The Improv Life: Everything’s Changed, Nothing’s Changed

The Improv Life: Everything’s Changed, Nothing’s Changed

We used to do shows in Downtown Santa Ana when I first started.

Those shows were special to me because performing in my home town was validation that I was on the right path.

I would ask my work if I could get off early in order to make it on time.

I’d then go to Starbucks, get some coffee, and get in the zone.

Nothing else mattered. My entire week was building up to this moment. We’d then do the show, win, lose, or draw, and then it was over. But I just wanted to be back on stage. The cycle would start over as I waited to be booked.

There would be jams, practices, dinners, whatevs. We did improv wherever they would have us. LA was close, but the cultural distance made it seem a galaxy away.

We were hunter gatherers learning how to kill our food in the parking lots, cafe patios, and random community college spaces of Orange County.

We were our own teachers because that’s just how it was. An exciting time, a time of growth and exploration, a time that would impact us forever.

But doing a show, man. That’s what it’s about. And that’s still what’s it about. Doing a show is the end-all and be-all of this art form for many of us. I know that’s a controversial statement for some, but there’s a different feeling to doing improv in a living room with your team as compared to doing a live show with your friends in front of a packed theater.

The audience, man, we need them. The energy they give us affects how we perform, and this exchange of energy is what makes performing live one of the best experiences on Earth – you’ll get the highest high performing at your peak in front of an engaged audience hanging on to everything you do.

All these years, so much has changed, but the core things remain the same, and that’s why I stay in this amazing game.

#improv #performer #show #theater #dtsa #validation #artist

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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

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The Improv Life: Be a Cool Person That People Want to Work with

The Improv Life: Be a Cool Person That People Want to Work with

I got one piece of advice that had been taught to me by experience and repeated by lots of my teachers: be a cool person. People want to work with people who bring a chill vibe. 

Basically, don’t be a dick, jerk, asshole; in general, a person people would prefer to not spend time with because of the energy you bring and the reputation that follows you.

Not that you have to be fun 24/7 (although that helps) but people have to feel safe to be themselves around you. If you got that, than collaboration will be a lot easier.

Also, it’s emotionally draining to have to deal with an asshole who might not be aware their an asshole.

Maybe asshole is too strong of a word. What I mean is someone who is not considerate of others, puts their needs first, judges others harshly, isn’t aware of how their energy and behavior can affect a social ecosystem – just someone people wouldn’t want to hang out with.

Okay, Fernando, enough! I know how not to be an asshole! How do I become a cool person?

That’s a good question! I don’t know?
I guess be nice, kind, considerate, giving, listen, be a friend, try to do good when you can, etc. I’m not saying you have to be some goody two shoes trying to save the world.

You just have to be someone people want to spend time with because of the energy you bring, the vibe you maintain, and the contributions you make.

And by the way: I’ve been an asshole too. I’m pretty sure I’ve turned people away from working with me because I was selfish, lacking empathy, asked for too much, didn’t trust enough, projected onto to people, came off insensitive, unsympathetic, and arrogant without realizing how I was making other people feel – I’ve made mistakes.

But I’m learning from every experience. I’m not trying to be a cool person because I want to be liked; I’m trying to be a cool person because I want to work with people who excite me creatively, and I want to see what we can bring into the world when we collaborate.

#improv #people #cool #networking #empathy #eq #emotionalintelligence #safe #mistakes #grow #comedy #producer

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The Improv Life: It All Comes Down to Communication and Connection

The Improv Life: It All Comes Down to Communication and Connection

I took a series of personality test years ago courtesy of my university’s career center. Taking personality tests became a norm for me while at Cal.

The Myers Briggs was used extensively by a professor of mine to help students gain insights into their personalities, flaws, and opportunities for growth. I took his class 3 times.

This other test I took was specifically to assess which careers I would be best fit for.

Honestly, I looked at the results and didn’t process them. I had Brazil on my mind as I was leaving for a life changing study abroad experience.

But I knew better than to just throw them away. I put the test results in a folder and decided I’d look at it later.

Later became years later. I was thinking about my life path, and if I had made the right choices. I dug up the folder, pulled out the test, and poured over the findings.

What they said was this: I was best equipped to work in something with communication and connection which could involve writing, leadership, and other stuff in those areas.

When I read it, I was a writing tutor, leading an improv group, part of others, doing weekly shows in Orange County and LA, writing blogs and poems.

Honestly, it was like looking at a photograph of myself wedged in the corner of a mirror with the photograph looking back at me: this was who I was then, who I am now, and probably who I’ll always be.

Ironically, it was that same Brazil trip where I decided that no matter what I did with my life, I was going to live as a writer. I wanted to live as a writer – because looking back – writing (and all its forms, which include improv and performing) was a way of communicating and connecting with people – a 2-in-1 activity that would express my heart and fulfill my soul, giving my life a purpose that would transcend any job, place, or relationship.

That’s a hell of a promise I made to myself, and looking at these test results all these years later only confirmed that I made the right choice.

#improv #personality #personalitytest #communication #connection #writer #brazil #choice #destiny #heart #soul #purpose #promise #fate #theater

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The Improv Life: Why You Got to Produce Your Own Shows

I’ve grown a lot because of this show.

The Improv Life: Why You Got to Produce Your Own Shows

I had a thread on Facebook a few weeks ago about wearing multiple hats as a comedian – as in being a writer, director, producer, and whatever else – and the consensus was that you kinda had to.

That got me thinking of how a big part of my growth has come from the stage opportunities I’ve created for myself.

Honestly, if you’re not producing your own shows, and you’re waiting around for someone to book you, you’re hindering your growth.

It’s a dangerous way to live as a performer, to perpetually be on call, hoping and praying someone hits you up to do a show.

I’ve lived that way before, and it’s a rollercoaster. You can go a real long time before you do a show, and that excitement to perform will make everything feel important and high stakes when you finally do get to perform, but then you’re back to square one when it’s over.

And honestly, I have an abnormal appetite for performing – I think I could do a show everyday if it were possible. I think I’m an outlier in that.

Therefore, I’ve had to create my own opportunities to perform. The more I hit the stage, the more I grow as a performer, which paradoxically, leads to more opportunities from other producers who ask me to do their shows.

It’s all a big reciprocal feedback loop – the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, which I’ve also learned is a karmic law from all the random IG posts I read.

Basically, if you want to grow as a performer, you have to produce your own shows – every show is an opportunity to go out there and fail in front of a live audience. From every failure, you improve a little bit. Then, at some point, all that failure will cumulatively turn into growth, growth that will be reflected in your success on stage and the other opportunities and insights that come your way when you focus on growing your craft.

Produce your own shows y’all! It’s the only gauranteed stage time you’ll ever get.

Fernando

#improv #comedy #producer #growth #opportunity #show #failure #stage #performer

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