Pop Goes Andrea

Improv is melting my icy, spinster heart….

ImprovOver the years, life has made me somewhat of a skeptic. My natural instinct is to be guarded and closed off and to question people’s motives. I have lived a pretty lonely existence these past few years because of that mentality. However the more I get into improv, it is not just confidence in myself I am finding, it is confidence in humanity that I am sort of rediscovering, after developing a thick layer of bitterness around me over the last decade. The comedic scene work I have been exploring in classes makes me feel inspired to collaborate with people and trust myself and them enough to see where that takes us and what story we can come up with together. Being around people who have such a passion for comedy and storytelling makes me excited to participate in the human experience again.

Finding improv in my late twenties was like re-reading an old classic I read when I was younger and finding even deeper meaning in its message, years later.

I have just finished another four week performance class with a new teacher, Mat Maitland. He was heavily involved with the Improv Guild (which I checked out a little too late, right before they went on haitus) and currently is a part comedy troupes Notorious and Attack of the Heart, works with the Kinkonauts and is a player with the newly formed Obviously Improv. I have seen Mat perform over the last few months and have grown into a genuine fan of his style of comedy. He seems to linger in this sweet spot between short and long form improv and something about watching him on stage inspires me to get up there and experiment the way he does with such ease. To say the least I was pretty stoked to take his class! And I was not disappointed. Mat is just as inspiring as a teacher, as he is as a performer. He would start our classes with these truly unique and completely ridiculous warm-up games that would loosen us up and get us open to perform in class. To be honest I am not a huge fan of warm-ups but Mat’s were so much fun and I was totally opened to the ludicrousness of them. The class was filled with lovely people from all walks of life including, high school, the trades and the corporate monkey-bars I swing on. But it seems that our love for improv and comedy were all we needed to become great friends and have fun together in class. It was joyful class that I felt safe enough to perform in, open enough learn in and coached enough to grow within. This class taught me the importance of breathing and that not every moment on stage needs to be filled with words, and that’s hard because I am a huge of fan of words. Mat was always honest and helpful when he checked in with us after scenes and I saw everyone in that class take in what he said, use it and grow. It was great experience and it really helped me as an aspiring performer. The absolutely wonderful completion to this class is that Mat is organizing a show for us to be in. I feel like now that I have been on stage, I am hungrier for it than ever! I feel like every time I am brave enough to do it, I grow as performer and a person.

I am glad that I took improv off the shelf, blew off the dust and rediscovered how good it can be in my life. This Sunday I start a women’s only class with the talented Laura Tennisco of Obviously Improv and I am pretty pumped to continue my journey.

PS – The greatest improv show concept of all time is happening April 19th! It is called Catching Funds and it is a fundraiser for Obviously Improv featuring the players from Improv Theatres around the city competing in a Hunger Games like competition. Ummmmm – sounds like the greatest thing ever, right? YOU SHOULD ALL GO!

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I left my apartment on a Wednesday? Thanks Kaboom Hooray!

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Lately I have felt like a hamster running the big, bad corporate hamster wheel. The 8:30 am – 4:30 pm life is filled with deadlines, paper work, revisions, idiots and florescent lights. There is a robotic routine of waking up at 7:00 am, getting ready, going to work, eating lunch, then more work and then the glorious release of 4:30 pm. After 4:30 pm during the week, I usually head home do freelance work, cook dinner, workout, watch TV and go to bed. My spinster, corporate ass does not see much outside that routine during the week.

Today I was lucky enough to have a comedy ray of light wash over this glorious hump day. I finally found sketch comedy in Calgary! As much as I love my improv, I am a Saturday Night Live, Kids In The Hall, Second City loving enthusiast, who loves me a good sketch. I went all the way to Toronto last year to take workshops and watch shows at Second City. And I have been working on my own sketches for the last couple of months. In my last post I talked about the amazing class I took at Yuk Yuk’s, where I got to work with Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall and some amazing comedians here in Calgary. Many were from Kaboom Hooray who I had heard about from my talented and quirky stand-up comedian friend, Amy Bugg, before but had never been smart enough to check it out. There shows are on Wednesday and that’s Modern Family, pasta night in my sad little mundane world. However, my class with these amazing sketch writers intrigued me enough to escape my monotonous routine for one night and eff I am glad I did!

Tonight Kaboom Hooray opened me up to a treasure trove of entertainment and comedy that is gloriously new to me. It introduced me to stand-up, which I am a new fan of, and showed me that sketch comedy is alive and well in old Cowtown! The variety in standup acts ranged from headline topical jokes, awkward quirky deliveries and hilarious mini-rants. I have all sorts of respect for people who are brave enough and have the right kind of timing to own that medium. The sketches were weird a great way and made me laugh to the point of being the awkward snorter in the first row. Overall the format of the show was quickly-paced and highly engaging. It was a blast!

The night really inspired me to get out there more to check out shows that are new to me and maybe even venture outside my boring, soul-sucking routine to discover things that inspire me, excite me and most importantly make me laugh. I strongly urge you to do the same. We have had a long dreary winter that, if you are anything like me, has probably kept you hidden indoors a lot. Spring is sprung (or will soon) people, so get out your door and see what the city has to offer!

Check out the next Kaboom Hooray show, May 7 at Yuk Yuk’s. Yes it is a Wednesday! And yes, you can leave your house on a Wednesday!

 

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Obviously Notorious – Calgary serves up another night of laughs

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If you read my blog… ummm thanks and you would have also read my lovefest raves about Calgary’s best, worst and only comedy hip hop group Notorious. I have gone on and on about how funny they were but tonight their improv talent really shone through in their extended show at Café Koi. Previously I had only seen Notorious open for the all-star improv show Mixtape during Kinkonauts show week. Tonight I was lucky enough to see a bit more of their mad improv skills and fast witted talent. Not only did they drop sick rhymes but also created some awesome scenes that had the full house giggling in appreciation. It was another stellar performance by the ever consistent group. If you are looking for a unique entertainment experience in Calgary, I urge go check them out when they return to Café Koi, May 3 – it is totally worth it!

I was also lucky enough to catch the opening act from the newly formed Obviously Improv group, consisting primarily of former Improv Guilders (I think). The opening act was unique in just that it consisted of just female improvisers, which like never happens. They performed short form games that were pretty unique to most of the style that I have seen in the past anyways. My favourite scene was when they had one improviser read off a scripted play and had another player improvise the responses and of course the appearance of the famous improv baby doll. These were a bunch of badass women improvisers owning their stage time and it made me really excited to start my women’s improvising classes with super-talented Laura Tennisco, there are a few spots left in the class and I totally think it is going to be a blast, so push your limits and CHECK IT OUT!

The city seems a buzz with the amount of new fresh activity in the comedy scene and every venue, no matter how small or secluded, is filled up with eager and energetic audiences hungry for comedy and the boundless talent in the Calgary comedy scene continues to serve up a great variety of options. All you have to do to enjoy all the cool little pop comedy shows happening all over the city is keep your eyes peeled via social media and let the comedy scavenger hunt commence.

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Stage fright be damned!

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On Wednesday I had an all-day comedy writing and performance workshop with Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall. I’ve been excited for a month about this and also slightly nervous for a couple of reasons. Reason one is that I have a terrible track record of meeting famous people who I admire. In the past I have cried, said absurdly awkward things and just dawned a frozen faced grin. Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Miikka Kiprusoff and Adam Lavine – I sincerely apologize. Reason two for my nervousness was that there was word we would be performing our sketches at Kevin’s show that night Yuk Yuk’s and while I was working on my stage fright issues, I was not sure I had completely conquered them. But I was determined not to let my nerves take away an opportunity to learn sketch comedy from a member of Canada’s most successful sketch comedy show.

My class consisted of 15 people from all walks of life including advertising & oil and gas and even a few active members of Calgary’s comedy scene. For a man who has had so much success in his career, worked with Lorne Michaels and has been on Seinfeld – Kevin McDonald is the most down to earth, quirky and lovely man. He gave each of us detailed, helpful notes throughout process and he was really supportive of our work. And the fact that I did something that made Kevin McDonald who has written on Saturday Night Live laugh and say I was funny, was like the highlight of my whole life up until now.

We did indeed perform our sketches that night in Kevin’s show. The crowd was bigger than I thought, about 50+ people. Not only were our sketches to follow Kevin’s stand up set, it also was to open for some of my personal improv heroes and teachers. Before the show started I felt those old stage fright nerves bubble up, so much I would go to the bathroom to talk myself off a ledge every 10 minutes. Then I saw my instructor from the Kinkonauts Owen Chan and I sort lied and told him I felt ready to get up there, finally. And he asked me what changed and as I was explaining to him how in his class I really started to understand how it not as nerve wrecking when you know you are not alone on stage and your job is not to make yourself look good but to make your stage partner look good – I somehow completely felt focused and calm. I also asked Owen what he does before he goes on stage and he said he just acted normal. I don’t why this concept blew my mind as much as it did. I always thought you had to like pump yourself up or like warm your vocal chords or something but I actually think those things psyched me out before. So I took his advice and just enjoyed the hilarious sets before our turn on stage.

I was so consumed by the comedy before I was supposed to go on that when I made my way on stage it was just like oh yeah, it’s our turn to go up in a another class. So we went up and we did our scene and we got a few laughs. Was it my best work? In my opinion far from it, I think held back a lot but I did it! I tackled one of my New Year’s Resolutions and I got on stage again. I was exhilarated and then the night was capped up off my watching some of my favourite Calgarian improvisers do some hilarious scenes with Kevin. I was really proud to be a part of that night and it is a day I will always remember.

I feel like I got this part of myself back that I thought I had lost. I never thought I would have the kind of bravery I had to go up on stage that I had when I was teenager. But even just performing in my classes had reminded me of a kind of joyfulness that I have only found in my life when I am on stage being ridiculous. And I don’t want lose it again. I am passionate about my pursuits in comedy performing and writing. And I hope that doesn’t come off as totally obsessive and crazy because I try to direct those feelings towards my cat. Anyhoo, I am pumped and excited and hopeful about what lies ahead! YAY!

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Last night I sunk further into my comedy addiction

KinkonautsWell folks I have been hitting the comedy/improv scene pretty hard in 2014. The Kinkonauts have been offering a constant stream of classes that I am continually excited to take and explore. And I have to say, I’m totally hooked. The energy I feel in these classes is replicated when I find the time to check out a show, whether it be from the Kinkonauts or the Loose Moose. With each show it is more evident to me that Calgary is experiencing a comedy renaissance, and I am keen to be a part of as an audience member and eager performer.

Last night after a week filled with deadlines and bouts of illness, I was blessed enough to have a free night to check out the last show of the Kinkonauts’ show week. The opening acts consisted of two troupes and their scenes encompassed everything I love about the Kinkonauts style. The only way I can describe it is to like it to a human experiment on stage. Performers go out there, start a scene without the outside help of a director or a coach, go with their first instinct and work with their stage partners to create something. And when it works it is magic and the performers are rewarded with laughter but I have to say that I have mad respect for the scenes that fail too. I respect that improvisers are brave enough to try different things out on stage and that they are given the rope to do so. Not only does that look fun to a wannabe performer but I really do believe the audience appreciates the effort and are rooting for the next scene’s success.

The next part of the show was Much Ado About Nothing, improvised Shakespeare. I have to say, I did not know what to expect and how well it would go over. Often improv audiences are younger and sillier and appreciate the gags over … well, Shakespeare. Plus, improvising in verse – come on that had to be impossible, right? Well, as another testament to Calgary’s rich comedy scene the “Royal” Kinkonaut Players used their quick wit, experimental improv style and hilarity to create a truly complex and engaging play called the “Wolf’s Bane”.  What was so cool about this show was because the space was so small and props so limited, the audience could see the players put the complex story together on stage and on the sidelines. Whether they were being curtains in a scene or making plans with fellow players on the sideline for the next scene, the audience was privy to it all and that really added that spur of the moment feeling that improvisational theatre promises you. It was indeed, magic!

The night was capped off by a few of my favourite things: Calgary’s best, worst and only comedy hip hop group – Notorious, Boy Bands and of course stellar improvisations.

I know I have praised Notorious on this blog before but I am going to do again because this my blog and I can! Each member of Notorious – Mat Mailandt, Ryan Hildebrandt, Aaron Ranger, and Ryan Sheedy – bring a totally unique persona to the group but also work so well together, like any successful boy band really. They are just so quick and consistent with their comedy and I’m a huge fan! If you have not checked them out, DO IT! They’re playing a show March 22nd at Café Koi at 8pm – GO!

Next was another one of my favourite shows in the city, Mixtape and last night show was dedicated to boy bands (15 year old Andrea was ecstatic!). This show is one of my favourites because it brings together improvisers from different groups in the city and you can see their styles work together. Plus it has those magical long form looping of stories that just excite me so much and all to a boy band soundtrack! *swoon*

To top it all off I snuck my way into the after party. I’ve been a fan and student of improvisation for a while now and I have never felt more welcomed and encouraged to participate in the community as I have these past few months. So if by chance you are thinking of taking an improv class but are feeling intimidated, please don’t. The instructors and performers are really great people who want to see you succeed and most importantly, I promise you – you’ll have a good time!

The week ahead promises more good times with comedy! I have a writing class with Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall on Wednesday (eek!) and I am working on a special podcast project with a fellow comedy lover at the end of the week. The boundary-pushing styling of the Kinkonauts has really inspired me to experiment with how I can participate in comedy and I am ever so grateful for that!

Check out more Kinkonauts Show in April and get more information about upcoming classes, visit their website for more information.

Picture courtesy of Cassie’s Camera.
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Adventures of a 31 year old wannabe improviser…

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When I was 19, I had an audition to get into the theatre program at Mount Royal College. After a lot of success in drama and theatre in junior high and high school, I was a bit cocky. I was comfortable on stage, probably more so with improv than scripted monologues, like the one I had to perform for the Mount Royal audition. We were required to perform a monologue and song. I memorized the monologue the week before and I chose my favourite Gershwin song to sing. I read over my lines over and over again, while my nerves increased as I saw people go in ahead of me. And then it was my turn, I entered the black painted theatre room, stood in the spotlight and squinted at the panelists in the shadow. A big voice boomed, “Andrea Marston please begin…” Please begin… my mind heard it but my mouth and brain could not coordinate the words of that monologue and for a second I was thrown but then I thought, “Screw this I am making up my monologue”. I remained in the intended character and made up the whole damn thing but I thought I pulled it off with my improvising. And then the big voice boomed, “That was off script. (long pause) Do you want to sing your song?” I choked out a yes and belted out “I Got Rhythm” with tears running down my face and my ever-so pathetic performance was received with a weak applause and, “Maybe next year Amanda.” Yeah, they called me the wrong name as I left the room to really dig that knife to my heart.

After that dastardly performance, I did not step on the stage again until 9 years later at a level one Loose Moose adult improv class. I remember that first class and how effing nervous I was. I was performing at a theatre I loved so much in front of a teacher who I had seen perform countless times and I was terrified. And then I got on stage and realized I get to use that door, that revolving wall, that window and that legendary couch I had seen in countless scenes at the Moose. The phrase that comes to mind when I think about that feeling, “A kid let loose in a candy shop” because all those old feelings of goofing around in drama class while doing improv in high school came rushing back to me. All that fearlessness that I lost was found and along with it was the awesomeness of being an adult and really not giving a crap what you look like when you are being funny and caring what people think of me.  After about three level 1 classes, I moved up to the hard to find level 2 classes at Loose Moose. Those classes really elevated me to the next level by allowing me to perform with people with a little more experience and getting to step a bit away from the theatresport games and more into scene work. Plus, along the way I got to be taught by some of my Moose favourites like Rob Mitchelson, Andrew Phung, Dave Lawrence and Dennis Cahill. The place where I had been a loyal audience member since I was 15 years old, brought me back to my love of performing.

Unfortunately I am a girl with a little too much on her plate these days with working just about two full time jobs and all. My schedule has not allowed me to work within the Loose Moose’s volunteer for company classes and the chance to get on stage system. There has also have been no level 2 improv  classes at the Moose for a while. So I have not taken a class since the summer and not having a creative outlet while dealing with life in the corporate world makes me a bit psychotic. So when I saw the Kinkonauts were offering level 2 classes, I jumped in! After really enjoying their last couple of show weeks, I was really optimistic about the class.

The last four weeks have been amazing. The Kinkonauts style is different from the Loose Moose in that it does not involve games, other than warm-ups, and the instructor does not jump in and give you notes until the end of most scenes. I feel like this style of performance let me experiment with my stage partner and gave us more power to see where the scene goes. This freedom on stage has really let me feel more confident and less afraid of making a mistake. My instructor Owen Chan, who is a wonderful performer with the Kinkonauts, was supportive and constructive in his criticism and his boisterous laughs ensured us all, we were on the right track. The icing on this sweet Kinkonauts cake was that I got to perform with old friends from other classes, people I have been lucky enough to have seen perform and was introduced to some awesome new friends. In the end this Kinkonauts class has inspired me to make more time for improv in my life because it makes me happy, and while money is great, happiness just makes life sweeter. Who knows maybe I will one day even be brave enough to perform on a stage in front of more than 10 people too?

Go check out the Kinkonauts unique style of comedy at shows running at the end of the week! For more information visit the Kinkonauts website.

Until next time, keep finding reasons to laugh everyone because it makes the world a little bit brighter!

Lots of love!

A

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So much magic on such a little stage – a glorious day of comedy with the Kinkonauts!

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I have admitted on here just over a handful of times that I have been a fan of Loose Moose’s brand of improv comedy for over half my life now. Going to a show makes me feel comfortable and completely at ease knowing I am in for a guaranteed laugh. I have not just been an audience member over the years but a student of short form improve theatre too. When I started taking adult classes at Loose Moose a few years ago, it really brought back to my love of being on stage and has helped me grow as a sketch writer too. During my years as an audience members and eventual student I have become very familiar with the theater sport games, the rules of scene work and the formula of short form improvisation. I have taken adult classes a total of about nine times now, the last time being this June. I feel comfortable (not cocky) performing short form theatre but its appeal was diminished when I made two discoveries this past year; sketch writing at Second City Toronto and the long form improvisation with the Kinkonauts.

I took three short sketch comedy writing classes in 2013. Two of those classes were at Loose Moose and one was at Second City in Toronto. Each made me realize how much I wanted to write and produce things that I truly find funny and inspiring. I still dare to hope that one day the delicious crop of talent in the Calgary comedy scene will embrace the glory of sketch writing and a community of sketch writers to rival that of Toronto will be born! But alas, I write solo for now but it is still with great joy that I let my imagination run wild on paper. I was pleased to hear about and sign up for a one day Sketch Comedy Writing workshop with Kids In The Hall alumni Kevin McDonald coming this March. Is that the birth of a sketch community I smell?

As stated earlier, it has been since June since I have taken an improv class. I have been busy with work, freelancing and the rollercoaster that is life. But today, I desperately needed my old friend comedy. Luckily, this week was Kinkonauts performance week and they were offering a class by NYC improviser, Louie Pearlman, who was an outstandingly supportive teacher. The class today was filled with people I had seen on stage at the Kinkonauts and the Moose. This, to say the least, made me freaking nervous. But I had a lot of pent performance momentum, and to give some relief to the people in my lunchroom who hear my noon hour comedy routine every day, I needed somewhere appropriate to let my silly freak flag fly. I found that today on the tiny little Kinkonauts stage. Long form improv is like a grown-up’s version of playing pretend. My indoctrinated Loose Moose short form improv brain took a little while to get used to scence-centric, free flowing, looping formula of longform improv. Once my brain accepted the challenge of working within this formula, I really had fun and embraced this method of improv. The lack of Loose Moose rules was terrifying and yet invigorating! I see how it could help my writing and I feel how it could lead to some really imaginative and engaging performances – and it instantly gave me a high that I feel myself getting hooked to. So despite my insane schedule, I have decided to take the Kinkonauts class starting this Thursday.

My decision to continue my exploration with Long Form improvisation was further substantiated tonight with a jam-packed night of high energy free flowing comedy. I saw new talent, experienced the genius of seasoned players and was reunited with my favourite comedy hip hop troupe, Notorious (who will be performing at Café Koi February 22 – must see!). The sad news that the Improv Guild lost their little purple home on McLeod Trail is sad for the talented improv group but luckily other Improv Theatres in Calgary seem to have been welcoming Guild talent to their shows, much to the enjoyment of eager audiences. It is great to see a variety of styles wherever you go check out a show these days in Calgary. Each troupe provided a different performance experience tonight and I never noticed one beat where the full house audience was not completely engrossed with what was happening on stage. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

It has been a long and glorious day filled with comedy and I am left inspired by the possibilities of what is next on my comedic journey.

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Exploring the creative process with the voices inside my head

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So my new year’s resolution to pursue more creative work in my free time has been coming along pretty well.

For a few years now I have thought that I needed a writing partner to collaborate with, when it came to my comedic writing process. This past year that idea seemed to be reaffirmed when I took comedy writing workshops at Loose Moose and Second City, most of the time it is easier when you had someone to riff your ideas off.

In 2014, I thought I would try to form a weekly meet-up group for sketch comedy writing classes. The first meeting was held on a blistery -30 degree day and only one kind soul decided to show up. I went over my workshop notes and we tried to brainstorm short premises and sketches but the truth is we were just not jiving. It was probably because he did not get any of my television references because he didn’t have cable; and I did not get his Star Trek and World of Warcraft scene ideas because that just ain’t how I roll.

To be honest I was discouraged, this was not the first time things didn’t work out with a potential writing partner. To be fair I am looking for someone as obsessed with comedy and writing as much as I am and then I am expecting some kind of magical chemistry to just appear, before all the amazing work does. I came to the stunning realization that much like traveling and experiencing other joys in life, I could not spend my time waiting for a partner just to go through with it. If I was going to write, I was going to forge ahead on my own. I have spent the last two weeks writing my sketch play alone and to be honest, I feel more driven to write than I have felt in ages.

I have always been a bit of a weirdo. I make entire people, conversations and situations in my head all day long. I did that in school and when my mind wanders at work now, it is still what I am doing. When I used to take the train to my downtown job I would make up back-stories for my fellow Ctrain commuters. When I worked in retail, I would write the inner dialogue of the customers on receipt paper. For as long as I can remember there has been a constant dialogue running through my brain, so why couldn’t I take those conversations and put them to paper on my own? I am not sure! But I have spent two weeks staying up until 2 am every night, playing with the voices in my head. Sitting alone in my apartment, saying my lines of dialogue streaming through my head out loud. In this week I have written something that really inspires me and makes me want see where I can take my writing.

Today I went to a great double header at Loose Moose and it did another wonderful job showcasing the depth of comedic onstage talent here in Calgary. I was casting my play while they slayed it on stage and I only can hope and dream that I can create something as brave as they can in their few minutes on stage. I love going to shows and being in the audience, I have extreme gratitude for the things in my life that bring me laughter. But I always come away from a night at Loose Moose, inspired to create and be a part of that community of comedic talent.

I am really happy with the work I have done on my play. I have been showing it around and people seem engaged with it and think it is funny. I think it is a unique concept and I would love to see it come to fruition. I hope to come back here with some news of progress but until then I urge you to go forth and seize the day. Go after the things you want, chase down your dreams and don’t wait for anyone to hold your hand to make those things happen. You are mightier than you think!

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Chasing the idea…

ImageAbout ten years ago today I was watching this mini-series on CBC called Human Cargo, which focused on human trafficking post-911. It was an incredibly well done and an eye opening mini-series and it inspired me to look further into my dream of creating television like that for Canadians. That winter I applied for the broadcasting at Mount Royal College and I was more than thrilled to have gotten in after interviews and testing. Upon entering college I initially thought I wanted to work on the news production side of the broadcasting industry to produce television like Human Cargo. In the Broadcasting Program you have to take both news and creative in the first semester and boy I am glad that we did. That first semester was in 2004 and it was a very turbulent time in the world before Saddam Hussein was killed and people were being beheaded on live television. News, while informative and eye-opening, is incredibly dark and while I am not the most sunshiny, happy person – I was not dark enough to withstand a career in news. Luckily as I was making that realization I discovered the joy of creative radio and television writing. The Broadcasting Program at Mount Royal College is very hands on. If you had an idea, you could produce it for a project and see it come through. We did radio dramas, television infomercials, music videos and all sorts of creative projects. In my writing classes, where I could brainstorm an idea and work with my classmates to produce it and then edit it to my liking, those were the happiest times of my life and brought me back to that drama class bliss of high school. We would get a lot of guest speakers coming in to tell us how challenging the broadcasting industry was with a decrease in jobs and not that much money for the work you would be doing and you would likely start out in a small town. Little did our little eager asses know, that there lay truth in their foreshadowing.

We called the first few months after Broadcasting, retirement because we just sat around waiting for a call-backs from our tapes and resumes we sent out. Until one day my best friend Sherri and I got tired of waiting and decided to take a road-trip to basically beg for work and amazingly enough it worked out and I got my first job in the industry in Saskatoon at Rawlco Radio. I was thrilled and my mother was devastated but I thought I would like Saskatoon. Sure, I am not really a small city kind of person but our fall tour of the city made it seem like a laidback, cool city. It was not until I weathered the four month blizzard that I came scurrying back and left Sherri, who had just come to help me settle in, to develop a seriously admirable career in television with Global Saskatoon. I moved back without a job or a plan and was lucky enough to get a job as a National Account Coordinator and Junior Creative Writer at Corus Calgary. My job was 70% processing paperwork for agency and supplied commercials and 30% writing for the smaller clients. While I truly hated 70% of my job, the 30% where I could come up with an idea for a client and then see it through to production gave me that sought after thrill and kept me at Corus for almost four years, until I was laid off.

It is at this point every dream and plan for my career just all went up in the air. When I got laid off, instead of be broken by it, I saw it as a sign to wake up and explore. I had never really traveled and my severance cheque gave me opportunity to go and explore this world I had only seen on a screen or page. My travels came after a long period of depression and it brought me back to myself. I consider that time in my life a miracle, it truly resurrected me.  When I got back into the job market in Calgary there was no work in the broadcasting industry, so I looked elsewhere and found temporary work with the government until I found my current position at an oil and gas event company. The money is double what I was making at Corus and almost triple what I was making in Saskatoon and I have been lucky enough to work with great people. There are a few rare moments when I can have that rush of the idea but maybe it is because of the dryness of my subject matter, the rush is just not the same. I was starting to forget about it to be honest until I started to take adult improv classes at Loose Moose Theatre. I can’t fully find the words to describe the feeling I have when I am up on stage when things are going well with my partner up there, the ideas are flowing and we’re creating this little story.  And it does matter how small that audience is, all that matters is that we are creating an idea and seeing it through in a way that makes people either laugh or think about the world in a different way. Any time I get to do that, those have been the best moments in my life.

Ten years ago, I was naïve, brave and crazy enough to take a leap and attempt to chase in my dream of working in television. And today, in 2014, my resolution (along with the old, lose weight one) is to pursue my creative pursuits, to see my ideas through and to be crazy and brave enough to see that dream through.

I pray for courage, tenacity and most importantly, money!

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A family that laughs together…

ImageComedy, much like most things in life, is subjective. What one person finds funny, another will find mediocre or even annoying. My father and I, although we have much in common, live on opposite ends of the comedy taste spectrum. He likes sitcoms like Two & Half Men and Big Bang Theory and I think they are the worst shows on television because of their cheap and predictable jokes. He thinks my favourite shows like The Office, Community and New Girl aren’t laugh out loud funny but my snorting laughter blares loudly with objections. We also have strongly different opinions about Will Ferrell. I think the man is comedic gold because he can make you laugh by having a look on his face or the way he says just a few words, while my Dad thinks he is nothing more than an overrated goof (that is my opinion of Charlie Sheen, pops!)

I think because we come from two different prospective when it comes to comedy, it is even more magical when there are a few special times when someone or something is so spectacularly hilarious that my Dad and I laugh at the same thing. This week, my side of the comedy war had a few wins on our hands thanks to Anchorman 2 and Loose Moose Theatre (which to my horror my Dad is not a fan of). I won’t spoil anything about Anchorman 2 but I can tell you that there were some truly funny things that had my Dad and me laughing in harmony. And tonight Gorilla Theatre at Loose Moose was stacked with great talent that delivered scenes that had my Dad, my cousin from California and I in a Marston symphony of giggles and even inspired my Dad to offer this awkwardly backhanded compliment to the Loose Moose players, “I usually hate Loose Moose but tonight you guys were great!” *This is when I wanted to Moonwalk my way out of this situation.

I want to thank my Dad and the rest of my family for being open to indulge me in my version of what I think is funny by checking out Loose Moose and SNL skits I force at you, and I promise I will try do the same for you, not in like in that I will ever watch an episode of Two & Half Men but if you have a funny youtube video or something… send it over and I will check it out. I would also like to thank my family for being an amazing source of comedy that I have been storing away all my life, I have no excuse to not write, you have given me material for life and made me such a weirdo. Much love.

One of my goals for 2014 is to pursue my dream of writing comedy, even if that is in my evenings and weekends with a pad of paper in café. Because laughter keeps me hopeful, moves me forward and inspires me… and with my words I hope to pay it homage. I hope my Dad will think some of it is funny.

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