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

Standard

The Improv Life: My Freedom is Found in Improv

The Improv Life: My Freedom is Found in Improv


I’ve never felt more free than when I’m on stage in the middle of a fire improv show, doing a bonkers set that everyone on stage and in the audience is invested in, following every single move, adding, building, ooooing, aweing, laughing, clapping, and just hanging on to every moment because you don’t know where it’s going, but you want to see it get there.

You don’t get to experience that kind of freedom in your everyday life. If anything, that kind of freedom is stifled by your responsibilities, roles, and obligations.

You wear various masks to experience life through in order to a). stay accountable to the promises you have made to the world like taking care of your family and paying your rent, and b). to protect the authentic self you need to draw on when you’re on stage.

There’s a reason superheroes have alter egos. They need a mundane personality to manage all the day to day things required of living. Bruce Wayne pays the bills, but Batman has all the fun.

That’s a theme with superheroes too – that the alter ego is the real mask, and that the masked crusader in full costume is the true expression of the hero’s face.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when I’m doing improv, that’s my true face, the face that reflects what’s inside of me, the inner truth I want to share with the world.

#improv #performer #face #mask #superhero #costume #truth

I’ve never felt more free than when I’m on stage in the middle of a fire improv show, doing a bonkers set that everyone on stage and in the audience is invested in, following every single move, adding, building, ooooing, aweing, laughing, clapping, and just hanging on to every moment because you don’t know where it’s going, but you want to see it get there.

You don’t get to experience that kind of freedom in your everyday life. If anything, that kind of freedom is stifled by your responsibilities, roles, and obligations.

You wear various masks to experience life through in order to a). stay accountable to the promises you have made to the world like taking care of your family and paying your rent, and b). to protect the authentic self you need to draw on when you’re on stage.

There’s a reason superheroes have alter egos. They need a mundane personality to manage all the day to day things required of living. Bruce Wayne pays the bills, but Batman has all the fun.

That’s a theme with superheroes too – that the alter ego is the real mask, and that the masked crusader in full costume is the true expression of the hero’s face.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when I’m doing improv, that’s my true face, the face that reflects what’s inside of me, the inner truth I want to share with the world.

#improv #performer #face #mask #superhero #costume #truth

Standard

The Improv Life: I Love Doing Dingleberries

The Improv Life: I Love Doing Dingleberries

Woooooooo!!! Just did a really fun set with Dingleberries!!!

Dingleberries is a weekly improv show on the Pack Twitch Channel hosted by Pack teachers, Neal Dandade and Rich Sohn, featuring special guests.

Well, this week the amazing Allison Smith and I were the guests, and we had a blast!

We just talked in an honestly and real way, and then did some improv. Because we’ve all known each other for a while now, it was easy to play with one another. I mean what else can you ask for? Playing with people you’ve know, really respect and admire, and who make it feel like time flies when you’re in the presence of each other’s company – that’s Improv.

So go check out Dingleberries every Monday night at 9pm on the Pack Twitch Channel. And study improv with Neal and Rich at the Pack Theater! And check out Allison Smith’s improv shows Animal Crossing and Play Cousins on the Pack Twitch Channel every Thursday at 7pm!

Take care y’all,

Fernando

#improv #packtheater #packtwitch #comedy #dingleberries

Standard

The Improv Life: I Miss Going to Canter’s After Shows

This Pastrami Rueben was amazing.

The Improv Life: I Miss Going to Canter’s After Shows

That post show come down is a doozy, man.

The better the show, the hotter the crowd, the tighter the set, the bigger the high.

It’s like you got energy for days.

Like I don’t need to do drugs because I do shows. The high of a great show is unmatched by anything else.

I want to say it’s adrenaline, but if I was an adrenaline junkie I would put myself in unnecessary dangerous situations just for a whiff of a high.

Nah, man, the stage is its own drug. When you’re in a fire improv set in front of a packed house, or your sketch is landing with the audience exactly how you wanted it to, or you’re doing some crazy clown bit that is pushing your limits and the crowd is with you every single step of the way, you’ll feel higher than you’ve ever been.

So how do you cool down? Well, me, I’m going to a diner* with some friends (or sometimes solo).

*For the purpose of this essay I consider Del Taco a diner.

I’m going to sit down, order some coffee, get some good food, and chat with some buds.

And one of my favorite places to do that is the world famous Canter’s Deli in Hollywood. My good friend from Cal, Alan J. Miller, introduced me to Canter’s just before I started going to LA to do comedy.

We saw a great show at UCB Franklin with his cousin, and then we went to Canter’s, and I loved it. Place just radiated good vibes with it’s awesome food and stuck-in-a-time-capsule ambiance.

I didn’t know it then, But Alan was introducing me to a place I would fall in love with. Once I started coming up to LA more to do shows, especially at the Pack Theater, Canter’s became a frequent stop. I even got my OC team to go with me once, and it was amazing.

Not going to Canter’s for over a year and a half was hard because of a). The amazing food, company, and ambiance, and b). I didn’t have a reason to go because I wasn’t doing shows, and that broke my heart.

I just want to get back to a place where performing in LA every week is normal, with the occasional visit to Canter’s peppered in to cap a great night of LA comedy.

#improv #sketch #food #losangeles #canters #pastramiruben #show #performer #theater #packtheater

Love you Canter’s.
Standard

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

Standard