Posts tagged Cameron Algie
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Cameron was a guest on SiriusXM’s Canada Talks Speak Easy with Carla Collins yesterday.
While he was waiting to be interviewed, he noticed another man sitting alone. Cameron introduced himself and asked the man, whose name was Scott, what he was there to talk about.
“Oh, I’m with Commander Hadfield,” Scott replied, indicating the studio.
Cameron’s eyes widened.
“You mean I’ve gotta follow him?”
They laughed, and Scott asked what Cameron did. He explained that he was there to talk about improv, and how it helped him overcome his anxiety.
They chatted for several minutes, and Cameron forgot all about any nerves he might have had. When the studio door opened, Scott told Cameron, “You’ve got to meet Chris!”
As Cameron told me this story, he said, “The ‘old me’ would have sat by myself, concentrating on not being nervous. Instead I was focused on what was happening now. Laughing with Scott was so much better than focusing inward.”
(Improv analogy, anyone?)
If you’d like to learn more about improv for anxiety (and being here now), check out Cameron’s new website at playwithfireimprov.com.
I started to write about Pattern Game* and asked Cameron for his opinion. Of course, his answer was much more interesting than an explanation of how to do it.
And so, POV was born: Point Of View. People On Video. Party On…Valium?
Stay tuned for more POVs with your favourite improvisers. Click here or below to watch.
*For a detailed description of pattern games, see page 29 of Truth In Comedy.
John Hodgman spoke recently about how Stephen Colbert overcame embarrassment by doing embarrassing things in public, until it no longer bothered him.
This makes perfect sense.
Whether he’s bobsledding in skintight Spandex, or telling George Bush to his face what a douche he is, Colbert’s commitment to character is unflinching.
But for some people, fear of embarrassment can be debilitating.
Katagelophobia is the fear of embarrassment, ridicule, or (ironically for comedians) of being laughed at.
I’ve blogged before about Cameron’s anxiety-ridden past. For years he suffered from daily panic attacks, cold sweats, vomiting, eczema, coughing, diarrhea…you name it. Finally in desperation, we went to a shrink.
The therapist, it turned out, had problems of his own. But he said two things that completely changed Cameron’s life – and mine, too.
First, he suggested Cameron take up improv. And second, he said that most anxiety comes from a fear of embarrassment.
We left the therapist after only a few sessions, but Cameron enrolled at Second City. And he did something else that helped him, in improv and in life: he started doing “embarrassing” things, like purposely tripping and stumbling in front of strangers.
At first he would blush and get cold sweats. But he kept on doing it, day after day, until he actually looked for excuses to do silly things in public.
Today he’s so happy, calm and confident that people who didn’t know the “old” Cameron are flabbergasted to learn he wasn’t born fearless.
Disapproval Starts With You
Fear of embarrassment often comes from wanting approval. (“I hope I don’t fuck up on stage tonight. I’ll never be able to show my face again!”)
I’ve seen wanting approval cripple a lot of funny people, especially at festivals, where they put extra pressure on themselves to be brilliant.
Worrying about what your audience thinks is a surefire way to get in your head. When you worry, you judge, and it’s a fast trip to Suckville from there.
Richard Burton used to stand backstage before performances and whisper, “Fuck you! Fuck you!” to the audience. If you can let go on needing approval, you’ll have a much better show. And a helluva lot more fun.
Some people say anxiety before a performance is good, even necessary. I say bullshit. I’ve done plenty of crappy shows where I was nervous beforehand, and just as many good ones where I wasn’t.
It’s natural for some adrenaline to kick in before going on stage, but if having your girlfriend in the audience makes you jittery, click here for some exercises that can help.
Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
One of my favourite sketches of all time is the Ministry of Silly Walks. It’s so quintessentially British. And yet as John Cleese said, “The aim of any good English gentleman is to get safely to his grave without ever having been embarrassed.”
To err is human. And life’s too short to worry what other people think. Chances are, they’re busy worrying what you think of them.
So if anxiety about making the wrong move, or even just looking stupid in public is holding you back, try looking stupid on purpose. It works.
To hear Hodgman talk about Colbert, click here.
Colbert kissing David Razowsky while Steve Carell watches at Second City’s 50th anniversary.
Happy Friday! Here’s another hilarious promo for Big City Improv Festival, this time featuring Devon Hyland. Click below to watch.
BCIF just unveiled the first in a series of videos created by Toronto’s improv community. This one features Cameron Algie, Steve Cole, Quentin Matheson and Chris Leveille, directed by Chris Besler. Click below to view.
Ah, the follow-up album.
How do you top a really fun day spent goofing around with friends? We couldn’t. So we spent a day with some more cool friends, making each other laugh. (Special shout out to Chris Besler for his tireless work on the edit.)
This is for everyone who said, “Where was the…(fill in the blank)?” To see the original video, click here.
A lot of crazy stuff happens on stage. But what happens when improvisers go home?
That’s the premise Chris Besler, one of my teammates on Corgi In The Forest, threw out in rehearsal one day. “I’ve always wanted to make a video about bad object work,” he said. My eyes lit up. “We are gonna shoot that video!”
And we did. All in one day, with the help of a crazy-talented bunch of friends. Stay tuned for the sequel. And to learn more about Mime/Object Work in improv, click here.
Update: When Chris posted the video Wednesday morning, we had no idea it’d be on Jimmy Fallon’s tumblr by that evening. Woot! Thanks to everyone who watched, Liked, shared and tweeted.
Cameron Algie is co-creator of People and Chairs. He’s a member of comedy phenom Standards & Practices, and musical improv group, Smash Hit. He coaches three (count ‘em: three) long-form teams, and still finds time for his copywriting day job. Sometimes.
A few years back I saw an improv show that changed the way I play. I forget the name of the team*, but there was a scene going on and Paloma Nuñez and Kevin Williams were watching from the sidelines. They were both inspired to move onto the stage at the same time. They stopped instantly on the edge of the stage and played rock, paper, scissors to see who got to make their move.
I sat in awe, my eyes wide open. They were both willing to fight for their idea. I watched from the audience and thought, if that had been me with either of them I would’ve said, “You go.” Are you kidding me? How could my idea even compete with one of those geniuses?
It’s taken me years to gain the confidence to know my ideas are just as good as anyone’s. Paloma won and went into the scene and it was awesome. What was her idea? I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter. It was perfect for that moment. And she knew it. And Kevin’s idea would’ve been perfect too. And so would’ve little ole mine.
*Editor’s note: Little American Bastards