The Improv Life: My Thoughts on “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

The Improv Life: My Thoughts on “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

This book was inspired by Steve Martin’s famous quote that he uses as a ready-to-go answer for how to be successful in entertainment whenever he’s asked that question.

One of the book’s main arguments is that passion is overrated, and that chasing a career fueled by passion is extremely difficult and leads to burnout and bitterness when your dream gigs don’t arrive in the timeline you had in your head.

Instead, he urges you to collect “Career Capital” – a high level of skills and experience in a very niche sub field that you enjoy working in which allows you to leverage those skills for more opportunities to your liking.

The more “Career Capital” you can acquire, the more control you can acquire in what type of work you can do.

Finally, if you can center the work you do around a “Mission” (work that excites you, utilizes your skill, and keeps you growing through challenges) then you have it made.

It’s a good quick read, especially for anyone who may find themselves in a career slump and wants to get back to a place where they’re doing work they like.

However, one thing stood out.

It’s a little ironic that this book’s main argument inspired by the author’s interpretation of Steve Martin’s original quote – Be so good they can’t ignore you – is antithetical to the reason for Steve Martin’s success. His passion for comedy and performing and pushing himself as an artist beyond his limits is why he broke through and became successful.

That discovery eats away at me, and I’m trying to find a middle ground where the truth of Steve Martin’s original quote and Cal Newport’s twisted-but-practical interpretation can coexist and feed off each other.

This reminds me of when I heard Metallica’s main riff for “Search and Destroy” sampled for a trap song that I hated the instant I heard it. I got that some people would like it, but I knew the original song too well to accept this crap track.


This was a good book, but the twisted interpretation is going to bug me for a while.

#improv #calnewport #sogoodtheycantignoreyou #stevemartin #improvlife

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The Improv Life: You Will Use Everything You Know

The Improv Life: You Will Use Everything You Know

Steve Martin’s standup memoir “Born Standing Up” is must-read for all comedians.

He describes things only other comedians would understand, like doing a show in front of a packed house but being thrown off your game because of the one audience member in the front row that you can make eye contact with.

Honestly, I discover something’s new every time I read it.

One of its most enduring lessons, however, comes from a time when Steve Martin was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for the umpteenth time.

During a commercial break, Johnny leans in close to Steve and tells him, “You will use everything you know.”

In that moment, Steve knew exactly what Johnny meant. And when I first heard it, I knew immediately as well.

You will mine every single experience for comedy. Or everything you’ve ever read, watched, or listened to, you will use it for something. All information, insight, gossip, revelation, newspaper headlines, magazines articles, and whatever is yours to use for bits.

And I’ve been using that strategy all month long in my one-improv-blog-a-day project. Coming up with a blog post every day was hard, so I literally pulled from every corner of my comedy experience, and I loved it!

I now have 30 essays on the improv experience, ranging from mediations on the journey, comedy history, and at least one how-to piece. I hoped people found value in what I wrote, and at the very least, some of these posts set up a bedrock of improv comedy insight for me to explore further.

Honestly, writing every day is a great habit to clarify your thinking and get ultra specific in what you want to say. And the more you write, the more insight is revealed to you, and all that knowledge stacks up on top of each other, leading to some major discovery down the line – and its the major discoveries that make this art form amazing. I encourage you all to write every day. Thank you for reading these past 30 days.

Fernando

#improv #sketch #comedy #stevemartin #johnnycarson #writer #usewhatyouknow #blog #bornstandingup #insight #knowledge #discovery #revelation

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The Improv Life: The Biggest Benefits of Keeping an Improv Blog

The Improv Life: The Biggest Benefits of Keeping an Improv Blog

I’ve been blogging about my improv journey for almost 7 years. Here’s what I’ve learned after all that time.

1. I’d be lying if I remember every improv show, every set. What I remember most are moments and lessons – this blog is a way to record those moments and lessons.

2. You can be really affected by a class, show, or lesson, but it’s easy to forget it. Insights are transient. They arrive, blow your mind, and then they’re gone.

2a. Writing them down will make sure you retain some part of it.

2b. Plus, you can share your insights with the larger community and put some good out there.

2c. General rule for putting good out there: just do it, then do it again when you can, and repeat. Under no circumstances expect anything in return.

2d. Also, my insights are valid. Not saying they’re all game changers, but imposter syndrome will trick you into thinking that your experience has nothing of value to share with the world.

2e. My experience has value, so does yours.

3. Besides blogging about my insights, I also write about my journey.

3a. The specific is the universal. Meaning, I hope you can relate to parts of my highly specified, very personal journey.

3b. The more personal, the more people can connect to it. (That’s a rule applicable to most writing).

4. There are things in this journey that surround improv, things that happen off stage – rehearsals, team dinners, karaoke nights, driving up to the Clubhouse with Frankie Estrella, doing bits and talking wrestling the whole time. These and more are part of the journey, and they leave me affected, my art as well. It’s all connected I guess.

5. This blog, therefore, is a notebook to jot down my insights before I lose them, and a journal to archive important moments of my journey.

6. Basically, this blog is for me, to chronicle my journey, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what I’ve learned.

6a. That’s a great reason to start a blog.

7. I encourage you to chronicle your journey as well.

See you next time,

Fernando

#improv #impro #writer #lessons #notebook #journal #diary #insights #teacher #director #wisdim

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I’m Going To Take That Class!

I was going to take that class, but…

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But this really fun side project came up
That has a quick turnaround
Next time

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But I’m directing this show
That I have a month
To put together and market
Next time

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But I’m doing these back to back
Practice groups
That give you a class feel
But with more personalized attention
Next time

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But I got a show that day
And a rehearsal at the same time
A week after with another show
In the same spot two of weeks after
Next time

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But I’m hosting a weekly writers meeting
That meets at the same time as the class
Next time

Man I’m going to sign up
For that class!
But fuck man
I’m tired from all the shit I’m doing
And I need to take a week off
And the only week I’m able to
Is the same week as week 1
Of a class that allows 2 absences
And I need to be strategic
About those absences

Fuck it!
I’m doing it because I’m ready

School goes on hiatus
Because of COVID-19
Damn, that sucks

School collapses from within
Because of internal racism and
Structural inequality
And BIPOC holding them accountable
Hell yeah, that’s amazing

I’m going to have to wait for that class I guess

Oh well!

Better go work on a side project!

Who wants to write a show
And put up in 46 hours?

162.20 #poem #improv #sketch #writer #performer #theatre #revolution #school #bipoc #director #producer #latinx #action #intent

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