Emotional Intelligence Drop-In Class For Spectacles Improv on Friday, Feb.15th 2019


(A pic from my most recent Moonshot show. Pic by Jasper Sams.)

I had the pleasure of teaching the drop-in class for Spectacles Improv Engine in Fullerton, CA on Friday 02/16/19. The following is a summary of what happened, what I learned, and with some shout outs in the end. Enjoy! 

Why I Love Emotional Intelligence

Thanks to everyone who came to the drop-in focused on Emotional Intelligence! I’ll try to do a quick debrief here for the people who missed it but were interested in the workshop.

Basically, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is our ability to read another person’s emotional state while being aware of our own, and then responding and adjusting accordingly. There are better definitions out there, and this is one I made up specifically to be used for improv scenes.

EI is something we use every day in how we interact with each other and how we manage the relationships that are important to us. It’s a term you see used a lot in books and articles about corporate leadership and team work (stuff I love to read).

I realized that years of doing improv made me pretty good at reading people’s emotions and reacting to them in a way that wasn’t trying to change them or judge them, but to just accept them as they are and continue to interact from there.

Once I realized that connection — my love for studying EI and all the years of doing improv cultivating this skill in me — I decided that it would be something cool to teach, at least to try to teach!

The Workshop

We did some exercises that were focused on people reading each other’s emotions while having an interaction.

For example, we did one-line dinner scenes where every person could only say one line at a time and could only respond to the thing that was just said. Every line should impact you, stimulate your response, and from that interaction, we could figure out the dynamic of a relationship.

I side coached a lot to get people to not miss any big pieces of information that were dropped suddenly in the scene. I did it not because I was trying to steer the scene in a certain direction. Rather, I did it so that students learn to become aware of not letting any big piece of information go unnoticed — basically to learn to say “That’s interesting,” and explore from there, or call “Bullshit” and push the topic further if you’re watching Dingleberries play (every Monday night at the Pack Theater at 10:00pm).

At the end, I asked each participant what they could tell me about the other interaction based on how they experienced the scene. People came out with some deep awareness of the characters they were playing off of! We then reflected that you can create an interesting scene just by going one line at a time and constantly reading each other! It was a great day for learning!

Thank You & Shout Outs

A lot of this awareness of playing emotional while being aware and in response to my scene partner came from years of Specs training from Matthew Thomas, Samuel Forbes, Joey Shope, and Josh Nicols.

I know I would not be the improviser I am today without the dozens of drop-ins I did with these guys over the years — thank you.

In fact, you can catch the very last Specs drop-in Josh Nicols is teaching this Friday 02/22/19 from 12pm-2pm at Stages Theater. If you haven’t been to a drop-in in a while, you should check it out. If you have never studied with Josh before, this is your chance to see why he’s so great. Just come and experience it for yourself. Thanks for everything, Josh!

Also, there are shows happening at Specs tonight from 9pm to 11pm, and shows next weekend as well with the premier of IFL Season 5! I highly implore you to check it out! Also, I’ll let you all know when I’m teaching a drop-in again! Have a great Saturday!

— Fernando


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!


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


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


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