My Husband Loved Me into Skinniness

Okay, listen. I need to know. Why did you click on this article?

Was it because you were already subscribed to this blog and a notification popped up and you knew that, despite the title, the content would probably be something unrelated? Was it because you saw the satirical title, knew me, and figured it was probably some sort of a joke and needed to know what on earth I was talking about?

Or was it because you wanted to genuinely know how my husband “loved me into skinniness” like it was some sort of diet fad or strange controlling relationship where I don’t even realize I’m being manipulated into becoming his perfect woman while losing myself in the process?

What was it? Was it the click-baity title? Because that title is a joke. And I’m worried about you if you clicked on this thinking it wasn’t.

Well, sure, it’s somewhat inspired by true events. But as inspired by true events as like the movie Titanic. The Titanic really sank (I’ve genuinely lost weight) and people were on board (my husband does love me). Otherwise, most of the in between is make believe.

Fine. Let’s get into it. Why even write a title like that?

I found a video of myself on my old archives (when I was actually looking up stuff for my old show Femoir which is now the name of my ongoing podcast – check it out!). The video was an early performance of my touring show and one of the first times I ever visited Los Angeles. I was living in Chicago at the time but came out for a festival being performed at a now defunct comedy theater right on Hollywood Boulevard. I was so excited to be out amongst the showbiz hubbub. At the time, I figured I’d probably move to LA but I didn’t know when and wasn’t in a hurry. I enjoyed the show, had decent audiences, and got to tell people I performed in the heart of Hollywood. And I saw some celebs come in and out of the theater, so all in all a very exciting event.

All this was long before husband. It was when I was either dating someone forgettable (they all were) or when I was single and being rather forgettable (I often was boringly focused on my work).

I saw this video and started laughing because, boy, I had a few extra pounds on me if I do say so myself.

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 7.39.49 AM.png

I wasn’t laughing because there’s anything wrong with carrying some extra weight. Nor was I laughing at myself because I looked weird or was shaming former me. I was laughing because, until that moment, I had honestly never seen it on myself.

See, I always had the gift (curse?) of plenty of confidence. I loved athletics and my body is and has always been pretty strong. Though I’ve gone through phases of being more toned than others, putting on some extra weight never really bugged me. I guess you could say I knew how to work it. And I still felt plenty beautiful. (And still snagged hot dudes because I was (and am) funny AF.) Or maybe, at least, I was so focused on being funny I really didn’t care too much what I looked like.

Seeing that video made me realize for the first time why people were, as of a couple years ago, starting to say “You look great” or somehow imply I had lost weight. I didn’t really get it. I knew that I had begun running more and (and this is the big one) become absolutely obsessed with yoga. Eventually, I did notice that my clothes fit different. I had a bit more confidence about how I looked in some slinkier outfits. But honestly? Overall? I felt about the same despite getting markedly more in shape (thank you again, hot yoga).

So what does my husband have to do with any of this? Welp, he started dating me when I had slightly more weight in inconvenient Santa Claus style places (as you can see in the picture). Maybe not as much as what this picture shows (this was Chicago weight – the result of 9 month winters and a genuine love of beer). But I wasn’t good at taking care of myself generally. I’d workout enough – I have always really loved/needed physical activity. But I never pushed myself to hard out of my comfort zone. And, more than anything, I ate garbage.

Nutrition always had to come at the expense of my genuine love for acting and comedy. I felt like I had to choose. I could eat rice and beans and butter to feel satiated in order to have enough money to pay for classes and shows and all the stuff that goes along with it. OR I could eat somewhat healthy. But even healthy eating meant time I didn’t want to spend meal prepping when I could be writing or creating. I was obsessed and simply using coffee, sugar, and chocolate to push through the plateaus of adrenal exhaustion.

Enter: Hubs. He’s provided a lot of wonderful things in my life. But, for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the fact that he’s a great cook and an extremely healthy eater. From the time I started dating him, I started getting much healthier food in my life more regularly. He makes this salad – a SALAD of all things – that’s incredibly filling and delicious (and healthy).

Before dating him, I honestly thought of anything green as a pointless filler. They were the useless stuff on hamburgers that restaurants were obligated to put there so it looked prettier. You needed to take them off so you could just enjoy the burger and the buns. Now, thanks to what I’ve seen in terms of my physical health and energy levels, I try and figure out ways to insert something green in every meal like a freaking weirdo health monster.

When he transitioned from boyfriend to husband, the benefits have only skyrocketed. We now take time to meal prep. We both are committed to eating healthy and sticking to a budget when doing so (so I can’t go splurging on my sweet tooth anytime it tickles my fancy because we’ve got goals bigger than that chocolate bar now). And, because he’s a good cook, he gets on my case if all I’ve eaten is rice and beans. He’s shown me ways of eating economically but still balanced and way better overall for my body.

Over the past several years, my body hasn’t slimmed down crazily, but it has toned up significantly. And a huge part of that is largely because I live with a healthy, happy guy who has helped me become as healthy and happy. He treats food like fuel not like something you shove in your mouth so your body stops yelling at you so you can move on. I’ve found balance and actually enjoy spending time cooking with him (not to mention enjoy having healthy foods readily available because it makes my body so happy).

He didn’t force me into being skinny so he could love me more. He just loved himself enough to take care of his body and understand what it needs. I saw that and took it on. And he supported me because that’s what good partners do. And, I gotta tell you, it feels great. I highly encourage all of you to find love in a hungry place.

I feel good and I look good. And that’s largely thanks to my husband. And, of course, my beloved hot yoga.

 

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Why I Love Online Dating

Because the title of this article is so self-explanatory, let me start with a little disclaimer. I’m biased when it comes to online dating. I have a personality that suits online dating well. I love meeting people and am extremely open to new people and am anal-retentively organized which allows me to make time for whatever I find to be important. So when I decide that I want to meet people and date, I actually make the time to do so and meet a lot more people than the average person and find time for more dates.

Secondary disclaimer: I am currently dating and am all kinds of crazy about a guy I met online. So this article will inherently be influenced by that. But to be fair, I’ve gone on dates with and even dated other men I met online who didn’t make me swoon like current boo. So I’m not totally biased.

online-dating2-1h3togtBut I want to write about my experience only because I feel like people can look so snootily down upon online dating. They act like by meeting people through the internet, you’re somehow taking away from some sort of human experience and toying with the “fates” or something cooky like that.

I disagree. Big time.

I had a great time when I was online dating. I treated it like a game. It was fun and easy. I didn’t take it all that seriously. I didn’t get highly invested in any guy I never met in person. It didn’t matter how much we chatted, I’m a firm believer in meeting in person. If that in-person meeting was too hard, screw it. I’ll go back to the numbers game and meet other people that could be easier to meet. I met lots of people who were fun and interesting who I would never engage in a romantic relationship with, but had a great time getting to know. I made friends and went on crappy dates that I could laugh about later. I went on mediocre dates that I could reflect on and figure out why I had the experience I did. I learned what I wanted and what I’m looking for. And I had a great time just having a fun game-like distraction of chatting with people I wouldn’t otherwise meet in what I considered to be a large online bar.

Maybe it’s because I deal with so much rejection in my own career that I’ve developed really thick skin. Maybe it’s because I just never got that invested in someone I never met so I never let them have any control over my mood. Maybe it’s because I have a friendly and open personality that likes to flirt. Whatever the reason, it suited me to at least try out dating people I met online. I could find time for a coffee. Who knows what will come of it. One coffee I got lead to a really interesting conversation from a guy who was in charge of a huge movie producer’s estate and going through all these incredible artifacts of this man’s life from a 3rd party perspective. A year later, another coffee down the street lead to me meeting a man who I would fall totally in love with in no time.

You never know where this stuff will lead. People take it very seriously. They think there are some sort of rules. I think that’s silly. We’re changing the nature of how we interact. We’re changing the nature of how we communicate. We’re changing the nature of how we interpret and express ourselves in the world. Why wouldn’t, then, we change the nature of how we initiate and experience our romantic relationships?

By getting on a dating website, you’re putting yourself out there. That can be scary if you let it. But you could just treat it like another game. It’s a variation on Angry Birds. Have fun with it. Let loose and be open to whatever it could bring. And if you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to do it. I have a very close friend who I adore who finds herself not feeling good when she’s playing with dating apps. For whatever reason, they don’t suit her. She’s seen how much I like them so she’s tried. But it just isn’t her speed. So I told her to stop! Do whatever makes you happy. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

When I was dating, it was fun for me to go online. I treated it like window shopping. And I like to shop. I like to check out my options and just know there’s something out there. I’m lucky enough to have met someone who suits my needs and makes me have no desire to “shop” online. I’m a satisfied lady on all levels. We have a ton in common and are highly compatible but likely would have never met in “real life.” So we connected online. Then we met in real life. And connected in real life. And now have created a real life romance that enhances all aspects of the other very real elements in both of our lives.

And I have a so-called “dumb” dating website to thank for one of the best things that I’ve got going for me. Take that, internet.

So pooh on you if you’re philosophically opposed to online dating without ever even trying it. If you try and you don’t like, you don’t have to commit to it. Just like a person you met online. So what have you got to lose? Try it already! You just never know!

Also, don’t be an idiot. Always meet strangers in public places and keep friends up to date on your whereabouts until you’re sure they’re not a terrifying serial killer. I went on a lot of dates and only met one certified creeper, so… may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

It’s coming!

OCL_Chalk_Collegiate_Pictures_v2_16x9_DateThe official premiere of The Other Client List is coming so soon! There’s still so much to do for it and so much to get prepared! And for some reason, the rest of my work and creative responsibilities haven’t stopped! So there’s lots to do! And somehow still the same amount of time there normally is in a day to do it! Is this making me go crazy? I don’t know! You tell me! I can’t seem to write sentences that talk about anything of substance! I have lots of blogs waiting to be written but aren’t getting written because I keep adding to never-ending to do lists! I am also only writing in short sentences that end in exclamation points! Here is the link to the Facebook event for our premiere! https://www.facebook.com/events/649995511777370/ ! Goodbye now!

Femoir: The Podcast – Partners! Show Notes

GoT-6I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately… so forgive the very specific partnership picture. I talk about being a lone wolf, but if you watch the show there’s a wolf in this picture so I’m counting it (nerdy laughter!).

Anyway! The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is live in iTunes. And it’s talking about PARTNERSHIPS!

I talk about how I’m going to vary my intro like the Simpsons, then I dive into being “particular about my company,” and talk about a famous song from Chicago about partnership. I discuss my solo show and my stand up comedy, make a reference to a delightful Chris Tucker moment, talk about how I write about partnership often, discuss Stage 32, The Other Client List (my web series), talk about Closure, and how not all partnerships can work out.

And I also discuss my upcoming Western.

So much discussed! Take a listen and subscribe for free if it please ya!

And now back to Game of Thrones for me…

Femoir: The Podcast – COMPARISON – Show Notes

It’s another Femoir: The Podcast, friends and here are the show notes for all the things that are chatted about during this episode.

It’s a lot this time, so strap in… here we gocompare!

I mention 123 and me. I meant 23andme. Silly mistake!

I also talk about The Chicago Comedy scene, Wikipedia, and my previous podcast called “GUT.”

Then I mention what my favorite Zen Good/Bad story, Mindy Kaling, a great article by “Thought Catalog” called This is how we date now, my soul buddy Renee.

Then I invent Nude Feeds… naughty! And I make W sounds like “Cool Whip.

Subscribe for free on iTunes. Episodes out every other Tuesday!

Mirror Love

baby mirrorI play a little trick on myself.

It’s not an easy trick. And it’s not a mean trick. But it’s still a trick.

When I catch myself finding flaws and critiquing myself in the mirror, I stop and start giving myself compliments. Repeatedly. Out loud. Until I feel better. Then I walk away feeling a lot better about myself than if I had kept finding all the flaws.

I started doing this not long ago when I found myself engaging in some bad habits as a result of my own perfectionism and nit-picky-ness attacking my appearance. I’ve always been lucky in that I can keep a pretty balanced head about things. When I do go deep into that rabbit hole, I’ve got some fantastic support systems who get me out quickly.

But it’s still not easy to make this choice. It’s not easy to be proactive about my positivity. It’s not easy to stop critiquing and start talking to myself like a best friend. And to forgive myself for my flaws.

That sh*t ain’t easy.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth looking like a doofus to the imaginary friends who are watching me talk to myself alone in my apartment. It’s worth feeling really cheesy as I repeat affirmations to myself in a mirror like a comedy sketch making fun of self-help gurus. It’s worth it sharing that I do this with you even though now you all know that I am as weird as you imagine I am.

Because down the other path lies madness. The other path doesn’t serve me. The other path doesn’t make me happy. But I can’t just ignore the impulse. I have to replace it with something positive. I can’t just tell myself “Don’t look at yourself in the mirror because you’re always hyper-critical.” I have to tell myself, “If you’re gonna look in the mirror, we’re gonna be loving about it. And that’s that.”

And… I’ll be honest with you all… it really does make a difference. I feel a whole lot happier and healthier after every one of my mirror lovin’ sessions. Which is nice since they could have gone the other way and made me feel a whole lot crummier.

Try it. Let me know how it goes. If you want a jumping off point of the how-to’s of this process, please refer to the following classic video:

Attitude Adjustment

attitudeI had to check myself before I wrecked myself the other day.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year and I went to the gym in late morning. And, to no surprise, it was packed.

And, unfortunately also no surprise, I immediately became a brat about it.

As I walked in and looked at the crowds of people on the machines and on the equipment, I got testy. I kept thinking somehow they were in my way. I felt so self-righteous that this gym was my gym. And that they were in my way. And how dare they even consider slightly inconveniencing me.

In short, I was a little biatch about it.

But halfway through my workout (when the endorphins started kicking in and I was calmer than before), I realized I was the one with the problem. Here are a bunch of people who, sure, don’t really know what they’re doing yet at the gym. But you’ve got to start somewhere. They were not at all getting in my way. It’s not like I go there with a really clear training plan of certain exercises I have to hit and certain goals that have to be attained. Usually I go with a body group that I’m going to focus on for the day. And then I look around and see what’s available.

These people weren’t my enemies. They were my new friends.

Sure, many of them may not stick around past February. But some of them will. Some of these people will have made it their New Years Resolution to get in shape and go to the gym all the time, and this will be the very exciting start of that journey for them. These are more people I now have something in common with. New people with whom I can talk working out with. New people who can complain about the lazy people who don’t return their free weights with.

It’s so easy to think you’re entitled to something. So much of our world today makes you believe you are entitled to whatever you want in the exact circumstances you want it and exactly when you want it. IWWIWWIWI, I believe is what it’s called (I Want What I Want When I Want It). I wanted to have the gym completely quiet and to myself. I wanted to be able to choose any time and go without any convenience to me. I wanted to have access to all the equipment I could possibly want for my workout at any given time even if I wasn’t using it or didn’t end up needing it.

Entitlement is gross.

I’m not proud of my attitude that day. But I am glad to be reminded that it’s so easy to fall back into a negative mindset. It’s easy to forget that other people are not your enemy. I live in Los Angeles…like millions of other people. If I start getting frustrated at crowds or traffic or whatever, I’ll never be satisfied in this city. Or any city. In fact, if I start wanting everything in my environment to be exactly how I want it without any distractions, I might as well move to a tiny hermit shack in Montana and hide from the world.

I’m not proud to say that I’ve considered this at times.

Then I remember, I love people. I love LA. I love being out of my comfort zone and having shared experiences and the excitement of a crowd. The only reason there’s even a gym close to me is because there are lots of other people who are members. I don’t keep it alive on my tiny membership fee alone. If there weren’t lots of people who belonged, I’d have to go somewhere else.

We need each other.

So I have to wait an extra few minutes for the leg press machine in January because some girl is doing 20 sets of 10 lbs. Whatever. No big deal. She’s gotta start somewhere. And I’m not going anywhere. So I’ll wait.

And I’ll be sure to check myself before I wreck myself.

10 Reasons Your Comedian Friend Does Not Want to Perform For You Right Now

dancing monkeyI’m not mad at you. I don’t blame you. I get it.

You’ve got a comedian friend. You poor thing. You put up with their constant invites to shows in shady neighborhoods at ungodly hours for normal people so you can watch them do the same jokes they’ve been saying for months. You patiently let them go on emotional rampages because they clearly need to practice a new bit on someone and want to test it on you without explicitly asking.  You listen to them complain about how they’re broke while paying for an over-priced drink at a comedy club. You diligently “like” their Facebook statuses and follow them on Twitter to stroke their gentle egos. You allow them to ramble on for hours about the minute details of an interaction that they are obviously exaggerating in their own over-active imagination. You tell them they were hilarious and the audience was terrible after they clearly bomb onstage.

On behalf of all comedians everywhere, I thank you for your service.

But also on behalf of all comedians everywhere… please stop asking us to perform for you and your friends at any given situation. Here are just 10 of the thousands of reasons why that is a ridiculous and unfair request.

1. We are not at a comedy club

There is a bit of magic that goes into creating a successful comedy experience. The temperature has to be right (a little cold so you’re awake but not so cold it’s distracting). The ambiance has to be right (a little dark so you don’t feel self-conscious and plenty of booze to go around). The seating has to be right (close to each other- it’s proven to make people laugh more). The sound, stage, hecklers, smell, noises outside- you name it- they all have to be in a perfect (often impossible) synergy with each other so the comedian is the only thing everyone is focusing on. Of course these are never always correct and comedy is often done in a loud back corner without a microphone at 4 pm to a sober lunchtime crowd of hecklers… but at least the comedian usually knows what they’re getting into.

Your dinner party is not the time or place for a stand up routine. It will feel forced. And like I’m trying really hard. And I will be trying hard. Because I will feel on the spot. And I will desperately want you to like my material because you’re all my friends or friends of friends who have been supporting my career. And since nothing else in this environment will be working in my favor… I will likely get little more than chuckles with jokes that get big laughs in the right environment. And everyone will think it’s “adorable that I tried.” And  I will be resentful and drink the rest of the available alcohol. And someone will have to drive me home or pay for my uber because we all know I can’t afford it.

Good comedians are excellent at making jokes they’ve been carefully practicing and crafting for months (and years) seem off-the-cuff and natural. It is a skill. But what they are doing is not off the cuff or natural. It is practiced. Just like a duck seeming to glide above water with their feet going crazy below the surface, there is a lot going into a successful comedy show. And none of those factors are likely present at your party.

So please don’t put us all through all that. Please.

2. You all are not a comedy audience

Crowds that gather at comedy clubs are mentally prepared to laugh at stand up comedians telling jokes. What actually happens during the set largely varies. But at least we’re all in agreement about who goes where and who’s supposed to do what.

In a dinner party setting, the roles are not specified and people’s intentions are not so laser-focused. So it’s gonna feel weird for everyone. And, again, does nothing but set the comedian up for failure.

Please. No.

3. It will be awkward for everyone

In case the first two points didn’t make it clear enough, asking your comedian friend to suddenly perform stand up at a party will feel very awkward for everyone involved. Where the comedian stands will be weird. How much people will feel obligated to listen and how many people will actually be listening will be weird. It will be awkward starting and delving into the routine. It will be awkward ending it. Even if you get laughs, it will be awkward reading them like a comedian normally can with an audience. It will be awkward for whoever suggested it if the comedian does poorly (which, as I’ve said before, is likely).

Everything about this will be uncomfortable for everyone involved. Even if the comedian does alright and gets some laughs, it will be awkward trying to get back to the party like it was before.

Comedians often feel awkward interacting normally anyway.

Please don’t add this level of awkwardness to our day. Please.

4. I will feel judged

Doing stand up comedy already requires very thick skin. In a non-comedy-club (or something like it) setting, it will feel even more vulnerable. I’ll want to impress you more because I like you. Or at least probably like someone who likes you because we’re at the same party. And so the stakes are going to be higher for both of us for me to be funny. So I’ll feel judged and inhibited and nervous and it will all go to hell.

Please don’t make me do this. Please.

5. I will hate myself whether or not you laugh

Asking me to perform in this scenario is a lose/lose situation for me. As I’ve already mentioned, I VERY LIKELY will have a hard time getting the hearty guffaws you want and expect from the best comedic performances. But even if by some miracle I get some laughter, I will be disappointed in myself. Performance aside, I will have just spent the past few minutes making this party all about me. And, despite what perhaps the career choice would leave you to believe, not all us comedians are egomaniacs. When you say “dance, money, dance!” we want to please you and so we want to dance. But we will feel like dancing monkeys. And that’s no fun at all.

I love comedy and I come alive when performing. But I cherish the moments when I don’t have to be “on.” I love when I don’t feel the need to entertain. I can just relax and take in all the world has to offer. I can be a normal person at a party hanging out and taking in the sights and sounds. I can have conversations where I am present and listening intensely without any sort of agenda. I can just be me the person, not me the entertainer.

So when the party is transformed to center around me (assuming it’s not a birthday party or something that was already centered around me), I will feel like a real doofus for stealing the limelight. It’s not my time to be “on.” It’s my time to just enjoy and listen to the hilarity of people who have no desire to be onstage despite their fantastic senses of humor. It’s my time to be part of the crowd and just enjoy going with the flow.

Please don’t take away my “us” time and ask me to turn it into “me” time. I’ll feel like I’ve disappointed you if I don’t or if I’m not funny, and I’ll hate myself if I do. I cannot win. Please don’t make me play.

6. I cannot transform into my stand up persona because you all have spent the past couple hours getting to know a different person

This happened to me not long ago. I was at a party with my then significant other’s friends and family. I was quiet. I didn’t speak much. Not because I was uncomfortable, but because I was enjoying the other people’s conversations. I talked to him sometimes, talked about myself a little, but mostly enjoyed listening and not having to create any sort of entertainment.

As we left, my guy mentioned we were leaving because we had to get to my stand up show. People were suddenly really interested. They either hadn’t known I was a performer or didn’t actually believe I was actively performing or WHATEVER. The point is, they asked me to do some of my set for them right then and there.

Now remember the first part of this story. I spent the whole night in quiet-mode. I actually enjoy being quiet sometimes. I wasn’t “on.” I was very much “off.” I was even being borderline “shy” because I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt anyone.

So I was supposed to immediately snap into my confident, chatty, extroverted, loud-mouthed, highly-physical, high-energy stand up persona and start spouting out jokes right then and there. Aside from all the reasons I just listed above for why this would be a disaster, I especially didn’t want to do this because I wasn’t in the zone. I wasn’t anywhere near the zone. I wasn’t in the headspace. I was in quiet-mode. The performer wasn’t available at the moment. She was taking a nap upstairs to prepare for the later show. And any attempt to suddenly jump into that persona would have felt really forced and I would have had to push myself big time and the change-up would have not only been confusing for everyone, but would have been disastrous (for any reason listed here). She was napping. If I wake her up suddenly, she’ll be all groggy and not make any sense and be confusing and disappointing to everyone.

Please don’t ask the magician to perform tricks when he doesn’t have his special deck of cards available. It won’t be as cool and it’ll make everyone think he’s not as impressive as he actually may be.

In this case, I smiled and kindly declined. Several times. Luckily, I could turn on the charm easily and get out of it without any hurt feelings. In fact, they all began telling each other jokes. Which leads me to…

7. This will lead to utter chaos

Let’s pretend we’re in a fantasy scenario where this went well. Your comedian friend obliged and charismatically did a well-received 5 minute set and found a gracious way to end it.

Wow. Congrats. Mark this day for thou hast seen a miracle.

Now, everyone is going to want to tell their jokes. It happens whether or not the set actually even occurs. The second someone brings up jokes- especially if people have been drinking for a bit- everybody’s gonna wanna try on their old comedy sea legs and tell jokes. And it will turn into chaos. I could go on about the ridiculousness that will likely ensue, but I’ll just leave it to your imagination. You know yourself. And you know your friends. And you know what you all get like when you’re drunk.

8. Nobody will talk to me about anything other than comedy for the rest of the night

As I’ve mentioned before, I cherish my “off” time. I spend so much time thinking, writing, and investing in good comedy performances, I love when I can just relax for an evening. If it comes up that I do comedy- and especially if I do some sort of “performance” everyone is just going to want to talk to me about comedy for the rest of the night. But I don’t want to. I talk comedy all the time. I have comedian friends that I live and breathe comedy with. I analyze it. Spend my free time watching and writing it when I’m not performing it. When I am not in the comedy world, I’d rather not talk about the comedy world. I’d rather talk about the bajillion other things that exist on this planet and I am completely ignorant to.

Please don’t make me have to listen to your joke ideas that I could include in my next set/sketch/improv/screenplay. I’d rather hear about things you’re passionate about and your world and your life and your experiences. That’s MUCH more interesting to me that what you think will make a funny joke. Let’s please keep the conversation about you. Please.

9. You’re not paying me

Bottom line here is, performers should be paid for our work. Sure, it seems like it comes so “naturally,” but good performances are a result of hours and hours of investment of time, energy, and money. Yet it is so undervalued that actors are the only profession that have to have the label “working” in front of it to give it any validity. To ask me to suddenly perform for you without any expectation of compensation is like walking up to a surgeon and being like, “You know how to medicine. I have this tumor. Get rid of it for me.” That sounds absolutely ridiculous because it hasn’t been diagnosed, we’re not in a surgical room, he doesn’t have his tools, and there is no discussion of compensation for the valuable work.

I know comedians aren’t doctors (I’ve dated enough and split the bill to know that…), but what we offer is valuable too. And you’re inherently devaluing it when you ask me to give my services for free. Of course I love laughter and of course I relish in it, but it doesn’t keep my rent paid.

I am daily working toward having my creative work monetarily valued, even if it’s just a little. I, too, am providing a service and spending hours (and thousands) crafting it to perfection. Why shouldn’t I expect the same currency that everyone else gets paid?

Please don’t devalue me or my work by treating it so flippantly. I know you don’t see it that way, but please try to.

10. I don’t want to

In case it isn’t clear enough from the amount of energy and effort I poured into this list, I don’t want to do this. Most comedians will not want to do this. It will shatter our fragile egos and eat away at our soul. I just don’t want to. I promise you… no matter what the scenario is at the party, if it is not a club or a specific venue where people are there to see stand up comedy and know what they are getting into and I am there as a performer who knows what I’m getting into, I don’t want to do my set for you.

Please don’t make us do this. Please.

So don’t take it personally the next time your comedian friend declines performing at your party. Remember: It’s not you. It’s us.

Progress, not Perfection

The_Equalizer_posterA little while back, I saw the movie “The Equalizer” with my boyfriend Denzel Washington. I went to support my boo, who was obviously spectacular. Actually, there was a scene in the movie when I legitimately squealed and jumped out of my seat out of excitement I couldn’t contain from him looking like such a badass.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.

But more importantly, there’s a nice theme that his character embraces. The idea is essentially “Progress, not perfection.” I’ve written about this idea before , but with New Years around the corner, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.

Every day with ever decision you make- big and small- you change the outcome of your future. Sometimes these are obvious and big changes. Other times they’re tiny tweaks. But they’re all important. And they all make a difference in who you will grow into. It’s ok to make mistakes. And it’s ok to not be perfect in a day. And, this is especially something I need to remind myself, it’s ok if you don’t get to everything you had on the docket for that day.

The most important part is that you are being proactive about your choices. You are actively wanting to be better. You’re allowed to falter. You’re human. It’d be ridiculous to hold yourself to perfection constantly (only my boyfriend Denzie can do that).  But if you at least recognize when you’ve made a mistake or when you’re engaging in a habit or choice that makes you feel bad or doesn’t serve who you want to become… that’s half the battle. Because when you’re self-aware and want to improve, you will slowly but surely take steps to make those improvements.

This concept is important for me especially to embrace. I put way too much on my plate and am pretty consistent about letting some balls fall in order to juggle an unreasonable amount. And I get mad at myself for not being able to do everything I want to do. But I need to recognize that the only thing I can control is my own attitude and staying true to myself. If I’m working on improving at least one element of my life every day- even if it’s a small improvement- over time, that will add up and make a big difference.

It takes years of slow pressure and tiny changes in order to create a diamond. So be patient with yourself and others.

I am remind myself of this every time my baby Denzel and I go diamond shopping.*

*I am not actually dating Denzel Washington. I know this is shocking to you. The rest of the article is extremely honest, but I may be slightly over-exaggerating my relationship with the major star. But look at him… can you blame me?

Brains Behaving Better

brain badNot long ago there was an article circulating the comedy community called “Brains Behaving Badly.” I, like many of my peers, read it. Unlike many of my peers I didn’t take it to heart. In fact, I passionately disagree.

I do not believe you have to be deeply damaged to be truly great. I believe you have to be you, whatever that means to you.

Now let me start by making something very, very clear. I do not believe depression is a weakness. I believe it is a malfunction. Something just isn’t firing correctly and many people truly do need medication to fix it. If you suffer from depression, as many of my near and dearest friends do, please seek professional help (http://www.sccc-la.org/). I do not believe you can will yourself out of a legitimate disfunction.

I have been lucky enough to not have to deal with those issues (yet) in my life. I recognize this is pure luck of the draw. In no way do I want to seem like I’m belittling those who really do fight those demons. I am simply trying to voice the creative journey through a different perspective.

So here’s my response. Because I feel like I need to say something. I realize my piece isn’t going to be featured in Rolling Stone and probably won’t reach the same number of people his did. But maybe it’ll reach a few. And that’s what matters to me.

Mr. Gould, I’m so sorry for your loss of a friend and peer in Robin Williams. He truly was a spectacular performer and I can only imagine how tough it would be to lose such a seemingly good man and good friend. And I am so sorry for the loss of other friends of yours to suicide. And for your own struggles with depression. As so many performers have begun openly discussing their own struggles with depression, I in no way disagree with you that depression amongst people who have an uncanny ability to bring so much happiness to others is very real.

But I wholeheartedly refuse to believe that my creative brain will cause me to “self-destruct.”

I said it before, but let me reiterate. I love my creative brain. I love my creativity. I’m grateful every day for it. I do not yet know your level of success, but I can vouch having an overactive imagination. And I know the times it can start to work against me. It takes little more than a look for me to create an entire backstory of a stranger I walk past and a life for us together. I have several imaginary personalities on Twitter who sometimes fight each other. I have gotten so enraptured in writing that I’ve almost burned my kitchen down on more than one occasion because I forget that I’m actually living in the real world. I can vividly picture what will happen when I’m driving near a cliff and how it will feel if my car veers off suddenly or any number of creatures that could be waiting for me outside in the dark as I walk alone at night.

I understand imagination. Both the good and the bad.

But I love my imagination. And I am grateful for it. And I have spent years of my life cultivating it so it stays strong while simultaneously cultivating a strong foundation outside of my own mind so I can reel it in when I know it’s going down a dangerous path. I know how it feels when I let it run free so I’m careful- no, meticulous and disciplined about being proactive about my own positivity.

Yes, it sometimes wins out and I can go in a tailspin. But I’ve created an environment of support around me who can help me quickly get out before I go too deep. And I do everything in my power to stay self-aware of my emotions so I can communicate them openly and do my best to stay balanced.

Comedy gives me the voice to vent and understand my frustrations and pain. It keeps me away from the abyss rather than plunging me into it.

My creativity and imagination are the tools I use to give myself a voice in this world. Even if my conscious mind is in denial about a feeling or an attitude or the status of my life, it will come out clearly in my work. I can’t hide from it. And when sometime goes awry, I know that I will use those same tools to try and understand it and maybe make light of it. Even if it doesn’t work, comedy is how I view the world. It’s how I cope. It’s how I bond. It’s how I communicate. It’s how I comfort. It’s everything to me and does everything for me.

I refuse to believe that I am only as good as my level of anxiety. Of course my imagination can create a number of anxieties when I let it run free. But because I know it can, I do my absolute best to keep in check. I talk to friends and family to make me feel loved and safe. I protect my active imagination and train it to work when I want it to and how I want it to. Then I’m grateful for it and protect it. I protect it from me and from itself. And I do that by constantly, diligently being careful about my friends, my environment, my feelings, my thoughts, my time, and a thousand other smaller factors that are choices I make beyond what I pursue career-wise.

It’s important to talk about depression. And I’m glad we are. But let’s not make unfair generalizations about the nature of any particular brain. I want to be very careful not to feed the already fragile minds of so many up-and-coming creatives who may allow their minds to get the better of them in an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy of needing anxiety and depression in order to be accepted as a true comedian.

The imagination is a beautiful thing. To squash it preemptively out of fear it will turn on you is a disservice to yourself and the world around you. And to believe if it doesn’t turn on you that you’re somehow not as good as those who have had it turn is just false.

I think it’s not only a slippery slope, but one that doesn’t even guarantee greatness. There are plenty of other slopes on this mountain. Just look around.

Depression affects everybody no matter how they interpret the world. It’s very real and very serious. It’s even more dramatic when it affects those who are able to bring so much lightness to others while carrying such a heavy weight themselves. I recognize that I lucked out and was dealt a brain and body chemistry that are more balanced than others. Yet it is my imagination helps me to continue to keep that balance and to, whenever I can, bring more light through lightheartedness to those who feel they need it. It works with me, not against me.

I vehemently refuse to believe depression is inherent or inevitable in the mind of the best creatives. Depression, like alcoholism, is a debilitating disease that should be treated with care. But, like alcoholism, it would be unfair to say that just because many great entertainers were alcoholics, you have to be an alcoholic if you want to be a truly great entertainer. It an inaccurate and unfair conclusion that could cause more damage than good.

There are a number of extremely famous comedians who have made millions laugh who have gone on to lead particularly balanced and healthy lives. Lucille Ball, Ellen Degeneres, Carol Burnett, and Mel Brooks are a few that come to mind immediately. Of course they’ve had their ups and downs, but they’ve used their creativity, their comedy, and their gift to be resilient in the face of difficulties and to continue to bring light and laughter to millions internationally.

When I was a kid, I saw Aladdin in theaters because I was part of that lucky generation when Disney was creating their classics for exactly my age group. I remember laughing so hard at the Genie that I was nearly crying in my seat. I saw the move two more times in theaters. And bought the VHS the week it came out. And I had every line the Genie said in that movie memorized in no time. I was mesmerized by the energy, the charisma, and the creativity it took for a human to make that character come so alive to me. And it is no exaggeration for me to say that that Genie is one of the major factors in why I want to dedicate my life to bringing that same laughter and light to others.

So I disagree with you, but thank you and your generation- alive and passed- for the world you’ve carved out in comedy for me and my generation. In many ways, it’s your creations that have allowed me to become my best self. And when I’m my best self, I’m balanced, happy, and loving. And I want to bring as much of that to others that I can.