Tag Archives: comedy

Jewish Comedy Blues

29 Mar

“Mrs. Woolf, why aren’t you coming to the Storytelling Festival?” A fourth-grader asks me sweetly.

I’ve told them it’s Ms like 40 million times but it’s March and if they don’t call me Ms. by now, it’s a lost cause.

“I have work. I run trivia at a bar next to my apartment.”

“A bar….with alcohol?” Another kid asks.

“Noooooo….a candy bar.”

*Silence*

“Haha! I’m kidding. Obviously an alcohol bar. Duh.”

I can’t believe it’s March already. I have learned so much long-division and so many facts about the Thirteen Colonies. It fills like 1/3 of my brain now. Do you know how often those things come up in conversation? None times. I have nothing to add to conversations now except what new thing Tim and Moby taught me. Oh, you don’t know who Tim and Moby are? They’re just some child/teen? boy and his friend robot who answer snail mail for some reason and know freaking everything. Bleep bleep blorp.

 

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Things get really weird in the later episodes when Moby gets into drag.

 

Stand-up/Improv is going really well.

I’m performing weekly for Thunderbolt Comedy starting this Sunday. It’s really the first time I’m with a team of improvisers who make me so anxious with their talent (why anxious? Because when you have Obsessive Disorder, anxiety is an appropriate response to everything!). They’re so good! And I’m not just saying that because I want you to come to our shows. Though you should. They’re only five dollars. C’mon. They’re also awesome because when I said I couldn’t hang out on a Friday/Saturday they were like “Oh man! Let’s hang out on Thursday then! We want everyone to be a part of it!” My heart was warmed as I checked my calendar and saw that that Thursday was Purim, a Jewish holiday. Shoot.

When I first started telling people I was a comedian, the immediate response a lot of people had was “But what about Shabbat? How are you gonna be successful when you can’t do shows on Shabbat?”

It’s a good question. A kind of rude one but a valid one. But since I was so new, I’d never really had any problems with conflicting  events since it’s not like people were begging me to be on their shows anyways. I signed up for Sunday shows, took classes during the week, not a problem.

Last month, a very nice man from the Broadway Comedy Club offered me a spot on an “industry night.” A show that’s for bookers and agents to assess new comedians and give them feedback. It seemed awesome. The producer called me and told me about what a good opportunity it was and how they’d love to have me.

“We do these shows about eight times a year. Our next one is…..the third Saturday in May at 7pm.”

My heart sunk. There’s no way I would be able to make it. I told him I wouldn’t be able to make it since I’m orthodox and keep Shabbat, getting there before 9pm just wasn’t an option in May. He wouldn’t let it go.

I’ll look up what time sundown is,” he offered. “I know about the different times because I do a lot of hiking.”

I laughed, sure go ahead.

“Hmmm….May, May, May….ah. Sundown, here it is. 8:13pm. Oh. That doesn’t work.”

“I know.”

“Can you walk? Can you stay by a friend? Can you take a train if someone else pays for it?”

I appreciated his interesting Halachic (Jewish law) questions about work and travel on Shabbat but still, I respectfully declined the offer.

I felt really bad. Like, not bad for him that I cancelled, but bad for myself. I threw myself a little pity party in the teacher’s bathroom. It wasn’t fair. I deserved this opportunity and I had to cancel it because of some random covenant with God? But through my quick and superficial disappointment, I understood that I had set these parameters when I started. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and that I wasn’t going to make exceptions. Shabbat has “booked” me for those 25 hours for the rest of my life and it’s not a gig I can back out of easily, nor is it a particularly good idea to. Shabbat is when I’m not working on my “brand.” It’s when I’m not checking my Twitter follower count or my blog page hits. I’m not seeing how many likes my statuses have. Buy mostly, it’s when I can sleep for a blissful 12 hours and spend time with people in my immediate vicinity.

A few weeks later, when my Harry Potter improv team wanted to switch to Saturday evenings, I mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to commit to that, our coach immediately responded that we’ll keep it to Sundays. It was the most amazing thing – it really confirmed my feeling that if you work hard enough and are talented enough, people will wait for you. Of course sometimes they won’t, or can’t, but as long as you’re doing your thing, do it for you. Not them. I’ve met some really special people in this community who have such a respect for religion and culture, it’s incredible. Those are the people you want to build something with.

 

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Specifically this. Thanks Del Close!

A lot of people I meet have ultimate goals to be on Saturday Night Live. That can’t be mine and I know that. I just want to perform and have fun, maybe make some money. Maybe do a commercial or two for a bank or insurance. Who knows?

Just like I tell the kids I teach: “Stop yelling and please step back you are really inside my personal space right now.”

 

 

A Leap Day Post

1 Mar

It’s Leap Day!

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Which means TECHNICALLY I’m still living up to my blog-at-least-once-a-month-you-lazy-hunk-a-junk resolution!

Speaking of junk, in 6th grade I had a shirt that said “JUNK IN THE TRUNK” in really swirly letters. Why did my mom let me have that shirt? Also, I never got in trouble for it at my Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva so I’m pretty sure no one else including me understood it. Every day is another elementary school memory resurfacing.

I bet you’re all in suspense about that thing I wrote about a month ago – Yes! I did get the part and filmed it and it was awkward and amazing and terrifying and just the weirdest. It still hasn’t aired so I can’t show you what it is yet. Stay tuned!

I’m still teaching during the day. Still taking away heavy-duty tape dispensers away from kids who are deeming them to use them as weapons. I swear it’s like a prison yard sometimes except that in this case the shanks are pencils and can be sharpened quite efficiently and readily in every classroom.

Here’s some news about comedy: I’m on an improv house team at The Experiment Comedy Gallery. Which means you can see this beautiful face doing improv in Williamsburg three times a month (possibly more if Harry Potter Improv falls out on a Sunday I’m not doing a house team show). Better go quickly before the L train shuts down and strands us all on this God-forsaken island!

I’m still doing stand-up. I was on a “New Talent Night” show the other night. I went on last. When the host finally came half an hour late to start the show he made a big deal about how “WE HAVE A WOMAN ON THE SHOW TONIGHT YOU GUYS ISNT THAT CRAZY GET YOUR CAMERAS OUT.” It only went downhill from there, especially since there were actually TWO women that night on the show – it really makes you feel welcome at a show when the other comedians say the word ‘pussy’ about 45 times each, spend most of their 10 min talking about teenagers they slept with and end every jokes with a “right guys?”

If you’re wondering if women exaggerate their uncomfortableness at open mics and in comedy in general, from what I’ve heard and experienced myself – it is no hyperbole. 95% of interactions I’ve had on shows or with fellow male comedians has been great and supportive and wonderful but I get asked all the time how it is as a “female comedian” and I just need to have it on the record that sometimes it’s at best, icky and at worst, leaves you feeling like you’re in real danger (in my own experiences).

That’s where we all are right now! I’ll be back soon because it’s SPRING AND MY SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER IS GONE THANKS OBAMACARE.

 

My First Audition

12 Jan

*Tries to sneak into my blog like I haven’t been AWOL for three months.*

HI FRIENDS!

I’ve been reading an EXCELLENT book I borrowed from the UCB library called Long Story Short by Margot Leitman about learning how to craft stories for the stage (or seminars/Ted Talks/funerals/what-have-you). And one thing that really stuck with me so far is this quote she lives by “Most events in life can be categorized in one of two ways: A good time or a good story.” This quote really calms my anxiety about everything I’ve been doing in comedy so far (and non-comedy, but I don’t take that many risks outside of comedy these days) because it frames everything in a win/win situation. If whatever I’m worried about is great, then awesome! If it’s terrible, then I still get something out of it, either a story or learning experience (I read another wonderful quote that said mistakes are the fertilizer that grow our amazing ideas – not a great image but a good message.)

This is especially good to focus on after my Harry Potter Improvised show last night wasn’t me and my team’s best work. But instead of hyperventilating about it, my teammates and I sat down at a nearby pub afterwards and mapped out a game plan over beers on how to get better. It makes me wanna write myself one of those “grit tickets” we have in our classrooms that the fourth graders fill out when they stick with difficult math problems or logic puzzles.

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I definitely had a new experience tonight. After seeing a friend’s post about a network looking for female comedians to participate in a “Comedy Project,” about women, I sent in my tape and bio, and got an audition for this past evening at 5 pm. The e-mail specified that I prepare 3-5 jokes centering around womany things. I was so nervous! I can count the amount of things I’ve auditioned for on one hand – and three of those things were talent-show related. One was an African American Drama Troupe (don’t ask.)

I showed up to the studios at 4:45pm. I had spent the past 15 minutes in the Duane Read beauty section across the street putting on hand lotion, sweating off hand lotion, nervously spraying myself with various perfumes, putting on more hand lotion. I am weirdly insecure about my hands (their size, feel, nails – it’s just all wrong) and I never pay more attention to them than before I know I’m going to have to shake someone’s hand. But hands aside, I was jazzed. Super jazzed. Cool people went to auditions. Joey Tribiani and people who wore leather jackets and people with perfect bedhead. I felt cool. But like cool and overly excited. Like a Golden Retriever puppy in  a swimming pool.

 

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Pictured: Me

 

 

“Aviva?” asked a man poking his head into the waiting room where I had been watching a man shoot basketballs into one of those arcade hoop game that was there for some inexplicable reason. “Come on in.”

The audition room was a table, a few chairs and giant TV. There were four people, two men and two women sitting around the table.

“HI MY NAME’S AVIVA AND THIS IS MY FIRST AUDITION!” I blurted in their faces.

“Oh, haha great! It’s like we’re taking your audition virginity,” said the man who was conducting it.

“HAHA YOU’RE WELCOME TO IT,” I yelled. Stop talking now. Everyone laughed like “Look at this adorable little naive puppy.”

“So basically you’re going to be right here by the chair. You can sit or stand, whatever you feel comfortable doing.”

“I’M GONNA LEAN” Stop narrating everything you’re doing, I berated myself. Leaning isn’t cool! Stop leaning! Just sit!

“That’s fine,” he responded. “Now, you’re gonna look into the camera, say your name. Pause. Tell us which female comedians inspire you. Pause. Say your jokes but with a breath between each one. Got it?” *Camera clicks on*

“GOT IT!

Hi my name’s Aviva Woolf. And. Um, what was a supposed to say again?”

I’ve been an actress for 12 seconds and I’ve already forgotten my lines.

“Comedians that inspire you….”

“RIGHT SORRY. Um, A lot. Like, Irma Bombeck, Nora Ephron, Lindy West. Mindy Kaling, Jessica Williams, Samantha Bee, Kristen Schaal, Aparna Nancherla, Megan Amram…umm…I’m sure I’m forgetting some…but yeah.” Smooth

I do my jokes to laughter. Genuine I hope. Do people at auditions fake laughter to be polite?

“NOW WHAT?” I ask, like we’re all gonna go get smoothies or something.

“Well, we’ll let you know if you’re right for the project in a week, we generally don’t tell people if they got it at the audition.”

“RIGHT. Okay, so like, should I just go home and refresh my e-mail inbox every five minutes…?”

“No. If a week passes and you don’t hear from us, then you won’t. But we have your info so…”

“OKAY. Great! I mean, not about the not hearing from you. I’d like to, but if I don’t like, it’s okay.”

“Well, we have your picture…” *Gently ushering me out the door*

“Yeah! So like, you know what I look like! If you see me on the street…okay. BYE EVERYONE I HAD SO MUCH FUN BYE.” *Closing door slowly while staring at them*

 

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“Are you sure you guys don’t want smoothies?”

 

“Oh my God, did you ever leave????” texts my actress cousin Chana when I recount the audition to her. “Eventually” I type back.

So that’s the story  of my first non- high school audition. I legitimately have no idea if it went well or not. I was striving for memorable and I think I achieved it. Yay!

Onto the next adventure! Have a great night snowflakes!

 

 

Quitters Anonymous (Or: How I Bombed For The First Time)

23 Apr

Hello frienditos!

Time for my monthly blog update because I don’t understand the concept of a daily blog. Remember when I would write every day? Man, I had some nice free time. i should go back to living in Baltimore with no friends.

Since I have decided to document my journey into the comedy world (which is like the regular world but with a lot more errant banana peels), I feel I need to talk about Monday – in which, firstly, I fucking KILLED IT in Improv 401 with my new best friend teacher Dan Hodapp. I was nervous for my first day at UCB’s highest improv class since my 301 class had been weirdly stressful and not super fun at all. I would leave class crying (crying! like it was some kind of math class!). So I was apprehensive. But I walked in, sat down next to some dude. Looked at him and realized he was wearing the SAME EXACT OUTFIT as me. Seriously. Black shoes, dark jeans, black T-shirt with a white design of an animal, maroon H&M sweatshirt. I was like “Bro, what the heck? Stop stealing my style, son.” He also found it funny. And a friendship was born.  Then we were randomly picked to be in a few scenes together looking like twinsies. So it was easier to perform now that I had a supportive mirror image friend.

(And just so everyone knows in advance, 401 has three graduation shows – and they’re all on Sundays so you can pop on by and see them like a supportive mirror friend you want to be! May 17th, June 7th and 21st – and they’re all at 1:15 pm so you can watch me and then go home early and nap.)

Now, before I talk about my bomb-a-thon, here’s some stuff about me as a preamble (more like pre-ramble amiright? Okay sorry).

I am an impatient person, which my husband sweetly reminds me every so often. Not in sense that I have outbursts when old people take their time at the grocery store checkout but in the sense that I want to be really good friends with people right away without awkward small talk. I want religion to move faster in accepting women in positions of power, I want congress to stop fucking around and solve all our problems right now. I want to be great at something without having to patiently practice for years and years. I want big sweeping changes all the time and not teeny tiny modicums of progress – which, as you’ll note, is how the world fucking works despite how I might feel.

I don’t have a huge concept of working very hard at something for years and years. I am a grade A quitter. Because I don’t see it as quitting really, but as moving on to something else more interesting. Tired of tennis? Good thing there’s ceramics, ice skating and karate. This sewing machine instructions are too hard to figure out? Fine, just leave it in the box and start baking instead! I can’t remember a time where I didn’t just quit when something got too hard, or boring or just annoying. And Monday night seems like something that, in the past, would make me be like “Eh, I don’t need this comedy – maybe I’ll do something else, like go to medical school.” But I’m trying hard to focus on progress, not perfection – to borrow a phrase from everyone’s favorite anonymous group.

So the open mic was at Gotham. Actually, the basement of Gotham. A nice basement though, it had pretty clean curtains and a little stage. And no seats wet with spilled beer like one I recently went to at McSwaggins. Ari had come for moral support and because we were gonna go to Madras Mahal later (which closed/left BTW! What? Don’t worry, we ended up going to Mr. Broadway.)

I had practiced my set a lot more than I usually did, starting to take this whole stand-up thing more seriously. And coming from my awesome improv class, I was so set on being a fan fave. I went 4th in the lineup which is also usually good because the crowd thins out the later you go.

I introduced myself with a joke. Crickets. Every punchline. Dead, not even polite laughter, or nervous laughter. At one point I remember thinking “Oh you don’t like these jokes muthfuxers – well I’m just gonna double down and do them with even more aplomb!” At one point I went off script to make some off-hand joke about how they didn’t like something and they laughed the hardest at that SO WHAT EVEN IS COMEDY?

I ran off the stage when my light came on. The next girl got up and started making jokes about how she handjobs and everyone was rolling on the floor. I don’t wanna say that my jokes were too *smart* for this crowd but really – I feel like it’s usually the case where someone will be like “Grapes give me diarrhea” and these dudes will be like OMG that is the funniest fucking thing I’ve ever heard! (a true story BTW). I’m trying not to be bitter or angry that they didn’t like me because really, I understand that jokes are subjective and open mics aren’t about impressing other comedians but still, this had never happened and it kind of stung. It was the kind of thing that made my little quitter voice go “You’re probably not nor have you ever been funny – everyone was probably lying to you forever and maybe you’re on the Truman Show.”

In a rare moment of self-pity I posted about it on Facebook and a bunch of comedian friends, pro’s and amateurs alike were like “Bro, it’s not a big deal – it’s gonna happen thousands of times, just keep trying and failing.” Which was like ‘Oh good, I can’t wait to keep embarrassing myself!’ But they’re totally right.

So after a few days of reflection, I’m ready to try again. After I asked if I should change my routine, or whether I should try to say stuff I think the audience will like, Ari firmly told me that I should I only tell jokes that I think are funny and not to pander. Be true to yourself I guess is the moral and you will eventually find your niche.

So we’ll see how it goes from here on out, and I will try to keep posting as often as I can. I hope you all are following your dreams and not getting discouraged from failure!

A Book Review Plus Unadulterated Stream of Consciousness

21 Oct

Hello my little unicorn teacups,

I hope your days have been lovely – sorry for the delay, I have spent the last week or so in a wooden shanty or, a “Sukkah” as we Jews so adorably call it. During the holiday I don’t use any electricity, leaving a lot of sitting-around-and-talking time with people, which means I learn a lot. Such as: a friend of mine once punched a guy in the balls on the subway until he bled, also an old woman sitting next to me at a meal dyed her hair purple to support her fave team, the Ravens (“No, I didn’t sell back my Rice jersey! I don’t even have a Rice jersey but if I did I would never sell it!”), and if you make small talk with the founder of a California-based marijuana dispensary, he’ll give you free THC pills. Very enlightening stuff.

Also enlightening, is the book Poking A Dead Frog by Mike Sacks, that I read over the holiday. I took the book out of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade library last week. I had forgotten to bring my student ID card so I was worried they wouldn’t let me take it out but luckily I had offered the guy my last Red Wine Velvet cupcake I had brought to class and he let it slide. Another good lesson – always bribe everyone just in case you need them in the next 30 seconds.

So this book is advice and interviews with comedic minds, from Amy Poehler and Megan Amram to Mel Brooks to Peg Lynch. Writers, radio personalities, journalists (The Onion and otherwise) and comics etc. All fascinating interviews about how and why they decided to leave the cushy reality where one can get a nice job being a librarian or marine biologist to the harsh, upside-down world of trying to make people laugh.

Even though eels tell the most amazing jokes.

Even though eels tell the most amazing jokes.

My favorite parts were the end of the interviews, when the interviewee was pressed for any advice to give those who wanted to pursue a career in comedy. Most of them were like “Umm…why are you asking me? I don’t know what I’m doing. No one knows what they’re doing! Like, if you can do something else and be happy, do it. But if you can’t, just keep doing stuff, writing, editing, trying, NEVER GIVE UP, but like you can give up if you want to.” I think that pretty much sums up all the advice (but you should really read the book as well, as there’s a fascinating interview with Adam McKay).

A lot of advice was like “Start a blog!” and I was like “Hahah CHECK – next stop: Fame Town, USA. Bye SUCKA” (I said to my cat).

JK I forgot you're my agent.

             JK I forgot you’re my agent.

But obviously it takes a lot more to be a successful… something. It’s hard to have a goal in life when you’re not sure what you want to be. There’s no game of LIFE career card that says “Like, something creative but structured. Maybe screenwriting? But also maybe helping people.” That would be way too long. Your friends will have hilariously switched your pink and blue people pieces to both blue people pieces by the time you finished reading it.

All I know is that I have to keep moving forward, pushing myself and just fucking doing SOMETHING. Because before you know it, I’ll be getting the Grocer of the Year Award and complaining about my job and never following my dreams; even though I somehow afford a giant house in Philadelphia and put three kids through college on the sole grocery store manager salary of $75, 527 a year in 1994 (which, did you know has the same buying power as $121,216 today??? I just did a lot of research for this reference).

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Not to mention paying for those sweet 90s layers.

Ari suggested we watch Blazing Saddles, (which I had never seen), after I mentioned the Mel Brooks piece of the book. And as much as I WANTED to like the movie, I did – I think it was a little too wacky for me. A little too Bugs Bunny. I appreciated the idea of WE CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK WE WAAAANNTTT feel of the movie. Like someone was like “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” and everyone else was like YES! PUT IT IN. That was great. But as for laugh out loud, it didn’t happen. Sorry, Mel. Maybe I’ll have better luck with Young Frankenstein.

So if you were worried about my blog lagging, don’t fret. We’ve only just begun. Besides NaNoWriMo is coming up and maybe we’ll dabble in that together.

XXXOO

Why Journalists Would Make Great Improv Actors

5 Oct

I haven’t written about my improv class at UCB in a while. Mostly because I haven’t had any insights other than “Geez Louise this is mighty hard,” and “People in this class look like ageless beautiful gazelles who should be playing teenagers on Glee right now.”

Not that I think Glee is the highest shelf an aspiring actor can reach but because I’ve noticed that Glee likes to stock their fictional high school with upper 20-somethings who have the youthful exuberance and skin of a highschooler. Or at least they did when I watched it – and then abruptly stopped at the end of season three when Rachel was like “Yay we’re getting MARRIED!” and the Glee club was like “No you’re not! We’re kidnapping you and sticking you on this train to NY with NO books or magazines to read and we don’t care what you say – BYE BITCH.” Also Mike Chang graduated and life was just not worth living after he left.

 

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The face of America’s Next Doctor/Dancer

 

Back to improv. I would say that I am not a patient person. I don’t have time for my microwave to count all the way down to zero, if something takes longer than 6 seconds to load I’m onto something else, and I refuse to wait for society to hurry up and just be accepting of all different lifestyles and equalities. That being said, I really want to be good at improv and this whole practicing and learning from my mistakes and slowly getting better every day has been a real issue for me. Every gentle (and hilarious) constructive piece of criticism my teacher tosses at me sounds like, YOU’RE AWFUL WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING HERE YOU TALENTLESS LOAF OF BREAD? I have to actively tell myself to calm the fuck down because achieving your dreams isn’t going to take 3/4 of a 101 UCB class before you become successful.

Conversely, when I *do* do something mildly right I’m like psh, BYE ya’ll, I’m off to hang out with Amy, Mindy and Tina, my REAL friends. So, the struggle is real.

 

FACE RESERVED FOR FUTURE BEST FRIEND

FACE SPOT RESERVED FOR FUTURE BEST FRIEND AVIVA

 

But as I continue down the rabbit-hole that is learning the art of improvisation – I’ve noticed that a couple skills that I’ve learned from journalism school (PHILIP MERRILL – HEARD OF IT? No? OK) have come into play a bit. And the more I thought about it, the more I realize that journalists should be amazing improvisers and not just because journalists literally have a million things on their back-up job lists just in case this whole newspapers-are-not-a-thing-anymore trend decides to blow over.

Here’s why:

1. Journalists love to procrastinate

According to this scientific BuzzFeed article about journalism, all reporters thrive under the pressure of a deadline – and if you can’t hack making changes to your work up until the very last second it’s due without having a heart attack, you’re golden. In my own experience, one day to complete a 4 source article is basically a lifetime. We love/hate the rush of banging out a story at the last min.

In improv, you have less than that – maybe 5-10 seconds to figure out the 3/5 PRECIOUS Ws: Who What Where. The why and the when can go suck it cuz improv has no time for that. If you like feeling the heat to create not only a cohesive scene but also one that’s true and funny – get on that.

2. Journalists have to play at the top of their intelligence 

Something I’ve noticed during my time as a reporter is that sometimes I am called upon to write about shit I don’t know. Cover the Obama healthcare when I barely know what a copay is? To Google! Writing a story on the newest jobs report by the Labor Dept? Sure, just let me ask my dad first! To be able to report means to either to know a little bit about everything or to at least pretend you know what you’re talking about. Using the knowledge that’s already in your head plus confidence goes a long way to convince people you have one iota of an idea of what you’re talking about. Playing a doctor in a scene – just throw out buzzwords you heard on House (Ugh, I miss House you guys) – “Sarcoma!” “Lupis!” “Hodgkins Lymphoma!” “Turn your head and cough!” See, easy.

3. Journalists know how to prompt people

If your story has an angle, which it obviously does, you’re gonna need the people you interview to say what you want them to. You’re gonna need to finesse an answer out without telling them explicitly what to say. It has to be smooth. Having experience leading subjects on is a good way to also communicate to your scene partner where you want your game to go.

4. Journalists are good listeners

I have learned the hard way that if you’re not paying attention to what the person you’re interviewing is saying because you’re focusing on what you’re gonna ask next or worrying if your skin looks dry – you’re gonna look like a fool LIKE A FOOL. Or if you’re not prepared to deal with what people are saying and just have a nervous breakdown. Just ask these guys, Listening is important in improv because if your scene buddy is like “Well Joseph, we finally made contact with the aliens,” and you were thinking “Did I feed my pit bull today?” You’re gonna have the added bonus of looking foolish WHILST having people look at you disappointingly and/or sneering at you…especially all those bullies from 4th grade who are probably in the audience just to watch you fail.

5. Journalists are basically delusional 

Sure kid, be a journalist. You’ll *definitely* make it. If you don’t, you can always just drop out and try playing make-believe as a living instead.

 

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You can always just play one on TV

 

So good news for the people (me) who are journalists and are dabbling in improv (me) because someone (me) says it’s a good idea.

Always take advice from yourself and always be your own role model. Go team! (me)

 

 

First Day In Comedy School

4 Sep

For those paying attention, today was my first day of improv class at UCB (I go there now, I can shorten it) *dusts off letterman jacket.*

In true Aviva first-day fashion, I went to the wrong address first. I went to 590 8th avenue instead of 520. 590 8th avenue is a Chase Bank. For about 40 seconds I stood there and seriously considered the fact that maybe the school was IN the bank? Like, in the basement. Should I go in and ask? Maybe it’s a joke? Maybe I’m an idiot.

Maybe I should check the email again. No, it’s 520. I ran.

I don’t know what I was expecting but UCB is nice. Like a fancy dentist office/spa nice and clean. There’s big white desks and white walls along with a pretty and unfriendly receptionist. There’s a lot of bare rooms for classes. I got to 909 to see 15 people sitting quietly in two rows, checking their phones or staring off into space. Classic first day.

 Our teacher walked in a few min later, an exuberant comedian who explained the class rules to us. One of which was “don’t be a dick.” That wasn’t even his commentary. It was written on the syllabus.

  One of the requirements for the class is to see two UCB shows during our 8-week session. “I know it might be hard,” he said. “I mean you guys are here at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday so you clearly don’t have traditional 9-5 jobs. maybe you work at night or are just one of those people who don’t have to work, Swiss maybe.”

 We played some name games and some “get up and get used to being on front of people” stuff. I was a lot more nervous than I thought I’d be. Hands shaking, voice quavering nervousness, wondering if it was bad form to pass out in the middle of a made-up-on- the-spot monologue about Matt Lauer.

Luckily, it seems that the rest of the class is really encouraging and so far, nice. There’s a lot of run of the mill handsome leading role white guys with big smiles, a girl who looks like Riki Lindhome, a British dude who kept his giant headphones around his neck for most of the time and a dead-pan and stoic boy who I assume is from Japan since his name is Tokyo.

  During the break Tokyo asked if I was an actress. I laughed and shook my head. He said he was an actor. And that he was focused on serious roles…and that he didn’t like comedy.

That makes sense I thought.

“I just want people to love me…” he added almost sadly. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or maybe his comedy was just super complex.

Or maybe he was just fucking with me.

 As the class went on we learned more basics, not just ‘yes and’. UCB teaches long form improv which means it’s not short party games like on Whose Line is it Anyways but completely made up scenes based on audience suggestions. It’s not just being creative off the tip of your head but understanding how to craft an entire character and scene out of mainly your dialogue. Slowly, I felt more comfortable. A little bit. Like, not seeing floating specks in front of your eyes anymore progress.

“Even if you don’t go into comedy,” said our instructor. “If anything, you’ll develop the skills to bullshit your way out of any situation.”

  Which is good because I am a terrible liar. I mean, I’m a great liar! i really WAS sick and couldn’t go to your birthday party in Brooklyn last week, I promise.

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