When I decided to copy Dan’s photo, I had only seen Dan and Chris’s, and nobody else’s. By the time I was ready to take my picture (I knew right away that I was going to drop the headphones and add something else - sunglasses) Katey had also posted hers (well, it was the only one I could see without scrolling down). I love how it was picked up and heightened by so many people on both coasts. I still don’t know the actual definition of a “meme” (in French, “Meme” means the same - so I guess this is what a meme is? The same picture but heightened?) but for some reason Dan’s picture compelled me to copy it. I saw it as an invitation to play, which is what improv is, right?
This is only vaguely related to improv. Mostly it is about the nature of memes (and, as Kate Spencer put it, “a meme is just a bit the internet does.” Nothing below is really a revelation or new. It’s just the yesterday’s GPOYW thing is an interesting example. Some of it…
Something I heard tonight from someone I really like and respect in the improv community hurt me a lot. This person that I consider almost a friend (well, we know each other, but it hasn’t been long enough to call it “friendship” but I respect him a lot as a person and an improviser) told me that he never felt different. To be precise, he said he never “suffered” from not being a white dude in his 20s. Just to be clear, he is not. That’s his choice and I will never judge him for that, but personally, as an unusually tall Asian-European woman, I cannot disagree more.
I have been used to thrive on being different, or at least to recognize it over and over again. I have no choice - I have ALWAYS been different. I never denied it, I’ve never negated myself. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I’m too tall, and too vocal for that. I feel like refusing to acknowledging these differences is the equivalent of the fundamental improv negation - negating who you are. I am not saying you need to yell in people’s face and keep saying “Hey, have you seen me, I’m different.” What I’m saying is that I, for one, have never had a choice - as an Asian-European woman, I AM different. No matter where I go, no mater where I live, no matter what I do.
Today, in my comedy life, it is obvious that my skin color is not the same as most kids who do improv, I am older, and I am a woman. I am not going to negate any of this - it’s a reality I live in, we ALL live in. I will not say that I am comfortable being in class with 11 other dudes (whereas we only have 5 girls in a class of 16 - less than 1/3). I am not going to say that I am comfortable when I go to Harold Night and see mostly dudes on stage, or when I go to the Magnet or the PIT and most performers are men. Hell, I don’t even identify with their references.
Maybe as Will Hines says, there is no difference between the way men are funny, and the way women are funny. But it sure feels like there’s a difference between the way women are viewed in the comedy / improv world and the way men are viewed in this world.
This whole conversation (well, it was a very one sided one because my new friend didn’t want to expand upon it) came from the fact that apparently March is Women History Month (I didn’t know until today), and there are shows out there this weekend where among the many teams performing, there are only a minority of women.
If someone tells me that women are not a minority after this, then it’s not in good faith. We ARE a minority in the world of comedy, even when it’s our time to shine. If we keep ignoring the elephant / 800 lbs gorilla in the room, things will NOT change. So I am putting it out there. Let’s change this. Together. Improv is a community based on support. Who’s with me?
Great point Nicole and I misspoke: I am a woman AND I am an improviser. I don’t want to improvise “like a man” because you’re right - it doesn’t mean anything! However, there’s only ONE label I don’t mind: woman improviser, because the fact of the matter is, too often we are asked to forget & negate who we are, and I don’t want that. That’s all I’m saying. <3 you girl!
I agree and I don’t agree. Will Hines posted that there is no difference between how men and women are funny. I disagree with that. I think women and men are EQUALLY funny and equally capable of being funny. But they way they are funny — that is, HOW they are funny — is different. The HOW deals with the mechanism of humor and the tools one uses to elicit laughter, not the quality of one’s humor or comedy. Men and women have different ways of making people laugh and laugh at different things. I believe that.
Should you want to be a woman improviser? I don’t know. Why would you want that label? What does it mean to improvise like a man? Fuck that. I think you should just aspire to be an improviser and the best improviser you can be.
I’m a woman, I want to be a woman improviser. I don’t want to improvise “like a man”. I don’t want people to suck my d** because I don’t have one. That’s all.
(EDITED 2 hours later: I just realized that Shannon O’Neill has a column on G.L.O.C. called Suck My D** - what I say above has nothing to do with her column. I LOVE Shannon; she’s an amazing improviser and teacher, and from what I know she seems kind and caring. This was in reference to some people who told me recently that if women want more stage time, they need to “improvise like men” - I have NO IDEA what it means, and it pissed me off!!)
This is a beautiful tribute from Matt to Marz. I am SO SAD to see him leave, just as I joined the league last month. I am also a lifelong wrestling fan and I love love LOVE this show! I loved the idea of being able to perform and learn from someone like Marz. I didn’t meet him during my match and I am sad that he’s leaving.
UCBW is an amazing show. Don’t forget to make reservations for Sunday night’s WrestleMania (I am not in it but this is THE show to see this week!).
If I may for a second…I started taking classes at UCB 5 years ago this week - Ari Voukydis 101, Thursdays 7-10pm. After class, all my new FRIENDZ 4 LYFE and I went to the show Ari had mentioned during class, a competition show called CageMatch. We were all high on the beginning of the improv…
We raised $1800 during our Kettle of Fish - Benefit for Japan show. I would say that it was a RESOUNDING success! We had a full room, with people standing in the back in the basement of the Triple Crown. There was a long line before the show for people to purchase tickets and they DID. I never thought we would raise that much money! THANK YOU for donating items to be raffled / auctioned, for purchasing raffle tickets and for bidding on all those items. If you donated money and left your address, the Japan Society will soon send you a tax rebate paper.
As the producer of the show, I want to extend a special thanks to the following:
My team Jeff Fahey is Tron, Matt Braunsdorf, Bridget Araujo, Casey Cline and Stephanie Streisand for their enthusiasm, and for doing a GREAT job at the show! Everybody managed their part so beautifully and we all made this event a HUGE success! Also, at some point during our set, they pinned me down on the floor and farted in my mouth. Yes, this happened and I want to thank them for it! This is how much I trust them… I’ll let them do anything to me!
Kirk Damato for being a friend, and an amazing human being… and for being SO FUNNY! His help was instrumental in making this whole thing happen. Also he brought a MONKEY back for me from Japan. I LOVE MONKEYS!
Thank You, Robot (Jeremy Bent, Seth Lind, Matt Little, Chris Scott, & John Robert Wilson) for being a great team, and pretty amazing individuals. They all not only donated a lot but also purchased a lot through the auction / raffle. They also had an amazing set (not surprisingly because they are just one of the best teams out there; period).
Squirt! (Pat Baer, Corey Brown, Anna Callegari, Bethany Hall, Austin Rodrigues, Sue Smith, & Douglas Widick) For donating so much and for their support. That was their THIRD show EVER and they rocked it!
The Triple Crown for basically letting us do whatever we want and assisting us in it (they also donated a bar tab).
The Mannequin Room (Lou Gonzalez, Chrissie Gruebel, Caroline Sweet, Brian Urreta, & Megan Venzin), for their unwavering support.
My teammates from Schmukler Twins who are always ALWAYS here to help and support and are the most generous ladies I know.
You can find the full list of people who donated something to raffle / auction here (scroll down to the final list). If you know them, thank them for their generosity and give them a hug or something more (Yeah, you know what I mean) - they deserve all the love!
If you want to donate to help Japan, these two organizations (among many others, but these are the ones we were in contact with) currently have funds earmarked to Japan and are fast in distributing 100% of the proceeds:
They are coming true so fast that I have a hard time keeping track… So, some time ago (in January and February) I was writing about my Improv Dream # 1 & Improv Dream #2. Well, since February 9 (the date of my last post about this) 3, 4 and 5 have come true as well.
3) Taking a class with Will Hines: when you are in the improv community, there are a few people for whom you have high expectations as a teacher. Will has a really interesting blog, Improv Nonsense, and since I have been reading it, I CAN’T WAIT to have him as a teacher. I made a mistake for my first 401: I took another teacher. Our styles did not match at all, but something pretty amazing came out of that class: I met 2 of my teammates and now good friends during that class. One of the things that brought us together is that we suffered through that class… it wasn’t what we expected at all. It almost turned me away from improv to be truthful. But I got an internship at the UCB and decided to give it another shot. I started class with Will 5 weeks ago and it has been one good class after another. He is supportive, he makes us all better with his exercises, and he is interested in the kind of improv I am interested in: Commit to your character, make strong emotional choices. The one thing I still have a hard time with is that whole justification idea. I think that improv is an art form that doesn’t always need justification. People in the audience make inferences, relate to characters and can fill in the blanks as long as the scene comes from a true place - just like in a good book or in a good movie. Well, that’s my view any ways. That’s why Christina Gausas’s improv style is my favorite.
4) And that brings me to my next improv dream: being on stage with Christina. On Friday, my all female improv team was lucky enough to perform with her at the Thank You, Robot 4th year anniversary show. My entire team has a huge girl crush on Christina. We simply adore her, and we feel like she loves us back. The mutual affection we have developed, based on the love of improv, tremendous respect for the art form and for each other has been one the biggest gifts I have received this year. That, and my all female Harold team. Both of these combined are my improv dream number 4. Our Harolds are different from what you usually see at Harold Night. Our opening is like a palate from which we pick ideas, not premises. Then we build the scene based on strong character choices and strong emotional commitments. We have also learned to avoid what Christina calls tiny denials - to take in the energy of our scene partner, to accept their reality as ours and play with it. Improv is an invitation to play and we have learned that it comes form a place of power and that we need to be players with open hands. On Friday, we did that with Christina. I was lucky enough to be in the first scene of the first beat with her. She has taught us to be professional players, and we did our best to be just that on stage with her.
5) And then tonight, I shared a stage with Will Hines. We did two-prov. Yep. I always experience that rush of adrenaline right before getting on stage; in that minute or so right before going up on stage, I can’t breath, my mind is blurry and I think that I could NEVER do this. Then, as soon as I feel the stage under my feet, it goes away. Tonight, it didn’t. Well, Will started off by giving a little intro… and then I was going to ask for the suggestion but he did - he took control. I lost it. He called me out on it “you always say thank you, you didn’t say thank you for the suggestion.” I hadn’t. I turned around. Said thank you at least three times. Repeated the suggestion. So darn unprofessional. Our rule is: repeat the suggestion once, say thank you, repeat the suggestion twice. Done. So I told him “I am so nervous” Him, “don’t worry, it’ll be gone in 2 seconds.” That was my initiation opportunity. “Gone in 2 seconds? You mean you will be done in 2 seconds?” It was a fun scene about 2 porn stars who have had a crush on each other for a while, and despite their many on camera interactions, have never dated or shared their feelings with each other. We built the scene bit by bit. It wasn’t raunchy or dirty, it didn’t need to be. It was about the relationship between the two. It was amazing.
All I can think of is what somebody told me the other day: “You are the DiddyGethard of improv right now.” I guess they meant the DiddyGethard of improv students, because I ask big and I receive bigger. I work hard and give a lot too, and this gives me tremendous satisfaction. It’s amazing beyond words (yet, I just wrote the longest post).
Hey! I'm super excited about the Benefit for Japan. This is a great cause with so many amazing prizes. I have two quick questions regarding it.
1.) Do you know approximately how much each raffle ticket will cost?
2.) Once I have decided how many raffle tickets I am buying in total is it okay if I write a check for a single lump sum payable directly to UNICEF (for tax purposes)?
Hi Emily, Thanks for your question!
Here are some of the details f the events related to your question:
The raffle tickets are priced as follows: 5 tickets for $5, 12 for $10, 25 for $20.
You can definitely give us a check and if you would like your certificate for tax detectability, you would just need to give us your full address WHICH WE WILL NOT KEEP OR USE IN ANY OTHER WAY. This is on a voluntary basis of course. Your checks should be payable to the Japan Society and earmarked (in the notes sections) to “Earthquake Disaster Relief.”
Thank the lord that Will Hines beat the arguing as improv habit out of me. I can see a lot of people in my level 1 at Magnet who start off scenes with an argument because it’s easy. A lot of people in my experience use argument in improv because they think that every scene has to have a problem…
I love what Evan says here… and I am guilty as charged sometimes. For example, in the PouNic show, there was ONE scene where I pissed myself off as soon as I made the choice of argument (but of course, then it was too late to turn around). She initiated a second beat as a doctor who told me my son had XX sickness. I should have yes, anded that and that way I would have had a big reaction “OH NO! NOT THAT!” and made it the reality of the scene. Instead, I went with the wrong instinct and said “what kind of Dr are you?” (as a daughter of a physician, this comes to me more easily unfortunately because I am naturally skeptical to many Doctors). We didn’t have anywhere to go from there and it was entirely my fault - I initiated an argument without grounds and all Nicole had left to do was to justify how good a Dr she was… So that was a tiny denial that had big consequences.
An argument ultimately comes from tiny denials - you think you are yes, anding by making a big choice, but in reality you are slightly denying the energy of your scene partner. If the argument naturally develops from the different choices you make throughout the scene, that’s another story.
Today, is the first day of Spring. It’s also the day we celebrate the Iranian New Year called Nowruz (Which literally means New Day or day of renewal). This is always some sort of soul searching opportunity for me and many Iranians. The Iranian culture is based on the depth of our poetry, on the pleasure of sharing food and laughs, but also on the many sufferings our people have been through over the centuries. Having lived in Iran in my childhood, I grew up with this culture and it is now ingrained in my being soul being AND soul.
Today, my soul searching was about how easily I express my feelings and my thoughts in general. I hold very little back. I mostly hold back things that might be perceived as disrespectful or hurtful because you owe respect to everyone you meet. This outpouring is also true of my emotions that sometimes come out raw and sharp as a sword’s edge. When I was younger, I had very little control over this and it resulted in many misunderstandings (paradoxically) and strained relationships. Today, it has become a strength, be it at work, in my improv life or in my personal life.
At work, this translates into not letting anything go. I manage a team in India and another in the US. If they drop the ball on anything, I call them out on it. I’ve learned, over the years to do it in a positive way and phrase it as a development opportunity. I also believe that people can learn when they are taught to, so I never criticize people’s work, I ask them first how I can help them get there, and I always come up with a development plan. I really dislike it when people just say “this is bad” without actually telling what didn’t work and how to make it work. There are no bad students, only bad teachers. For example, one of my teammates in India consistently delivers his assignments late and with quality issues. I worked twice as hard to help him understand the importance of deadlines - I gave him firmer deadlines and made sure to check on him at those times (even when it meant starting work at 7:30 am because of the time difference), I provided him ongoing feedback on quality, and asked him for constant updates throughout his day. I also offered him some training options and spent many calls explaining how we work here with our customers and how his work impacts ours. He has become much better. I have a reputation in India of being the manager that helps you develop. As a matter of facts, other coworkers from India keep emailing me asking me if I need someone on my team, despite the fact that I am very demanding. The point of this long paragraph is, criticizing and being negative leads to nowhere, turning a negative occurrence into a a positive action opportunity and offering solutions makes everyone much happier. So, why pass up on an opportunity to be happier?
In my improv life, this outpouring has been my biggest asset. I made a number of amazing friends, and because I always say what I think, people know that I am sincere when I express my support. And I express my support often and unconditionally. Seriously, why hold back? I love and I say it. I think people are amazing and I tell them. It’s funny and I laugh. Why not? When I don’t like, I turn it once again into a positive action opportunity - if I don’t like a show I did, I seek feedback from people whom I trust and ask them how to make things differently and better. I seek coaches who are positive and understanding and who bring additional skills to my teams (Pam Murphy has been one of them). I tell my teammates I love them and that they are funny - because I DO and they ARE. If I feel like I want to perform more, I create my own opportunity, my own teams, and my own shows. Again, why not? This has led me to not only know a lot of people in the improv community that I love and respect, but also to work with some amazing people. I am currently fulfilling some of my biggest improv dreams. For example, I shared a stage with Scott Adsit. Twice. Christina Gausas is the coach of my all female Harold team that counts some of the most talented improvisers out there, and with whom I have already built strong friendships. I am learning to become a better performer with Will Hines whom I have the most respect for in the world of improv and who is a fantastic teacher (and who really embodies that thing I said about bad students and bad teachers - he is so good that everyone in the class is good and getting better). I am writing a one person show with Becky Drysdale, one of the most amazing people in the world of comedy. I am raising funds for Japan with my friend and former (and probably future) coach Kirk, and with my historical team that I adore, Jeff Fahey is Tron. I give a lot and I receive a lot.
In my personal life, it’s my friends and family I cherish. I tell my mom I love her every day. I do the same with my nephews and my sister as much as I can. We come from a big family and my aunts and uncles and cousins know how much I love them too. Why hold it back? Why not tell people what you think and how you feel about them? Not only one day, well, it’s cliche, but it WILL be too late, but you will also brighten their lives and yours with mutual love and respect.
My love life, on the other hand, has suffered from this outpouring. I don’t hold back whereas in this weird world of male-female relationships apparently you are supposed to. Men I meet tell me I am “too much” for them (my ex flat out told me this like 5 times a day). But you know what, I rather not have someone in my life than have a half-relationship where people hold back because of some sort of weird societal convention.
In short, I am happy. I love, I live, I give, I receive. Happy. Period.
This made me and still makes me so angry!! Not only because Stephanie is a good friend and a teammate, but also because I KNOW what she just experienced! And I understand being flabbergasted to the point of not responding, of wanting to keep your job.
It happened to me so many times when I was a TV producer in France. But I hung in there and showed them HOW GOOD I was, and how much BETTER I was than what they expected. I was the bigger person but after a while THIS also became something some people made fun of. I was writing the two-hour live show, and my boss used to say “well, your French is better than mine, so that’s why I want you to write this” but in a pejorative way, as if he wanted to put me DOWN for being better than him. Just made me understand that some people will never change - they’ll SEE and EXPERIENCE how good you are, but then they’ll resent you for it.
But then again, some people DO change. Some of my best friends from that time are still my friends to this day, and you know what, they’ve discovered my culture and have understood a lot about how the Iranian think. Our friendship wasn’t immediate - I was very different from what they were used to seeing and what they knew of Iran (the hostage-takers). We built our friendship over time and they learned to listen and understand that this was just a prejudice. Some of my friends, since I’ve left France, are seeking the company of other Iranian descent individuals to build on the positive experience they had
So it’s worth fighting by being good. undeniably good. And staying on.
The night before last, something awesome went to total shit in just a few hours.
The night before last, I had an audition for a very improv based show (Think Tony and Tina’s Wedding, but a different show) that needed immediate replacements. I walked into the audition room with ten girls that…
My team, Jeff Fahey is Tron, has a show on March 24 and we would like to make this an opportunity to raise funds for Japan. We will donate the funds to Doctors Without Borders for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they distribute funds quickly, they are transparent in their distribution and Japan might need a lot of extra medical care soon (hopefully not).
We need YOUR help to make it happen and to raise as much money as possible. Our shows are free, but we would like to raffle skills (maybe you can offer a yoga class to a person who wins the raffle), or a spot on a house team (during our next show, this house team will be featured), or or time on a show (if you want to auction off time on your show), or items, etc.
Also, we would appreciate if you reblog so that we can raise as much money as possible. We’re not doing this to have more followers or anything; we are just really moved by what’s going on and would like to use a forum we have available for something important.