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…

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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.

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.

Land of Pure Imagination

willywonkathechocolatefactoryLast weekend I went to the San Diego Comic Convention. It’s the largest comic convention in the world. It’s overwhelming and ridiculously crowded and so much fun.
I had a delightful time. Not only because it was delightful to see so many of my imaginary friends from comics and books and TV and movies come to life in front of me, but mostly because it was one huge celebration of human imagination.

And I’m an big fan of the imagination.

I have a highly active imagination. I love to play make believe and dress up and create bizarro characters who exist in their own worlds (which I also create). I’m obsessed with the imagination. I became obsessed with improv during and after college because I couldn’t believe people would come watch you play in a world you’re creating on the spot where anything is possible. I nearly had a melt down the first time I did the Universal Studios tram tour because they take you into different worlds of movies and show you how people use their imagination to bring to life imaginary stories that then stimulate other people’s imagination. I’m creating a career based on living my life in the make-believe. I love people who play along and who embrace their imagination. And Comic Con was full of those people. And I loved them for it.

Also there was a lot of free beer. So that was pretty cool too.

Podcast Episode 67: Balance – Show Notes

elephant-balanceThe biggest takeaway from this Femoir: The Podcast episode, friends, is that finding balance is a journey not a destination.

I mention my day job. I work at the most fun Law Office in existence. I’m a lucky lady.

I talk about working out. If you read this blog, you know that I do that a lot anyway.

I also mention counting calories. I’ve written about how much I hate it before. I still hate it.

I mention the “All In” previous Femoir podcast, too.

 

Feminine Advantage

rosieAs I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog (hint: I mention it all the time), I do comedy. I improvise, do sketch, do comedic acting, write my own comedy pieces and series, have a comedic solo show and podcast, write silly stuff and perform stand up constantly.

I’m not writing this post to reiterate that. I’m writing this post to clarify a concept I’ve been hearing too much of lately.

I’ve been told by a few friends in these various comedy worlds that I have a distinct advantage in comedy because I’m a woman.

I don’t want to go into the (asinine, outdated, and pointless) debate about women in comedy.

What I do want to make clear is- it is not an inherent advantage to be a woman in comedy.

Please note: I’m about to talk in stereotypes. Not because I think this is always (or even often) the case. But because I have been stereotyped. So I want to respond to the issues as they were presented to me. So we’re going into the language of stereotypes to do so. Please give me a little leeway here.

My friends in the sketch community tell me that my wait to go through a particularly long program will be significantly less because I’m a woman. I’ve been hearing this for the year and half I’ve been waiting. Which is, funny enough, the same length of time my male counterparts have been waiting.

I know there are fewer women in the program and that they tend to keep the classes even gender-wise. So they say. I also know that mathematically speaking, their excuses don’t make sense. If the classes are kept even, meaning the same number of men and women are going through the program, how do I have an advantage of waiting less time because I’m a woman again? Think about this and get back to me. Because I can’t seem to find the logic in it.

But I also know as I look at the people who have gone through the program that there are significantly less women in the company than men. So my advantage- if we can figure out that little illogical mathematical glitch I mentioned above- is that I get to move through the program more quickly? Not that I stand a better chance to actually make it to the top of the ranks? I’m confused. Because given the option, I’d rather take more time to get through a program I stand a bigger chance of performing with than moving through it more rapidly just to be “done” and not get to perform regularly.

They sometimes say it’s an advantage to be a woman in sketch comedy because sketch groups are often men and they need to meet their female quota. What they forget is that the pieces men often write for the women in their group are often over-simplified and over-sexualized, emphasizing our womanliness over our actual comedic talent.

I was also recently told by some stand up comedian friends of mine that I have an advantage as a woman in stand up. I get more opportunities and gigs because shows need to meet their female quota.

They seem to forget that every open mic I go to, I have to set up clear boundaries with every male I interact with that I will not, in fact, sleep with them for stage time. I have to deal with the fact that when I stand in front of that group of men, they are going to be looking at what I’m wearing and the shape of my (albeit luscious) body before they listen to what I’m saying. I have to deal with the fact that a lot of these comedy mics take place late at night in somewhat seedy areas of Los Angeles. I also have to deal with the fact that I’ve (usually) just listened to a bunch of jokes about penises, masturbation, and how difficult women are. And if I stand up there and mention something about my own hormones, I toe a very delicate line between sounding “whiny” and being a “bitch.” If I’m not overly friendly to the other comedians, I’m a bitch. If I am overly friendly to the other comedians, I’m a tease.

Not to mention, bookers will cut women comedians from shows if they feel there are too many. They’ll cut women comedians from shows because a different female comedian didn’t do well so they’re taking a risk by putting up another. This is still happening.

I am not complaining. I love what I do. I love being around comedians (male and female). They’re my favorite people on the planet. Some of the most important people in my life and career I’ve met through these comedy outlets. Many of them have been male. Many of them have treated me with nothing but love, respect, and support. Many of them I have nothing but love, respect, and support for as well.

But I want to set the record straight. There are no inherent “advantages” to being a certain gender or looking a certain way. Sometimes, I do get “lucky” and fit a particular mold people are looking for that can help catapult my career in a certain direction. And the reason that person thought of me in the first place was because they’d seen my work and knew I was good. And they saw my work because I’m actually doing the work.

And sometimes I do get a gig because of some superficial factor nobody has control over. But that’s showbiz, kid. You need to appeal to certain audiences and demographics. And sometimes that means meeting certain criteria.

So to all the people who think women get advantages in comedy by only having a tunnel-vision perspective and seeing what you want to see as if somehow our success is taking away from your opportunity… I have but one simple thing to say to you:

Go luck yourself.

Meaning get out there and work your ass off and odds are you can get “lucky” once in a while too.

Back to the grind

ocl montage 1

For the past couple months, I’ve put a lot of stuff on the back burner in order to focus on finishing the filming and production of my web series, The Other Client List. 

We finished filming on Saturday. I couldn’t be more proud, grateful and excited. It’s been an adventure and I’m glad to know it’s really only the start of the adventure.

On Sunday, I let myself sleep in. Then looked at the “To Do” list I’d been putting off…and had a little freakout.

Then once it was over, I stood up (did I mentioned I was curled into a ball on the floor?), took a deep breath, and got to work.I let myself freak out for a minute. It’s ok to sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to feel frustrated. And it’s ok to be true to whatever your feeling in the moment. I didn’t want to fight the freakout. I just allowed it.

ocl montage 3

I think part of what was overwhelming me was not knowing how much I actually had put off and not knowing how it would all get done. So I just started attacking it step by step. I did some cleaning and organizing. I looked through piles of papers and figured out what goes where and what needs to be addressed. I made some phone calls and sent some emails. I did my taxes. Not all of them, but I figured out what I could get done that day, did it, and have an action plan in place for the final steps to finish them.

I even took a couple hours off midday to laugh with one of my favorite people.

ocl montage 2

Even though there’s still plenty to do in both the web series, my personal goals, and at least eight other major projects I’m workin

g on, I’m ready for it. I want this life. I want a life of projects. Which means I’m ok with having times of being overwhelmed. Because everything is a balance. You just have to give yourself every advantage to learn to handle it. That way it gets easier over time. Just like everything else you practice.

I’m still learning. But at least I got a good practice meltdown and recover session in yesterday. I feel good about that.

So now it’s time to get back to the grind. Bring it.

Love Letter 2014

In honor of Valentines Day today, I want to write a little love letter to all the people I love and am immensely grateful for in my life. I won’t get specific, but you know who you are.  Thank you for your continued love and support.

Dear Fan/Supporter/Family Member/Friend,

kissus

Thank you for believing in me. I try and tell you often, but maybe you don’t hear me. I am so grateful for you. Every time someone drops me a text or a comment and tells me they like whatever stuff I put out into the universe, I’m reminded why I do this stuff.

I mean, I perform and create because that’s what makes me happy. That’s when my spirit is most alive. That’s when I feel most fulfilled.

But to be honest, it’s not always easy. Not the creation part- that comes easily. But to remind myself every day that I have to keep putting myself out there no matter what the response (which is sometimes slower than I hoped) and no matter what the circumstances… that’s the hard part.

And the only reason I’ve been able to achieve everything I’ve achieved up to this point in my life is because I have loving, wonderful, hilarious, supportive, beautiful people around me who believe in me. I don’t do it so I get the affirmations, but the affirmations are a reminder of why I do it. I love hearing about people who are entertained by my nonsensical musings on Twitter. I get the biggest kick out of social media interactions with friends I haven’t seen in years who are following one of my wacky projects and are enjoying being a part of the process. I nearly cried when a friend of mine texted out of nowhere that my latest Femoir Podcast (which I totally revamped and experimented with at the beginning of this year) was exactly what he needed to hear this week.

I create because I have to. It’s how I relax. It’s who I am. I’m a creator. And a creative person. And a funny spirit. And a performer. And a writer. So have to do these things. It’s a compulsion inside of me.

But my heart fills with joy every time I know that someone has responded in some way to something I create.

So thank you. I don’t say it every day, but this is for you. All this is for you. I can’t do it without you.

I love you.

Oodles.

Now let’s hug it out and get back to work.

Love,

Briana

Your Sh*t Stinks

Everyone’s does!

I went to an open mic last week where you get a little feedback afterwards. I find feedback can be super helpful. I’m lucky enough to get out in the comedy world enough that now many of my friends are comedians so they’ll give me ideas and feedback offstage even when it’s not considered part of the mic itself. Sometimes just a simple word choice can make a big difference in a joke. But sometimes it’s great to hear from strangers you don’t know at all what ideas they may have for your bits and how they perceived your act. Getting feedback is absolutely necessary in this world. Especially when you’re still hitting up open mics so the feedback you’d normally get of laughter (or not) isn’t as easy to elicit because it’s not a regular show with regular people.

I’m getting off my point.

So I went to this open mic and a person went up with their notes and did their set. I’m deliberately keeping this as neutral as possible because this is not an attack on the person itself. It’s an attack on the idea they represented-fairly or unfairly- in the small interaction we had. And their set was fine. It was pretty well structured, they had clearly taken the time to write their jokes out and put them in an order that fit well within the time limit they were given. It was pretty ok. They had some good ideas and some ok jokes.

I was not totally sold on the performance. The biggest reason being they were so practiced and so rigidly on their notes that it didn’t feel like a conversation. And as a person who has a solo show and who does stand up as well, I have learned to feel the difference as both a performer and an audience. No matter how structured and rigid the jokes may be for the best stand up comedian who has practiced them thousands of times for hours, most of them still deliver them like they’re in a conversation with you. The good ones at least. That’s what differentiates Bill Burr’s one hour stand up special from Jon Leguizamo’s one man solo show. Both are essentially one man talking onstage for a long ass time. But one feels like a conversation where you can jump in and participate at any time, and the other feels like a confession where you need to stay quiet and listen to take it all in. That’s the general difference.

So this person felt like they were performing a crafted jokey solo piece. They weren’t really making eye contact. They were choosing a point in the room to look at when they weren’t looking at their notes. They listened for laughter but seemed to expect it and didn’t enjoy it when it happened. They were present for themselves but not really for the audience.

And- like I said- they’re jokes were ok. But just that. OK.

Then they got feedback. And this is when they lost me. I didn’t say much because I didn’t really know them and I would have to see them a few more times to know their style and voice before I think I could say anything helpful. And there really is no wrong in this world so they could theoretically create a stand up voice that’s more rigid and solo showy. I could buy that. But some other people gave feedback. And the look on this persons face was so… cocky. Like “Yeah. I know. I’m pretty freaking awesome at this. I’m pretty freaking awesome at everything I do.”

Now don’t get me wrong- I love confidence. I’ll buy all day long if you’re selling to me that you’re confident. But I think a major part of being confident is being open to feedback. Or even just being open to the world around you. Not being closed off and so sure of yourself that the mere peasants around you can offer you no help. The King isn’t confident. He’s cocky. The warrior who has to lead the troops in battle- he’s confident. Because he’s present. And practiced. And willing to take risks.

I was ok with this performance until I realized this person thought their shit didn’t stink. Then they lost me. Their shit stinks. Everyone’s shit stinks. That’s the whole point of going and trying is to get out all the shit and let it stink. And then you find the least stinky part and try to make stink a little less. And maybe, eventually, you can get a small bit of shit that doesn’t stink as badly as when you first started shitting. And maybe eventually parts of it don’t stink at all. Until maybe you have a tiny amount of shit that smells like roses. And you go show that to people. And it’s taken lots of hours and work and years. And you’re proud of it. As you should be. It’s very impressive that you somehow shit roses. And roses smell better than shit.

I really got on a poop tangent there.

My point is this- you have to be open to the fact that not everything you do or create is going to be good immediately. As much fun as it is to hear “good job” and as necessary as it is once in a while, it’s much more helpful to hear feedback that actually makes your performance better. You’ll know you did a good job when you feel it. When people are laughing. When you look over your set and see that every word, phrase, and intonation are perfectly in place as a succinct set up or punchline and nothing is lost. If there are any wasted parts or parts that don’t get giant guffaws- you don’t have a perfect set yet. There’s room for improvement. Your shit still stinks.

The greatest of the great in any craft recognize that they have to continue to practice in order to maintain their skill level and get better. And in order to realize you need to practice, you need to be open to the fact that there is plenty of room for improvement.

And if you’re a stand up comedian and you bring up notes, cool, but still make me feel like we’re in a conversation with each other. Make eye contact. Be present in the moment. Enjoy telling your jokes as much as we enjoy hearing them. Enjoy screwing up if it happens.  The audience is always doing you the bigger favor, so treat them with the respect they deserve and be present with them while you’re on the mic.

Enjoy bombing. And get used to it. Maybe at this mic with your friends you felt like you were awesome. Great. Good for you. Those feelings will keep you coming back for more and keep your hope alive when you do a dozen rooms filled with strangers the rest of the week who don’t care about you at all. Come do some of the other rooms in LA and you’ll feel what it is to bomb with material you thought was amazing. You’ll be humbled. You’ll realize you need to work more. You’ll have thicker skin in every aspect of your life. You’ll appreciate your friends and the nights when you’re on so much more. You’ll realize that this is all part of a journey of self discovery to find your voice onstage and off. And you can appreciate the ups and downs equally while on that journey because they both serve you. And you’ll be a better person because of it. 

Your shit stinks. And that’s ok.  Everyone’s does. Recognize it then get to work.