Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 104: The Marathon

Hello again faithful friends!

Another Friday, another episode of Femoir the Podcast. This time we’re running with the theme of a marathon, inspired by the LA Marathon (ALL PUNS INTENDED).

I discuss auditions for a comedy show I’m part of, talk about general marathon training (mostly metaphorically), and when we face rejection we have to try, try again.

It’s a short and sweet episode, as these show notes reflect.

Subscribing and rating the show helps, but listening keeps me inspired to keep a’going so thank you!

Enjoy!

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Coach Potato

fitness21No. I didn’t misspell couch. I meant coach.

I’ve been considering getting a fitness coach for a little while. Not a personal trainer (momma can’t afford that right now…) but a fitness coach. There’s this lady online named Rachel Nicole. She’s picture here. She’s in badass shape. And her prices are reasonable.

I even emailed her. I wanna buy the 3 month package. She gives you the whole nutrition and the fitness plan and check in with you weekly about your goals. And you get access to her via text if you need it or have specific questions.

I think that sounds perfect for me.

I’ve just been holding off. I was going to buy it several months ago, but instead I spent money on (more) improv classes. I have no regrets about that choice (even though they’re not yet paid off…), but I’d like to refocus sometime soon on getting in badass shape like this chick. If I had spent my money on this, I would have spent like 1/3 of what I spent on my improv classes. If that gives you any perspective about how expensive friggin classes are out here in LA.

I haven’t committed to it yet. I’m letting myself recover financially from some other choices and trying to get some money coming in from some of the (many) investments I’ve made over the past year.

But hopefully soon I can get up off my butt and support this lady who will in turn support me on my own fitness journey.

Until then, I’m considering myself a lazy coach potato.

I used (a lot) of parenthesis in this (blog) post. I (don’t) know why. I (do) know it’s confusing. I’m (very) sorry (?).

Break’s Over

I had an epic day yesterday. I performed on The Groundlings stage in the early afternoon then a few hours later on the UCB stage. It was delightful.double day

A lot of time, energy, and effort went into both shows and I had a blast.

I also went without working out for two weeks because of the amount of time, energy, and effort that went into those shows.

I have to watch myself because I have a tendency to put too much on my plate. When I do that, I let the important me-things like exercise, meditation and journaling fall by the wayside.

Now that my big day yesterday is done (and was a ton of fun), it’s time to start reevaluating and re-grounding. I let myself sleep in but still worked out in my apartment as best I could for 20 minutes this morning. I’m gonna make sure I get in a quick meditation this afternoon. I’m gonna try and get some rest tonight so I can get up tomorrow and start getting back on track.

Of course there are lots of things I always have on the docket, but I gave myself a break to focus on getting through yesterday. Now that yesterday is done…break’s over. Back to work.

Episode 61: Patience – Show Notes

patienceThe latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is a longer one, friends, but since we’re talking about patience, I hope you take the time to listen to it and enjoy!

I talk about the three major improv and comedy theaters in Chicago:

1. The Second City

2. iO (Improv Olympic)

3. The Annoyance

I mention the stage version of my solo show, Femoir.

I also mention my wonderful pending web series, The Other Client List, again. I am very excited about it. It’s gonna be gooooooood.

And I also mention my crazy peg leg pirate upstairs neighbor (again) and the fact that SHE BANGS!

As always, you can subscribe to these for free on iTunes!

Learning by Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing. sexy face

This revelation is not shocking to anyone who I’ve hung out with for more than five minutes.

The picture in this post I hope confirms that.

I generally have no idea what I’m doing anywhere ever.

But here’s what I do know… I learn by doing. I do something. I do anything. I’m a do-er.

I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t mind asking questions. I don’t mind screwing up. I don’t mind falling flat on my face.  In fact, as strange as it sounds, I like to be out of my comfort zone. I like to be the least knowledgeable one in the room. I like starting something with blind faith that I’ll learn how to finish it as I go.  I do my absolute best to present a project that I’m proud of knowing that it will be imperfect. I do my best to make it as perfect as I can with what I have in the moment, then I let it loose.

It’s the same with these posts and this blog. I write it. I think about it. I reflect. Then I just do. I put it out there and see what happens.

One of my improv teachers used to emphasize just finding things in your environment and doing something with them immediately, then learning what it means to the scene later. You don’t need to know the answer in the beginning.  Just do something  and you’ll eventually figure out why you’re doing it.

I’m a firm believer that’s the only way to really learn something anyway. Any lesson I’ve ever truly learned has come through experience. You can tell me all you want not to do something, but I’m probably going to do what I want to do anyway. Because when I experience my own shortcomings or my own failures, I feel them fully. They become a part of my own life that I can grow upon. They’re new tools and stories I have that I can use to make different decisions in the future.

Like with the web series I’m in post-production for right now. I wrote it not knowing how it would get produced. Somehow, we found the perfect director who had access to an amazing and talented team of people willing to be a part of the project. My partner and I did a crowd-sourcing fundraising campaign not knowing how those work. We raised enough to make something a reality. We didn’t know how, but we’d make it work. We had hectic schedules and didn’t know how we would coordinate, but we just did it. I’d never been a “producer” before- making sure the locations were available and appropriate, coordinating people, making sure everyone was fed while still knowing my lines and watching all continuity.  I had no idea how much planning and coordination went into every single shot we did, but I learned.  I didn’t know how we would edit it. But we found someone perfect. I have no idea what it means to be in post-production, but I’m excited to learn. Anything I don’t understand how, I know I can learn bit by bit. I admit that I don’t know how to do something. And by admitting it, I’m totally open to learning.

It’s good to plan. And it’s good to prepare. But I think people can get so wrapped up in doing something “right” that they never actually do anything.  And if I’ve learned anything in my short time on this earth, it’s that the actual doing- even though that means often failing- is the most important (and most fun) part of our existence.

How do I know this? From a whole lot of doing.

So just do it.

This post has been sponsored by Nike.*

*This is completely untrue but I’m totally open to getting money from you, Nike, if you’ve got any to spare.**

**I know you do. So give me money. Just do it.

 

 

Improvising in Los Angeles

 I get asked about improv in LA often. I finally created a comprehensive outline of my humble opinion of every school out here. I sent this to a couple stand up comics who asked me about getting into improv, but I’ve tweaked it for anyone.

These opinions come from a place of total love for this form.

And they are just my opinion. Hopefully it helps you. Hopefully, if you work for or are obsessed with a particular institution- it doesn’t offend you. Just like in improv, there is no “right” choice. You just make a choice, live in it, and see how it makes you feel.

So let’s get all touchy-feely, folks.

FYI: I studied at Second City Conservatory in Chicago, iO Chicago and the Annoyance. I’ve done improv intensives and retreats all over the country before coming to LA (happy to share which ones if you ask). In LA, I’m involved with Groundlings and UCB while still hitting up the other comedy places regularly. I’ve spent a lot of money, energy, and time in this world. Does that make me more qualified to have an opinion? No. Anyone can have an opinion. But it does mean I’ve hustled and still regularly hustle. So I have feelers out everywhere.  Constantly feeling. And this is what I’ve felt.

See how I brought it back to the touchy-feely stuff ? That’s called a callback. You’re learning already!

Here’s what I say to everyone  who want to start improvising: know what you want to get out of it before you choose a theater training center. Go see several different shows at each place and see which speaks to your sensibilities. At the end of the day, it’s a form of expression and we all express ourselves differently. Each major improv training ground offers very different outcome goals and it’s important to know what you want before you do it. Also, it’s a major expense, so before you go and blow several hundred dollars, it’s good to know why you want to be there in the first place.

UCB

Offers awesome classes for people who are first improvising and a really positive environment to learn the basics. They approach improvisation as an end unto itself meaning their improv shows are just that- completely improvised (and I’ve heard their sketch program loves to use improvisers to help brainstorm ideas and what not, though I haven’t taken any sketch classes there).

PROs: great for beginners; you get a show at the end of each of your classes on the UCB stage which is not only awesome because the UCB stage rocks, but is great for industry because UCB is arguably the ‘hottest‘ comedy theater right now for scouting and opportunities and whatnot; they have a super-diverse stage lineup so any given night of the week can be filled with all styles of comedy- stand up, sketch, and improv. There are also AMAZING performers and performances that happen nightly. Plus, show costs are the most reasonable you’ll find anywhere (ranging between $5-$10). And, while you’re a student, most shows are free. Also, you get to choose your teacher (assuming you have options in when you can take the class, of course).

CON: In the improv program at least, they hit very hard on a very specific form of improvising- using ‘game’ to find the funny in the scene. This could make you feel stifled at first- but you know what they say- you have to learn the rules to break them properly. Then again, some people love love love game (and do very well with it) so it could be a catapult for you rather than holding you back. You don’t know until you try (and fail then try, try again).

GROUNDLINGS

Fantastic basic classes for beginners as well and really awesome stuff for people who want to get better at specifically character work. They approach improvisation as both a tool to create sketch and as an end unto itself (though their weekend mainstage shows- the stuff their known for- is sketch comedy that they used improvisation to create). They have plenty of other shows that are completely improvised (my personal favorite is the Wednesday night Crazy Uncle Joe show. In my humble opinion, it is exactly what improvisation should be. It’s out there, fast-paced, filled with strong character work, and extremely fun and accessible for the audience. There’s room for failure, but the pace of the show and the caliber of the performers make it successful week after week. If you’re in LA- go see it. Now. Or rather, next Wednesday.)

PROs: They have a track of classes you don’t have to audition into that are for beginning improvisers as well and are just as fantastic as what they call the ‘core track’; I’ve had a very positive experience there and LOVE it; they let you be a little sillier and wackier while still teaching you how to be a good improviser; some of the funniest people I’ve ever seen are Groundlings; I see a Groundling or a person I recognize from the Groundlings on every other commercial and in like half the shows I watch- they work like crazy. (Note: This is true for many UCB performers, too, there is just a much more massive pool to choose from. So while may faces are easily recognizable, many are not working as much.) Also! They have created a new “G2” theater space specifically for student shows, so if you’re on the waiting list (like me…see below) for your next class, they’ve gotten better about offering workshops with the opportunity to keep your skills sharp and perform more regularly.

CON: If you choose to go through the core program, you have to ‘pass’ at the end of each of your classes in order to continue to the next level. You can retake the class up to 2X (total of 3X taking the class) in order to ‘pass’ if you go this track, as well. This ‘pass’ system can sometimes create a weird vibe in class because everyone wants to move ahead and theoretically (many years down the road) become a ‘Groundling.’ The good news is, you get feedback while being told ‘pass’ or ‘retake’ – so you know what to work on not just be told “GETOUTTAHERE! NO!” You also only get a class show at the end of each class starting with the advanced class only (not the first two- basic or intermediate). The first the classes- basic, intermediate, and advanced are all offered pretty frequently. After that, you’re put on a waitlist for nobody knows how long (current average wait time 1.5 years) until you get called for the next level ‘Writing lab’ where you produce shows and write a bunch. After that, assuming you ‘pass‘ you’re on a waitlist again for the last level of the training program. Rumor is right now that waitlist time is around 2 years.

I don’t know a TON about SECOND CITY and iO West programs in LA. I do know that both of those theaters are filled with some of the most talented and funniest improvisers (especially many former-Chicago transplants) in the city.

Second City tends to approach improvisation as a tool to help you create sketch comedy and uses it less frequently as the show itself (though, like all other theaters, they have a wide variety of shows, plenty of which are fully improvised).

iO tends to approach improvisation as the end unto itself- they improvise within different forms and teams and experiment with styles and whatnot. Improvising is the show. Of course, they offer a (great) sketch program as well, but we’re talking improv here. Let’s stay focused.

The only real CON with these places is they’re not as ‘hot‘ as the other two theaters in LA. At least that’s the “word on the street”- for what it’s worth. You’re more likely to get industry to come out to UCB or Groundlings rather than iO and Second City- though OF COURSE there are amazing people at all of the theaters. And industry DEFINITELY come out to both Second City and iO. Who knows? (Answer: f***ing nobody.)

Financially, they all cost about the same…a boat load for a ‘poor’ actor. But this is what we invest in, right? Second City, iO and UCB all have internship programs to help you pay for classes. But they are highly competitive so don’t count on it- at least for your first couple classes. Groundlings offers a couple payment options to make it hurt a little less when paying outright for the classes, but you do pay a small interest for using them. But, speaking from experience, when you’re shelling out that much cash- it’s sometimes worth it.

So I’ll say it again, know what you want and why you’re getting into improv before you choose a place. That will help you enjoy the experience there even more. Go see shows. Each of these major improv institutions offers a variety of classes depending on your wants and needs. They all have comprehensive classes in improvsation, long form improvisation, sketch comedy writing, solo workshops, advanced improvisation, etc. Just choose where you can vibe with.

I’ll also say, lots of teachers teach improv on their own on the side. Although this can be beneficial and may be a route you want to go, I’d at least start at a major institution before veering off to a more specialized teacher. Mostly because you get a much more diverse group of peers and students at the major places which can help you decide if a certain style or approach works best for you.

I should also note, this is a pretty comprehensive list but not completely satisfying by any means. It’s just a start. The anal retentive part of me wants to keep discussing all the nuances of each place and why some of my generalizations are not completely true and yadda yadda. But the normal part of me is tired of typing and obsessing over this. So… I’m done. For now.

I love improvisation and have had really positive experiences in that community. I find it makes ALL performances I do better- stand up, sketch, auditions, writing- everything. I have so much more confidence now in my own ability and my own voice thanks to improvisation. Were it not for my confidence in all that, I would not have begun stand up because I would have been so nervous about what could happen onstage. Now, I look forward to when things don’t go according to plan or it’s a really feisty audience or it’s a really quiet audience- whatever!

Having the foundation that improv puts in your mind means you’ve always got something to fall back on in your own talent toolkit, so you never have to get mad or angry at the audience for not being as responsive or too responsive or whatever. They’re always right because in improv, everything that’s happening is always right. You’re more present and responsive in the moment and aware of your surroundings because of the improv training.

Basically, improvisers are just kinda better people. So… you know. Start improvising, you a$$hole.

Loves ya.