Hug a troll

Hug A TrollThe world seems to be brimming with hate in 2016.

I have had a lot of time to thinking this over (thanks unemployment!) and I think I know what is happening.

It is a troll take over guys. We were all getting ready for a zombie apocalypse, Y2K and shit like that, and we let the trolls take over. Seriously they are everywhere. They are all over social media spreading hateful, ignorant, sexist, racist, pointless opinions all over the walls for everyone to see. They are shooting up and bombing places all over the world. They are successfully running for president of the United States. They are making us all question whose lives do matter. Whether they are in their parent’s basement or on an international stage these troll jerks need to be stopped because they are perpetuating an era of hate. An era I have no interest in being a part of.

I know I am not perfect. I know none of us are, even the best of us have a hidden hateful troll inside of all of us at times. It comes out when we are stressed out, angry, envious and really just scared. It is fear with a sharp tongue and thoughtless action, that is our troll out and loose. I, myself, have spent far too long bitter about how people had bullied me and done me wrong in my life. I lived my life on the defensive. I did not let my inner troll loose on the world, per say, but I did sit with her inside my head, alone, worrying about people’s motives and hating myself. I closed off the world because I was angry and scared.

Time has passed and as I grow up I see the value in forgiveness, being open and showing kindness. My angry, inner troll retreated because I chose to focus on the joy in life and inside myself.

I honestly believe that if we can all do this on an individual basis, we can change the world and steer away from this hateful path we have all been forced on. So we have to put up a fight, and I don’t mean engaging in conversations with these hateful idiot hotheads. I mean very legitimately throwing love at hate. They use hateful words, we will use words of compassion and kindness. They will use violence and we will fight back with smiles, hugs and flash mobs. They will spread their evil propaganda and we will spread love through art, comedy, music and acts of kindness.

And next time you read one of their troll comments or are drawn into a conversation with someone hatefully ignorant, don’t let the heat of the conversation draw out your troll. The world does not need anymore trolls. This is your opportunity to choose to represent good in this world. So choose the side of love and show a troll some compassion, kindness and love. Heck, why not hug a troll? After all, there is just a scared human soul underneath all that huffing and puffing.

Keep fighting the good fight everyone. I have faith that we can take back this year from them darn trolls!



A note on confidence


“2016 is the year of confidence for Andrea.”

That is a statement I hear once a week in my musical improv class at Bad Dog Theatre Company from my teacher, the amazingly talented and accomplished Carly Heffernan.


A word, a state of being and a concept that I have struggled with most of my 33 years. I am a chubby, nerdy, ethnically vague weirdo who found a love for laughing and making people laugh at a very young age. Even with this tool in my pocket I of course encountered mean girls and bullies, I was rejected by just about every guy I had ever liked, friends ostracized me for being different and still somehow I found a way to become comfortable with myself. I thought this was confidence.

But as I journey to put myself out there and be vulnerable with my storytelling and comedy and am lucky enough to see more and more amazing performers, I realize I had the confidence thing all wrong. I came to Toronto, as I have gone into many other challenges and new phases in my life, anxiously enthusiastic. I always thought that enthusiasm masked just how deeply worried I was to fail. Even though that is what this art I have been studying for years now encourages, graceful failing. I am here and taking a huge chance at not an age I expected to do so and I am worried I am going to fuck it up, sometimes I am 100% convinced I am eventually going to mess this amazing opportunity up. I say far worse things in my head that any of my critics could ever could throw at me. This constant dialogue of massive self doubt and fear has stopped me from chasing a dream I have had all my life. I have sat in so many audiences and wished so hard to be up on stage playing. Once I got to start playing regularly in Calgary with the Kinkonauts, my eager enthusiasm started to become louder than my anxiety. The more addicted I got to weaving a story together in the spur of the moment, the bolder I became with my risks. Until I took the biggest risk of my 33 years and moved to Toronto to fulfill a teenage dream of learning and playing in this vibrant community.

My favourite people on stage are the ones who are having a great time and owning their time on stage with confidence. They don’t have a critic making them hesitate all the time, they are completely at ease in a moment and they go for it. This is the performer I want to be. This is what I am working towards.

So as I settle into this new life I think I am slowly learning that confidence is not about anxious enthusiasm or being comfortable with yourself as much as it is about loving who you are. Failing ain’t so bad when you are doing with someone you love. Sure, I am not like everyone else but I have a unique point of view and a passion to share stories and I’m a damn Queen in my own right! (That was so hard to type but my new damn mantra, “I’m a Queen!”)

So, I am going to work hard on taking better care of myself and being a little kinder with my inner dialogue because after all, “2016 is the year of confidence for Andrea.”

The City

Toronto skyline

The city is filled with people lost in their notes
Brewing new ideas and jotting down poetic quotes
Inspiration seems to seep out every corner street
A mystical thought with someone it’s meant to meet
It is hard not catch the contagious urge to create
The pen is your rod and the paper is your bait
The next big idea is the catch of every single day
Something fresh or observing old things in a new way
It took turning my back at the security I had on hand
To be drawn here to this treacherous but inspiring land
To deliver your ideas from conception into art
Often your whole world needs to be torn apart
And there alongside the rubble you’ll find your chance
To create the kind of life you want and take a stance
And inspiration and grace will find you like never before
All because you took the chance to walk through the door
So power through the hard days, even if there are many
Because what is around the next corner no one can foresee
Just move and explore until inspiration finds its way to you
Another day granted, another day to make your mark too
“They” say, it’s never too late to be who you might have been
But maybe up until now you have lacked the pure discipline
It takes to chase down your dreams and follow Plan A
To write that song, that book or the sitcom screenplay
So just start by putting pen to paper and letting go
Follow the direction the ideas choose to flow
And there you’ll find solace for years you thought lost
Every day worked will be worth it, even that terrible boss
For they armed you with stories and a unique point of view
And the undeniable fact that there is only one of you
I am chasing out self doubt and forging a new road ahead
Focusing on what I want and stop thinking about the instead
Some days I can’t believe that I am actually where I want to be
A major life decision not based on anyone else but little old me
I’m spoiled with time to read, try new writing and explore the city
Feeling self indulgent, sometimes lonely but ultimately totally free
I am excited that I caught this bug for writing in a new kind of way
I wake up excited for the songs I’ll write or what my characters will say
It’s a new life that is not always so easy but that’s a part of the journey
The steps I am taking to become that me I was always supposed to be

Hello from the funk


Have you guys seen the ‘90s television show Felicity? Felicity changes her college plans and moves across the country to chase down her high school crush, Ben, who gave her some hint of hope in some vaguely flirtatious note he wrote in her yearbook. While I was a fan of the show (as Team Noel), I was never really sold on Felicity’s logic and reasoning but in the end (SPOILER ALERT) it works out for her. Moving to New York City ends up helping her find herself and she gets her man… Ben.

I guess this is all coming up because I feel like I Felicity-ed my high school crush comedy to Toronto because it gave me some vaguely flirtatious stage time in Calgary. And now like I judged Felicity’s logic, I am judging my own. Like “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?” washes over me every once and awhile. The ambitious, outgoing and annoyingly eager person I used to be seems to have changed into an anxious, shy, self-doubting doe eyed version of myself. I am worried about money, about my skills and talents and if I have what it takes to be any kind of employed in this city filled with ambitious go-getters. I just feel overwhelmed and alone.

The stupid thing is I always used to think I was a loner and good at being on my own. The truth is I have never been this on my own before and even though I was living alone in Calgary, I was backed up by a solid support system. I had my family, friends and improv community with me and out here it feels like I have to find all those things all over again because I chased comedy like a frizzy haired 18 year old idiot in a ’90s network drama.

I am telling myself that this is just the beginning and this is just a time of adjustments. I know that this is not all going to smooth sailing and I know with great change comes chaos and discourse. In the past I have run away from the adjustment times and gone back to what worked before. The thing is I have wanted this change for a really long time. I have wanted to live in this city, work in television and do comedy every night and now I have those opportunities in front of me and I feel like I am freaking out and melting down. But this time I refuse not fight through the discomfort in the chaos of the change because I think on the other side of all this lies the thing that has been missing all along.

So I need to buck up. I need to be resilient and push myself to do the things I came here to do. I need fight past this overwhelming feeling of fear and not let that define the person I fought hard to become. The scary and freeing thing about doing this all on my own, it is going to be what I make of it. I really hope I don’t fuck it up.

Spinster Chic

Hi Guys,

So here I am in Toronto. I have seen a few shows at the Comedy Bar and done a workshop at Bad Dog Theatre. There are shows EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK and I live across the street from the majority of the action. I am intimidated by the talent and experience out there but all I can do is bring who I am to this scene and see how it works. I plan on hitting classes and shows hard when I on my own next week. I have been itching to do something creative and write more. So I wrote this song and made a YouTube Video. I hope to do this more and more and I hope at least some of the time I can make you smile or even better yet laugh!

Hope you dig it!




Went to dinner with some family friends a few weeks ago and got asked if I came to Toronto to find a husband. Here is my response to the “When are you going to settle down, Andrea?” question in a little number I wrote for the Youtube. Enjoy my Sunday’s best Spinster Chic fashion!

Backing track borrowed from: BluntedBeatz

It’s funny how the story goes

Kinks Us

I was reluctantly moved to Calgary from Winnipeg when I was 13 years old. I remember hearing the news and being completely unimpressed. “Why would I want to leave my summers at the beaches, my friends and my family for some hick town like Calgary?”, I sullenly asked my parents.

We moved and I was a total stroppy asshole about it until about I was 15 and I miraculously found a group of friends and my way back in a theatre. Drama class and socializing made high school and Calgary a bit more bearable despite the occasional flare up of teenage bull shit drama.  No matter the teenage angst, self confidence issues or anything else getting me down I had my escape… drama class. The opportunity to lose myself inside a character and focusing on their problems was a welcome relief for an awkward girl who was just having trouble being herself. Along with being a regular audience member at the Loose Moose Theatre when it was at the Garry Theatre, I was deep into my Saturday Night Live obsession during this time in my life and found a deep love for comedic performing and writing. There were far too many lunch hours I would hide in the back of the library, avoiding mean girls, listening to my Jewel CD and reading about Saturday Night Live and Second City. Yeah, I was pretty cool with my Oscar the Grouch backpack, pigtails, plaid pants, value village grandpa sweater and platform shoes. I counted down the days I would be out of high school, free to leave Calgary and go chase all these big city dreams I just knew were my future.

It is always funny to me how different our lives turn out from what we imagine it will be when we are 16 years old. When I was 16 I thought by the time I was 30 I would a successful television actress and producer, living in New York City, counting my Emmy Awards with my equally successful and incredibly handsome husband. The dots to get there all seemed so easy to connect back then.

Reality swept down into my life and made me feel like I had to settle. A bad audition here, some money problems there and constant rejection to suck away any self-esteem I might have had. My twenties in Calgary, with a short stint in Saskatoon, battered me up. While I went to broadcasting school to work in television, I ended up working for four years as radio copywriter, to becoming a government copywriter and then four years as an oil & gas event marketing writer and manager. I was doing well, yes. I was making a good living and developing a decent career. I had my family nearby. I had a ton of amazing friends. I should have been happy but all I have been feeling for years and years is restless.  Something was missing.

For most of my twenties I thought what I was missing was a guy. This lead me through many wasteful years living in a cycle of rejection, tears and heartache.  I was never enough for them and they were never enough for me to fill up that restless feeling inside of me. Well the last wonderful guy to completely shatter my heart actually did me a huge favour. He brought me back to improv when we started taking classes at Loose Moose Theatre in 2011. It was the first time I had been up on stage in years and I remembered how much I loved it. After that wonderful gentleman saw himself out of my life, I threw myself into improv. I went to work, I did improv and that was it. I noticed that restless feeling found an appetite for improv, telling a stories and making people laugh and it was always hungry for more. That hunger drove me to eagerly take every class I could and I have treated improv and comedy like an art I am trying to master. I took every opportunity to learn, produce and play and while doing this I finally found my home and place here in Calgary. I found a community of people who have saved my life, woke me up and reminded me who I am. Every time I am in a Kinkonauts’ class, show or just hanging out having a beer with them, I am always amazed at the love and respect I have for these people and the level of support and encouragement they show me. The Lab is my favourite place in Calgary because it the most warm, comfortable and safe place to learn, laugh or play. (AHHHHH I AM GONNA MISS IT SOOOO MUCH!)

I have spent a lot of time talking about how I wanted to get out of Calgary and move to Toronto without successfully doing so. I am now so glad that all my attempts were unsuccessful because that took me on a journey that I needed to go on. A journey where I would encounter all these weirdo improvisers that are now my great friends, my amazing teachers who each gave me tools of the trade, time with my hilarious and supportive family and a way back to my self esteem.

In all these years I have grown to love Calgary and consider it my home. But when I got laid off the first thing that I came to my mind is that I can go to Toronto. I think that is how I knew I am ready to go. I don’t want to go to get away from a city that I hate or guy that broke my heart. I want to go because my soul is hungry to learn more, to have more opportunity to master my art and grow into that person I hoped I was going to be when I was 16 years old. I am not going to make the same mistake that my 16 year old self made and put any expectation on this next leg of my journey. I just hope that I am open to whatever lies ahead, driven to work hard for the things that I want and find the support there that I am lucky enough to have here at home.

Thank you to every single one of you who has supported me or rejected me, who has been kind to me or have been a complete asshole to me. The good, the bad and the ugly of my almost 20 years in Calgary has taught me valuable lessons, brought me my dearest friends and made me this person I am today… and you know what? I don’t totally hate her, she’s alright. So bye for now Calgary…

(Well bye on Monday… after one more Saturday Night Lab….and Sunday. So…. This is the most drawn out goodbye ever)

*awkwardly moonwalks away*

My familia

Family 2This past week I spent in San Francisco celebrating my Grandpa and Grandma Marston’s 60th wedding anniversary. It has been just over 5 years since the last time I went to San Francisco and to be honest I am sad to say I don’t really have the opportunity to go down to visit with my Dad’s side of the family.

My Dad moved to Canada from Pakistan over 40 years ago at the age of 19. Needless to say this is still mind-blowing to me, the 33 year old freaking out about moving across the country in about 3 weeks here. Every now and then he tells me stories about the culture shock he experienced and how hard it was those first couple of years here on his own. He lived with relatives and friends all over the country until he settled in Winnipeg and returned to Pakistan to marry my Mom (Happy 35 years Ma & Pa) and bring her back to Canada and about a year and half later, I was born. All of my Dad and Mom’s families immigrated out of Pakistan to join us in Winnipeg or move to England and San Francisco.

My childhood in the lower-middle class was not often filled with the riches and spoils of some of my friends. We didn’t go to summer camps, fly off to many tropical destinations and were not involved in a ton of extracurricular activities available outside of school. My childhood was filled with playing pretend with my cousins, trips to the lake with my big weird Paki family, the best stories from my Dad on long greyhound bus trips to San Francisco and a lot of love and laughter.

Visiting with my family in San Francisco, seeing my frail Grandparents so excited to tell all their old dirty jokes and songs to all their grandkids, getting to know the fine young humans that I am blessed to have as cousins and my hard-working and uncles and aunts; I realize that I am made from some pretty sturdy stock. It gives me faith in myself coming off a year where I spent most of it doubting myself, and sending me into a year where I need to believe in myself more than ever.

I have been playing it safe for too long because I just don’t believe in myself. I worry that I am not capable or worthy of my dream. This week,however, reminded me that I am the daughter of a badass, hustler of a Dad and supportive, loving and strong Mother. I belong to a community of insane, neurotic, hilarious, beautiful, talented and strong people that I am blessed to be tied to by blood and all the comedic material they supply me, is icing on that sweet cake. Every time I worry that I am not worthy of all the things I hope for in 2016 and the years beyond, I am going to remember WHO I am and WHO I come from.

2016 is already shaping up to be a year that is going to change my whole life as I head off to Toronto soon. I  am so excited to break free because this weird, funny, smart and creative human being is ready to live her passion and not doubt or deny who she is and what she wants to do with her life anymore. My New Year’s Resolutions is to honor my family by positively contributing to the world with my gifts and passions. I want to use my words to help those less fortunate than me, make people laugh and maybe even inspire someone.  I want to add that light to the world for my family.

23 days and counting…