This is an interview my improv team Houndstooth did for the NPR affiliate in Gainesville while we were down for the Gainesville Improv Festival. We got to listen to ourselves on the car radio only 2 hours after giving the interview. Technology! We had an amazing time while we were there and we can’t wait until next year.
Sometimes I get really nervous before/during shows. I want to impress the people in the audience. I want them to think I’m endearing and funny. I want them to love me so badly. It’s a lot like how one would want to impress a girl (or boy) to get them to like you. You want them to think you’re…
Fantastic advice from my good friend Derek.
A long time ago (May 12th, to be exact) my friend Steve Clark asked me a question about where to find places to play in Chicago. Well the fine folks over at the Upstairs Gallery have compiled such a list, which you can find here. Go see shows at the Upstairs Gallery and go do shows wherever you can.
Jeez, I should write in this thing more…
My iO class had its first show tonight. It was just a taste of the 7 week run we’ll have starting in September. It was really cool to get back in front of an audience on a proper stage and perform again. I made some good moves and I made some less-than-good moves, but I had fun throughout the entire night. The 70-ish students were split into 8 different groups, but many of us stayed for the whole 3+ hours to watch our friends in the other time slots. It was absolutely wonderful to have a room so full of love, so full of people celebrating each other.
Before my group went on (the last one of the night), I walked behind the stage and stood in the greenroom. On the walls and cabinets were posters for iO teams, both past and present. I saw the names and faces of people from my old college team (which has been going strong for 23 years) plastered throughout the room, many of whom had gone on to perform at iO. Some of them are on teams who have been performing for close to a decade, some are teachers or coaches, but all of them started out where I am now and they are all a huge inspiration to me.
I want very much to add my name to iO’s list of successful improvisers to have come from TSF. Who knows if that will happen, but I think my classmates will agree that with all the love and positivity we have for one another, it feels like anything is possible.
Yep. One year living in Chicago. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been out here that long. There were a lot of hard times over the last year. Times are still hard right now, but on a macro scale, I think I’m actually doing alright.
Things that happened:
- Slept on 3 different people’s couches in my first 3 months here
- Held two jobs at once for the first time
- Grew an awesome handlebar mustache that I eventually shaved off
- Got a library card and a Kindle and started reading books like mad again
- Went on food stamps for the first (and hopefully only) time
- Became an intern at iO
- Got used to non-Florida winters
- Started an independent improv team
- Successfully made a conscious effort to be nicer
- Met and watched famous people and soon-to-be-famous people perform
- Realized how much a girl meant to me…after it was too late (I legitimately might still be working my way through that one when I do next year’s recap)
So that was year one. I can’t help but feel good about year two. There’s a lot of opportunity to build on the successes of last year, and to learn from the mistakes of the last 23. Thanks for coming with me this far. I hope you’ll stick around a while longer. I promise it will be worth it.
I don’t know where to begin. This video includes lots of interesting tidbits including: Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky and George Wendt being directed by Del Close; a behind the scenes look at how Second City used to do their improv sets; Alan Arkin and Barbara Harris doing a sketch in the early ’60s; and Avery Schreiber doing a short form game with Del Close.
Getting to see Del before the iO years is wonderful.
I was selected to be an intern at iO and tonight was my first shift. I already know most of the interns, and most nights I’ll stand with them and talk before the shows start. So without realizing it, I’ve been subliminally learning how to do their job over the last six months. This, plus the fact that I’ve worked at six different restaurants, means interning at iO is a breeze. I work one night a week at the theater along with two other interns. It’s our job to take tickets, seat people, help the bartenders, and clean up the place after the shows. In exchange for this, I don’t have to pay for my classes and I get to register before everyone else. There’s also the added benefit of meeting a lot more people (students, bar & wait staff, house managers, performers, etc.)
After everybody’s seated and the performers are on stage, I just stand by the bar and watch the show. I’m basically just meeting people and picking up a few beer glasses in exchange for free improv classes from some of the best improv teachers in Chicago. When you factor all of that in, this is probably the most useful job I’ve ever had, and I’m not even being paid!
A few months ago, I asked Arnie Niekamp for advice about blogging more consistently. Over the years, he’s had several long term blogs (somewhere around five, probably more) and currently hosts two podcasts, so I figured he must know a thing or two. He told me to make it as easy on myself as possible. Get in the habit of just writing without worrying about length or how much of a “story” the entries present. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll be writing soon about what’s been going on since my last post and what I’m doing now. I’ve also got a story or two saved up, so I’ll be sure to regale you with those guys as well. I can’t wait to see what sorts of great things will happen in the coming year. Everything is so shiny and new!
These guys, again?!
Money’s tight for me.
Stagehand jobs have dried up over the last month so I’ve had to rely on income from the Gap alone. The problem is that I only get paid a quarter more than minimum wage while only clocking 25-30 hours a week. On top of that, I’m paying both federal AND state income taxes (something I never had to do in Florida) in addition to Chicago’s whopping 9.75% sales tax.
After doing some math, I discovered that I am making about $11,000 a year (half of which goes just toward rent). A podcast I was listening to recently, quoting a study done, said that to be happy, a household must make $75,000. That would certainly be nice, wouldn’t it? I could do quite a lot with that much money (roughly 7 times what I make now). I can easily imagine being happy indeed with that much money.
But honestly, I’m still happy with what I’ve got right now. The friendships I’m making at iO are worth far more to me than money and the life I have chosen for myself is already more gratifying than anything else I could possibly imagine.
Sure, money’s tight, but that’s only temporary. In the meantime, I’m looking for a better paying job and remembering that I was much worse off six months ago than I am now, and in another six months I’ll be saying the same thing.
As long as I get to keep singing Weezer songs with all my new improv buds, I’ll be happy.
For the past month or two, I was frightened that I might not like performing improv anymore. I wasn’t sure if I would be good at it, or if I would even enjoy it, or if I would ever be as good as seemingly everyone here is. It felt like improv was a dream I used to have, like a washed-up high school quarterback. But then I remembered that the “glory days” aren’t in the past, I’m living them right now.
I just had my first Level One class at iO today and I fell in love with improv all over again. It’s sort of like when you play “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and it gets kinda hard and complicated near the end, so you put it down for a while and then when you come back to it, you’ve forgotten which Skulltulas you’ve killed and how to navigate the Water Temple so you just start a new save file where the slate’s been cleared and the entire game is laid out in front of you. That’s what it feels like. My improv wallet can only hold 99 rupees and my new copy of “Truth in Comedy” keeps buzzing around my head telling me to “Listen!”.
University of Florida and Theatre Strike Force alumna Marla Caceres is my wonderful teacher for the next eight weeks and I am very excited to have her. The other nine students in the class are great, too, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better over time. I’ve also started going to shows again now because they’re free for students (and I have the bright pink ID to prove it).
I’m incredibly glad I started on this adventure and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me later in life. Until then, I’ll just keep “Z-Targeting” my dreams.