learning

What We're Loving: Robots, Vagaries, Wise Bloods, Pretentious Stabbings, Our Own Work

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison has his childrens' names picked out, Sarah Wyatt finds a book that's better than people, Jonda Robinson lowers the age mean, Brittany Smith sees white men finally get their due, and Ryan Callahan has a sketch show to plug.  Cleatus2_2012111112064234_600_400It’s football season, but who cares? I mean, who wants to watch a bunch of millionaire jocks hit each other until they’re concussed? Wait, cancel that rant, I love the NFL. With that said, the main thing that I’m excited for isn’t football, it’s the NFL on FOX intro.

The glory of the introduction animation for NFL football on the FOX network isn’t one specific thing; it’s two. First, the theme song. Think about the coolest you’ve ever felt in your life. Maybe you finally got that guy/gal to go out with you, picked up some cool new sunglasses, or were walking away from a giant burning building. Take that feeling, that emotion, add snare drums and an electronic orchestra and you’ve got the theme song.

The other half of the wonder of the NFL on FOX intro comes to us in the form of a dancing robot named Cleatus. Whoa, that’s a lot to breakdown. First of all, yes this means that FOX continues to love animated dancing after previous showing off it’s affection with the dancing baby on Ally McBeal. Second, yes the name of the robot is Cleatus and I would hope no one apologizes for it because the name makes me want to have an army of children, just so I can name them all Cleatus.

Whether you watch football or not, that’s your call. But taking in the NFL on FOX intro should be mandatory viewing every fall for every person on every planet. - David Allison

_panther booksI’ve been really bad about reading lately. I mean really bad. I’ve probably read, like, two books in the last year, which is especially awful because I used to work at a library and regularly knock out a book a week. I got back in the habit (Sister Act 2) this past week when I read Demian, by Herman Hesse. Woah, y'all. This book blew my mind a little.

It’s like an adult version of Catcher in the Rye. It’s full of universal feelings and moments of transcendence that, if we are lucky, we all feel at some point in our adolescence, young adult life, and beyond. Demian is the story of a young man, Sinclair, and his travels and experiences throughout his young life, always feeling pulled and pushed towards something bigger than himself.

To say that I enjoyed this book is putting it mildly. I loved this book. This book made me turn away from the internet, from socializing, and burrowed its way into myself and made me feel something truly special, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I felt absorbed. I gave myself wholly over to reading a book and imagining the world inside of it and it was awesome.

I’m writing in vagaries because I wish that each and every one of you who read this (thank you) comes to it as open as I did. It’s a short book and so worth your time. If you’ve been looking to get back into reading, if you’ve been looking to feel something, if you’ve been looking to have your mind blow, boy did you come to the right comedy blog post. - Sarah Wyatt

DIH_0This week I’d like to introduce you to a little place in Dallas that I enjoy, The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.  Because I live my life like I’m 67 instead of 27, I’ve spent way more time at this Uptown address on Routh Street than I have at any of the hip bars and restaurants that neighbor it.

The mission of The Dallas Institute is “to enrich and deepen the practical life of the city with the wisdom and imagination of the humanities.”  Here are some of my favorite things about it:

1. Dr. Louise Cowan is a Dallas treasure. This awesome 97-year-old lady helped found The Institute in 1980, and in 1991 she won the Frankel Prize (now known as the National Humanities Medal), which gives her something in common with Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, and Steven Spielberg.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak on any topic, I suggest you listen up.

2. It’s a great place to get your learn on. The Institute offers classes in which you can dive deeper into a piece of literature or learn about specific topics. (If you’re a teacher, you can get big discounts, and there is even a Summer Institute you can attend.)

3. The wine is always flowing, and the snacks are always delicious. If you attend a class at The Institute in the evening, you’ll get a side of wine and brownie bites to go with your studies.

4. It’s the perfect place to wear a blazer. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll take any opportunity I can find to wear a blazer and pretend I’m Liz Lemon.

5. You’ll most likely bring the average age of the group down substantially. And hey, you could probably learn a thing or two from your elders.

If you’re looking to learn a little and meet some interesting people, check out their upcoming classes and events. I would be taking their Flannery O’Connor class on Thursdays this month, but I am a part of a sketch show called Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations. running each Thursday in September at 8:00pm at Dallas Comedy House…*wink* - Jonda Robinson

FrankThis past weekend I saw Frank, the tale of a white guy who saw something cool and sought out to make it his. Not exactly uncharted waters, narrative-wise, (see National Treasure, 500 Days of Summer, the founding of the United States), but it makes for a charming two hours nevertheless.

Our protagonist, Jon (Domhnall [actual first name, not a collection of syllables] Gleeson), stumbles upon a band in crisis and fills in at keyboard when their band mate attempts to drown himself in the ocean. From there Jon and the audience are introduced to Frank (Michael Fassbender), the charismatic and paper-machè masked leader of the group. Jon is immediately taken with Frank and his world and wants to be a part of the fun.

This is a mistake I have certainly made on stage, you see your friends out there having a blast and you devise a way to insert yourself into the madness. And as anyone knows who has tried this, it rarely works. Jon learns this the hard way and comes out the other side a man much different than the one we met at the top of the film. The film also meditates on the origins of creative talent and the value of likeability, which I know all sounds quite pretentious, but it goes down easy with a fun cremation mix-up and stabbing scene. - Brittany Smith

10649706_754258354815_8449199643302227645_nThere's no subtle way to go about this, so I shall be frank. I'm plugging my own stuff this week. Specifically I'm plugging Charles Dicken's Great. Expectations., the all-new sketch revue that runs every Thursday night in September at 8PM. (Get your tickets now.)

Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations. is the first sketch revue written and performed entirely by students of the DCH sketch program. Previous shows that came out of the program featured a series of stand alone monologues, or a bunch of scenes, but this show ties all the elements together in one thematically whole show. And it features an excessive amount of needless punctuation in the title.

This is actually a dual plug. I'm plugging the show itself, which we have spent months working on, under the instruction and direction of Nick Scott, and which we are very proud of and hope you enjoy, AND I'm plugging the sketch program in general. If you have ever considered, even remotely, signing up for sketch class, I highly suggest you do it.

Sketch offers the opportunity to dig into a scene and create the best comedy possible. I appreciate the way the format allows me to hone my performance, to try different phrasing and cadence  to see what works the best. For a writer like myself, sketch offers the chance to tie things together in a way that I don't always get with improv. All those ideas I get on the drive home: "I should have shown emotion instead of talking about it," or "That scene would have killed if it had more references to one-term presidents from the 1920's,"are now in play. Sketch offers the chance to do it again, and get it right this time. In a way, it's like having a mini time machine, only without the fear of accidentally landing on Hitler and being forced to take his place as some sort of new Hitler. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Unpopular Opinions, Hidden Upsides, Deleted Context, Specialized Pitching

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison makes a bold statement, Jonda Robinson fails greatly, Amanda Hahn needs a mind break, and Ryan Callahan goes to the bullpen. imgresSometimes I really hate popular opinion. There’s a collective hive mind that we all participate in and often times cinema is significantly affected by it’s whims. You’ll hear about this amazing movie that “everyone” loves, set plans to see it opening night, and then realize within five minutes that Benjamin Button is terrible. But you can’t say anything about how much you hated it because it gets nominated for Oscars and stuff. The opposite happens too and it’s even more disappointing. There are so many movies that our pop culture group mind simply rejects and we’re not supposed to give them a chance. Then, like an idiot, I see one of these flicks, love it, and can’t talk about my adoration for it in fear of receiving palpable judgement in return. The current film I feel self conscious about really enjoying is something that was released on DVD this past week: Muppets Most Wanted. AND IT’S WHAT I’M LOVING THIS WEEK. There, I said it.

Where are you going?

Don’t run away yet!

Hear me out on this. Yes this commercial failure that you didn’t hear anything good about is not a great film. With that said, there are numerous factors that make it highly enjoyable to watch. First, you’ve got solid performances from Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell. See, that’s not so bad! You liked them in that other thing you liked, so that’s gotta count for something. Also, it’s basically a musical and contains about ten full length songs, most of which were written by Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords). Flight of the Conchords was your favorite show! Plus, McKenzie won an Oscar for the tunes he wrote for the previous Muppets film, so that helps. Oh and it’s the Muppets! You remember how much you loved them as a kid? You would’ve killed another child, straight up murdered a newborn, to go to Muppet Treasure Island with the gang.

So give this movie a shot. Even if it means sneaking it home in a pizza box and watching it under the cover of darkness so that your friends don’t judge you. - David Allison 9780345472328_p0_v2_s260x420

Lately I’ve been trying to look at the positive side of failing. For example, last week I was visiting a friend and we decided to go eat at a certain restaurant. We got a cab and made the trek across town during rush hour, only to find out that they were closed. Sigh. Trying to look on the bright side, I told her that it wasn’t a total waste because it was a mistake we’d learn from. She appropriately rolled her eyes at me.

In an effort to prepare for another year of teaching middle school, I’ve been learning more about the concept of learning through failure from the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dweck’s theory is that there are two kinds of mindsets that you can have: the fixed mindset, in which you believe that your intelligence and talents are fixed and do not change, and the growth mindset, in which you believe that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. For the fixed mindset, failure is a terrifying thing that says, “You’re not enough.” But for the growth mindset, failure is a perfect opportunity to learn and become better than you were before. According to Dweck, you get to choose which mindset you approach life with. If you’d like to see which mindset you currently lean toward, there’s a quiz for that! And if you’d like to attempt to change your mindset, there are steps for that!

Some of the most fun things I have done in the past year, from taking a sketch writing class to wakesurfing, were scary things that I at first said no to because I was afraid of failing. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, I highly suggest that you go for it, even if you’re afraid you’ll fail at it. It’ll help you become a cooler, better version of yourself. And if you need something to help you get motivated, check out Dweck’s book to give you that little push that you need. - Jonda Robinson

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The end of each semester is typically unusually busy. This summer’s semester has been no exception. Sometimes you just need a mind break from everything. I found the perfect one: Ads Without Context . The name is misleading because it’s more like “ads re-contextualized” than ads with no context. And thank goodness it is. This entire feed is just .gifs from infomercials with captions giving new context to the melodramatic ads. The mix of the silent overacting overlaid with the captions is endlessly silly and delightful.

Some are simple.

Some are gross.

Some make me laugh out loud.

Some are weirdly sad.

And many more are endlessly re-watchable.

So turn off the TV and tune into No Context Ads. The infomercials are way better on there. - Amanda Hahn

51fbRsn29aL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_You ever find a book and feel like it was written just for you? That's how I feel about The Setup Man: A Novel, the debut thriller by T.T. Monday. The book introduces Johnny Adcock, a 35-year-old lefty relief specialist for the fictional San Jose Bay Dogs. Johnny only pitches when the Bay Dogs have a lead, and only against left-handed hitters. He works about ten minutes a night. Most guys in his position would be content to chew on sunflower seeds and let the money roll in. Not Johnny Adcock. He's the restless sort. He needs something to fill the rest of the day. That's why he works as a private detective. Worried your wife is cheating on you with the pool boy? Someone from your time in the minors trying to blackmail you? Johnny Adcock is your man.

The Setup Man combines my two favorite things: Private detectives, and private detectives who are also other things. Private detectives are my favorite fictional characters. As a child I loved them all: Encyclopedia Brown, Thomas Magnum, Rick and A.J. Simon. The A-Team was essentially a private eye super team. In high schoool I discovered Humphrey Bogart's Phillip Marlowe, still the greatest onscreen P.I. ever. After college I devoured the Continental Op stories of Dashiell Hammett, such as Red Harvest, for my money the best P.I. novel ever. I've spent many an afternoon or evening binge watching reruns of Psych or Monk. Private detectives are the best.

But the private detective who is also something else is even better. How can something be better that the best? Here's how: What would be better than a private detective who investigates the paranormal? Oh, I don't know, maybe a  private detective who investigates the paranormal and has a day job as a lifeguard. What could be better than a private detective played by Andy Richter? A private detective / accountant played by Andy Richter! And what could be better than a private eye who investigates the seedy underbelly of Major League Baseball? A private eye who investigates that seedy underbelly while having to pitch to lefties every couple of days.

I started reading The Setup Man late Tuesday night and finished on Wednesday. Once I started, I had to keep reading. That's about the highest praise you can give a P.I. novel. I needed to know what happened next, and I wanted to see how Johnny Adcock would solve the case. The book isn't perfect. There are a couple thudding moments of authorial intrudsion that feel like an after-school special, and the book jacket inexplicably features a right-handed pitcher, but the plot moves, the tone is charming, there is a vivid cast of characters, and the details about day to day life in the majors seem authentic. I can't wait for Johnny Adcock's next adventure. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Watchable Improv Videos, Suddenly Necessary Information, Fictional Fishing Trips

image (2)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison digs for gold in a dumpster fire, Amanda Hahn decreases your productivity, and Ryan Callahan celebrates the return of the greatest thing ever.

Perfect Harold

Three facts regarding the last twenty years:

1.) An influx of new theaters has created an opportunity for more improvisational comedy performances than ever before.

2.) Websites like YouTube and FunnyorDie have made it easy to consume entertainment anywhere.

3.) The steadily decreasing cost of technology has made it possible for anyone to afford to create/upload videos.

Because of those points, it would make sense that the internet would be overrun with super funny clips from improv shows.  So much hilarity is being created every day on stages all over the US and the increased ease of posting these shows eliminates the excuse that improvisers are just lazy. People should be sending each other emails with subject lines like “Hey Auntie, check out this great organic opening by this team in Des Moines!”

Why doesn’t this happen?

BECAUSE IMPROV VIDEOS ARE TERRIBLE.  Like can’t watch past the introduction of the team terrible (BTW, no one wants to watch this segment, not even your parents).  I don’t understand how a festival organizer can sift through hundreds of videos in this dumpster fire of a genre. They’re the real heroes here.  With that said, there are a handful of good videos of improv shows that you can find online.  They’re passed amongst friends and fellow performers like a secret handshake.  “Oh, you’ve watched The Reckoning’s perfect Harold, you’re cool” or “Man, it sure was nice of that Ted Tremper guy to post all those great Middle Aged Comeback shows.”

Today, or whatever day you’re reading this (Time is CRAZY), I would like to introduce another entry into the pantheon of watchable improv videos.  In fact, I’m actually going to add a whole channel of videos.  The channel is NY Comedy and it’s a collection of great improvised sets from all over New York.  Most of them are good enough, but the real treat is watching the latest cagematch videos from UCBNY.  Cagematch is a weekly show in which two teams perform a set and the strongest one survives to perform the next week.  I’d recommend starting with the groups What I did for Love and F*ck That Sh*t because the confidence and true decisiveness with which each group plays is truly a pleasure to watch.  With a little hope, they’ll be more great videos where these came from. - David Allison

InternetThis is my fourth week contributing to this blog, and I feel like you’ve gotten to know me and my interests pretty well. You know I like awkward moments, learning, and weird people. So enough about me. What about you? What are you into?

…Okay, reader, no matter what you just answered, I have a website for you. One single website for anything you love. My dear reader, this week I am loving Internet is Useful (internetisuseful.com). In fact, right this very moment, I am loving this website. I just discovered it a few minutes ago, and I am already obsessed. Internet is Useful is simply a website to help you find other websites, organized by category. I’m finding websites I didn’t even know I wanted. No… needed.

- Want to find bands and artists that are coming into town and potentially discover new music? Check out gigfi.com. Just type in your city name, and it creates a Spotify playlist of artists that are coming to your city.

- Like documentaries? Find a bunch to stream at documentaryheaven.com.

- Want to know how to get one material stick to another material? (and freaking stay there!) There’s an entire website for that! thistothat.com

- And hey, are you a nerd?? Specifically, are you a nerd that wants to take a day trip?! Well, you’re in luck! Head over to nerdydaytrips.com. You can find a place travel back in time to the Victorian era. Or discover open stages for a variety show of magicians, comedians, dancers, and jugglers.Or you can keep it simple, and just remind yourself of all the Dallas museums you’ve been forgetting to check out or revisit.

Thanks to Internet is Useful, I have wasted so much time tonight bouncing from site to site, ranging from apartment finding websites to fitness websites to intentionally useless websites. Yes, many of the sites listed on Internet is Useful are already popular, but I am positive that you will find something new and helpful (or at least amusing) related to one of your interests. I’m so sure you’ll find something new, that if you don’t, I promise you one nerdy day trip – gas is on me. - Amanda Hahn

Gone FishinLet’s talk about something important. The NBA Playoffs are here, which means  the return of the greatest, most significant, most life-changingest television segment in the history of sentient thought: Gone Fishin' on Inside the NBA. It's back, guys! It's back!

For those unfamiliar with the segment, here's how it goes. When a team has been eliminated from the playoffs, the Inside the NBA broadcast crew (EJ, Kenny, Chuck and Shaq) send that team, and the city it represents, on a fictional fishing trip to signify the start of their off-season. EJ starts the boat, everyone puts on fishing hats, (EJ wears the captain's hat, Shaw a swim cap). They grab fishing poles and introduce a cheesy vacation photo which shows members of the eliminated team and celebrities and from that city, and Kenny Smith, always Kenny Smith,  packed into a boat.

The idea that all these people would actually go on a fishing trip together, all cramped into one little boat, fills me with such joy that I become a child again, giddy and happy, excited by the possibilities of the world. I am literally giggling right now as I type this. I am not kidding. That’s how much I enjoy this segment. I stay up late to watch it. I record it if I might miss it. I get excited right before they show the photo, wondering who will make the  cut.

The best part of the whole segment is that the guys have no idea who or what will be in the picture. Watching them see it, and figure it out, and get the jokes, is fifty-five percent of the fun. The other day, the Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs. Do yourself a favor and watch.

Between now and Monday six teams will be eliminated from the playoffs. That’s six boats. Six fishing trips. I haven’t been this excited about anything, ever, in my life. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Other People's Mix CDs, Dream Composing, Non-Educational Educational Shows, Failures of Language

image (1)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison rescues dying media, Ashley Bright welcomes whimsy into the world, Amanda Hahn discovers comedy that speaks to her, and Ryan Callahan finds improv lessons in an unlikely place. 

Used-CDs When it comes to buying used media I always strive to be aware of the market.  I’m like the Jim Cramer of thrifted content.  For the longest time, the best value in this realm was, obviously, VHS tapes.  The medium had an eight year run of being the best bang for your buck if you wanted some cheap entertainment.  That’s no longer the case as the continued march of time has rendered many VHS players useless and many VHS tapes dated.  It’s the end of an era.  So what are you, as a consumer, supposed to do?  Where do we as a society go from here?  I’m here today to issue some direction; used CDs are a BUY BUY BUY.

Recently, I spent very little money on a handful of CDs from a local resale shop and have been reaping the benefits ever since.  But David, why?  To me, used CDs are an excellent opportunity for entertainment because you have a chance to listen to them everyday (In your car) and their availability litters the shelves of every thrift store.  Here are some tips:

  • Make sure the content isn’t streaming
    • You probably have a subscription to a service like Spotify or Slacker that allows you to stream most music on the go.  If you see something you like on the shelf, check to make sure it’s not streaming. I don’t want to see you waste your money!  I recently made this mistake with the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.  I’m a dummy.
  • Soundtracks are a hidden goldmine
    • I went over this in detail last month herehere, and here.
  • Mix CDs are the best
    • I know we all loved a good mix cd (Or mix tape if you’re like a billion years old). You can find people’s personal CD-RWs at most thrift stores.  They are definitely hit or miss, but that’s why we buy stuff used, we’re all chasing the magical dragon of a good value.

Since I’ve gone on my recent CD buying spree (I’ve purchased five CDs in 2014 alone, which places me in the top 1% of CD purchasers) I’ve discovered that I really enjoy Taylor Hicks, Space Jam’s soundtrack belongs in the pantheon of all time greats, and that music producers in 2008 thought that autotune fixed EVERYTHING. They were wrong.  Learn these lessons and more by joining me in making 2014 the year of the CD! - David Allison

BluebearI don't get enough whimsy in my life. So, this week I finally started reading Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers. Years ago, I read and immensely enjoyed Moers' The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. I'm actually going to tell you more about Bluebear because I've yet to make a significant dent in the nearly 700-page Rumo. We first meet Bluebear when he's tiny and floating in a walnut shell precariously close to a whirlpool. He is saved by tiny Minipirates, but is left on his own when he outgrows their ship. He learns to the art of speech by some talking waves, the Babbling Billows. In one of my favorite of his 13 1/2 lives, Bluebear finds himself in the head of a giant and lands a job of a 'dream composer' to keep the giant's brain occupied. He makes his way out of the head and into Atlantis, where he makes his way to be the King of Lies and keeps his title for a year. The King of Lies is a Congladiator tournament in a colosseum, where instead of fighting, the congladiators much weave fictional stories to the audience and the audience crowns a winner. Bluebear encounters the character Rumo on his travels. Making Rumo the Mork to Bluebear's Happy Days. These books do ring of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but feel a little less sardonic. If you're a fan of Douglas Adams, fantasy, Vonnegut, or just good stories, I encourage you to give a world created by Moers a go. - Ashley Bright

BlastoffI love learning and school. I love it so much that being a professor is my #1 dream job. I also love comedy. Being a comedian is my #1.1 dream job. So what did my friend recently recommend to me that combines both learning and funny? Professor Blastoff! I’ve only listened to the first episode of this podcast so far, but I’m already hooked. It’s hosted by her-great-goddess-of-comedy-forever Tig Notaro, along with Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger. The three of them talk science, philosophy, math, theology – whatever interests them, under the premise that a Professor R.L. Blastoff used to host a radio show in the 1940s in the basement of Kyle’s house. He got transported into another dimension (I don’t remember why, and it doesn’t matter). Now the three of them are filling in until Professor Blastoff comes back. I didn’t learn anything new from the episode I listened to, but I didn’t care. The three of them are friends (Tig and Kyle are BFFLs and writing partners), and it really comes through in their interactions. They ask each other questions, share what they know, and joke around (they’re just like us!). I felt like a fly on the wall of a funny person’s living room. If you like talking about stuff that interests you but don’t know much about with your friends, you will love this podcast. They have guests every week, and the next episode features Nick Offerman talking about bees. I doubt I’ll learn anything meaningful about bees, but I’m sure I’ll have a blast (get it?!) listening to the four of them muse and wonder about them. - Amanda Hahn

51xUIEAv0aLKate returns to her typewriter from time to time. She writes memories, anecdotes, observations. She makes and misses connections, struggles to remember and express her thoughts. She goes mad. She might be the last woman on Earth. This is the plot, in its entirety, of David Markson’s brilliant novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress.

Like all of Markson’s later works (Reader’s Block, This is Not a Novel, Vanishing Point, and The Last Novel) Wittgenstien’s Mistress is told entirely in a series of one to two sentence paragraphs, without chapter breaks or time stamps or any indication of where we are. Yet the story draws in the reader with its cyclical structure, looping around and around the same themes, the same stories, the same moments, each time adding an element or introducing a new detail.

The themes are the themes of humanity: disease, madness, and the consistent inability of language to communicate what we truly mean to say. This book is a must read for those who love literature, those interested in philosophy, and, most importantly, those who study improv.

Like a great long-form improv show, Wittgenstein’s Mistress relies on patterns, connection, callbacks to create a fully formed whole out of a series of seemingly disparate parts. Every statement is an opportunity for exploration. Simple anecdotes evolve into complex games. Scenes 100 pages apart mirror each other. The end is in the beginning. - Ryan Callahan

Just a Little Patience

Yin yang cálido by Guadalupe CervillaThe other day I was checking out the ol' Tumblr and came across a post via Improv is Easy citing The Broken Record. The post was about famed improv instructor Mick Napier and a two-word phrase he uses to remind people that improv "is the least important thing we’ll ever do in our lives and that even the name ‘longform’ is imbued with undue importance that impedes our ability to be free and just play." The post's author goes on to write that Napier's two-word motto will be her two-word motto going forward. After reading it, I believe I'll make it my motto as well. And you may want to consider it, also.

The part of her post that really hit home was this declaration: "I won’t compare myself to my peers and feel jealous or envious when good things happen to other talented people. I will be patient in my own progress."

I've been involved with DCH for almost three years, and being patient with my progress is something I've struggled with. I'm sure many of you have, too. You may see your friends being asked to be part of troupes. You may see others creating cool videos. And you may be wondering why it isn't "happening" for you.

But you see, everyone's educational path is different. Some improvisers get it right from the start, while some need more time to grow. The one deciding factor for success, I promise you, is consistent commitment. If you're serious about the art form and you want to succeed (your definition of success is your own), then don't worry so much about how well others are doing. Yes, please support them and sincerely congratulate them--we're all a family here--but stop comparing yourself so much to others. Work on yourself at the pace that is natural for you and your strengths will be noticed.

It's not a competition at DCH. It's a group effort toward success. And I know it may sound backwards to say this, but sometimes the best thing you can do for a group is to work on yourself first. You have to be good to help the group be good, and the group can only be as good as the individual members.

Let that Zen sit with you for bit, and then let us know in the comments what declarations you're making for yourself concerning improv.

(Image via Flickr: Guadalupe Cervilla / Creative Commons)