Man, I got nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Diosa.
We met through improv and I’ve been amazed by her ever since!
She is a multi-talented, spiritual, courageous, and bold Latinx artist who will open your third eye with her insights and magic.
She is Colombian, so I’m going to say that she has a rich and robust personality with hints of witty observations and subtle notes of goddess energy; a great person to spend an afternoon with talking about a bouquet of topics from the absurd, to the perverse, the comically tragic, and the profound- no moment is wasted when you’re hanging out with Diosa.
And I’m lucky to call her my friend! This was a great episode, one of my favorites so far, so check it out!
*We talk about magic a lot in this episode. Diosa and her best friend Dre have a new podcast called The Magic Babes where they talk about “Misconceptions, the occult, tarot, history, botany, and cultura.” It’s dropping soon, so follow their IG to stay tuned for their first episode!
Here’s What We Talked About
Her new chile relleno endeavor, Mami’s Chiles – Xicana Soul Food ‘Pa Tú Go
Getting hit by the putasos of life – the cause of Diosa’s diverse life experiences
In reference to her tragic life experiences and challenges, Diosa said, “Instead of crying over it, or making it a weakness, you know that’s what comedy does, it gives you that power back. Like, okay I have a problem. Let me laugh at it and address it, you know, obviously, but not make it me…I’m making fun of it.”
How Diosa has been creative her whole life – how Kid Khristian is in Mujer Khristian
How MadTV, Strangers with Candy, and Upright Citizens Brigade sparked the idea for Diosa to one day be a comedian
How Diosa one day decided to take improv classes at UCB and begin her comedy journey there
The perverse wonder, ahead-of-its-time, ridiculous Strangers with Candy
How Strangers with Candy led her to David Sedaris, and that’s how she knew she wanted to be a comedian
“Life doesn’t get easier; we just get better at it” – Diosa
A sneak peek into Diosa’s high school days
Reflections on high school for both Diosa and Fernando
How Latinx high school kids get sucked into adulthood too soon because of relationships, teenage pregnancies, work, or running with the wrong crowd
“What’s bad for your heart is good for your art” – Diosa
Diosa’s journey into magic, tarot, signs, and the supernatural
Madre Monte – a forest goddess that protects the forest; how Diosa likes the fact that her Colombian culture made this story up to serve a function
How Diosa loves listening to these scary stories and folklore, and how they fascinate her
Diosa’s experiences with having her tea leaves read, and how it’s an example of “magic as a tool to give you perspective on things”
How Diosa’s favorite auntie introduced her to the woman who read her tea and opened her up to this larger world of magic
How Diosa’s mom went to the same woman who read Diosa’s tea to spy on Diosa, and how that experience turned off Diosa to magic for a while
Surprising Fact: your first Tarot Deck should be a gift from a friend
“Be careful what witch you trust” – Diosa
“You have to believe in [magic] in order for it to happen” – Diosa
How Diosa’s recent awakening to magic is due to moving in with her current roommate, who is serving as her guide to this new world
“Meditation is power” – Diosa
How Diosa manifested a three month run at Second City with her team Fuck Shit Up
“The connection between magic and mental health is the therapy, the talking about your problems.” – Diosa
My positive Tarot experiences with Nancy Martinez, aka, Bandit the Oracle – check her out! Tell her Fernando sent you!
Diosa drops some knowledge on her thoughts about Tarot and its function and purpose in everyday life
Man, today I had a very special guest. Literally, one of my favorite people in the whole world – David Escobedo, global improviser. Also, this was my first international podcast as David is in England!
Me and David go a ways back since we were both producers for Spectacles Improv Engine, a now defunct theater in Orange County, CA, USA. David and I produced a show called Ladies and Gentlemen, and ever since then I’ve been in awe of the guy.
David is simply amazing. David is on the front lines of the global improv movement. He’s connecting with improvisers from all over the world, connecting with them and collaborating with them, discovering new ways to play and work with another.
His Facebook page, The Improv Boost, is one of the most active and visited Facebook pages for improvisers across the world. David is a community builder, and The Improv Boost is proof of that.
In this podcast, we talk about his improv journey, his recent experiences in the UK Improv Scene, his most recent insights and revelations, and much more.
Here’s What We Talked About
Why it’s nice to have your name pronounced correctly
The Mexican Food in England and where the good spots are
David’s experience as a Mexican-American man from San Diego in England
How there is a lack of awareness of Mexican culture in England, and how this ignorance causes people in the UK to celebrate Mexican culture with the things they know about it, which unfortunately are stereotypes, and how David has to educate people about his culture
David’s journey to becoming a global improviser
How David walking away from a theater that did not give him back the love he was pouring into it may have been one of the best things he’s ever done
Why he started The Improv Boost, and that by starting The Improv Boost he has transcended whatever box or finite boundaries a singular improv theater may have wanted to confine him to
Powerful quote: “When they mean family, they mean kingdom.” – Me, reflecting on David’s idea of theaters weaponizing the idea of family to keep students in line.
David’s experience in arriving to the England Improv Scene and how it was five years behind the American Scene in terms of some of the community standards of holding people accountable and dealing with toxic leaders and their “petty empires.”
Powerful quote: “It’s so important for people to realize that their journey in improv is not as someone’s student, but as their own journey in improv.” – David talking about why it’s important for people to study with a lot of people and focus on their development as an improviser, not as a disciple of a specific teacher or identifying with a certain community
David’s encounter with tribalism in the UK Improv Scene and how he combatted it
How the sense of classicism is different in England and how that affects how improv teams and communities develop
David leading by example in England and showing other groups how they can work together to elevate each other
How the British Improv Scene is developing independent of influence from the American Scene
How the Keith Johnstone school of improv is more prevalent in England and how that’s influenced the style over there
How David’s experience in England has opened up his eyes to new ways to doing improv
Individuality vs. Dividuality = Western culture vs Eastern culture
Dividuality – your actions affect a larger community
“Status is expressed how we treat other people” – David Escobedo
You can’t learn to be more creative; you’re just as creative as you are. But you can unlearn to be uncreative – David echoing Keith Johnstone
How people seek gurus but how they should be their own leader
Some of the turnoffs David experienced while studying at some of the big LA improv schools
How David to learn improv on his own, and reflecting on how he could create space for others
The pitfalls of teaching, coaching, and directing
The kind of teachers you should avoid at all costs
The relationship between skills and community, and how Gurus sell one more than the other but how you have to have both
How the UK improv scene is beginning to have conversations about boundaries as being inspired by the Me Too movement that happened in the US and forced improv theaters to have conversations about sexual harassment and create policies to combat it and create safe and inclusive spaces
Key quote – “You can have vulnerability without having boundaries” – Brené Brown
How England’s long history and tradition creates a conservative environment that makes it hard to have open and direct conversations about difficult topics like sexism and racism
Key quote – “Allow yourself to suck at something new…in the risk is where the genius happens” – David Escobedo
How Americans have to have more humility about our improv and how we relate to the global improv scene
David’s overall experience in the UK, how it is being an American in the UK and having to explain America’s politics to UK folk, and the next parts of his journey
It was awesome having David on the show, and I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him. Thank you for being on the show, brother!
Here are some of the different Facebook pages David mentioned at the end of the show. Check them out!
The Art of Yes – [From the Facebook Page] “Welcome to The Art of Yes! Our goal is to inspire others, share knowledge, and provide a forum for asking questions about improvisational theater (otherwise known as improv). All posts will be moderated, and we kindly ask you to refrain from advertising any shows or local events. We encourage you to invite friends, family, coworkers, basically anyone who is or may be interested in improv, to join the community. Hope you enjoy reading the Art of Yes as much as we enjoy creating it!”
Today Improv – [From the Facebook Page] “Today Improv is a Los Angeles based company teaching improv for actors, improv for business and improv for everyone else. Change your life”
Improv MKE[From their website] – “What if you opened an improv theater and school that brought teachers from all over the country and the world who can teach others some of the things you’ve learned over the years and continue to learn yourself? That’s what Improv MKE LLC is all about! The organization is designed to create access, both in-person and online, for people to have fun, learn, grow, and play together in ways they never thought possible! Thanks for coming by. We hope you stay to play with us. YES AND, we also do corporate stuff! Entertainment, workshops, and custom-created programs and training are available! We do it ALL!! Mainly because Michelle is no longer a baby, and has a team.”
The Black Improv Alliance – [From the Facebook Page] “The Black Improv Alliance provides a space for improvisers of African descent to build worlds and tell their authentic stories unapologetically! We are committed to dismantling white supremacy in improv, one scene at a time.”
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.
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.
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