Improv Life Lesson – Make the most of the present moment

The MomentI have been feeling really restless this week. Not to get into all the details about the twists and turns that have been popping up in my life these days but let’s just say, everything is just dangling up in the air. There are possibilities of some really cool things happening, everything staying exactly the same and of course the great unknown. And yet no clear answer has really fallen into place yet and I am lurking around in this weird limbo… feeling a wee bit stressed and out of sorts.

In the past, this kind of waiting game has driven me to make some pretty rash and stupid decisions. I react without taking a moment to breathe, I want to control the moments in between to work to my advantage and have consistently ended up effing things up. Today I realized this is also a problem, I am working through on stage with my improvisation.

Tonight during the class and show at Loose Moose Theatre, I saw that the scenes that really worked with some of the more experienced improvisers like Ryan Hilderbrandt, Shawn Kinley and North Darling – completely supported the reality of the scene and their partners at a pace that the audience was totally engaged with. The room left in the moments of silence added emotion, gave room for their partners to react and gave the audience time to digest the story. They made me realize that the key to really good pacing is to not worry about the next steps or the past mistakes but to fully immerse yourself into contributing to the reality of the present moment.

This was a lesson I needed to realize for improv and life… seriously people, improv has all the answers.

Love,

Improv’s most obsessive cult member

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My love has bloomed and the season has ended

lilacs

This past week was exhausting. I won’t bore you with all the gory details other than to say there were 12 hour work days, two very public falls on my well-cushioned tush and a high school tour vomit incident that may or may not have given me some kind of super flu bug. Through it all, I tried to use my improv rules of staying positive and contributing, and I think it was what helped me survive this hellish week.

The fact that I also knew there was a sweet improv light at the end of the tunnel, gave me something to look forward to. I had planned out my Saturday to include a lot of improv because I had to miss a week worth of great shows. So I signed up for a class taught by Shannon Manning from the glorious city of New York and planned to watch the Kinkonauts shows and go to the after party.

I woke up on Saturday with a hangover from too many celebratory gin and tonics, sore leg muscles from my questionable dance moves and the residual effects of the super flu bug. I was not really feeling high energy improv-Andrea surging through me but I was not going to let that stand in the way of my Improv Saturday!

Then I walked into that small black Birds & Stone church theatre, saw all my fellow hardcore improv addicts/classmates and met a new, delightful person who wanted to share her passion and perspective on improv – and I just felt relief flow through my body for the whole class. I was back home with improv, after a crazy week.

Thanks to the Kinkonauts and experimenting with other companies, my love for longform improv has grown immensely. I love how you as an improviser have a backline of fellow players to support the story and you. I love how elements of the story are brought in from different angles and perspectives but most of all, I love the sense of community that I feel when I know someone can tap me out when I am struggling or I can do the same for them.

Last night was the end of the season for the Kinkonauts and I am really quite devastated about it. I have really loved my experiences with this theatre company this past year and last night was a perfect example of what I love about them. The show was hosted by someone I am happy to call a friend, Jessica Belbin of the Kinkonauts house team Dream Toast. Jessica hosted in the character of a French Canadian and while it was a risky move, I think it paid off. She was engaging, hilarious and kept the energy up all night long.

The show opened with the Absolute Truth About Absolutely Anything. I watched this concept be developed during fan-girling of the Kinkonauts and I got to say yesterday I think they really nailed the format. Zac and Rob came out in hooded robes, to olden churchy music and a scroll. I love the complete nonsense facts they made about toasters, how the transitioned scenes by using their hoods and the absurdity of their scenes made it the best set I have seen by these guys.

Right before the main show started Beatdown, a Kinkonauts house team, performed. They had great energy and I thought they were really original with their character choices. As an avid student of longform, I am a really big fan of Beatdown’s transitions between scenes and confidence of when to sweep a scene. It is definitely something I am looking at working on, so I love watching troupes that do it well and Beatdown does.

Finally, the last show of the night was *sigh* wonderful. Almost as much as I love improv, I also love going out to listen to new live music. So the fact that the mainstage Kinkonauts show featuring live music from Boreal Sons alongside my sweet, sweet longform improv – pretty much spelled out a perfect night for me. The music was sweet and the scenes told stories I was totally engaged with. And all the stress from the prior week, just melted away, and enjoyed the moment.

The show was followed by Mixtape, which was wonderful as always, and opening for Mixtape a new dynamic duo of two of my favourites – Andrew Phung and Covy Holland – with Chiko. It was pretty cool to see Andrew’s high energy with Covy slow methodical, weirdness. I am excited to see more from these two.

The night ended with an epic party that I was dorkily excited to have been invited to, where I got to talk to people as madly in love with improv as I am. It was probably one of the best nights I have had in years!

I just want to thank the improv community so much for supporting this blog, my adventures in trying to get back on stage and just for overall enriching my human experience. You all have been dear to me these past 7 months. I am excited for a new season and hopefully being even more involved with you guys!

 

Well, look who has grown up?

NotesTonight was a pretty special night for me.  I read notes that my friends and I wrote to each other and passed around in high school. Yup, I am old enough to know days before Facebook, text messaging and non-dial-up internet. We would tell each other anything (our hate for math class) and everything (details of how our crushes smiled at us, so they must like us – right?) in these notes that we would fold in a very intricate square shape.

Initially, Andrew Phung proposed the idea of reading my childhood diaries at Loose Moose to inspire scenes for his Past Your Bedtime Show, I was beyond excited because it came merely weeks after I had watched Mortified Nation on Netflix. The documentary is about a show that travels around the world, where adults read from their melodramatic teenage diaries. Well I was a great candidate for such a show because I had 51 journals that I poured my heart into from the ages of 11-18. So I ventured into my parent’s basement and dusted off my old journals to see if in those pages, lay comedy gold.

There was a big part of me that was terrified that I would read these journals and realize I have not changed at all. And at 31 turning 32, it is pretty vital in my opinion to experience some personal growth since my teen years. I am happy to report growth was achieved. I was an insecure, stroppy asshole as a teenager. I wanted nothing more than to fit in and I compromised myself to do so. I am not talking drugs or drinking, I was too much of a goodie good back then for that stuff, but just like not being great to people in order to make other like me and caring too much about what people thought about me. I hated my body and weird brown family for making me nothing like all the other girls. I would take all that stress out on my family and was probably sort of a nightmare to live with.

I am thrilled to tell you that 31 year old Andrea is nothing like that 15 year old girl. After years of trying to find my sitcom-like group of friends and being left ditched and disappointed, I realized the relationship with myself, was the one that I needed my focus. Igrew to love my uniqueness. I got to know myself. I know what makes me tick. I know what my downfalls are. I know what makes me laugh and how to make myself laugh. I know I am weird, quirky, short and round and I have grown a strong affection for myself… it may sound strange but life seems way more secure because of that.

I also have grown a true sense of gratitude for my family.  I was terribly ungrateful for them in my teen years and a lot of twenties too, I am sad to say. It is only now in the retrospect of these decades that I realize that they are my one true and constant support system and source of comedy material. They never fail to show up when I need them. I am so lucky to be a part of this resilient, funny and close-knit dysfunctional family.

Venturing back into those days of journals and notes turned out not just to be about an improv opportunity (which I was so grateful and excited about!) but it gave me a chance to give myself credit for how far I have come and how much I have grown up. To know that something positive came out of those melodramatic and sort hard days, kind of makes it all seem full circle in some weird way. My dream is to share the comedy from the pain and awkwardness of my past and inspire laughter and joy from it. That makes every moment, no matter how hard it was, worth it.

Today I read notes from when I was 15 at a theatre that I started obsessing about when I was 15… ha life is just so wickedly weird sometimes….