The Improv Life: How Improv Saved Me

The Improv Life: How Improv Saved Me

Why haven’t I quit? I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll just slowly devolve into a bitter hack who laments his lost youth on a wasted dream as he smokes cheap cigarettes and store brand label whiskey in the patio of some forgotten LA dive bar where no one knows your name.

Who am I kidding. I love this too much to walk away. I did an improv show once at the Improv Collective for like five people, and it was one of the best improv shows I ever done.

I still remember it. Not that it felt particularly special when I was doing it, but looking back, man, that was a special show.

I got to bust out a Val Kilmer impression, y’all! Val freaking Kilmer! My Batman by an accident of birth! And it was stupid and dumb yet sublime at the same time. If your improv can fill the Venn Diagram of those three, then you got something good!

I did an Oscar Winning Moment where I played an alcoholic father who wasn’t getting enough shifts at CPK (California Pizza Kitchen). And my scene partners, Sam and Teresa, made me look like a million bucks.

This one dude laughed so hard at the moment, he was still laughing like 5 minutes later. That one dude’s laugh was enough praise that I’ve held onto it for years now. Sometimes I’ll pull out the memory out of the box I keep in my place of good feelings and remember that I was on my A-game for one night.

I mean, I didn’t know it was going to be a special night. I was at a weird place in life where I couldn’t appreciate what was in front of me because I was just fucking lost. Improv got me through those lost days where it felt like my best days were behind me, not realizing that these were some of the days I would cherish forever.

Life happens fast, y’all. Do what you want to do now because one day you’ll look back at now and realize this was a magical time.

One more to go. See you tomorrow,

Fernando

#improv #ocimprov #improvcollective #memory #goodtimes #heart #saved #life #lost #bryanadams #found #magic

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The Improv Life: Just Be a Big Dumb Clown

The Improv Life: Just Be a Big Dumb Clown

Yeah, man, I’m a goof. I like to do bits and play dumb. If I see an opportunity for a joke, I’m going to throw one in there. If I can throw in some biting satire to comment on my surroundings, I will. If I see a sad person, I want to make them laugh. I don’t know why I do it; this is just me. Making people laugh is a calling, and I don’t question it. I’m a big dumb clown because, hey, life is short and we got to squeeze the joy out of it. And for me there is no higher joy than laughter.

#improv #sketch #clown #idiot #comedy #performer #shows #theater #joy #laugh #laughter

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The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

I’m a big believer that everything you consume informs and contributes to your art.

You don’t know how it’s going to manifest in your art.

Unless your making a conscious effort to channel specific themes and references from a work of art that inspires you – which a lot of artists do in other kinds of mediums (but not usually improv) – you’re just going to go out there and see what comes out.

Improv is spontaneous and unplanned – there’s no way you can go into a scene knowing what’s going to inspire you in the moment.

Yes, you get a suggestion, but that’s just the starting point, not the whole scene.

You’re mind/gut sends you an impulse, you hold onto it, and use it to build a character, or to explore the scene while you figure out what’s going on.

But what is that impulse? It’s probably an idea for a character, or a vague feeling pushing you in a certain direction, with every move giving you more handles for you to grip your character.

But where does that idea come from? Well,  that probably depends on you. For me, and I don’t know how this developed, I’ll think back to some random thing I read, watched, listened to, remembered – and I totally have no control over this; it just arrives on its own, prompted by the moment and its unfolding action – and I use that for inspiration.

And you can create some wild stuff when you take what your mind gives you to cobble a character together. Some characters feel like they’ve been waiting to come out fully formed, and others feel like a mosaic I’m slowly piecing together with every choice. But the point is this: my subconscious is processing everything; the more I give it, the more it will give me for my art; I don’t control how it manifests, but I embrace whatever it gives me because I know there is gold there waiting for me to uncover it.

And that’s why you have to go read books, watch movies, and listen to music – you don’t know how it’s going to inspire you, but you can bet it will.

#improv #character #books #writer #director #books #art #creative #inspiration

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The Improv Life: What Kurt Vonnegut Taught Me About Giving Back

The Improv Life: What Kurt Vonnegut Taught Me About Giving Back

I think part of being an artist is to encourage other artists.

A lot of us start off feeling like insecure frauds who will be exposed as the imposters we are as soon as anyone of talent and taste looks at our work and deems it wanting.

The fear of sucking is real, and I’m sure it has caused tons of people to quit before they can see what they were capable of.

How do you get over this fear?

Years ago I was at Barnes and Noble in the non-fiction section when this weird book called to me. It was a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement speeches for college graduations.

It’s called: “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?”

I sat down and read it. I was sucked in slowly by its positive messages, its calls to action for students to return home and share what they’ve learned with their local communities, and that by doing that they could have a bigger impact than trying to be a big shot among millions of big shots in the big city.

I read the passages when I needed to read them. I was at a weird place in my improv journey, and I wasn’t too sure what the hell I was doing big picture wise. But the book opened my eyes on the impact I could have here and now by sharing what I had learned about comedy in college with my local OC improv community.

I was lucky to have had the teachers and mentors I had along the way, but I understand that not everybody is going to have that. If I could be of help by just saying, “Great job, don’t quit,” that would be a lot. And if I could show them what I knew, even better.

You can give back by just being a positive presence in your community, or you can teach what you know if you feel it will help people. Basically, give back however you can with whatever you have. Kurt Vonnegut taught me that. Hope you all do the same.

#improv #kurtvonnegut #comedy #sketch #comedy #writer #heart #encourage #ifthisisntnicewhatis #slaughterhousefive #advice #community #giveback

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