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

Standard

12 Things I Don’t Like About Bits

12 Things I Don’t Like About Bits

12 Things I Don’t Like About Bits

1. People who don’t get bits

2. People who don’t respond to bits

3. People who are threatened by bits
Because they don’t understand them

4. People who think you’re being serious when you’re just really commiting to a bit, and that seriousness forces you to double down on your commitment.

5. People who like to do bits in front of others without taking into account people’s reaction to it, not knowing how to turn the dial from high to low or vice versa depending on the response.

6. People who laugh at their own bits while they’re doing them, but who get mad when you don’t laugh at them to

7. People who think they’re funny telling you they’re funny, and then proceeding to do nothing funny at all, disproving their claim as soon as they make it.

8. Office clowns who win the position by default because they speak up the most while being oblivious to how people respond to them.

9. People who claim to like bits in theory, but don’t know how to emotionally react to bits in fact.

10. People who use bits to attack others, but then get hurt when the heat is turned on them.

11. People who think they’re funny but are not.

12. Bullies

*I’ve been all these people at some point in my life.

112.2020 #poem #poemaday #nationalpoetrymonth #bits #jokes #routine #act #comedy #writer #stevemartin #orange #sketchcomedy #standup #improv

Standard

The Improv Life: Del Taco Nights

No one beats Del Taco nights.

The Improv Life: Del Taco Nights

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.

Love you too Del Taco.

#improv #ocimprov #specsimprov


Standard

The Improv Life: I Miss My Comedy Adventures

The Improv Life: I Miss My Comedy Adventures

I’ve been consuming Star Wars like a mother fucker during quarantine.

Clone Wars, Rebels, The Mandalorian, the new Marvel Comics (The Darth Vader ones are lit), the old, decanonized Dark Horse Comics, Youtube clips of Obi Wan Kenobi killing Darth Maul for the second time, that new found footage sketch from Nerdist turning the Mandalorian into a 90’s sitcom.

I just miss having my own adventures with my comedy life; I watch Star Wars heroes try to save the universe and think of my own adventures with my crew of misfits as we try to make my world a better place through comedy bits.

I miss getting in my car and hauling ass to LA, driving with purpose and passion. The drive was ridiculous, but there was something waiting for me at my destination: community

My peers. People like me. Dreamers dedicating their nights to comedy and each other. One shared purpose: making it (whatever that means for each person).

Tomorrow is Sunday. And that day would always be an adventure in LA.

My very last day in LA pre-quarantine saw me taking a class at Groundlings, eating Ramen at my favorite spot, doing an improv practice with random people at my friend’s Renata’s apartment, doing a clown workshop at Catsby, hanging out with my boys Frankie and J-Blaze, watching three hours of amazing comedy, and then, the drive home.

This was such an amazing day, and I was scheduled to have this day every two weeks. I was looking forward to it. But it didn’t happen. It’s almost as if I got one last taste before it all went away.

I miss the drive. I miss the people. I miss the places. I miss the community. Most of all, I miss the purpose and meaning these adventures gave me: I was living my passion and being validated by the universe every step of the way.

Now I got Star Wars. And that’s filling my spiritual void. Star Wars is about family and hope. And they’re giving me hope that one day soon I’ll be reunited with my comedy family. Till then, I’m going to make Twitch Shows work for me.

#improv #comedy #adventure #starwars #purpose #meaning #power

Standard