Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Our show was great

It was. It went fine, in fact, it went more than fine. The grumpy owner behind the bar said we can "come back anytime". I'm happy that it was a success, but it's also given me pause because it was successful. Two months ago when my partner told me we had been asked to put something together to lead in to the musical improv festival it seemed like a MAJOR step outside my comfort zone.


Everybody involved had fun. I can't think of anybody who seemed stressed about being on stage or felt any negative feelings of failure. It was all musical, so that in itself is a major raising of the stakes, but me and my partner introduced the show with an improvised duet so that we would walk into the fire first. I can say on my end that I did not plan any of the words that came out of my mouth... but it worked.


Musical improv is not what you think it would be. Because there's rhythm behind it, it's sometimes easier to come up with things to say. If you can make following the beat the top priority, the brain can actually relax and more often than not what comes out is at least interesting, with tons of delightful surprises that show up simply because a word rhymes with another. It's so possible that it's almost gah-ron-teed that, with practice, a regular person can become a skillful rapper. At any rate, everybody in the show seemed to naturally give in to this and amazing things happened, both during the shortform musical game first half and the longform musical laronde second half.


Before the show, we had a 45 min warm-up in a big dark room just off the main tavern. We couldn't find the lightswitch but I think the darkness helped. It was a good night just for that warm-up, too. The acoustic song version of the "Two Penises" game was magic. It was such a fun group of people who came out. The fact that our name is Giggle Duck advertises that the show is ridiculous and the focus is fun, but in each of the three shows we've put together so far there have been moments that were as "good" as any I've seen in "serious" "work". And the musician who also came out for our Boxing Day first show? Amazing. He carries half of the show himself. Another improviser friend was there (from the opening act) and he played the keyboard for the second half laronde- this was funny because his last name is LaLonde, so it was the LaLonde LaRonde- but this meant our guitarist could join in as an improviser.


Our show relies on the talent of others, but the other players get something out of it. They get one or two free workshops leading up to stagetime in a show, with none of the production stress. The shows are gimmicky and packed with people enough that any failure potholes are swiftly filled in and paved over. What it isn't is fake or cheesy. The people who have willingly given their talent are all players that I admire, and who bring their heart. I hope we keep attracting the same amount of players- 10 to 13 people is a good amount for 90 mins. Everybody gets enough time.

I'm glad to not plan another show for a bit. Maybe in May. Maybe. I really like having a shortform half before longform. It's not like an appetizer, it's two meals. Hobbits second breakfastses. It is possible to do both, and they DO work together quite nicely.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Quacking Into the Fire

The fire = bar prov. We have our first show at a bar tonight. This means that it's easier to get people to come out if there's beer and tacos served on a hubcap, like there is at this place.

We were asked to be in the Fresh Notes Musical Comedy festival, put on by "the best, worst and only" hip hop improv comedy troupe in Calgary. Me and my Giggle Duck partner also recorded a 5 min interview with the guy who put it all together - he and another founding member of Notorious do a wicked rap at the end.


Our set will be improvised group song games followed by a LaRonde which will be a longer intact musical, with structure beneath it so that people know when to go in. It worked so well in the practice. I'm really looking forward to it. There are so many performers that nobody has to be on the spot to come up with an entire song by themselves. Having the short games first also warms people up to belt it out in the second half. The two practices we had had everybody vibrating with energy afterwards. It was like an epic day at church. Our kinda church. The one with no church stuff at all but you're still singing together and getting all those group song good harmonic feels.

If you're in Calgary, come to Vern's tonight, it's only $10. And check out the rest of the festival. We are the n00bs who are helping to open it, but there are acts that have been DOING this for a long time, like Rapid Fire Theatre from Edmonton who has an official show called Off Book: The Musical. There's also going to be a hiphopera and a finale at Yuk Yuk's on Sunday with some non-improv comedy sketch groups (Kaboom Hooray and Late Late Breakfast Show) and working standup comedians. Also, the more experienced improviser from the Kinkonauts and Obviously Improv will be making their magic. WE will be fun and a good time. These other people will melt your brain.

Check some of this out... you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wanking On Stage

I see most things about life in shades of grey, which is why I sometimes find it hard to quickly form an opinion, but the black and white version is that on the Facebooks I told off a "big time" improv teacher (or "master", if he chose the word) and a few people who I respect in the Improv World noticed and acknowledged me, by sending private messages of support.

"Told off" is a strong way of putting it. What do you call it when a person spouts off an ill informed opinion and somebody shows them the truth and backs it up? I guess it's the moment when one fully becomes a climate change denier or anti-vaxxer. Rather than expand their worldview and see that other ways could be right, they dig their heels in.

This gentleman never taught me, other than a couple drop-in classes I attended about 8 years ago (!). However, quite a few people involved at the improv theatre that I'm a part of had him as their main teacher for a long time and were introduced to improv and shaped by him. It's easy for me to be like the archetypal Fool and stumble in, calling him on his (what I think are) arrogant views on what improv is- or rather, what he thinks improv is not. Which just happens to be the sort of improv that I do, along with 45 or so of my best improv friends from the same company. He basically said, and I'm not quoting but believe me, this is what he said, he said we are wanking on stage in front of our mommies.

Like I said, not a direct quote as the message was sent out over an original pointed quote and then embedded in a few follow-up response comments, but he did use the words "wanking" and "mommies" and blatantly said that inexperienced improvisers must be led by old masters (namely, him) and kowtow on bended knee as they work their way up the improv ladder... to golden riches? Improv enlightenment? What is this, Crouching Tiger?

Anyways, I directly took the bait ("troll" bait, as somebody pointed out to me) because I was fucking pissed off that anybody can just dismiss the hard work of so many people. Over the past 4 or 5 years what was a small group has expanded to number around 45 people. There's very little drop off (not many people have left) and we've put in 3 hours a week, which adds up. Personally, this is near the end of my 3rd year in this concentrated and committed learning environment. I told him that we do good work, and that if he saw a show, he would see that. We. Are. Good. So. Fuck. Off. With. Your. Wanking.

And, if you are going to talk Masters, my current improv coach has been the drama teacher of the city's largest high school for a few years, and has led the high school team to the national improv championships and they won. He teaches improv every single day of the school year to multiple classes, and then he teaches it at night to idiotic adults who want to be kids again. My current teacher would never call himself a Master. However, he is pretty damn good. *hissssssssss* (touch finger on shoulder, heat sound effect)

Did traditional theatre think that Keith Johnstone was wanking on stage when he started Theatre Machine and developed Theatre Sports? Yes. And now, Traditional Improv, at least this one guy's variety, thinks that we are wanking on stage.

Maybe it's a compliment.

PS- I'm not naming this guy in the post but I want to point out that I am NOT talking about anybody associated with Loose Moose. That's a great place.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Monday marks a change

Okay, on Monday it starts. Back to exercise, back to running, back to flying down the sidewalks. Since Xmas I've put on 20 lbs (don't feel sorry for me I'm still a size 6 skinny bitch) and I feel 100% slower. I look the same because my weight goes onto my ass/thighs/face, areas that are hidden by pants and long hair.

The other difference is that when you run habitually for a long period of time (or do other activity that works your core) it changes the way your muscles hold your organs and stomach. My digestion was different. It felt a bit squeezier, like a python digesting a rabbit. Because I had been an inactive layabout for over 3 decades and then got superfit in under 6 months, I had a bit of trouble getting used to the newness of having muscles taking up room in my middle. Once it settled, though, I actually felt like a lean green machine and not just in metaphor.

Going back has been shit. I feel more like my old self, my three year ago self, but I don't want that. It's nice to be healthy.

Goodbye crappy foods. Again.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Slidey happy fun bench

We just scored the scratched up floor model of this discontinued chaise:


I love it. It was one of those scratch & dent bargain room moments. It reminds me of the 70s and Berkeley psychology professors. Not that I'm very acquainted with either. I only spent 2 years in the decade and I only took intro psych.

After picking that up we crossed the parking lot to buy some bathtub touch-up paint. It'll be great.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Iliza Shlesinger

Last week I watched two Iliza Shlesinger comedy specials that are available on Netflix. I've watched the season of Last Comic Standing that she won (I think), but that was a few years back. She's really good, obviously. Her view on Women confused me, though.

Most of Shlesinger's material is about women and the crazy and dumb things we do. Her stage persona is of a strong woman, but the strength comes from a masculine place as she "sides with the guys". I don't like reviews of comedians, but I googled "Iliza Shlesinger" and "traitor" just to see if anybody else had felt the same about her specials. One reviewer indeed labelled her as one, but it was a male critic and he was using it to PRAISE her. He praised her for turning her back on her own sex and seeing things like a Man. I don't think I would label her a Traitor, but sometimes her barbs do rub me the wrong way and cause me to retract as an audience member. A lot of the behaviours she describes are not in my general experience as a female. A few times she will mention or allude to the fact that she herself exhibits the behaviour of the women she's describing (eg. using "we"), but the feeling I had was that she was mainly poking sharp fun at women who are Other than her, coming across as especially attacking when the lamb bleats were used (in about 85% of her "female impressions" she throws in the sound of a bleating lamb. A good portion of her second special consisted of hyperfemininized girl impressions, so there were a lot of sheep sound effects. Personally, I think too many, but her delivery of them was great. Just like how Jim Carrey's The Mask is jarring to me but also, I'm like, "wow, how does he do it? Sssomebody ssstop him").

But then again, there are tons of dude comics who call other dudes out on their dudish ways. Lots of caricatures like Andrew Dice Clay, who use satire to show how silly some people are. Why shouldn't female comics do the same? The women she impersonated do exist. There are a lot of entitled bitches and princesses out there, though the number of them I know in my personal life is small. She was speaking truths that can stand to a certain point. I always forget how fucking dumb people can be, MYSELF INCLUDED, everybody with their own individual recipe of stupid, and how funny it is when these idiocies are pointed out. Maybe it just bugged me because I felt like she was targeting the entire gender instead of various subsets, and doing little to make the negative traits seem human foibles instead of just female weaknesses, Other.

I might watch the specials again one day to see if I get any different feels, or check if there are any podcasts out there with her talking as just herself. This isn't a review. She's good and funny. Her way of being on stage is great. I'm just confused about the message; I don't know if I got it right. If I understood her, then I feel like she is wrong about a lot of things about most women. Certain types of women, though, live up to the stereohype, so she is truthful... to a point.

(oh my god stereohype where are my sunglasses so I can slowly raise them up)

Famous acquaintance

He keeps on going.


Funny when the people who should be famous for something "legit", like Aaron Merke of Bucko, instead become known for dressing up like a cat and having wicked awesome seats right behind the opposition's coach in order to mock them. I just now put that together. How'd he get those great season tix? But anyway, life and its endless delights, eh?