULIEU & NATALIE NORMAN (THE CRIMSON WAVE)
CATHERINE MCCORMICK
DANIELA SAIONI
ILLUSIONOID
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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

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Days Go By and Still I Think of…

…all the great stuff I learned last week!

All right, maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m a total dork, but I am sortof obsessed about learning about comedy. I probably don’t watch enough stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, I do read about it often enough, (currently on Bruce McCulloch’s “Let’s Start a Riot,”) and I suppose one of the big fears I deal with regularly is how much I should be “learning” vs. how much I should be “doing.”

One of the major problems I face with my own comedy is time. I have a Mon-Fri 9-5 job, which is great for paying back debt, but not so great for staying up late and going to multiple shows and partying until all hours of the night at the local open-mic/watering hole. (I do this extremely rarely.) I’ve tried to strike a balance by producing many of my own shows, thus giving myself ample play time, but also seeing many of the acts around town who inspire me and more importantly, who make me laugh.

Another thing I’ve just taken on, is the co-creation of the “Women in Comedy Toronto” group. It seems, so far, that people are really excited about it, and based on the first couple events we’ve had, it’s really evident that this is the kind of community group from which women in the Toronto comedy scene can really benefit. For example, last week Christina Walkinshaw came by to talk to us about her career in comedy thus far, her writing process, tales from the biz, and many other fascinating tidbits, and I tell you, it was inspiring!  I think anyone who was in attendance will tell you the same.

Also, on Wednesday, I attended the I ❤ Sketchfest event at the Steamwhistle Brewery, where they screened the premiere of Bruce McCulloch’s “Young Drunk Punk,” which was excellent, and I’m sorry I didn’t give it it’s own page, like I did with “Sunnyside“, I just ran out of time.

Which is my point. By this point, it’s Wednesday; I’ve helped a friend film her one woman-show, produced a 2+ hour talkback with one of Canada’s most amazingly hilarious female comics, supported my favourite Toronto comedy festival… and I haven’t had time yet to do any of my own writing or work.

Problem solved: Thursday, I booked, produced, and performed in a show put on by my improv duo, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Friday, I produced and performed in Improv Game Show (and I won! Thanks again Maddox! [as if he’s actually reading this!])

And alas, the weekend called for fun family celebrations in Niagara, which are lovely, but don’t really allow for much writing time. (Nor should they. Family time is important, dangit!)

So, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that it would be nice to have a little balance. Maybe last week was just crazy, or maybe I’m over-committing to stuff. Either way, I’d love to know what your solutions are to feeling like you can never get fully on top of the multiple things you’re trying to accomplish?

My brother recommended I read Chris Hardwick’s “The Nerdist Way,” and it already seems like a great process for helping people achieve their goals. But I’m already looking at it like “I don’t have TIME to create a fancy CHART with all my WANTS AND DESIRES on it, and make it pretty with pictures?!!?”

And again, so much is the nature of an anxious person.  Sometimes we have so much to do, and we can’t just… take… a … breath. It’s always go go go. Sometimes what we need is to slow down, and only in those times can we think clearly and make a plan towards actually accomplishing our goals. Like finishing this damn spec script I’ve been working on for MONTHS. (The outline is now finished. Thank you.)

Sometimes it’s about balancing a crazy week with a following week of cuddling up with your computer at home with a nice (several) cup(s) of coffee in a cozy hoodie.

That’s where I’m at this week.  Until I’m not.

 

The Future of Canadian Comedy

At work today, as I was trying to get some people jazzed about their impending participation in a daytime television studio audience, I saw four female comedy writers/improvisors walk through the halls of the CBC. They stopped briefly to chat, one having recognized me from an earlier improv event we had both attended.  (eee!)

She proceeded to inform me they were headed to a meeting upstairs.

…And for a second, I felt really great about the future of Canadian comedy on CBC.

0505beaver

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(Sidenote: I hope they remember this encounter if/when they get green-lit)

JokeBox Re-Post (from shedoesthecity.com)

I read this article in shedoesthecity.com about JokeBox lounge producer (and good friend)  Deanna Palazzo and couldn’t help but give it a re-post. It feels good to read great things about ladies who work freakin’ hard in this business and to hear about the good things they’ve got coming up.

Click on Dee’s face to read on…

 

“Jokebox Comedy Lounge brings an inclusive night of laughs to Comedy Bar on Mondays. Producer Deanna Palazzo tells us what it’s all about…”

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just a Girl – Reflections on WIFT’s “Women in Comedy” panel

For as much negative press Facebook, other social media and the Internet in general lately have been getting about “well, we’re basically spying on you”-type problems, as a budding comic, there really is no better tool to help keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on around town.

For example, the other day, a fellow-comic and the first person who ever paid me to do a set, posted an event on Facebook that caught my eye: Goodmans Presents: Women in Comedy a panel discussion presented by the not-for-profit organization for women in screen-based media; WIFT.

  • Sidenote:  The discussion was held at the head office of the National Film Board, which I thought was pretty dang neat.

Should I have taken photos of the panelists as well as the coolness of the NFB build-your-own-igloo display? Yes.  Did I?  No.  I’m dumb.  Maybe it was the complimentary wine, or the excitement of meeting female writers and filmmakers living out their dreams as artists and encouraging me to do the same, but for some reason, photography was not a priority.

Here’s what I think about some of the topics the panelists covered and how they are relevant on my end of the spectrum (starting out) all the way through to those who’ve made their living from it.  Like her:

Female Role Model

The Drop-Off Rate:

The drop-off rate of women in comedy is huge.  This was attributed to many factors identified in the panel – but mainly, other things getting in the way.  Some of the gals discussed such life events as marriage and having kids.  It seems fairly evident that if you’re a woman who wants to settle down and have a family, the life of a stand-up comedian, performing nightly in dingy bars, and eventually working your way up to touring the country and even the globe, doesn’t seem all that conducive to typical parenthood.

I feel there are probably some lady comics who quit because they feel they do not have a place within the thousands of rape, abortion and baby killing jokes you have to sit-through as an amateur.

The high-testosterone-charged environment also makes it tough as a lady, because you might have to deal with some not-so-well adjusted men behaving in such a way, speaking in such a way as to make things rather uncomfortable.  *CERTAINLY NOT ALL male comedians are like this. Most aren’t!  But the few who do tend to stand out and can make an environment rather uncomfortable for someone who just wants to get up and get some stage-time, not be propositioned, or judged according to looks, breast size, waist size, length of legs, length of skirt…you catch my drift. Hell, sometimes it only takes one creepster!

I guess what I’m trying to say in old fashiony terms is that these environments are sometimes (*insert old British man voice*) “No place for a young lady!”  But listen, we want to be there, so make room and stop fucking around, guys.  We’ve got shit to say too!

...and planes to fly!

The panelists touched on this a little when we discussed the success of Tina Fey and Melissa McMcCarthy.  Both very successful ladies owning the scene right now for their work on TV and film.  I won’t go into much detail about these women or the other famous and successful women the panelists identified as their “comedy idols” because everyone knows about how most of these people got to where they are as most of them have written, or are in the process of writing, bestselling autobiographies on the subject. So you can just read those, ok?

OK.

Another way to look at it, and one of the panelists did, is that there is often an unintentional exclusion among male and female comics because say, some men might not feel comfortable writing for women and vice versa.  Men want to talk about what they know: guy stuff and same with girls.  But there are a lot of girls out there who want to write both for men and women and basically cover the whole human condition.  It becomes difficult to navigate when these boundaries exist, especially when people aren’t aware they’re putting them up.

Sometimes women do it to each other too.  “Well, I cover the woman-quota for this troupe, so no more chicks allowed, k guys?” Girls are awesome at treating each other terribly out of whatever; competitiveness, jealousy, territoriality, you name it!  This is something I’ve studied in sociological setting, but women are often terrible to each other; worse to each other than they are with men, hands down.  It’s awful.  In a perfect world, we’d all work together and everything would be peachy, but as it stands: “Kim’s a total slut, and rumour has it she fucked Sally’s ex, so you probably don’t want to put her on tonight’s bill, do you? I’m manipulative!”

Your Art

There was a strong overall sentiment of “Do it yourself and for yourself” among the panelists, stating that in this business, women must “work twice as hard and complain half as much”

*JUST TO CLARIFY, RE: The amount of complaining in this blog… just ignore it guys, OK?   Can I get a job now?*

Here are a list of several tips to this regard I thought will be helpful for the budding lady comic:

  • Latch onto people who WANT to work;
  • Reach out to the community if you’re struggling.  Lots of the gals have gone through what you’re going through and will be glad to help lift your spirits and encourage you to get back to it (sometimes with the help of a couple delicious pints, while they’re at it.)
  • Comparison is the WORST kind of self-harm
  • Perform AS MUCH as you can (if you want to be a performer… if you want to be a writer, substitute PERFORM with WRITE, if you want to do both, don’t sleep.  Ever.)
  • Collaborate with like-minded people;
  • And don’t give up… because if you give up, the terrorists win.

Thanks to Sarah Hillier, Sharilyn Johnson, Catherine McCormick, Erin Rodgers and moderator Jocelyn Geddie for a truly inspirational evening. And to all the other wonderful and talented women I had the pleasure of meeting that evening.