Improv Rejuvenation

My god, it’s been a rough week. Can you tell, lovers and friends, when I’m really down? I try to keep my blog mostly upbeat, but I think you can tell. At the very least, Tuesday’s post was a downer.

I don’t know if it’s just my birthday or what, but I’ve been kind of depressed this week. I even gave up drinking for fear that it would make me sadder. *Including* passing up a margarita yesterday, which was a first for me. Mmmm margaritas.

Blended_margarita_cocktail_drink

I mean….
(credit)

But then, after Amanda and I met over burritos and lemonade to plan our comedy empire, we went to improv practice group.

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Who Are You People?: A Search Terms Roundup

Reviewing one’s blog statistics can be a real ego boost (“Yay! Thanks for the ratings bump, Kevin Tydlaska!”) or ego killer (“Wahh! Did I weird people out by talking about my Daddy issues?”)

But mostly it’s just confusing. I have an MBA in Marketing and I still can’t figure out exactly who reads, why they read, and how they get here.

Despite my efforts, I can’t predict which posts will land, how many people will see my facebook links, or which time/day is best for posting.
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Project Optimism: So, I Lost My Phone

funny-lost-phone-silent-modeFriday after improv, a couple of us went out to karaoke. Since two hours is never enough karaoke, I missed the 1:40 train. So, I was forced to hang out and drink until 4am. Tough times.

Flash forward: I wake up at 5:21 am in Huntington. The train is sitting in the station, empty. Any true Long Islander can tell you what that’s like, and also what happens next: you hear the “Beep Beep Beep” of death, the doors close and you have to frantically fly around the train trying to find a conductor to let you off before you end up at the yard.

This knowledge in mind, I jumped up and fled the train. This was when I lost my phone.

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Stop Thinking. Enjoy Now.

So, I listen to this UCB podcast, where they interview different improv performers, and it’s kind of great. Because they talk about when they were first starting out, and how they weren’t confident at first, and how they got rejected at auditions. And I think “Oh, cool. These successful improvees were once like me, but they stuck with it and it worked out.”

But then I think

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Project Optimism: Making Life Happen

I started Improv 201 on Friday and, dare I say, the class is even better looking than my 101 class. What’s with that?

“Do I have to get better looking too, as we move up?” I asked my new improv bestie Amanda as we left class.

“No, you’re already good looking.” she answered without missing a beat.

“Right back atcha.” I winked.

Jill-Amanda

proof. sort of.
my camera sucks since I dropped my phone down an elevator shaft (10 months ago)

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Alice Guest Post: Inspired By My Friends

Every once in a while, my commuter friend Alice gives me a day off by guest blogging for me. 
As you all know by now, Saturday was Jill’s improv showcase. Admittedly I had some trepidation about attending. One, it was on a Saturday – but I did say one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get out more on weekends. Two, no matter how funny and entertaining someone is, when they say “come to my improv 101 performance on a Saturday afternoon” you worry about a certain cringe factor. Well, I needn’t have been concerned about either. The commute was super easy being that Jill and I got a ride in together in the back of her parents’ car like we were 12, and I bummed a ride home with her and Tom. More importantly, the show was super good. I was really impressed. Obviously I could never ever do that. Even when I’ve taken dance classes that require 8 counts of improv I freak out. So kudos to Jill and I can’t wait for the 201 performance.

Afterwards we all went to a bar nearby for conversation and day drinking. I learned about the day jobs of Jill’s fellow improvees (new awesome word I just made up) and how much fun she’d had in the class. I also talked to our really cool friend Erika about some cake decorating classes she’d been taking. And I thought, what the hell am I doing? I’ve started taking ballet classes again which is great, but there are a ton of things I’ve wanted to learn and always found an excuse. “I don’t have the money” “I’m in grad school and busy” “I live in Arkansas” Ok, the last one was pretty legit. But I’m saving money now by not paying rent and my work hours have stabilized for a while and it’s about to not be cold and dark out so I’ve decided to take the plunge.

Today a bought a groupon for a ballroom dance studio ten blocks from my office – I get one group class, two privates and one zumba class. I figured this was a good first step since it doesn’t require a ton of commitment. But I’m pretty sure that come summer I’ll be winning dance competitions in a sequined mini dress.
**Note: I did not coerce Alice into saying my improv show was good. Some people just like me, okay? Also, Alice, way to come through with the word-coining. I’ve been slacking lately.**

Project Optimism: Improv 101 Graduation

Eight weeks ago, I started Improv 101 at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade (UCB). I was hooked from about an hour into my first class, even though I still suspect that it’s a cult.

Since then, I’ve looked forward to Friday every week (even more than usual).

Our teacher, David Siegel is a genius. He’s a stickler for the rules (and there are a lot of them). He’s been tough on us even though we were only a 101 class. And I’ve appreciated every note he’s given me.

Saturday afternoon, we had our graduation show at the UCB East theatre. I wasn’t nervous until Saturday morning. I managed to calm my nerves, but then I got to the theatre and saw how nervous everyone else was. Still, right before my group went on stage, when everyone else was taking deep breaths (which made me more nervous), I managed to clear my head and just do it.

And the show was awesome. Not awesome in a seasoned performer kind of way, but super awesome for a 101 class. And I felt that I gave as good a performance on stage in front of people as I ever did in class, and that’s all I can ask for.

world's best improv 101 class (courtesy of my friend Justine)

curtain call for the world’s best improv 101 class
I am front and center in the brown boots
(courtesy of my friend Justine)

So, on to 201! Can’t stop me now that I’m a star.

Now, the majority of you are going to shut this idea down immediately, but seriously, for your own good: take Improv 101. Your hometown has a class. People have been telling me to take it for years, and I’ve been afraid of being embarrassed. Now I just wish I had taken it years ago.

 

Check out more Project Optimism posts by me or by other bloggers.

An Insider Exposé: The Improv Cult

As you may recall, I have recently started taking Improv 101 at the Upright Citzens’ Brigade. I am slowly starting to suspect that UCB is a religion, possibly a cult.

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Improv 101

Friday morning, on the train, I suddenly blurted out “oh fuck”, as I remembered I have that improv class tonight.

I had signed up at the recommendation of a writer friend that performs with UCB. And ever since, I’ve been dreading it.

I think it’s because of my experience at theater camp when I was around 12. We played this exercise called “TV” where we had to stand on stage and be funny, and every time the teacher pointed, we had to change to a different “channel”. After two channel changes, I froze. I couldn’t think of anything funny. And I never touched improv again.

Fail7

but at least I wasn’t responsible for the worst TV fail of our time
(thank you internet)

So, naturally, with Alice‘s blessing, I tried to leave time for a drink before class. But, it didn’t really work out, so I had to go with caffeine instead.

I walked in 10 minutes early to find about 15 people staring at the door. 15 strangely good-looking people. I paused, contemplating the odds of finding this many attractive people in one room at the same time. I mean, they weren’t all supermodels but they all had a distinctive *look*. Were they all actors? “Hi”, a couple people waved at me. “Hi.” Why didn’t I put on makeup? Why do I wear my hot pink sneakers, always?

I was so curious, I couldn’t wait until the part of the class where we go around and say why we’re here. Turned out, that’s not part of the class, so I still don’t know why they’re all good looking.

Eleanor

apparently there are attractive improv groups out there (http://bit.ly/13pNETF)

I knew the instructor’s name was David Siegel, so as the 16 of us sat staring at the door, I expected someone who looks like my gynecologist to walk in. Instead, it was some kid who couldn’t be older than 32. And, btw, he’s awesome.

Dr. Siegel / David Siegel

Guys, apparently, improv is not that scary. In fact, in long form improv, you’re not supposed to try to be funny. Perfect!

So, I’m not exactly Amy Poehler yet, but I’m working on it.

There’s a 75% chance that I’m later going to regret inviting the world, but if you’re interested in seeing me show off my Improv 101 skills, the performance is March 2.