BUTTER TUB & BARBIE EXPLOSION

Friday, March 7

 One of my favorite things about performing in chicago is the availability of super inexpensive theaters you can set up your act, regardless of what your act is. This past monday I performed in an improv show with my level 2 conservatory class at second city at Studio BE -- an awesome BYOB theater in lakeview that was only $100 for a two hour "rental". We had split our 12-person class into two separate teams {Butter Tub and Barbie Explosion} and then each team came up with the improv form they wanted to use.
 I was in Butter Tub and we performed an awesome mixture -- we started with a short form game in which we 1) came with a book {ours was the always lovely "Vampire Roadtrip"}, 2) one person got a suggestion from the audience of a number, 3) that person turns to the page number in the book, and then 4) start a short form tag-out game in which the person with the book must only respond with actual text from the book. It's super fun to play, especially if the book is bizarre, and is a great way to get the audience relaxed and in a laughing mood. Our main form comes out of UCB and is usually called "My Fucked Up Family" -- you start by interviewing an audience member about their life/family/relationships/etc, and then start an improv montage taking characters and relationships from the interview as inspiration for your scenes. I loved this form because as soon as you bring an audience member onstage, the rest of the audience is SO much more invested in your scene -- they trust you more, they think you are funnier, and they are reassured that everything is improv. It's an easy way to get the audience on your side from the beginning.


The entire night was ridiculously fun. We had a great turn-out, enjoyed PBRs backstage, and ended the night belting Queen karaoke at Trader Todds. Yes please.


BOWL YOUR TROUBLES AWAY

Precision sports are not really my thing. And by not really I mean not at all. Let's just say if I played football I'd be the linebacker {tackle him} and not the quarterback {think and aim and throw}. Regardless of my aptitude for precision sports, I love to bowl. I love the thud the ball makes when it hits the ground and I love that you get to wear a snazzy pair of hipster shoes while you play. It also doesn't hurt that bowling usually involves greasy food and beer. Count me in.

I went bowling last saturday when T was in town with my roommates and had such a great time, even though they didn't let me use the gutters. Chicago was a sleet/snow/rain hell storm outside, but we managed to remain warm and safe indoors with our hipster slippy shoes, IPAs, bowling balls, and photobooth pics.

(don't worry that's not my stomach... it's a belt)

DWI {DRIVING WHILE IMPROVISING}

Thursday, February 27

Let's start by saying I'm a huge fan of Second City. I love their conservatory program, their teachers are incredibly inspirational {think of the best teachers you've ever had and then imagine a school where ALL of the teachers are like that}, and they support programs that allow students to perform. One of my favorite such programs is the coached ensemble program led by Brian Posen {founder of Stage 773}. Through this program students can audition in front of a panel of different directors for a spot on one of the directors' coached improv ensembles -- the auditions are a series of short, two-person scenes.


Let's sum this program up quickly. First, it's FREE! So basically you're getting two months of improv and performance training for absolutely nada. Second, the coaches are awesome and teach you a brand-new improv form that they want to try out. Third, you're able to meet so many improvisers who you probably wouldn't have met through class. And finally, you get to perform four times on the Donny's Skybox stage at Second City. Which is exciting because you can tell people you're performing at Second City and they won't know the difference.


I'm about to finish up my second round of these coached ensembles -- my last performance is tonight. My first round had performances back in December and was an incredible experience. We were "The Jessicas", coached by the wonderful Jessica Mitolo. We had a group of eight improvisers and our form was essentially a monologue-heavy montage with clap edits. The form and the dynamic of our group led to high-energy and connection-based improv sets that were SO much fun to perform. We actually just performed again last week, opening for the Twisty house ensemble at Second City, with a set ranging from pornstar rabbits to trix addiction. 


The round I'm in now has been fun as well. We are "DWI - Driving While Improvising" and are coached by Jonny Nelson. We have a group of eight improvisers and our form primarily takes place in a "car" -- with four improvisers sitting on chairs in the formation of a car. The rest of the improvisers are outside of the car on the sides, ready to tag out the car members when inspiration hits. The form rests heavily on giving each other gifts {"you're such a controlling mother", "when you lost your legs in 'Nam", "you always speak in a heavy accent when you ask a question"} and tagging out to build the energy of the scene. We've had three shows so far this month, and our last 15-minute set is tonight at Donny's Skybox at 10:30pm.

Here are some pictures from last week's show taken by the incredibly talented photographer Greg Pallante.


It's one of the best feelings to be on stage with a group that you feel safe with. Improvisers who you know will catch you and your ideas, no matter what you throw out onto the stage. 

A PRESIDENTIAL WEEKEND

Monday, February 17

This long weekend {thank you mr. presidents} has been amazing, filled with so many moments of love and laughter and peace. You know those moments? When you look around and are so incredibly overwhelmed by gratitude. Gratitude for having met amazing friends since moving to chicago, gratitude for having T in my life, gratitude for the opportunity to follow my dreams in such an amazing city, and gratitude for a family that supports me through it all.


T came in to town from ann arbor on thursday, and on friday T and I celebrated our second valentines day. He left early to go to work and since I had the day off {nanny perks} I got to work putting together some valentines day surprises. When he got back from work I surprised him with a small picnic set-up in my bedroom- blanket and pillows laid on the floor, candles, a bottle of pinot, a plateful of dark chocolate sweets from a delicious bakery down the street, and the 'parisian cafe' pandora station playing. It was simple, but it was all we needed. Later that night we headed out on the town for dinner in the river north area of chicago at the boarding house. It was a fixed menu and was so delicious. Our table looked over the rest of the restaurant and was secluded enough to make it seem like it was just us there. I almost had to have T carry me out to the cab after dinner because I was so full, but oh it was so worth it.

The rest of the weekend included al pastor burgers and truffle fries at Big & Little's, an improv performance I was in at second city {my improv group the jessicas opened for twisty, a house ensemble team}, whiskey drinks in old town, trying out park community church in river north, the most delicious of brunches at the bongo room in wicker park, lots and lots of olympics, and deep dish pizza, beer, friends, and cards against humanity at guthrie's tavern. The best of the best. 


Happy monday you guys :)

WHY WE WORK

Friday, February 14

Happy valentine's day! I'm a huge proponent of valentine's day. It might be my sweet tooth talking or my not so secret love affair with pinks and reds, but I can't get enough. I was the annoying kid who spent hours making valentine's day cards for everyone in my class and then was subsequently devastated to find only two in my cubby. Shattered dreams hit hard at age thirteen. Even being single up until age 20 {why hello there mr. T}, I killed valentine's days. Killed them. What are my favorite valentine's day treats you may ask? Dark chocolate, starbursts, icecream lots of icecream, PIE, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter chunk brownies, dark chocolate covered strawberries, PIE, sour straws, nom nom nom nom nom. T came in last night from ann arbor to see my show at second city and had to go in to work today at his chicago office and I made him promise to bring me back any valentine's day treats that were at the office. Pinky swear promise.

In honor of all things mushy and gushy about this little holiday of ours, I'm linking up with Taylor over at The Daily Tay and Bonnie at The Life of Bon and writing a post on 'Why We Work'.


We work because he cooks and I stir. And when I try to cook and he's not there he'll talk me through all the steps on the phone without ever getting impatient or frustrated. Even when I'm asking him how small to 'mince' the garlic when he's watching a basketball game with his friends. And he hates that I get sketchy frozen meals from aldi's but will only say so once. And we make each other laugh. Like hard, unattractive, body shaking laughter. And he doesn't say anything when my legs are unshaved, but is always quick to compliment me when they're nice and smooth. And we both like his face stubble. And he comes to all of my improv shows and waits for me after with a huge hug and a kiss, telling me I did great, regardless of how I actually did. And he's sporty and I'm artsy, but he knows this is kind of a lie because I'm secretly crazy competitive in sports when I know I have a shot of winning. And we go to so so many shows together which I love, and he's starting to love too. And we love food and trying new restaurants and going back to old favorites. We have a deep obsession with quality steak nachoes, deep dish pizza, pho, reubens, burgers, curry, sushi, and guacamole. We most always opt for an appetizer rather than a dessert. Unless it's fried ice cream, mango sticky rice, or churros.


We work because we both have traveling hearts -- we want to go everywhere and anywhere, up and down, east and west and north and south. And he loves Kenny G and I love musical soundtracks. And he brings flowers and I make cards. And whenever we're together we brush our teeth together, him standing behind me with me in his arms. He always ends up dribbling a little toothpaste on my head, but I don't mind. And when I'm stressed he brings me ice water. And he always sleeps on the side of the bed closest to the door, and on busy streets when we're walking hand in hand he walks closest to the cars. And when we go iceskating he goes fast and holds my hand so that I whip around the rink with him, faster and faster and faster. And he believes in my dreams and I believe in his dreams, even when we forget to believe in our own. And when we're older we both want to open a restaurant that specializes in reubens and craft beers and is situated in a little ski town. And that little restaurant will host open mics and film screenings. And next door to that little restaurant will be a small, beautiful inn, also owned by yours truly. And he says that he'll do community theater when he's older. And we work because we're both dreamers.

Happy valentine's day trevor :)