Archive for category Improv

Improv Overload??

Pshaah.  Not possible to overload on something so fun.  However, it’s that time of year when the Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament (FIST) takes hold of the City (okay, at least my corner of the world) and suddenly I realize that my calendar is full of improv.  Seriously.  Full.  Here’s what I’m up to next week:

  • Sunday – The Harold class that I TA for is having their showcase at 6:00pm.  I’ll be there to take notes and cheer them on!  Probably taking in other showcases before or after, since that’s a fun freebie of new talent and ideas.
  • Monday – Subsidized Corn practice.  At least I get to practice.  Sometimes I get antsy when I just watch performances because I want to get out there so bad!
  • Tuesday – Auditions for a Harold team.  Yes, it’s time I finally tried out.  I’ve let it slip by for a few auditions for a range of reasons (lack of confidence, 10:00 shows are too late, missed the deadline).  But now the stars are aligned, and I’m ready.  Plus, being on the other side of auditions when SubCo had ours was really helpful.
  • Wednesday – WIT happy hour in Columbia Heights.  This is one of the beau’s favorite spots, so of course I’m going.  So technically, this isn’t improv, but it’s improv related.
  • Thursday – Finally, I get to take the stage with my FIST team!  Jules Duffy, Brandon Russell and I, aka Good Friends, will be playing on Thursday, March 15th (Beware the Ides!) at 9:30pm at Source Theater.  Please come out and vote for us so we can advance to the next round!!
  • Friday – A day off.  Whew.
  • Saturday – FIST night for me.  Darnell and Nick (Mere Mortals) are on at 8:00pm and the beau (Two Beards and a Bald) is on at 11:00pm.  Kind of a crappy slot to be on St. Patrick’s Day, but I’ll be there cheering them on and voting for the bestest teams!

So come out and watch with me!  Or, support us on Thursday with your laughter and your votes to move Good Friends to the next round.  If we advance, I will be sure to let everyone know about our next show.

See you there.


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Directorial Debut

Have you seen Subsidized Corn and Friends’ 48 Hour Film Project submission yet?  If you’re coming from facebook (and about 92% of you usually do), then you’ve probably seen it.  If not, I present it here for your review, plus some behind-the-scenes insights that only a director can provide.

Oh, I didn’t tell you that I was the Director?  Silly me.  [insert southern guilty girly laugh]  You only get your first time once!  And yes, this was my first time.  The awesome cameraman Ivan had to teach me the shoutout order: “Quiet on the set!  Roll camera.  Action!  Cut!”  We lost the formality of it as soon as I jumped in for acting, but it worked out.  We lost a lot of formalities, and that worked very well for our group that already works well together informally.  I really enjoyed blocking and working with the actors, especially since I know these actors and their capabilities so well.  Actors were all improvisers, which made my job extremely easy, and included Laura, Nick, Darnell and me (from SubCo), HiM (Just Moxie) and Xavier (The Lodge).

A couple of things before you watch.  First, the rules.  There were some 120 to 140 entries, so each team was divided into screening groups of about 12-15 teams.  On Friday at 7:00pm, we picked a genre out of a hat.  Within each screening group were 14 genres, so no genre within the same screening group was repeated.  If you pulled a genre that you did not want to use, you had to wait until the end and pull from a supplementary list.  We decided that the only one we really were not interested in exploring for our first submission was the “western/musical” category.

We pulled “Thriller/suspense.”  Luckily, you are allowed to combine genres as long as the original one is represented.  As funny as we think we are, we were prepared to make anything we did a comedy.  Of course.

So each group had a unique genre, but all groups were assigned three components that must be represented (or face disqualification).  For this event, we needed to include a teacher named Riley Tompkins, a pencil and this line of dialog, “I’m taking it one day at a time.”  The film had to be between 4-7 minutes long.

Friday night as soon as we received that information, our writers got to writing.  We had a crack writing team of Laura (our team leader, writer, actor and editor extraordinaire), Mike (aka HiM) and Laura’s friend Kristen.  They only needed 1.5 hours to develop an awesome concept and another 2 hours to work out a script.  I am convinced that without this great script, the weekend would not have gone so smoothly.  Meanwhile, all the non-writers gathered at my place to start finding locations, props, costumes, etc. that would be needed based on the concept.  This is where the writers created magic because we only needed one location to film (instead of running all over town) and each of the actors could wear costumes and make up they already had.  Brilliant.  I stayed up late that night working over and over the script to compose each scene in my head and what type of direction each character would need.  I enjoyed that part and should probably look over my notes now that the film is completed – how close did I come to my Saturday 2:00 am vision?

Saturday morning at a more reasonable hour we gathered at Nick and Lylie’s house, which became our studio for the day.  It was not only the perfect location for filming, but also an easy location for having meetings, eating lunch, and relaxing if you weren’t in the scene.  The filming went smoothly, and we wrapped up by 5:00.  That’s when Laura and Ivan worked their magic… there were a few hours of technical difficulties that they worked through, which is why putting together a film in 48 hours is both magic and tough.  Laura edited through the night, while the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed a nice night out even though we were spent.

Mid afternoon Sunday, I met up with Laura to help her stay awake to finish the movie.  Poor girl!  She edited and I mostly watched and helped her keep tabs of things that you forget about when working on a few hours of sleep.  She dropped in the music which was composed specifically for this film by two of her friends.  They each got a copy of the script on Saturday morning and wrote pieces just for this film.  How cool is it that our film has a sound track?  In the last hour, through the power of Google, Laura and I learned to make rolling credits using Adobe Premiere CS4, if that means anything to anyone.  Yes, we had about one hour to make credits, render, then save/burn to a disk.  At that point, it looked something like this.

We hustled, and Laura’s boyfriend Brian helped us Mac deficient folks finish up stuff.  “Go!” he kept yelling as I was hustling to make the 7:00 deadline.  The drop off was in my neighborhood, so I knew what was up.  I got there a few minutes before 7:00 and no one seemed to be rushed or panicked.  That’s not the film community I know!  Oh, right, the films were due at 7:30.  Well, well, look at us with 30 minutes to spare!

I am extremely proud of this team and our effort.  Our two goals for this project were 1. produce a film that we were proud of and 2. have fun.  We definitely did both of those!  I really hope you enjoy it because we put our little hearts and souls into this baby!

So with that, I present to you:  On the Move

Up next, Laura and I want to continue the fun and do a bloopers reel and a director’s cut.  Probably stuff that only we would find funny or interesting, but another fun project with extra film footage and some editing time!

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It’s Tuesday

The days are starting to work themselves together now and I did not expect that to happen so soon.  Last week I was enjoying the sunshine and the freedom, but this week it is back to work.  And by work I mean looking for someone to pay me to do something I enjoy…I’m just trying to find out what that is.  I figure I’ll work from home now while I’m not bored by it, but pretty soon I’ll get restless and need to be somewhere else near people for most of the day.

I dubbed yesterday “Resume Day” where I sharpened my resume, references, writing samples and ordered transcripts in preparation of the Great Job Hunt of 2011.  I gotta say, ordering transcripts is not as easy as it sounds.  Plus, USC charged me $12 and UNC Charlotte only $5, and I’m still not clear how their services will differ for the price.  I also emailed a lot of my professional contacts to let them know that I’m looking and would appreciate if they kept their eyes and ears open.  It took all day to do most of it.  I never liked my alarm when I was going into an office everyday, but I really don’t like my alarm when my subconscious knows that really, truly, technically I don’t have to get out of bed.

Today was “Search Federal Jobs Day”.  Those puppies take so long to hear back from, so I thought it would be the most efficient use of my time and get a jump start.  There are several things out there, though none of them just right.  The trick with the Feds is that you have to know your stuff, or at least be able to answer their non-KSA KSA questions sufficiently.  Yes, I have a pretty varied background, but nothing that jumped out at me perfectly.  There was one non-Fed job that was awesome and my quals fit perfectly, but I’ll save that information for another day.  Needless to say, I’m already calling that job mine!

How hot is Darnell in this photo?

How hot is Darnell in this photo?

In other news, I’ve been pretty busy in the evenings, and that’s how I know what day it is.  On Sunday, after a great tea session with Robbie G, the ladies of Pledged came over.  Pledged is my Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament (FIST) team with Alaina and Sarah.  Our show is this Thursday, March 24th at 8:00 at Source Theater.  Please come out because we need your vote in the March Madness style single elimination tournament.  Whatever happens, it will be nuts ’cause these girls are craaaay zeeeeee.  We like to laugh and play and be silly, and that will really present itself onstage!  The ladies were over again tonight and we’ve wrapped up the format.  Lookout.  Also, 12 minutes seems so short after doing so many 45 minute shows…I’ll have to remember to get to the point faster.

Monday night SubCo came over for practice and it was great to see everyone together again.  We didn’t have enough time to chat or get caught up too much because we were missing Laura (Rachel if you live in Lenoir), and didn’t want to leave her out.  She’s also performing on Thursday night, but in the 9:30 show.  Other than that I’ve been exercising and Jillian Michaels kicked my butt today.  I went to Whole Foods for dinner.  My car battery died and Corey had to jump it, so for that I am thankful that he is around to do manly stuff.  That means I won’t get a ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street tomorrow morning.  Last thing I need right now is a ticket sitting on my windshield.

Finally, Wednesday is day seven of the cleanse diet and it seems to be working.  Again, I’ll have a post about my thoughts on this and more specifics, such as I don’t really believe our bodies need to be cleansed.   It’s complicated.  For now, just know that I’m losing weight like it’s my first week on the Biggest Loser Ranch (Lauren, they do weddings!!).  I’m not trying to lose weight, it just happens when you eat a diet of rice, veggies, fish, citrus and yogurt.  There are also lots of things you can do with this diet and I’ve had a good time experimenting with it.

And now it’s late and I have a ton of things to do tomorrow, like pay bills and finish my taxes.  Then off to see a movie at the Environmental Film Festival with HiM.  Speaking of HiM, here are all my shots from our fun day at the National Arboretum on Friday.  Good night!

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Live from Sydney!

Hey friends and family…things here in Oz are going great!  I only have a few minutes, but I’m keeping track of everything and hope to post much more in the future when I return to the US and when internet time isn’t as prized and valuable as it is here.  A couple things…

  1. Our shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival were fantastic!  Of the five, some were great and some were pretty good, but at least we know which is which.  And regardless, we had lots of fun and learned tons.  Our audiences seemed entertained and appreciated our skills and laughed quite a bit.  Adelaide is a beautful city and I hope to return one day.  Much much more on our shows later…
  2. I’m back in Sydney for the next few days.  Going to Coogee Bay beach tomorrow with Russ while Goli is working.  I suspect I’ll hit the Blue Mountains on Wednesday, then it’s off to visit Patrick in Wellington on Thursday.  Today was a low key travel day, so it’s nice to get caught up with a few things.
  3. It has been so much fun to travel with Goli, Nick and Darnell.  I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in a long time.  (At least not since the Subsidized Corn road trip to NC the week before I left.) We not only got to be better performers through all this, we also got to be much better friends.  It will be sad to say goodbye to Goli on Thursday, but I’m trying not to think about it.
  4. I have a buh-jillion photos, including photos from Goli, Nick and Darnell, plus video (minus the nights of the video mishap…which unfortunately included our best show).  I’ll post when I return, but I am very excited to share with you all.  Hopefully some of this will make more sense with photos and video.
  5. No word if the Beast won the Winter Weather Warrior contest.  I’ll keep you updated as I hear more.

That’s it for now!  Going to meet Goli for some German ice cream….we still haven’t figured out what that is, but we liked it the first time so we’re going back.  Tasted like regular ice cream to me!

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Kernels for Carolina Wrap Up

We had such an amazing time in Lenoir, NC this weekend putting on the Kernels for Carolina show!  Mom and Dad worked so hard to get the house clean, to have people in the audience and to host and feed Subsidized Corn this weekend.  They were wonderful hosts, so a great big Thank You goes to them! They even managed to order the perfect February weather.

A big thank you to F. Futs Cafe and the Main Street Theater for giving us a chance to perform.  We are completely jealous of the wonderful space you have there and wish we had access to a space like that in DC.

The workshop was attended by more than just my family, too!  Lenoir has some amazing talent…probably the most advanced beginners workshop I’ve ever seen.  Thanks to Mom, Dad, Emily, Piatt, Donna, Jeremy, Nicholas, Steve, Cheynne and the German fish farmer (whose name I could not spell correctly if my life depended on it) for coming to the workshop and taking a chance on some random people from out of town!

We put on two shows and we were very pleased, as was the audience.  What an ego boost for Adelaide!  The highest compliment we received was a gentleman that said he felt we were cheating him when we wrapped up the show because he did not want it to end.  Then he looked at his watch and realized we had gone over our time!  That’s good stuff.  The absolute kicker was that all the audience suggestions in the paper game fell right into place.  Either my mom’s prayers that we don’t bomb in front of her friends were answered or all that practice was actually paying off.  How uncanny was that line about Willard?  Come on, that’s pure genius.

The road trip portion was also so much fun!  Normally I have to beg people to play car games with me, but Subsidized Corn is just so easy.  They were counting cows before I could even explain the rules!  And we totally worked our improv games into the car to create “group think,” which is probably why our shows were so awesome.  And here’s a tip, if someone tells you the magic number is 24, don’t believe them because it’s really 32.  Stick with it.

Photos are on Facebook if you haven’t seen them.  We’ll have some killer videos for you soon, hopefully.  Needless to say, we do some crazy things around video cameras!  But here is one to tie you over until then…

Thank you to everyone who came out to watch.  We had so much fun performing for you and hope we can do it again soon.  But only if my mom promises to do her British accent for us.  That was the only thing lacking this time around.

In other Subsidized Corn news, a huge welcome to our newest baby kernel, Evan Kendall Blanco Kachadorian, new baby boy to Steve and his wife Nancy.  We can’t wait to meet the widdle guy!

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Aussie Vacation: Reason 1

I am excited about tonight because it is a free night and I don’t get many of those anymore!  And before you ask, I’m busy with all the stuff I haven’t been able to get to this week, like working late, laundry and eating, so I am unavailable to play.  Booo me.  I also have some SubCo marketing stuff to work on, too.  It has been a wonderful week so far, and props to Sarah and Laura for their awesome stand-up routines that I saw this week!

I just looked at my calendar for the next week.  Holy cow.  Here it goes:

  • Friday, perform improv. Subsidized Corn show at Comedy Spot in Ballston Mall at 8:00 pm.  Tickets are $15.
  • Saturday, practice improv. Aussie SubCo practice, and our final with our mini-coach.   He’s not small, we just hired him for a few sessions.  He’s been great to work with and has advanced the group tremendously!
  • Sunday, strategy and photo session for improv. Meeting with my FIST team (the Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament, a march madness style improv tourney coming in March).  Details coming soon!
  • Monday, watch improvValentine’s Day WIT show.  I’ll be in the audience with a bunch of pals, and I’m excited about the line up of performers.  They always bring it.  Come join!
  • Tuesday, more practice for improv. Our weekly Subsidized Corn practice.
  • Wednesday, Date Night! (See babe, this is why I appreciate when you plan in advance! Thank you!)

I noticed the other day that I’m getting better, so at least practice is paying off!  And if this weren’t so fun, I would probably ask for an intervention.  Seriously.  But it IS fun, and I’m hanging out with my friends, being creative and spending time with fun people.  It’s also helping to reduce any performance anxiety about traveling around the world to perform.  I’m feeling prepared, and we’ve worked hard.  We are almost ready…well, once we add Goli in the mix!

After I return from the Subsidized Corn roadtrip and our Kernels for Carolina shows in Lenoir, NC, I’ll probably take a break from the improv to clear my head for four days, until I leave for Australia, where I will be practicing, watching and performing more improv!

Aussie Vacation: Reason 1, take a break from a crazy improv schedule!

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Aussie SubCo

As you could tell from my last generic post, it has been a busy week.  I guess that’s what happens when you get back from vacation at 10:00 on a Sunday night!  Not much time to get caught up.  Not only has it been busy (with improv, controversial guest blog post, Jersey Shore season 3 debut party), but I’ve been all over the place, which does not make for good blogging!

So much of my non-planning life these days seems to be centered on improv (does anyone else find the juxtaposition of planning and improvising as funny as I do?).  It’s tons of fun and has given me a great community of friends in DC.  And they are not those super wacky improv people I remember NOT liking in college because they were always “on”.  Here is the most exciting happening in my improv world lately…

Subsidized Corn is going to Australia!! Yes, it is true and the tickets have been booked.  Nick, Darnell, Goli and I are headed down under for the Adelaide Fringe Festival.  We have five shows scheduled over three days (March 4-6), and we’re hosting a workshop, too.  Yay!! We haven’t even performed outside the beltway before!

Performing in a different country certainly has its challenges. Yes, they speak English, but it isn’t our English!  I know very little about Australian slang since I have never been, and it seems to be tricky. In the one practice we’ve had so far I insulted Nick’s manhood and was told definitely that will not be warmly received and there may be some beasts waiting to beat me up after the show!  Whoops!  What else am I going to do that’s insulting?!?  I’m afraid to say the wrong thing or insult someone accidentally!  Which could be funny now that I’m thinking about it.

Second, what if they don’t get us?  I’m trying to be mindful in practice about topics that pertain to our country.  I’m pretty certain they will not be getting any Boehner references!  Typically we stay away from the political stuff (unlike what our troupe name might suggest…is the name Subsidized Corn even relevant or funny there?  Ahhhh!!)  I mean, they get the American stereotypes I’m sure, so time to practice my valley girl!

The good news is that I don’t know anyone there, so as long as I come back with all my teeth, I’ll be fine.  I’m balls to the wall on this adventure!  The only person who has anything to lose is Nick whose in laws will all be there to cheer us on.  No pressure, buddy.

Okay, so different slang and different references.  No problem.  However, there is the whole stress of traveling around the world to add to the performance anxiety…then subtract the fact that we’re on vacation and we’re about even.  I am so excited to see Adelaide as I’ve heard Deepti talk quite a bit about it.  And it will be summer time in February and March, so I’m really excited for warm temperatures and beaches.  And I get to see Sydney, Melbourne, Christchurch NZ and Wellington NZ, too.  Okay, not all scary.

The toughest part is that we are practically producing our own show from the other side of the world.  Poor Nick has his email inbox swamped with things like “entertainment visas” (to which Salsa says, “that’s debatable”) and healthcare purchases (to make sure we get the proper anti-venom after a poisonous bite) while trying to figure out how much to charge per ticket for the audience.  We are responsible for marketing ourselves and getting butts in the seats…in DC that’s a piece of cake.  Our plan is to hit the streets with postcards and just talk to people and invite them out.  The festival has a very artsy vibe and this is how it’s done!  But if you have other suggestions, we’d be very open to hearing them.

That said, if you know ANYONE that may be interested in going to the shows, or if you have friends who live there, please let us know!  Somehow my amazing network of friends just isn’t strong in that part of the world!

Did I tell you I get to meet up with Patrick while I’m there?  So excited to see his life in Wellington and very appreciative that he and Jason are letting me sleep on their couch, even while Patrick’s parents are there.  That’s some killer hospitality!  Thanks, guys!  And I get to see other USC buddies while traveling through Los Angeles both ways which is just an added bonus.

And speaking of hospitality, I’m staying with Goli in Sydney and Lylie’s (Nick’s wife) sister in Adelaide.  I love staying with people as I travel because you get to see neighborhoods and how people really live.  Maybe that’s the planner in me, but I’ll take that over some motorcoach tour any day.

If you have any tidbits or helpful hints from your travel to Australia, I would love to hear them!  Leave your stories in the comments!