The Constant Struggle, Episode 3

If you’ve browsed elsewhere on this website apart from the front page, (or the article about the WWI brothel, which continues to get more hits than any other post,) you’ll know that my brother Nick and I have been working on a podcast over the past few weeks that deals with the ongoing struggles creative types face on their journey to accomplish their artistic goals.

This month’s episode is no exception as we delve further into overcoming rejection, navigating networking events and just getting it done!

Check it out:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/8rght-5622a1?from=wp

If you like it, and you’re interested in sharing your creative struggles with us on an upcoming episode, feel free to write to us at constantstrugglepod@gmail.com.


 

*** *Note: the books we referred to during this episode are:

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder

Elephant Bucks: An insider’s Guide to Writing TV Sitcoms, by Sheldon Bull

The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), by Chris Hardwick

…And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all

I recently finished working as a production coordinator on a TV show, the first TV show I’ve *really* worked for. (ie. gots paid)

One of the tasks to which I was assigned in my last job was to collect the scripts and segment descriptions from the Associate Producers on the show and send them to the hosts. The documents they would send are referred to as “greens” in newspeak. Three times a week I would send out an email to the APs asking if their greens were ready. Eventually, in an attempt to make this process more interesting for them, and for me, I started doing stuff like this:

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Right? That subject line makes you think!

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Getting creative with Google Translate.

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 It’s true. Don’t go to Chicago for the fish.

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Then I started to incorporate imagery to my silly emails.

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He’s not, for whatever that’s worth. He’s just the only one with “green” in his name that I could think of…

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I sometimes made them relevant to the people I was working with… (we did fashion segments)

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I incorporated some of my own taste…

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 Briefly turned into a greeting card company.

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…Got political. (Not shown, the email where I just directed all the APs to the Green Party of Canada’s website, I must have deleted that one. Or CSIS had it removed from my PC.)

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…Got Kermi-ed.

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…Got sporty.

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…Used idioms to describe my feels.

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Got market branding involved.

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…and finally sent them all off with an epic psych-out.

I feel like a few are missing, (I most definitely deleted the one where I sent a picture of a nice, healthy crop of marijuana.)

The point of sending them wasn’t to make a blog post out of them all. That was never the intention. But because it brought me joy to take a second out of my day to think of some silly way to make my co-workers day a little bit funnier, or happier, or at least to distract them for a millisecond, I thought I’d share them with you. I was, after all, pretty lucky to get to work there.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Tomorrow)

The Actual Year in Review & Optimism

We find ourselves at the beginning of another New Year, and like many bloggers, this is as good an opportunity as ever to think back over the past year and try to find some meaning in everything before moving on to the next.

Here goes:

1)  I turned 30.

2)  My best little friend and partner Peanut (my kitty cat) died.

3)  I got let go from work.

Am I ready for a new year?  Yes please.

Ok. So maybe I’m oversimplifying things by focusing on some pretty negative and shitty experiences. Like, maybe turning 30 isn’t so bad. And losing a pet is awful, but we know they don’t live forever when we bring them into our homes at the get-go. And when they’re super sick, sometimes it’s best to know they’re no longer in pain.

And as far as the job goes, I wasn’t a huge fan of the position quite honestly, and really welcomed the change. Also, because I’m a unionized employee, I was found another position within the corporation and have been totally loving the new challenges, coworkers and environment.

One year ago, I moved into an apartment in Bloorcourt; the heart of Toronto’s indie comedy action. I thought it would be the best place to live/be. As it turns out, my apartment overlooked the neighbour’s balcony and they could see directly into my tiny bedroom/kitchen, their cigarette smoke and blathering idiocy seeped in through my window, which was often left open given the ridiculous lack of temperature control in the building. I moved in 2014, again. Up the road, and this time, with my partner of 4 years, Dan. It’s already nice to have food in the fridge, cable TV, and someone to hug when I get home from late-night comedy shows who isn’t a cardboard cutout of Seth Rogen hanging behind my front door purposed to frighten off potential intruders.

I gave birth to a few babies this year: 50 Shades of 50, The Benoits, Exit, Pursued by a Bear and my fondest little project, Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? Each of these groups/shows have brought joy, fun and a stage to play throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful to all those involved, you know who you are. And if you don’t think I’m talking about you specifically, I am, so don’t worry. You’re amazing. I also adopted Improv Game Show, who continues to grow every single week; and I am as proud as an adopted parent could be of its’ potential.

Non-metaphorically, I welcomed a new brother into my family this past summer, as he and my sister threw the best damn wedding I’ve ever attended. And I’ve been to a few weddings in my short years on this earth, folks. This was hands down, the best. It brought my whole family closer together and it was such a gosh-darned delight to see my now 94 year-old grand-maman stand-up at her walker to boogie down to a few tunes.

I got to work with my brother and my boyfriend on a comedy project; a TV pilot about my hometown. Though nothing came out of the competition part of it, we still plan on creating something together out of the concept and working on other projects as well. We might totally be the next Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but like, Canadian, …and funny.

I was hired by my dream employer last year to teach improv workshops for students both in English and en français; and every chance I get to share a teensy bit of what improv has done for me to other people is like a tiny little miracle.

I went to New York City to learn more about writing humour. I read both Keith Johnstone’s and Rob Norman’s book to learn more about improv. I read Mindy Kaling, Martin Short and Andrea Martin’s books for inspiration and am now onto Amy Poehler’s. I listen to podcasts about comedy and improv and society and life and I am more motivated than ever.

2014 was a good year. Tt felt like momentum was beginning to pick up. My hope is to keep up the pace and trudge on forward. It’s an interesting thing, finding what you love and working towards doing it as often as possible and trying to make a life out of it. It’s not easy all the time, but it sure is something.

Even though I still miss Peanut like fucking crazy.

Happy New Year my darlings. To an amazing year ahead!

Elementary, my dears

Well now, my trip on the Bipolar Express has finally come to an end and with it comes the end of my experience with the Conservatory and the beginning of a deep, dark valley of despair and the unknown.

Wow, that got dark quick.

I am, actually, a bit down about being finished with the Conservatory.  In the same way I was sortof down when I was finished Humber.  Because now I don’t have any pre-determined path to follow on a regular basis to achieve a certain goal, or conclusion.  It’s like I’m back at the beginning again.

Chris Martin gets it.

If you’re reading this, maybe you can comment on some tips and tricks you give yourself to stay motivated and to keep creative?  I know, in the Winter months especially, it can be particularly difficult to come home from your day job and feel like working on creative endeavours.  Most of the time lately, I’ve just felt like curling up in my blanket and watching a Sherlock marathon.  (How has it taken me this long to watch that show, seriously?)

On the plus side, I have gone out and done a couple stand-up sets now, so that’s starting up again.  I participated in a show this weekend, an open-mic strictly for ladies at Free Times Café (try their brisket poutine, you’ll plotz.)  Put on by none other than than the fabulous Chicka Boom hosts; Jess Beaulieu & Laura Bailey, the night proved performer after performer of solid, fierce material in one of the most supportive evenings I’ve seen.  Maybe you see a trend here? Catherine McCormick runs an LGBTQ/Women only room = super supportive.  Chicka Booms runs a ladies-only room = super supportive.  All other rooms = hurry the fuck up and finish what you’re saying so I can get on and do my 5 minutes because they’re better than yours, and I’m more important than you, AAAAAAAH ANGER, HATRED AND RAGE!!!

Ok, not true.  Not all other rooms, but these ones do tend to be incredibly supportive and positive.  Not the material; the material ranged from dark and tragic, to adorable cat-related tales and all throughout, making a few dirrrrty stops at one-night standsville and period-town along the way.  From relatable to extraordinary, it was just a damn good night of comic entertainment and I’m glad I spent the evening there instead of streaming the Grammys.

***

On a different note, I got my first call-back EVER the other day.  So clearly my commercial acting career is taking off at incredibly fast speeds!  (SOC auditions are the BEST, amirite?)

Other than that, I intend to  keep plugging away.  I wish we could open this up as a discussion for other comics/performers making their way in the biz, so please share the posts & your own experiences.  Let’s get the conversation going!

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to watch my distant relative keep Cumberbatch in line.   I mean, I’m off to clean the dishes, Mom. 

Post-Sickness Plea

Two days sick in bed and I’m going CRAZY up in here.  (In here, referring to my brain.)  Somebody get me a job related to comedy, or media, or SOMETHING that has SOME element of creativity to it!  I can’t keep driving to Richmond Hill every day to do shipping & receiving and human resources. It’s driving me berserk! 

HELP. ME. PLEASE!

I’m losing it.

Smart

For anyone who’s ever been like: “Brie’s a smarty”…

I give you… Tuesday:

I missed work today because I have pink eye, which I probably got from choking on a piece of fudge the other day in my boss’ car.  It “went down the wrong” tube, as they saying goes, and I coughed and sniffled to regain composure.  Afterwards, I felt I may have put some strain on my sinuses, and yes, maybe even my eye. It’s all connected up there, anyway.

I ignored it at first, and realized when I got to my improv class that evening that the problem wasn’t going away.  I attributed the redness to the fact that I was wearing a sheddy sweater all day or that I’d been decorating my office (both true) and that I must have got something in my eye. It was my last improv class for this term, and I’d already agreed to celebrate with my classmates at the local watering hole.

They said: “Go wash your eye out and let’s go!”

I obliged.   And still I thought nothing of it.

The next morning at 4am, I woke up and my eye was swollen and leaking puss. I realized then the problem might be a bit more severe than initially assessed.  Yet, I didn’t think it worthy of skipping work.

Eventually, I’d had enough of my colleagues asking me what was wrong with my eye and telling me that I should go see a doctor and looking at me like I was a wounded puppy.

I went to the local walk-in clinic, right as they were off for lunch and got shoo’d away by one of the workers there.  Literally, shoo’d.  By someone.  Who works in a medical clinic.  A human being.

Disheartened, and itchy and eye-rubby as all hell, I returned to the office and decided I couldn’t stay anymore.  I drove home.  Traffic on the DVP has never been better. I was able to get an appointment with my actual doctor/nurse practitioner, who diagnosed me with pink eye.

Then she gave me flu shot.  I’ve already had the flu this year.

Afterwards, I lay on the cold hard floor of the community health centre bathroom to avoid passing out, given my irrational fear of needles.  Immediately after that,  a nutritionist informed me how to eat breakfast and lunch.

So, smart?

It’s funny how good some girls are at faking it.

It’s not funny how much I love maple fudge.

Arcade Fire Likes to Laugh

I think I forgot to mention the total crazy excitement that happened last Sunday at work.  The Arcade freakin’ Fire (Win & Rejine anyway) came to see a show at the Second City.

I didn’t get to take a photo of/with them or anything because, I’m a total profesh at my job.  Obvi.

But the cast got one, so I’m gonna steal it and live vicariously through it.

No big deal, but I brought them to their seats and told Win to use the ladies washroom by accident.

Yup.

 

OctUpdate!

Holy Crap.  I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since the Moneyball review.  I have been BUSY, ladies and gentlemen!  Time feels like it keeps speeding up.  I’ve been completing assignments the day before they’re due, staying up past midnight, despite having to work super-early in the morning at the Career Centre.

 

It seems in each class, we’re working on major projects.  There isn’t really one in which we’re working less hard than the other. It’s crazy!  The workload is by vastly greater than last year, but folks, I am loving it.

I’m working on a chauvinist male “bro” character called Brian for my Acting class.  It’s both liberating and challenging to portray the type of male I absolutely despise.

I’ve written and submitted the first draft of a 10-minute play (more dramatic than comedic) play about a soldier of the First World War who visits a French brothel.   Apparently, I’m feeling very nostalgic about my time spent in France.  Like it or not, talking about hundreds of thousands of dead guys for 5 months straight two years in a row really gets into your head.

We’ve completed our clown pieces in physical comedy and are now moving onto different techniques.

In sketch writing,  we’ve been working on two major projects: a parody of a TV show (I chose Star Trek, obvi) and a monologue script based on a person we know upon which we’ll be building characters.

In stand-up, Larry’s teaching us what it would be like to work in a writing room, working on a late-nite host’s monologue.  The humour is very topical, news-related, so it’s been helping us with the LaughDraft news as well (which we will be filming this week after a long hiatus!)

Finally, we’re working on writing a sit-com.  I won’t reveal too much about that at the moment, in case anyone reading this blog decides to steal my class’ ideas and prevent us from ever working on this project in the ‘real world.’

And then there’s all the ‘outside school’ stuff… and work…

Life is crazy!!!

…Just the way I like it.


Pre-Hosting Jitters

I was feeling fine all day at work. I even Yelped a nice coffee shop to finish up some writing in preparation for my hosting gig at Sirens tonight. But as soon as I realized I forgot my notebook at work and, even though I think I remember everything I had written in it today, I’m right back to being a nervous wreck, trying hard not to poop my pants on this nice white coffee house bench.