How I Came To Teach Sketch Comedy In Santa Ana With Crear Studio

“What You Seek Is Seeking You.”

— Rumi

Earlier this summer, I went to go support local writer, poet, performer, and activist, Anatalia Vallez at the OC Zine Fest. She shared her journey as a writer and how she came to be a poet, along with the rest of the panel.

It was very moving to see this panel and this great group of Latinx writers open up to the public how they became writers and why they do the work.

Little to my knowledge, the panel of Latino writers I witnessed was sponsored by local activist and arts patron, Sarah Rafael García, and her local, community oriented book store in Santa Ana, LibroMobile.

At the end of the panel Sarah said that she regularly puts on writers workshops and to stay tuned for updates.

My producer brain kicked in and I thought to myself, “I should pitch her a sketch writing workshop for beginners!”

I always get random ideas for pitching things. Some of them never leave my head, some of them become Facebook discussion threads, and every now and then, some of them become real life.

So I contacted her, pitched her and her partner in running Crear Studio, Dino Perez, about teaching a sketch class for beginners and they said “Yes.”

Suddenly, I was super happy — my pitch got approved and I was going to be teaching sketch again!

Teaching Sketch Comedy for me feels so right; it feels as if I’m doing one of the things I was set out to do in this life.

One of the best jobs I ever had was being a college writing tutor, maybe my favorite job ever. And comedy is my life and passion, so two merge these two things, comedy and writing, in one perfect situation, how could I not be happy?

The workshop was fun. We lot some people along the way, but the people who stayed gave everything they had, and I learned the joy of teaching sketch writing to non-comedians.

Some really fun sketches got produced in this 3-Week Workshop. Sarah Rafael García, Angela Estela Moore, and Frankie Estrella are all just super creative people with a natural inclination for storytelling and pointing out the weird things in life.

And we’re going to take all this stuff we created and share it with the world in a public table read this Wednesday night in Downtown Santa Ana! And we got Erik Wargo reading stage directions! It’s going to be super fun! Join us!

Crear Studio Presents: Sketch In SanTana is this Wednesday night at the Fourth Element Gallery from 07:00pm-08:30pm. This is event free, so check it out!

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Why Being A Writer-Performer Is Making The Fernando Show A Lot Easier

Working On Characters & Bits

So I just polished up my opening character bits for the Fernando Show on Friday with Brandon Thresher, and I can’t wait to get them in front of a live audience!

Brandon gave me some great notes, and you would be surprised how the smallest tweaks in terms of word choice and timing can make all the difference in making a sketch awesome.

All the material is my own original stuff, a compilation of some really fresh stuff from like two weeks ago, and some stuff I’ve had time to think about and develop slowly.

Some ideas come to you already written as if delivered in a dream. Those are easy to write — you just have to sit down somewhere and type, and get them out in time.

Other ideas take time. You have to think about them. You have to think about why they are funny. You have to decided how you’re going to structure them in a way to get the most absolute funny for the least amount of time and delivered quickly as possible.

This would all be extremely hard if I weren’t a writer-performer.

I think one of the advantages of being a writer-performer is that you get to write things in your comedic voice while executing them the way you want to.

Basically, the way you see something in your head is the way it comes out in real life. It’s not always like this, but you’re in more control when you’re writing material for yourself as compared to when you’re writing for someone else.

I think that’s one of the biggest take aways I have from my experience being a graduate of the Pack Theater Sketch Program — when you can write for yourself, you’re not dependent on others to create material for you.

Well, this Friday I’m going to share with my OC family and friends the sketch side of my comedy life, a side I don’t get to share as much as I’d like.

I’m going to have some special guests too: Liam O’Mahony, Tee Zaang, Samuel Frausto, Josh Heimendinger, and Frankie Estrella.

And I could not do this show with out the help of my amazing friend Brandon Thresher who gave me the idea for the show and to Robert Souders who gave me the space to put it on.

This show is going to be a lot of fun, and you won’t want to miss it!

Tonight We Are & The Fernando Show! is this Friday at 09:30pm at the Improv Collective in Costa Mesa for just $5! Check it out!

#improv #ocimprov #sketchcomedy #packtheater #improvcollective #spectaclesimprovengine

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Why Gretchen Burnton Is An Amazing Improviser

Gretchen's Pack Pitch

Gretchen Burnton Is Amazing

I think the best part of the improv journey is meeting new people who are amazing and stir all kinds of positive and kind feelings in you.

For me, one of those people is Gretchen Burnton.

Gretchen is simply amazing. She has great instincts, the kind of stuff you can’t teach.

I mean, knowing how to ‘yes and’ is super important and what not, but I’m talking about something deeper — jumping over the barrier between action and judgement.

This is a psychological barrier that every great performer has to get past. It’s having an idea in your head or an instinct in your body, embracing it and not judging it, and bringing it to life in your scene through your choices while still remaining present, listening, and being affected.

This barrier holds back a lot of people. People come out on stage, half commit to something, feel it’s stupid, so they stop committing to it, and then they pray to God that someone comes out and swipes the scene.

Not Gretchen; she goes out there and just does it.

She walks on stage, makes eye contact, says something, and listens deeply. Then she and her partner build a scene one brick at a time. It’s lovely to watch and even better to be a part of it.

One time we did a scene where she was a SEARS Refrigerator Salesperson who was also a therapist. So you could buy a top quality fridge while getting some amazing therapy — and that was all Gretchen! It was organic to what had already been established, and then poof –touched by Gretchen’s peculiar magic — we had that amazing scene!

I don’t throw around high praise just for anybody; Gretchen has earned my respect by going on stage every week at Rude Mondays and performing with everything she’s got. That’s how I came up and learned improv — doing shows and failing every week. It’s not easy, but damn it, you’ll come out a better performer for it.

I respect the hell out of Gretchen Burnton. I really think she has the stuff to be an amazing improviser. We’re all going to be learning from her years from now, taking her classes, and following her on social media.

So if you want to see a great improv show, then check out Pack Pitch: Help Me! With Dr. Gretchen — it’s going to be a great show!

#improv #packtheater #laimprov #losangelesimprov #stufftodoinla #comedy #lacomedy #fun

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12 Months of Being On Nightchurch, An Amazing LA Sketch Team

I love Nightchurch

That’s a wrap on Nightchurch!

After 12 months of Sunday Sketch shows, table reads, rewrites, rehearsals, video shoots, long drives up and down the 5, and more, we can say that we gave everything we had to this team, and that’s why it succeeded.

Yeah, we had some bad shows with botched sketches, but which team doesn’t?

We had some amazing shows too. Fat Werewolf, Slayaway Camp, Wood Court, Butt Hole Tatoo, Phil Collins at the Office, Albuquerque Dating Game, Kia Depot of the Apes, Smashburger, and more are sketches that will stay with me forever.

And oh yeah, I discovered I have a pretty good Huell Howser impression that is really fun to bring to the stage and share with the world.

Everyone on this team is amazing and I love you all. You all have amazing gifts that I have learned so much from — thank you. I was very lucky to cross paths with all of you.

And of course, nothing but love and gratitude for Joe Wagner, the greatest sketch director in the universe.

You can catch the revamped @hailnightchurch starting in January, and you can catch me and my new Pack House Sketch Team on Sunday December 2nd at 8pm.

Finally, if you have been seeing these posts and have been wondering how you can get started on your sketch comedy journey, I recommend you sign up for Sketch Level 1 at the Pack Theater today.

This has been one of the best years of my life and comedy journey — thank you Nightchurch!

I’m going to miss performing with Tiffany Aleman.

#packtheater #sketch #sketchcomedy #nightchurch #writer #performer

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The Improv Life: How Viewpoints Got Me Out of My Head

I loved working with Oliver Georgiou.

Connecting With Your Body

Improv is an art form that rewards either a rapid fire cognitive process or instant emotional reactions.

Both are great and amazing, and every improviser needs both, but when you lean heavily into one you might close yourself off to the benefits of the other.

Not only that, it closes you off to any other potential inputs from the environment that can influence your character’s behavior or how you are reacting in the moment.

Viewpoints is an improv method that opens you up to everything — the shape of the room, the relationship of objects in the space, how far away are you from the wall, the humidity in the air, the ambient sounds and aromas surrounding you, the posture of your scene partner, the composition of the light in the room, and more.

Basically, it empowers your other senses to become as much a part of your improv style as your heart and brain.

And Oliver Georgiou is a great teacher.

He teaches Viewpoints as another tool to add to your improv tool belt, not as a prescriptive philosophy that is the ultimate truth of improv.

Working with him felt like seeing a Chiropractor — he observed my play style and adjusted my movements to allow for other things to inform my choices, not just how fast I could respond cognitively.

He is firm, grounded, and physical in his teaching approach.

We were encouraged to wear clothing we would feel comfortable moving around in and to go without shoes during the class.

But perhaps this is because Viewpoints requires you to be in tune with your physical senses to respond in the moment without having your brain or emotions judge or water down your choices.

To be clear, this is my understanding of Viewpoints as I experienced it. I don’t know if this is a correct summation.

However, you should try it!

Viewpoints will get you out of your head and into your body. Your heightened physical awareness will inform your choices and expand your horizon of possible reactions in addition to cognition and feeling.

And Oliver is a great teacher! Reach out to him personally at sodaimpro@gmail.com for more information and class schedules.

Fernando

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