The Improv Life: It All Starts with Having Good Taste

The Improv Life: It All Starts with Having Good Taste

In an earlier blog post I stated that Norm Macdonald was my first comedy teacher because I just mimicked a bunch of stuff he did.

I knew Norm was funny on an instinctual level; I just couldn’t explain why.

What that means is that I had good taste. I knew what I liked, and I knew what I liked was funny.

So much of being a comedian begins with being a fan.

I loved comedy as a kid. Everything I watched growing up was comedy. The Simpsons, Married with Children, SNL reruns on Comedy Central, Wayne’s World, anything Jim Carrey did, Heavyweights, Clueless, Dirty Work, Mr. Show, Rocko’s Modern Life, random standup; you know just like anything and everything comedy (I was lucky to have cable as a kid).

I would ingest so much comedy and just repeat catch phrases and random snippets non-stop.

The point is I had good taste, and that is what eventually led me to wanting to be a comedian

And this is what “This American Life” host Ira Glass says in his famous “The Gap” speech: “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.”

The rest of the speech goes onto state that it will take a long time to become a good artist, the kind that creates quality stuff you’re proud of. Basically, you’re going to suck for a long time before you get good, but don’t quit, keep creating, and keep setting big goals that forces your skills to meet them.

It’s really inspiring, especially when it feels like you’re not growing. But it all comes down to having good taste.

When you feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place – to create comedy on the same level as the comedians who inspired you.

To become the artist you want to be is a worthy goal, and you owe it to yourself to pursue it with everything you have. Don’t give up on yourself, and when you do, go read “The Gap” by Ira Glass.

#improv #sketch #comedy #gap #talent #resilience #iraglass #artist #creative #thisamericanlife


The Improv Life: Resting to Be Creative

The Improv Life: Resting to Be Creative

This blog post will be antithetical to the goal of this larger writing project (30 blog posts about comedy in 30 days).

Basically, you have to rest if you want to be creative.

I know sounds crazy, especially in our work obsessed, production focused, rinse and repeat comedy *entrepreneur culture.

*Like basically you got to be out there hustling, doing as many shows and side projects as possible. That’s why I use this term.

Don’t get me wrong; I encourage everyone to go out there and get it because no one is going to give it to you.

But you also have to rest. Sometimes it feels like if I’m not consuming content, creating it, or thinking about it, I’m not doing anything else, and that’s not healthy.

And here’s why that’s bad: my best ideas come to me when I’m not thinking. My mind is at ease, and I’m open and vulnerable to whatever my subconscious wants to present me.

This is a proven thing (I wish I had some sources right now).

Go wash some dishes and see if you get any cool ideas. Or like go for a walk and relax, and then see what comes up from that.

Or sometime you just need to sleep. Like a lot. Or just need to cruise with some good music on. Whatever rest means for you, do that.

It’s a parodox. If you want to do a lot, do nothing. Bear with me on this one. Your mind needs to process things. To do that, it needs time and space. You give it time and space by not constantly being busy. Being busy clouds your mind, blocking ideas from getting through.

So don’t be busy and your mind will process things. And as rest, ideas, insights, and revelations will arrive. And at that point, it’s up to you what to do with them. But at least you set the stage for them to show themselves.

#improv #writer #artist #creativity #growthhacking #comedy #subconsciousmind #think #rest


The Improv Life: What I Love About Producing Shows

The Improv Life: What I Love About Producing Shows

So between Sunday and yesterday, I produced two amazing shows on Twitch, each with their own concepts, voices, audiences, and great lineup of writers and performers.

Writing and performing are two things I live for, but doing it with people who you genuinely like and excite you creatively, takes those two passions to another level.

And that’s what I love about producing shows – the level of talent and creativity you are a witness to while being a participant.

People are just so damn talented. It’s always a trip (the good kind) to see how people create, how their worldview and life experiences affect the art they bring into the world.

A lot of times I’m just in awe of what people are doing on stage or the writing they’re sharing. I have a front row seat, just thinking to myself, “How are they doing this? Who thinks like this? This is amazing.” And sometimes I’ll even forget to hop back into the show because of how much fun I’m having as an audience member.

Don’t get me wrong: there are bad shows. But the less we talk about that, the better (this isn’t the moment).

It’s just that everyone walking around is a secret genius, and when a person finds the platform that best fits their gifts, you can see that genius on display, and be witness to a singular energy you’re never going to see again in this specific moment. Yes, I’m a sentimental bastard, but that’s because I want to hold onto things that will be erased by time, and every show unfortunately – good or bad – will be erased by time.

So I guess what I really love about producing shows is witnessing amazing talent in a moment that will never be again.

Thank you to all the amazing artists who did the 69 Steps with Jon Lopez and the Dazed and Confused Poetry Club to all the tech people who made it possible, and to the Pack Twitch Channel and San Antonio Learning Annex for hosting us.

#poem #improv #blog #producer #writer #performer #packtwitch #sanantoniolearningannex #packtheater #learning #shows #theater


The No.1 Reason Why You Should Take Sketch Level 1 at The Pack Theater with Eric Moneypenny

A picture from the end of my Sketch Level 1 Class at the Pack Theater back in Fall 2016.

The Power of the Table Read

Taking Sketch Level 1 at the Pack Theater with Eric Moneypenny two and half years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made.

It opened up my dormant sketch comedy brain I had not accessed in a while, and most of all, it empowered me to create the comedy I want to see in the world.

If there is one thing I enjoy about the Pack Theater is the ability to create the sketch comedy you want to see, and that the only prerequisite is desire, hard work, and follow through.

Its punk rock, DIY aesthetic can be a bit intimidating, off putting even, especially if you’re not a fan of punk rock or whatever associations you may have with it.

But I think the ethos of punk rock — not needing permission, certification, or approval to create art — is evident at the Pack, and the source of that energy comes from the classes themselves.

Every week I would bring in a sketch just eager to share it with Eric and my classmates at the table read. And I was eager to hear their stuff and see what they had come up with.

And this is the no.1 reason to take Sketch Level 1 at the Pack Theater — it’s super cool, empowering, and validating to have your work read out loud by your peers in the table read.

The table read is a place to get real time feedback on your writing in the form of laughs for good stuff and silence and coughs for stuff that needs to be worked on.

Trust me, as a sketch writer, there is nothing more empowering than have your sketch crush it in a table read.

It’s the kind of validation you don’t get elsewhere in the world. The experience itself — making your peers laugh out loud with your work — is a high. And it’s something that keeps me coming back to table read after table read.

And where did I first experience that? Sketch Level 1 at the Pack Theater with Eric Moneypenny.

I can’t promise that everyone’s experience will be as powerful as mine.

I took the class at a time when I was ready to give all of myself to sketch comedy.

But I can tell you with a degree of high confidence that you will get a lot out of Sketch Level 1 if you go into it with an open mind, a good attitude, a good work ethic, and are willing to put you and your work out there.

It’s scary to put your work out there and have it judged. And that fear is probably what prevents a lot of people from ever pursuing their dreams. But Sketch Level 1 is a good place to dip your toe and see if this sketch comedy thing might be for you.

Believe me, it’s a risk you will not regret taking. In fact, once you take it, you’ll probably be telling yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The price is reasonable compared to other places in town ($310), and payment plans are also available. You can also pay for classes through PayPal Credit. And if you don’t have the money to pay right now, sign up for the Work Study Program and start working towards those class credits.

Whatever you need to do, sign up for a class ASAP! What are you waiting for?

Sign up for a class today! Here is the link => https://www.packtheater.com/classes/sketch/

And you can email internships@packtheater.com for more info on signing up for work study.

If you have any more questions, hit me up! I’m more than happy to help and talk about the Pack Sketch Program!

Take care,

Fernando A. Funes