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

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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

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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: Processing the Weird Feelings of the Journey

The Improv Life: Processing the Weird Feelings of the Journey

I get weird feelings all the time about the comedy journey.

I beat myself up too much for bad shows, failed concepts, ideas that looked good on paper not working out in real life, awkward interactions, friendships I neglected, and failed relationships.

I got a lot of regret, which causes awkward feelings: complex emotions that I’m not always the best at dealing with.

All the regrets revolve around people and how things could’ve gone better. Sometimes it’s my fault, sometimes it’s theirs, and sometimes it takes two to tango.

Some wounds are healed by time; others just hurt more with the passage of the years.

These memories don’t take away from the good times and experiences I’ve had – moments I will hold onto forever – but rather, they serve as a shadow to counter the light of my positive improv experiences.

Like my light, my shadow follows me wherever I go, and I will always be aware of it.

As I write this, I’m thinking of all the faces I’ve disappointed. I don’t know if they’ll forgive me. I hope. At the very least, I can forgive myself, and not let the weight of regret prevent me from moving on to the next thing. In the next thing is another part of my journey that will reveal unknown parts of myself to me.

#improv #journey #people #relationships #awkwardfeelings #emotions #light #shadow

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The Improv Life: Pushing Through the BS When the Show Must Go On

The Improv Life: Pushing Through the BS When the Show Must Go On

I’m a positive dude, and I really don’t talk about the negative stuff of comedy unless I’m really angry and need to vent, or if the moment calls for it, like last year when BIPOC comedians were talking about their shitty experiences at primarily white led theaters.

But there is a lot of bullshit in comedy, and how you handle it will determine your happiness in this field.

You’ll try to put a show together, and it seems as if everything is against you in having a good show.

People will flake, drop out, abandon you, make unreasonable demands, not carry their share of a project, disrespect you and your name, waste your time and leave yourself asking, “Why the hell am I doing this?”

And this is just at my amateur level; I can only imagine how it is in Hollywood when real money is involved.

But somehow, someway, I push ahead and put on a show. Win, lose, or draw, the show must go on. And I think that mantra is what’s kept me from failing to deliver a show.

Once you advertise a show, that’s a pretty big point of no return. The word is out there. People will schedule their lives around coming to your show. People are investing their time in you now, and you have to give them a show worth their investment.

That promise of putting on a show has been one of the biggest motivators for me to push through all the bullshit and deliver a program worth people’s time.

I’m telling you: something about “the show must go on” theater producer attitude gives you the strength, resilience, and flexibility you need to rise above challenges and put on a God damned good show.

I mean it’s business as well – you will lose money on a space if you don’t put on a show. But it’s also an artistic challenge to rally your team and resources to put on a good show that genuinely entertains people and provides them with a good time.

Trust me, seeing a happy audience during the show and after is plenty validation for going against the odds and delivering a great show.

See you tomorrow,

Fernando

#improv #producer #theater #writer #actor #show #showmustgoon #program #time #audience

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