The Improv Life: Del Taco Nights

No one beats Del Taco nights.

The Improv Life: Del Taco Nights

On almost any given Friday or Saturday night, I could roll on over to STAGES Theater and catch whatever improv show Spectacles Improv Engine was putting on that night.

If it wasn’t packed, I’d sit at the very last row and watch. If it was IFL, I knew I was in for a treat. Austin Floyd and Matt Thomas would be hosting, the field reporter would take suggestions, and the teams would be doing improv, and we were just living up the magic of each other’s company.

I remember there was this one time where the improv was amazing, Austin was on fire with his quips, he was even responding to my heckles from the top row, where I took off my shoes because no one was around, and I was exhausted, and then when I felt safe and vulnerable, I thought to myself, “This isn’t going to last forever.”

I don’t know why I thought that. It was a thought that came to the surface when I was off guard. I looked at the stage and got a little sad.

I then immediately buried the feeling and tried not to think about it. I just knew that I was witnessing a really cool moment that would stay with me from then on.

Once the show was over, I think I went down the steps to shake hands and give hugs and let everyone know how amazing of a show it was.

I had just had a long day in LA and hadn’t ate in more than 8 hours. I had a terrible diet back then, forcing myself to go without food until I couldn’t stand the hunger.

So I went to Del Taco, the one on State College and Chapman, ordered whatever, and then ate it in my car.

It was a very Orange County thing to do: eat Del Taco after a super late show.

Being an improv comedian in Orange County meant late nights: late shows, late dinners, late karaoke jams, late hangs in the parking lot spilling your guts to your peers, or opening your heart to a new friend; you let the day linger to its last second because you wanted to feel like you did all you could that day to squeeze every ounce of value and joy from this day that would be gone forever.

Del Taco was just part of that lifestyle.

I lived late, laughed late, and ate Del Beef Burritos after midnight.

I ate Del Taco to cool down my mind, body, and soul after an epic day.

To get some calories for the drive home.

To begin to let go of a day that had to end.

When I was at Specs, even when maybe it wasn’t the best or it was phenomenal and people would quote that shit forever, I did not want it to end.

I wanted the night to continue and go on, to see more improv, and do more improv; to just laugh like a dumb kid and throw out suggestions that were also bits; to see my friends and marvel at their skills.

Del Taco was necessary for me to end the day, accept it was over, and go to bed to not be too exhausted for the next one.

And you can substitute Del Taco for Norms, Denny’s, whatever post game late night meal to draw the day out a little longer. The bonus about those places was that you ate with friends.

I miss Specs. I don’t know if I have fully processed it’s over (despite playing in a show that was labeled as the Last Specs Show). Maybe I’m not good at processing reality or dealing with trauma, but not eating Del Taco at the State College and Chapman location for over a year finally convinced me it’s over.

Love you Specs. Thank you for all the good times and memories, the friendships and lessons, the feeling of being alive. I will forever be in your debt.

Love you too Del Taco.

#improv #ocimprov #specsimprov


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The Improv Life Ep.8 with Shirley Rivera – Fernando’s Improv Blog Podcast

The Improv Life Ep.8 with Shirley Rivera  

Welcome to episode 8 of the Improv Life Podcast! 

My guest was the amazing Shirley Rivera! 

I’ve known Shirley for years! We first met up in the San Francisco Improv Scene years ago. 

I love Shirley. She’s an improv warrior. She’s out there doing the hard work and creating space for artists of color, and even more importantly, addressing why those spaces need to exist and why artists of colors need to be the ones leading them.

I feel a lot of kinship with Shirley because of her beliefs and advocacy, also Go Bears! (We’re both Cal Alumni).

Check out this episode where we talk about our old SF days, how Shirley got started, her experiences with Untold Improv, and more.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Here’s What We Talked About:

  • How Shirley and I met in the San Francisco Improv Scene back in the early 2010’s 
  • Shirley’s experiences being an older, BIPOC woman in the SF Improv Scene 
  • Shirley’s journey through the Endgames Improv School 
  • How this Facebook group has connected improvisers and created opportunities for networking and collaboration 
  • How Shirley connected with Untold Group, an improv theater company dedicated to teaching and elevating artists of color, because of the Facebook Group she created with her friends! 
  • Shirley’s awakening as an improviser of color when she discovered that she could bring her culture into her improv 
  • Great quote: “If you have more diverse folks, maybe more diverse stories will show up.” 
  • How Shirley conceived of “Colorized Improv”  – a type of improv that embraces your lived experiences as a diverse person 
  • Shirley’s epiphany that Untold Improv was the place for her 
  • How the leaders of Untold Improv, April Pascua and Otter Teng, drew on their camp counselor and social justice experience to create a safe space where Shirley and others felt welcomed, listened to, and empathized with  
  • The amazing feeling she had when she found herself in a room where nobody had to explain what “Code Switch” meant 
  • The expectations Untold Improv establish at the beginning of a class to get students to feel safe, comfortable, and encouraged 

You can follow Shirley’s Discoveries at her blog. 

Also, here’s a blog post Shirley wrote from a Facebook question I asked way back when in 2018 about what books changed your life and why. Check out her list here. 

I want to thank Shirley for being on the podcast. Make sure to follow her IG account to stay on top of all her recent projects and developments.

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The Improv Life: I Miss My Comedy Adventures

The Improv Life: I Miss My Comedy Adventures

I’ve been consuming Star Wars like a mother fucker during quarantine.

Clone Wars, Rebels, The Mandalorian, the new Marvel Comics (The Darth Vader ones are lit), the old, decanonized Dark Horse Comics, Youtube clips of Obi Wan Kenobi killing Darth Maul for the second time, that new found footage sketch from Nerdist turning the Mandalorian into a 90’s sitcom.

I just miss having my own adventures with my comedy life; I watch Star Wars heroes try to save the universe and think of my own adventures with my crew of misfits as we try to make my world a better place through comedy bits.

I miss getting in my car and hauling ass to LA, driving with purpose and passion. The drive was ridiculous, but there was something waiting for me at my destination: community

My peers. People like me. Dreamers dedicating their nights to comedy and each other. One shared purpose: making it (whatever that means for each person).

Tomorrow is Sunday. And that day would always be an adventure in LA.

My very last day in LA pre-quarantine saw me taking a class at Groundlings, eating Ramen at my favorite spot, doing an improv practice with random people at my friend’s Renata’s apartment, doing a clown workshop at Catsby, hanging out with my boys Frankie and J-Blaze, watching three hours of amazing comedy, and then, the drive home.

This was such an amazing day, and I was scheduled to have this day every two weeks. I was looking forward to it. But it didn’t happen. It’s almost as if I got one last taste before it all went away.

I miss the drive. I miss the people. I miss the places. I miss the community. Most of all, I miss the purpose and meaning these adventures gave me: I was living my passion and being validated by the universe every step of the way.

Now I got Star Wars. And that’s filling my spiritual void. Star Wars is about family and hope. And they’re giving me hope that one day soon I’ll be reunited with my comedy family. Till then, I’m going to make Twitch Shows work for me.

#improv #comedy #adventure #starwars #purpose #meaning #power

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The Improv Life Ep.7 with Coop Foster – Fernando’s Improv Blog Podcast

Ep.7 of The Improv Life with Coop Foster

Welcome to Episode 7 of The Improv Life! 

My guest was the very funny Coop Foster! 

Coop is hilarious. I’ve seen her bring audiences down with a single twitch of her eyebrow! She’s got that funny energy that audiences respond to, and it’s a quality you can’t buy in an improv class or achieve with an expensive costume – you just have it. Whatever “it” is – charisma, balance, grace, timing, the combination of all four – Coop has it, and everyone is better for it when they watch her on stage. 

Now I’ve known Coop for a few years now, which means I’ve known her for a long time if we measure time in comedy years (1 comedy year = 7 regular years; I kid). Actually, Coop and I share a common connection by doing improv in San Francisco around the same time, but did not meet till we were both in Los Angeles. 

Did I mention Coop is funny? Well here’s the reason why: she works her ass off for it. She’s one of these select LA comedians who eat, sleep, and breathe comedy. If she’s not in a writers meeting, she’s at a rehearsal. If she’s at a show, she’s probably getting ready to get to her next show right after. The amount of work ethic and passion it takes to keep up her schedule deserves applause. So give it to her! 

This podcast was inspired by a post where Coop posted how she missed performing live comedy. She was speaking to the choir with that post, so I thought to myself, “I have to have  her on the show to talk about this! So I did, and we had a great chat. 

Listen on SoundCloud.

Here’s What We Talked About: 

  • Coop’s crazy hectic “On The Grind,” “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” comedy in life before the pandemic hit and how she misses it 
  • How a director interved in Coop’s life and told her she needed to be an actor 
  • Coop’s struggles with her transition to LA but how she stayed strong and resilient 
  • How a psychic reading before moving to LA from San Francisco foreshadowed her future success in Los Angeles 
  • How performing on the UCB Stage for the first time was validation for making the right choice in moving to LA from SF 
  • The quarantine stopping her comedy life (and that of many others) in its tracks and dealing with the fall out of that 
  • The Power of the Universe – how every time Coop thought she was going to walk away from performing the universe validated her decision to come to Los Angeles and pursue comedy 

Follow Coop on Instagram at – https://www.instagram.com/this_is_coop/

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The Improv Life Ep.6 with Jorge Emanuel Berrios

Ep.6 of The Improv Life with Jorge Emanuel Berrios

Welcome to Episode 6 of The Improv Life! 

Alright, y’all, so I sat down with an improviser I am genuinely in awe of: Jorge Emmanuel Berrios. 

Jorge is probably the most physical improviser I have ever witnessed! The only improviser who I can think of who comes close is a guy in the OC named Mark Wolf. So Jorge and Mark are the only ones! 

Honestly, when Jorge does improv, it’s as if you’re watching a live action cartoon character. He stretches his body in every direction possible. He bounces. He jumps. He extends. I’ve seen him do the splits out of nowhere with no warning or setup. You can’t take your eyes off the guy. Hey, if you’re going to be a performer, that’s the one quality you’re going to want to have. 

Also, he is probably one of the most charismatic performers I’ve ever seen. You know they say, “Game recognize game,” but I know a good performer when I see one. With Jorge, there is no doubt about his abilities: this guy is the shit. 

So it was a pleasure to talk to him about his journey and how far he has come. Check it out! 

You can listen on SoundCloud too.

Here’s What’s Jorge and I Discussed

  • How Jorge was in an unheard of (9) Miami Quinceneras as part of the Court where he developed his dance abilities 
  • We talked about the importance of food in Latinx immigrant families and the relationship that creates with body image and perception 
  • Jim Carrey’s influence over Jorge’s comedy style 
  • Jorge’s experiences working in a call center and being told that “He had to be more serious and less funny” if he wanted to be funny 
  • How (1) stand up class changed his life and outlook on comedy by making it possible of him perceiving himself as a comedian 
  • How Jorge decided to move to LA after long and thoughtful reflection and used a job interview as a reason to come out here 
  • And a bunch of great tangents about our Latinx identities and shared experiences! Check it out! 

You Can Follow Jorge on Instagram @berrios305 and here is the link – https://www.instagram.com/berrios305/

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