Tag Archives: funny

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.

Good Will Hunting and Why Daydreaming Is Important

10 Dec

One more week ya’all. One. More. Week.

I have two projects and a quiz tomorrow, which is why I’m writing on my blog tonight and not writing about why CVS’s SEC’S 10-Q report in 2013 is more than its 10-Q in 2012 (Look, I took this reporting on the economy class this semester and I’m obviously not going to end up doing anything with the information I’ve gleaned so I have to shoe-horn it into as many conversations as possible. It’s harder than you think. No one wants to hear you say “Haha! That movie failed harder than the idea to repackage risky mortgages which led to the financial collapse of 2008!” That is a true story.)

Worse is that I also just watched Good Will Hunting last night with my roommate and now I have to be like to my friends, “I know this is 16 years too late but I want to discuss this movie now!” If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a boy who just wants to be a simple janitor but has a terrible disease. He’s really good at math. One day some professors discover his secret and ruin his life and make him see a therapist for his mutant math powers until he runs away. Lesson: Math never helped anyone do anything. Also lesson: If your soundtrack doesn’t have at LEAST four Elliot Smith songs, than it can’t legally be counted as a 90s movie.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what the movie was about but that was kind of what it seemed like to me. Maybe watch it yourself, OMG it’s been 13 years what are you waiting for?! (#movieshaming)

But the movie made me anxious. Really a lot of it is “Spending money on college is dumb! Read more books and just smart yourself up that way! Or just be really good at something like math or just resign yourself to construction work.”

It also had some good points too like “Don’t give up” and “It’s not your fault” and “How do you like them apples?”

But you didn’t come here to get a review of Good Will Hunting (and if you did you have amazing luck! Good for you!)

You came because…???… you’re my mom and you like being a supportive parent. Or you maybe you typed Virginia Woolf into Google with mangled fingers and got this blog instead, who knows?

Anyways, in my on-going effort to figure out what I want to do with my life, today I talked to and drank coffee with real life awesome journalist/author/friends’ mom/best friend’s mom-in-law/super nice lady who lets me stay at her house with her family when I have no place to go for Jewish holidays – Adina Rishe Gewirtz. (Her YA book “Zebra Forest” got super great ratings on Good Reads. Click if you don’t believe me even though you should why did you come to my blog if you don’t believe the things I write??”)

Talking to other writers is fun for me if a little intimidating. Because I always think authors and journalists have some secret to success that isn’t just “write every day and you will get better at it.” Because that’s what you have to do. And I know that but I always hope just once someone will be “Oh, you just have to do 700 jumping jacks and drink Absinth out of a shoe and it’ll all fall in place!” (Although I’m sure if I actually did that, I would come out with some interesting writing.)

But I actually got a lot more out of our coffee klatch so because I think the stuff we talked about is good advice for everyone (although some stuff is more specific to journalists) I wanted to share it with you too.

– Daydreaming is important – (This might be for writers and not like, surgeons. So if you have someone’s life in your hands daily, please don’t daydream. If you have a character’s life in your hand then yes daydream away)

— Having a voice is more important than being an expert on something that you’re writing about because you can always do research. (Again, probably more for writers)

– Life is all about taking risks. 

– Just because you think of yourself as one way doesn’t mean that that is a concrete or even accurate representation of yourself.

– “Life is pieces” –  I think this helps with my writing and anxiety. You can’t really look down the road and know what’s going to happen, life is about living in ‘today.’ Just like with writing, you have to write one word, one page, one chapter and not focus on the whole book.

It’s very strange that so many writers are the same in the respect that we all might possibly be insane. Insane for thinking that writing stories is a smart career choice, insane for thinking that our work will make a difference to people, insane for bringing people into worlds we create and characters from our heads. But all writers I’ve met have this indestructible hope that hundreds of rejections can’t kill. It’s inspiring. And then also this humble surprise when people like their writing. I may not know what I want to do with my life but talking to successful people is always helpful.

When I came home from Starbucks, my friend happened to send me an amazing quote that very beautifully summed up how I was feeling about my future (which, despite meeting with my professors, bosses and authors about what I want to be when I grow up is still “???”)

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. 

And the point is, to live everything. 

Live the questions now. 

Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I think that’s what I’m going to do. Learn to love the questions. Live the answers. Try to soak up as much advice and knowledge in the next 5 days before I am tossed into the next phase of my life. The dreaded  exciting “REAL WORLD.” (Not the show, but as in “Aviva, in the real world you can’t tell your co-worker you want to ‘fight their face’ when you get mad” or “Aviva, in the real world you can’t go on BuzzFeed all day” or “Aviva,in the real world we still won’t give you money for writing.”

Okay! Back to homework.

Good night my little ducklings.

 

The God Network renews “YOU” for another season. A Rosh Hashanah Post.

1 Sep

Dear Buddies,

For a while, I really wanted to write a post about having confidence and being happy with ourselves but I’ve put that off because Netflix told me not to but instead watch more seasons of Parks and Rec but I realized that my would-be post and the upcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana kind of intersected nicely so that is what this post is about.

For those of you who do not know, Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. But unlike the January 1st New Year, we don’t put a flimsy shimmery noisemaker in our mouth but a dead ram’s horn. Fun for the whole family!

 

Best used when blown directly into someone's face.

Best used when blown directly into someone’s face!

 

Other Rosh Hashana traditions include: eating apples, inevitably getting sticky honey on your new H&M dress, anticipating parody songs about the new year by popular Jewish a capella groups, sitting in synagogue for hundreds of thousands of hours and for some, making small talk with elderly aunts, putting animal heads on our tables.

 

Or heads of lettuce for all of you who don't like lifeless watching you while you eat (weirdos).

Or heads of lettuce for all of you who don’t like lifeless watching you while you eat (weirdos).

 

Rosh Hashana is also a time when Jews tell God “Hey, you’re still pretty rad, thanks for not letting me die in a fire this year (especially considering how many times I accidently put tin foil in the microwave when I was drunk…oh, is that just me? Okay then), I will try not to be such an bonehead this year and will pay more attention to my actions i.e. thanking you for the neat things in my life like food and not putting tin foil in the microwave.”

 

We also go to our fellow Jews and non-Jews and say, “Hope I wasn’t too much of a blockhead to you this year. Sorry about losing the first season of Dexter you lent me and then lying to you about having borrowed it. Also this year I’ll try to stop telling people about the hilarious time you tripped on a rug at that Chinese restaurant and fell on a waiter (but that 50 bucks I promised to repay you? Yeah, you probably won’t see that again. My bad)”.

 

Rosh Hashana is when we take a break to say “What am I doing with my life?” (Although if you’re an almost-college-grad like me, you’ve probably been asking yourself that on a near constant basis.) We want to evaluate our life choices, are we still “good people”, do we truly recognize all the terrible things we’ve done this year, do we even feel bad about them? Are we trying to be good friends, neighbors, roommates, daughters, sons, and subway passengers? Or do we stuff our headphones in our ears when someone comes around asking for change?

 

In NY we make you work for your money!

In NYC we make our panhandlers work hard for their money

 

Rosh Hashana focuses on a bunch of things, namely renewing our love for God, our love for our fellow man/woman but another idea that often gets overlooked, loving ourselves.

 

Five years ago, I was on a seminary program in Bet Shemesh in Israel called Machon Maayan. I remember sitting in my first day of class where our first lesson on Rosh Hashana was the famous concept of “V’Ahvat L’Reiach K’mocha” or “Loving your neighbor as yourself,” an idea that Rabbi Akiva said was the very fundamental message of the Torah and our religion.

 

It’s important for Jews (and really all people) to stick together. In the Parsha (Torah portion) leading up to Rosh Hashana, Moshe Rabbeinu on his deathbed basically says to the Jewish people in the desert “You guys have a good thing going here, I know you’re all gonna muck it up sooner or later but if you act like a nation every once in a while then no one will mess with you and you’ll be OK.”

 

Being a part of the Jewish nation is less like a family and more like a really weird fraternity. You may have no clue who the elderly man sitting next to you on the plane is but he knows the secret passwords and handshakes so you know he’s all right and you may even be able to use that connection to get yourself a job in his law firm.

 

However, the phrase ‘Love your neighbor like you love yourself’ has a flip side too. That is, if you don’t love yourself enough then you can’t love your neighbor. If you don’t invest in yourself, then won’t have enough to share with others. It’s so important to be happy with who you are, how God made you, how you feel about yourself (even if you don’t believe in God). Five years ago on that Rosh Hashana in Israel, I wasn’t happy with my life. I was in a new country without any of my friends from home. I was shy and awkward. I hadn’t been diagnosed yet with the hormone imbalance PCOS but I had noticed persistent dark fuzz on my jaw due to the elevated levels of testosterone. I had developed some sort of allergy to all hair products leaving my head a big poodley mess.

 

Oh this hairstyle?

Hairstyle seen here.

 

I remember feeling that Rosh Hashana that I wasn’t good enough to make friends. I wasn’t good enough to help other people. I wasn’t pretty enough to pray to God.

 

It took me a long time to love myself. To learn that I wasn’t going to become a better person if I didn’t believe that I deserved to.  That I wasn’t going to become a better friend, Jew, neighbor. It took me years to fully internalize the message I had learned years before.

 

So here are my tips on becoming a happier, self-loving person this year. I hope my words help you find peace in yourself. I hope this year you realize how important you are just as yourself and to the Jewish people, how amazing your potential is and how precious your numerous page views are to my blog *hugs computer.*

 

Confidence

 

Doing things is hard sometimes. Some people (me) can be awkward and at loss of the right thing to say at times (i.e. Doctor: “Have a good semester in school!” Me: “You too! Or, a good semester being a doctor. Or, just life being a doctor. OK bye forever!”) As humans sometimes we’re apprehensive with new situations, with talking to new people. I firmly believe that fear is the number one worst thing in the world. I mean, besides for fear of snakes. SNAKES. Snakes everywhere. That’s the only thing you should be afraid of.

 

ESPECIALLY snakes trying to be cute.

ESPECIALLY snakes trying to be cute.

 

I read in a magazine once that we should have pictures of ourselves as children hanging up, to remind ourselves what it was like to always be happy and try new things or something. That’s stupid. Kids are dumb, they don’t know when people are laughing at them or with them. Never pretend you’re a kid. Instead, imagine yourself as yourself but at age 95. Take a second and imagine your wrinkly skin, bald/grey head and achy bones (FYI this game only works if you’re not 95, sorry 95-year-olds no offense, congrats on being hella elderly. Hellderly?)

 

Got it? Now imagine your old self is a sarcastic snob. And every time you’re too afraid to do something, be it sing karaoke, ask someone out, dance, learn an instrument, speak a new language, make a speech, ask a question, give someone a compliment, sing etc., imagine you’re sarcastic old lady self saying “Ohhh, thank goodness you’re not embarrassing yourself. Wouldn’t want to give me any memories or anything. Nope, you just sit in your T-shirt and shorts while everyone else goes in the pool. Whew, someone might think you’re too fat to be in a bathing suit. Nope. You just sit there. Don’t even think of talking to that cute lifeguard either. I’ll just sit in my rocking chair and think of my safe life never taking any risks. Ah…that’s nice. Maybe dementia will set in and I’ll make believe I was Lady Gaga. That’s good. Carry on not asking someone to explain the situation in Syria or anything about politics. Wouldn’t want them to think you’re stupid. Time to take a nap.”

 

Zzz....someone get me my meat dress...it's 4 p.m. and I'm hungry...zzz....

Zzz….someone get me my meat dress…it’s 4 p.m. and I’m hungry…zzz….

 

Usually, I find that the thought of me getting to 95 without any risks or stories pushes me to do the thing I’m afraid of. We should tell people how we feel and don’t be afraid to live our lives without other people’s permissions. We should be doing the things that scare us. It’s why we’re here. Unless that thing involves snakes. Then stay FAR AWAY.

 

Goals

 

When I was younger, like a lot of girls (and guys) I used to measure myself against other people, especially physically. I used to scan each room I went into, to see if I was as pretty as other girls. If I talked to them, I would see if I was funnier, smarter or nicer than them. I was always comparing myself. It was exhausting. I would pore over the magazines I loved, hating myself for not being model skinny. I would read articles about girls who started amazing initiatives and charities and ask myself why I wasn’t starting some fund for children in Africa. My life was just a scale that I hardly ever matched up with. Until one day I read this in a book by Zelig Pliskin called Gateway to Happiness.

 

“It is unnecessary to have low self-esteem when you can easily invent some criteria by which you are a success. What makes anyone else’s criteria more valid than your own?”

 

I realized that day that I didn’t have to play life by anyone’s rules but my own. I was jealous of models but did I want to be a model, was that my criteria for success? No. I envied the students with amazing voices who sang solos in choir. Did I even care about having a good voice? No.

 

What I was jealous of was were the people who knew what they wanted and went for it. I didn’t have any idea what my own idea of success was. These days my idea of success is to be able to write, maybe making people think and laugh. My idea of success is having friends who feel they can be honest with me. My idea of success is having a job I enjoy and feel like I can help others. Now that I know that, I no longer feel angry with other people for what they have.

 

This year it’s not enough to say, “I want to be a good person.” What do we want to get good at? Do we want to be smarter? More considerate? Volunteer more? Take on more responsibility religiously? Learn to salsa? If we don’t know what we want out of life, we’ll never get it.

 

Perspective

 

Little problems are hella annoying. They make us late. They distract us. They make us take time from our busy days to go to Sears to buy new microwaves.

 

We walk through the door at night, stressed from a grade we got on a paper and snap at our roommates about the dishes. Annoyances are our computers being crazy slow when trying to pay bills online. They’re the dingbat driving like an dadburned idiot on the highway when you’re just trying to get home that makes you curse the day the world was created.

 

Ugggghhhhhhh wwhhyyyyyyyyyyy

Ugggghhhhhhh wwhhyyyyyyyyyyy

 

But tiny problems are a sign that life is pretty swell.

 

I once heard this little story about a woman collecting charity from people at the Western Wall. When someone would give her money, she would say “Bless you, I wish that you always have little annoyances.” Finally, someone was like “WTH lady, what kind of blessing is that?” She replied, “When someone you love is in the hospital, you don’t give a hoot that your Amazon order got delayed. When your house burns down, you don’t care that gas prices shot up another 10 cents. Tiny problems in your life means you don’t have big problems, and that’s always a good thing.”

 

When I get really upset over small things (which is pretty often), I play a little game called parenthesis. It kind of goes like this: I take a what I am super mad about and break it down until my annoyance seems like a pretty silly thing to be truly broken up over. If I’m still annoyed, then I’m still annoyed. It’s not foolproof. Like this:

 

“I am angry that the dry-cleaners didn’t have the dress I wanted to wear to my friend’s wedding in time for me to wear it.”

 

And then I say this:

 

“I am angry that the dry-cleaners (which, thank God, I have enough money to spend on) didn’t have the dress (which, again, is something that I had money to buy something a lot of people who don’t have the ability to) I wanted to wear to my friend’s (a friend, I am lucky to have, considering a lot of people are pretty lonely) wedding (what a happy time for my friend that she found her soul mate) in time for me to wear it.”

 

Or

 

“I am upset that my brother borrowed my car without asking and now I have to take the bus to my job.”

 

Becomes:

 

“I am upset that my brother (that I love and am fortunate to have a sibling who is healthy and alive) borrowed my car (that thank God, works and I am lucky to own whereas a lot of people do not have) without asking and now I have to take the bus (which is pretty reliable and I can afford) to my job (which thankfully I have).

 

Little things will pop up and ruin our day forever. That’s life. But when you say these things, especially out loud. You’ll find that they’ll make the situations a tiny bit easier to endure.

 

Body Confidence

 

Obviously, we should always rely on our inner glow or whatever to be happy. But sometimes, we just don’t feel like going to the party because the outfit we chose doesn’t look as good as we thought and it’s already kind of put a damper on the whole thing. If that doesn’t happen to you then congratulations!

 

Here's your party!

Here’s your party!

 

For me, it helps to think of God. And how bored I would be if I created infinitely complex and fascinating, capable human beings to do/build/create/imagine amazing things and they spent hours and hours each day plucking their eyebrows and staring in the mirror. I’d be like “Oh ME! If I knew you guys would be so boring, I would’ve made you all amorphous blobs or something! Can you go outside and interact with people? Can you go find the cure for cancer already? Turn off Netflix and call your grandma. She always has something interesting to say. Fine, you wanna spend 2 hours crying over a haircut? If you need me, I’m gonna be watching some ancient Mesopotamia. Maybe a guy will kill a snake or something. That’s always fun.”

 

"That's it. Beyonce looks like this now. Happy?!"

“That’s it. Beyonce looks like this now. Happy?!”

 

Life is really short. Our friends and family do NOT like us just because we have frizz-free hair. They probably think you’re funny or interesting so go hang out with them and not worry so much about how you look. If they wanted to be friends with something perfect they would’ve brought a cardboard cut-out of Mila Kunis to the movies last week instead of you. There is more to you than your thighs. You were born on this planet and therefore you belong here.

 

In Conculsion

 

In conclusion, Rosh Hashana is a good marker in the year to take one second from ‘ugh-ing’ about things, complaining about other people and beating ourselves up.

 

Let’s celebrate that we completed ANOTHER year of being on this awesome swirling blue and green ball of crazy. We have so much potential to be something incredible. Wonderful people. Remarkable nation. Amazing world. It has to start with us believing in ourselves.

 

"I said you were special like 1,00 times you dumb mother effers."

“I said you were special like 1,00 times you ninnies”

 

I will leave you with another favorite quote.

 

“Man must guard himself and his uniqueness and not imitate his fellow man. For initially man was created in his own image and only afterward in the image of God.” ~ Kotzker Rebbe.

 

Happy New Year.

Love,

Aviva

Ps. Stop putting tin foil in the microwave.

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