See you later comfort zone

Amy PoehlerOn this the second day of my 32nd year I was ushered right out of the door of my comfort zone for 12 straight hours. I have always been a notorious ‘fraidy cat, as the children like to taunt. I am scared of heights, rodents, operating things with wheels and for the whole decade of my twenties I was terrified of getting back on stage. I must commend my 31 year old self from taking leaps and bounds to conquer my fear of performing and instead focus on my passion for it. In the last few months, I have found my niche with strong characters and voice work but I have identified areas that I needed to grow in. I want to work on my physicality and bringing more grounded characters to the stage. Today,outside of my comfort zone, ushered me on what I think is the journey to becoming the performer I have always aspired to be.

The day started on my second full day of the Obviously Improv retreat, proceeding one of the most sober and completely ideal birthdays I have ever had and a whirlwind and career-inspiring trip to Boston. I was apprehensive about the day’s agenda as it consisted of a mask workshop. Masking is pantomiming with stage masks with very distinct facial features. I have seen this format a lot at Loose Moose over the years but never had been really inclined to try it. In my mind it took away my words and essentially forced a character on me, rather than giving me the joy of being able to create my character from scratch. But in the true spirit of the courageous person I was trying to become in my last year of existence, I let go and jumped in. And I am so glad I did because there floating atop the deep end of my comfort zone was the improv epiphany that I have been awaiting for some time now.

There behind a mask, looking like god knows what, I was forced to slow down, shut up and find the character in my body and bring it alive in my being. Something I was so apprehensive in the beginning of the day became addicting to me by the end of the workshop. I think I have a lot I can learning about masking and to think I was not even going to try it!

After a quick break with my kitty at home, I headed to another improv class but this time with the Kinkonauts (addicted, much?). I was forewarned by my Obviously Improv troupe member and Kinkonauts coach, Aaron Ranger, that because of my love for characters I might hate what he was doing with the class. When I heard this, I freaked out a little in my head. If I couldn’t bring my characters, what I consider my strength to the Kinkonauts, what could I offer? I learned in class today that Aaron does not want us to do characters at all in our STU Kinkonauts sets. He wants us to be ourselves on stage… and with my best poker face on… my stomach dropped. ME… who wants to hear about me? And what I have always loved about storytelling and improv, is getting lost in characters, if only for one moment escaping my mundane existence. Being exposed as boring old me on a stage brought out every insecurity I have about myself.

During the break I went for a little walk to calm myself down and I thought about a message that has been slapping me in the face all year but with increased vigor this past week. “No Fear”. A motto created for our STU group from Aaron and topic that was continually spotlighted at the conference I attended in Boston. I have to stop doubting myself. Every disaster and comeback of my 32 years has given me a lesson and a story and instead of just getting lost in made-up characters, I should take the time to develop my presence and voice on stage – as just me… Andrea Marston with the ammo of age to back me up. *deep breath*

Support my journey – please!?

Before I left for Boston I wrote a short sketch with my talented friend Marie Boston who produced and edited a video with her gracious and equally talented friend Brit, that we are entering to the CBC Comedy Coup contest for a chance to win $500K to create 1/2 hour comedy special for CBC prime time.

Watch Funhouse Rampage’s first entry here and help us move on in the contest: http://comedycoup.cbc.ca/weekenddeceit

I am also in shows this week with the Kinkonauts (click here for the invite) and Obviously Imrov (click here for the invite). I would love to see some friendly faces in the audience during this pretty exciting week in my life!

I am letting go, jumping in and improvising myself towards all those insanely big dreams that I have ached for sitting in the audience of the hundreds shows I have watched. And I get to share these huge moments of learning and growing with two groups I feel very safe and at home with. I feel truly blessed! I’m scared, I am excited and I am ready to turn a blind eye to fear and explore where all these risks will take my lifelong dream. So goodbye to my comfort zone and those pesky insecurities and hello to whatever lays beyond that! Here goes nothing 32!

*about the picture quote on this post* – I was pacing around after my mind blowing weekend of improv, processing, when I decided to distract myself from improv for a second on pinterest, when I happened across this quote from one of my comedy inspirations. These words found me exactly when I needed them to… 

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One comment

  1. Holly · September 23, 2014

    You are an amazing woman Andrea…I am most impressed by your ability to conquer your fears! Good luck with all your endeavours!

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