The Improv Life: I Wanted to be a Musician, But Comedy Came Easier

The Improv Life: I Wanted to be a Musician, But Comedy Came Easier

I wanted to be a badass lead guitarist who plays Marty Friedman like guitar solos, just one after the other, a flurry of fretboard genius and virtuosity that the guitar and I merge into one being.

Alas, that was not for me.

Comedy came easier to me. It was a more natural fit. I knew what I needed to do without being educated about what I needed to do. The instinct was there.

Years of watching movies on HBO, SNL reruns on Comedy Central, and tons of Simpsons had given me enough examples of what was funny and how to execute it.

My parents were funny too (in their own way) but I just didn’t know it. They would argue and dissect everything, throwing jabs or inserting jokes wherever possible.
They were also great observers of human behavior, always looking for the awkward things beneath the surface, trying to sniff out who was trustworthy or not.

So I did have a comedy education of sorts. But I still wanted to be a lead guitarist! I’ve tried on and off throughout the years, and it is fun to play, even more rewarding to learn a song or see progress.

But my growth in comedy compared to my growth in music was like racing to the Moon in a rocket ship designed by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four versus a mule pulling a wooden cart with stone wheels, and one of the wheels is wonky because of a chipped edge, making the ride off kilter.

But like that’s life. You have to accept your weaknesses to embrace your strengths. It’s a parodox. Not that you can’t develop a weakness into a strength, but it will take way longer, longer than you imagined, and if you put that effort into developing your strength instead, your strength will explode, more than you thought yourself capable of. I know, it’s a parodox.

Anyways, I’m going to go listen to Steely Dan now because I’m in my 30s. Cheers.

#improv #music #strengths #weakness #growth #progress #rock #metal #journey #class #nature #nurture #life #paradox #steelydan

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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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