The Improv Life: It All Starts with Having Good Taste

The Improv Life: It All Starts with Having Good Taste

In an earlier blog post I stated that Norm Macdonald was my first comedy teacher because I just mimicked a bunch of stuff he did.

I knew Norm was funny on an instinctual level; I just couldn’t explain why.

What that means is that I had good taste. I knew what I liked, and I knew what I liked was funny.

So much of being a comedian begins with being a fan.

I loved comedy as a kid. Everything I watched growing up was comedy. The Simpsons, Married with Children, SNL reruns on Comedy Central, Wayne’s World, anything Jim Carrey did, Heavyweights, Clueless, Dirty Work, Mr. Show, Rocko’s Modern Life, random standup; you know just like anything and everything comedy (I was lucky to have cable as a kid).

I would ingest so much comedy and just repeat catch phrases and random snippets non-stop.

The point is I had good taste, and that is what eventually led me to wanting to be a comedian

And this is what “This American Life” host Ira Glass says in his famous “The Gap” speech: “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.”

The rest of the speech goes onto state that it will take a long time to become a good artist, the kind that creates quality stuff you’re proud of. Basically, you’re going to suck for a long time before you get good, but don’t quit, keep creating, and keep setting big goals that forces your skills to meet them.

It’s really inspiring, especially when it feels like you’re not growing. But it all comes down to having good taste.

When you feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place – to create comedy on the same level as the comedians who inspired you.

To become the artist you want to be is a worthy goal, and you owe it to yourself to pursue it with everything you have. Don’t give up on yourself, and when you do, go read “The Gap” by Ira Glass.

#improv #sketch #comedy #gap #talent #resilience #iraglass #artist #creative #thisamericanlife


The Sketch Comedy Life: You Could Literally Do Sketch Show About Anything

The Sketch Comedy Life: You Could Literally Do Sketch Show About Anything

The great thing about sketch comedy is that you can literally do a sketch show about anything.

A few years ago I did a sketch show with the Latinx Comedy Pachanga and Pack Theater friends called “Previously on X-Men,” a night of X-Men themed blackout and name-the-game sketches, with longer pieces sprinkled in between.

A blackout sketch is a 1-2 page sketch with a really clear premise and strong game, usually being one powerful joke.

A name-the-game sketch sets up the joke of the sketch up top with a framing device, like how I intended to use ‘Previously on X-Men.’

I got inspired by the old X-Men: The Animated Series (XTAS), the SNL sketch MacGruber, and the experimental energy circulating at the Pack Theater.

Before every new episode of XTAS, a short clip summing up the past episode would play with the preface, “Previously on X-Men.” The clip was always over the top and dramatic.

It then occurred to me, “Hey! We can have a show that uses ‘Previously on X-Men’ as a set up/framing device for a series of X-Men themed 1-2 minute sketches.

MacGruber had a similar energy in that it was a 3-4 minute sketch broken down into three 1 minute chapters, with every chapter making the sketch bigger and bigger. Go watch a MacGruber sketch right now on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean.

The Pack had really cool shows like Book Report and Speedface that were big inspirations. Book Report did sketches around a classic children’s book, and was always fun to watch. Speedface was a show where you had 90 seconds to do a bit. It encouraged high risk/high reward, ambitious pieces. I loved watching this show and performing on it whenever I could.

Finally, I had an amazing ensemble in the Latinx Comedy Pachanga and my various Pack friends who stepped up to make the show a blast! Sketches included the Latinx-Men, Veterano Spiderman, Wolverine at Home Depot, Alpha Alpha Flight, and more.

It’s a project I will always look at fondly. Go create the comedy you want to see.

#sketch #sketchcomedy #improv #packtheater #xmen #xtas #snl #blackoutsketch #namethegame #latinxcomedypachanga


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.


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


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


The Improv Life Ep.10 with Diosa – Fernando’s Improv Blog Podcast

Improv and Magic – aren’t they the same thing sometimes?

The Improv Life Ep.10 with Diosa

Welcome to Episode 10 of the Improv Life Podcast! 

My guest today was the amazing Diosa! 

Man, I got nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Diosa. 

We met through improv and I’ve been amazed by her ever since! 

She is a multi-talented, spiritual, courageous, and bold Latinx artist who will open your third eye with her insights and magic. 

She is Colombian, so I’m going to say that she has a rich and robust personality with hints of witty observations and subtle notes of goddess energy; a great person to spend an afternoon with talking about a bouquet of topics from the absurd, to the perverse, the comically tragic, and the profound- no moment is wasted when you’re hanging out with Diosa. 

And I’m lucky to call her my friend! This was a great episode, one of my favorites so far, so check it out! 

*We talk about magic a lot in this episode. Diosa and her best friend Dre have a new podcast called The Magic Babes where they talk about “Misconceptions, the occult, tarot, history, botany, and cultura.” It’s dropping soon, so follow their IG to stay tuned for their first episode! 

What an amazing episode, one of my favorites so far.

Here’s What We Talked About

  • Her new chile relleno endeavor, Mami’s Chiles – Xicana Soul Food ‘Pa Tú Go
  • Getting hit by the putasos of life – the cause of Diosa’s diverse life experiences 
  • In reference to her tragic life experiences and challenges, Diosa said, “Instead of crying over it, or making it a weakness, you know that’s what comedy does, it gives you that power back. Like, okay I have a problem. Let me laugh at it and address it, you know, obviously, but not make it me…I’m making fun of it.”
  • How Diosa has been creative her whole life – how Kid Khristian is in Mujer Khristian
  • How MadTV, Strangers with Candy, and Upright Citizens Brigade sparked the idea for Diosa to one day be a comedian 
  • How Diosa one day decided to take improv classes at UCB and begin her comedy journey there 
  • The perverse wonder, ahead-of-its-time, ridiculous Strangers with Candy 
  • How Strangers with Candy led her to David Sedaris, and that’s how she knew she wanted to be a comedian 
  • “Life doesn’t get easier; we just get better at it” – Diosa 
  • A sneak peek into Diosa’s high school days 
  • Reflections on high school for both Diosa and Fernando
  • How Latinx high school kids get sucked into adulthood too soon because of relationships, teenage pregnancies, work, or running with the wrong crowd 
  • “What’s bad for your heart is good for your art” – Diosa 
  • Diosa’s journey into magic, tarot, signs, and the supernatural 
  • Madre Monte – a forest goddess that protects the forest; how Diosa likes the fact that her Colombian culture made this story up to serve a function 
  • How Diosa loves listening to these scary stories and folklore, and how they fascinate her 
  • Diosa’s experiences with having her tea leaves read, and how it’s an example of “magic as a tool to give you perspective on things” 
  • How Diosa’s favorite auntie introduced her to the woman who read her tea and opened her up to this larger world of magic 
  • How Diosa’s mom went to the same woman who read Diosa’s tea to spy on Diosa, and how that experience turned off Diosa to magic for a while 
  • Surprising Fact: your first Tarot Deck should be a gift from a friend 
  • “Be careful what witch you trust” – Diosa 
  • “You have to believe in [magic] in order for it to happen” – Diosa 
  • How Diosa’s recent awakening to magic is due to moving in with her current roommate, who is serving as her guide to this new world 
  • “Meditation is power” – Diosa 
  • How Diosa manifested a three month run at Second City with her team Fuck Shit Up 
  • “The connection between magic and mental health is the therapy, the talking about your problems.” – Diosa 
  • My positive Tarot experiences with Nancy Martinez, aka, Bandit the Oracle – check her out! Tell her Fernando sent you!
  • Diosa drops some knowledge on her thoughts about Tarot and its function and purpose in everyday life 
  • “You have to know your dark side in order to shine” – Diosa 
  • Follow Dre, Diosa’s best friend’s Tarot IG page @buzzbunnytarot for insights 
  • “Magic is science we don’t understand” – Fernando echoing Hank Pym from the Avengers 

Thanks for being on the show, Diosa. You can follow her on instagram at @diosanojoda