The rise of Giggle Duck

Giggle Duck Family

On Boxing Day I co-produced my first show with my good friend Christine Harvey.

Christine and I met 3 or 4 years ago at Loose Moose Theatre. Her and her husband Michael were really into the improv scene, so I took classes with them and occasionally saw them to do tech when I was volunteering or at a show. Christine had been talking about the Kinkonauts with me for awhile before I checked them out and became absolutely addicted. I always have a lot of fun hanging with the Harveys because we are just a bunch of comedy and improv geeks who love to riff around ideas with me.

Christine and I had been mulling around about a project we could work on together all year and it was only earlier this month that we solidified it. Christine and I are ladies in our thirties and we improvise a little differently than the young spuds out there. While we are super excited to be on stage we are a tad bit timid, so we are not going to behead a fellow improviser for a little time to improvise. What we both love about the Kinkonauts and longform is that we get to improvise in a community. Fellow players are not up to compete for time on stage but are there to have their scene partners back. The thing is we sort of missed the high energy silliness of short form games. So our show concept was basically to give the community a safe place to experiment with formats they did not always get to play, try out new ideas, jam with a diverse group of improvisers from Calgary’s community and to hopefully give more opportunities for people who put in the time and passion into the community but don’t always get the chance to perform.

Boxing Day is a weird day to have a show. While the support we got from the community was awesome, we were not sure how many people we could get to even perform at the show let alone watch it. We had practice on December 17 and only two people joined us, Grace Lu (Loose Moose) and Carol our fellow Kinkonaut. We had invited like 10-14 people, so this could have worried us but I think we were all just itching to play and try stuff. The four of us are longtime students of improv and have taken many classes, so we were like “Okay I love this game, let’s play it!” and we would all be like “YES LET’S!”. We had fun, we learned new games from each other and we made each other laugh so much there were threats of barfing and peeing ourselves. Rather than the lack of attendance of our practice bumming us out, the energy from the small jam sessions lit our mimed fire even more!

I am happy to say that a lot more people showed up to play at the show. The Kinkonaut’s super talented friend from New York City’s Magnet Theatre, Louie Pearlman lit up the tiny gorgeous set. PETA PAN from Notorious and my STU coach, Aaron Ranger played the dark and hilarious Uncle Santa Leon (a wild host of sorts). And the gracious and talented Ryan Pilling from Obviously Improv stepped in at the last minute to play and act as our troubadour in the longform set. It was a great mix of people from all levels of improv from groups around the city. The show was incredibly fun and awesomely weird but not perfect, the audience was warm and energetic but not huge. Overall, Christine and I were pretty jazzed about how it went.

Giggle Duck will live on in 2015. We were working on a podcast and we have musical improv show planned for February!

I know I incessantly gush about the Kinkonauts but I am going to do it again. It is so cool to FINALLY be involved with a group who shows so much gratitude, respect and trust in their community. A place where everyone is given a chance to perform and create. The Kinkonauts are not scared to support new ideas whether it is coming from up top or from someone new. They wholeheartedly live the improv mottos of saying “YES! And…” and failing gracefully. So thanks to this community for taking me and letting me try new things. I am excited for all the adventures that kind of creative freedom brings us in 2015!

Ps- Along with coming up with the ah-mazing set design Christine also painted our beloved GIGGLE DUCK mascot and logo!

Giggle Duck Logo

VIVA LA GIGGLE DUCK!

A significant year

Thank you 2014

I can’t believe it has been a year since I have been going to Kinkonauts shows and January will make a year since I started taking classes with them. It feels like I have known these people for much longer. They are more welcoming to me than some people I have known for years. They have embraced me for who I am and allow me to grow within their community. After years and years of feeling like an outsider, I feel like I am amongst a group of people who maybe don’t get everything about me (I am a weird, handful) but they get my love for comedy and storytelling, and that understanding makes me feel connected to them. And maybe that is the biggest change that has happened this year, for the first time in years, I feel connected. Improv has given me connection, not just within this warm and welcoming community, but with family, friends and at work too. As I realize that every moment of every day is essentially improvised, I put more of an effort into being present, listening and figuring out ways to contribute – instead of checking out (my specialty).

Taking classes with the Kinkonauts and Obviously Improv woke me up and made me take down a lot of the protective walls I had been hiding behind. Now I am on a journey of transformation driven by this fiery ambition I completely forgot was a part of my very being. The girl who practiced writing her Emmy speech in the back of the library in high school and the girl who worked in retail and wrote sketches on receipt paper, well I thought she was long gone. But every time I get a chance to improvise in a show and I push myself past all those nerves, I feel all her ambition bubble up inside me. All those big ass dreams that I had in my youth feel reignited and at the age of 32, I want to chase them down at high speed.

The last year of my life has changed in these amazing ways because I followed my curiosity and tried something new. That is all it takes. Follow the thing that sparks your interest. Dust off old dreams. Never stop exploring the things that light you up on the inside.

This past year has not always been easy or perfect, parts of it were even really hard but this year has been significant. This year matters because I found something I lost and it brought me back. My drive and passion for the year ahead is immense. I am excited for what more lies on this path that I am charging down. I am excited to tackle all the challenges and embrace all the opportunities. I am excited to piece together a life I have been daydreaming about all my days. 2015… I am ready…

PS – If you are interested in following your curiosity about improv, take a class! Check out the schedule at http://www.kinkonauts.com or http://www.calgaryimprov.org.