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Photo © Marc-Julien Objois

Photo © Marc-Julien Objois

It’s been an intense week for people in the arts. We’ve seen actors, filmmakers, comedians, and musicians called “cucks,” “crybabies,” “snowflakes” and far worse for expressing themselves, or being concerned with “feelings versus facts.”

But no one goes to see a show about facts. No one stands in front of an equation at MoMA, or dances to string theory.

How do you speak your truth and show vulnerability onstage when tensions are so high? We asked a few of our favourite improvisers for their perspective.

Anand Rajaram What we do as artists is unique because it’s the only field in which we are not only welcome to, but required to express our feelings.

Lawyers may or may not empathize with their clients, or police with their suspects, but it cannot get in the way of doing their job or they’re deemed unfit to hold their position. Artists, as a result, do what everyone else suppresses.

Naturally, that causes those who suppress themselves most to respond strongest, either in thanks for petitioning an idea on their behalf, or with vitriol for challenging their beliefs.

There is no potential worse time for democracy. That means there is great potential for intense feelings and self and societal suppression. And that means artists are well positioned, if brave enough, to emerge as strong social pillars in these turbulent times.

But it starts with recognizing one’s feelings, then having perspective, and finally, having the strength to withstand criticism for one’s viewpoint. Improvisers, like actors, need empathy to understand alternate perspectives and represent them honestly. Big ears and openness may lead to a very transformative time to come.

Christine Aziz I haven’t been doing a lot of improv in NYC, but have been feeling particularly vulnerable considering I’m in a country where I have legal status but not really. I’m living in the US, but I’m not an American, so it makes me sometimes think, well, who am I to be having opinions about this? Or my opinion or reactions to the election aren’t as heavily weighted. Of course the leader of the free world makes decisions that affect the whole world, so my reactions are as a citizen of the world, who of course is affected.

I was at a jazz show last week where the headliner talked openly about his feelings, and people appreciated not only his music, but his authenticity. I worry about being too much of a downer as people start to say “Be positive and hope for the best” and “Be the change” etc, but this is totally unprecedented and I don’t think it’s right to suppress people’s perfectly valid fears. I’m so grateful to brave artists who are speaking up, especially the cast of Hamilton, because now is the time for artists to do our work. People are looking to us to inspire them and give them hope, and to propel them towards speaking up and standing up for others in their own lives.

I’m doing a cabaret show on the weekend and it’s comedic, but I want to fully acknowledge what is happening – the feelings of sadness and disappointment – but also the fight. The energy of “We aren’t going to take any bullshit, and we are paying attention.” But still keeping it light and not letting it dominate my act. The show must go on, but the show must also be mindful of what is happening out there in the world and can’t exist in a vacuum.

Susan Messing My thoughts are obviously leaking into my work. I did a show with Scott Adsit last Thursday, and one scene began with him onstage and me in the house and I said, “Mr Gonzales, are they really going to build a wall?”

“Post-truth” means LIE. I find it infuriating how that phrase and “alt-right” are bandied about as if it isn’t hurtful. At the least, comedy is helping us that feel lost and marginalized to commiserate with each other through laughter during a time that is distinctly not funny.

Etan Muskat I think the operative word in “Fuck Your Feelings” is “Your.” One of the scariest things about the American election is how divided people seem to be. There’s real rage on both sides, and a real inability for the politically divided country to find common ground.

This thing about Trump tweeting that theatre should be a “safe and special place” is particularly interesting, because that’s an idea associated with millennials – that they are routinely attacked for – but it’s also at the heart of the current wave of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia: people saying “I want my world to feel safe and I don’t feel safe around X.”

The SNL sketch with Tom Hanks about Trump voters and black Americans having so much in common was one of my favourite bits of comedy surrounding the election cycle, because it attempted to do something I haven’t seen much of lately: show the common humanity of enemies.

I remember hearing about a study that said reading novels increases empathy, because the reader is compelled to identify with the experiences of the narrator and characters outside their own experience. It’s a more intimate relationship than with a film or TV character. And that empathy translates to real life interpersonal dynamics.

I think improv has the ability to have that same effect, because of the vulnerability of the performers. But that vulnerability cuts both ways, as we’ve seen with Second City performers in Chicago being heckled to the breaking point.

I really believe the best comedy expresses profound truth. But truth is contingent on experience, even to the point that people will deny obvious facts if they don’t fit their worldview. That’s the secret to Trump, but it’s also the secret of all art. To tell a truth that our audience can embrace. So it really just depends on how you see the world.

Paloma Nuñez Share your life, your view, your experience. Everything that comes out of you comes from the filter of your life experience. That is relatable. Someone may see themselves in you and your life, and they might not feel so alone. Art is about feelings, because that’s how we process facts.

(Sidebar: This election wasn’t won with facts, it was won with feelings. People felt unheard and underrepresented, Trump capitalized on that. I mean did he even say any facts? Don’t fact check me on that…)

Fear is the enemy of creation, so you can’t worry about what others think; instead just make them feel. It’s the unifying factor. We all love people, we all want our loved ones to be safe, healthy, and happy. Show people who they are, without the filter of ridicule or judgement, and they might just see themselves in the mirror you place in front of them.

Julie Osborne Against this sort of socio-political backdrop, it’s easy to become mired in cynicism or hopelessness. Unscripted theatre affords us the opportunity to combat that with humanity in a very immediate and responsive way – inviting both the audience and performers to reflect, provoke, transpose and challenge our feelings in a setting that is very deliberately not constricted by fact, but that fails and feels hollow when there isn’t some sort of emotional truth present.

We go to the theatre to see exactly that: people being affected – experiencing things that resonate personally. We go to the theatre to feel something. In the company of others. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking comedy or tragedy (or a bit of both). It’s kind of the whole mandate, then, to speak personal truth and show vulnerability.

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The arts have always been a place for personal expression and social commentary, from Waiting For Godot, to the music of Bob Dylan, to Second City and beyond. Art can open hearts *and* minds, while breaking down barriers. On that note, enjoy this video of Christine Aziz, who bonded with a stranger on a train over their mutual love of Celine Dion. 

If, like me, you’ve been sucked down the stream of raw sewage that’s social media, I feel you. It’s hard not to, frankly, when the freedoms we thought we enjoyed turn out to be smoke and episodes of Black Mirror.

But if clicking emojis till your thumbs bleed has left you numb, doing it more won’t help.

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In 2005, when iPhone was still a gleam in Steve Jobs’s eye, Cameron and I were detached from the rest of the world. Back then the isolation was caused by his Generalised Anxiety Disorder. We holed ourselves up in our apartment and fretted inside a prison of our own making. The Internet’s a bit like that; we can see and talk to people, but there’s a wall of glass between us.

How we crawled out of that black hole and reconnected with humanity was the same way you can now: by taking an improv class. (And if you sign up on your smartphone, I won’t tell anyone.)

“We approach improvisation as a constant examination of the moment before us.” – Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ & Dave Book

The first time I studied with David Razowsky, he said, “I’m hiding a class on mindfulness in this improv workshop.”

Improv teaches us to be present, to observe and listen to our scene partner, and respond by committing fully to our emotions. Focusing your attention takes practice, as anyone who’s meditated knows. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.

The other great thing about improv is, it’s fun. Laughter, like crying, is a form of release. Which makes it a powerful antidote to anxiety, depression, and fear. As Stephen Colbert says, “You can’t laugh and be anxious at the same time.”

There’s nothing more satisfying than taking your feelings of rage and channeling them into a scene about failed spaghetti sauce. Improv gets us in touch with our imaginations again. When you create something out of thin air, it’s a powerful reminder of our ability to effect change.

There’s a lot of scary stuff happening right now, and the problems are very real. But staring at a screen for hours won’t help. If you’re feeling disconnected, the answer isn’t stewing over Snapchat, Periscope, or Twitter. It’s listening, responding, and connecting with others in real life.

Now turn off your phone, go out and create something new.

So glad we got to spend this time together. (Photo © Steve Hobbs)

There are dozens of different classes available, for Beginners to Advanced, from Improv for Actors to Improv for Anxiety, Business, Singles and more. Just Google “improv classes” and your home town or city to see what’s available near you.

Photo © Sam Willard

Photo © Sam Willard

On Friday, November 18, Jimmy celebrates the 5th anniversary of Improv Nerd with a special show featuring Scott Adsit at the Chicago Podcast FestivalWe asked Jimmy about the podcast, his career, and how to succeed in improv.

P&C: Congratulations on five years of Improv Nerd! When you started, did you ever think you’d do over 200 episodes?

JC: Never. I never thought that. At this point I thought that I would’ve been a really big TV star; someone would’ve said, “Oh my God, this guy can really interview people. Let’s give him his own show.” So I probably would’ve done 100 episodes and gotten a TV deal.

P&C: Like Marc Maron?

JC: I thought maybe like a talk show, or a radio show. It’s interesting, because if I would’ve known what I know now starting out, podcasting – podcasting has just exploded – I don’t think I would’ve done it. Because I really thought when I started out, it was me and Marc Maron and that was it, who were doing interview comedy podcasts. And the longer I did it the more I realised there is tons of podcasts out there, really good ones.

P&C: There is. I’ve had this conversation with friends, where you’re doing something and you think, “I’m gonna do this!” But then you see or hear something and you think, “I can’t now, someone’s already doing it!”

But no one will ever do exactly what you would, because your worldview is unique. So I’m glad you started at a time when you didn’t think, “It’s been done already,” because then we wouldn’t have Improv NerdWas it because you had a specific goal in mind, that you wanted a TV or radio show?

JC: Probably, it was a goal of mine. But certainly I thought I’d be in the top 10 comedy podcasts. I really thought I was going to be Marc Maron, that popularity, so that’s really what I was shooting for.

I know for me it’s really hard to do something and not expect certain results. I have certain expectations. That is the hardest thing.

P&C: You’ve interviewed so many amazing people: Key & Peele, Adam McKay, Jill Soloway, Mike O’Brien, Mick Napier, TJ & Dave, Susan Messing, Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson, and Bob Odenkirk, just to name a few. Even reading that list is mind-blowing! Who was your favourite interview, and why?
JC: There were so many…Bob Odenkirk was one of my favourites because I was a huge fan of Mr Show. We did the interview and got really personal about his Dad and about Second City, and he talked about having this incredible feeling because he wrote the sketch for Chris Farley, the motivational speaker, and it was originally a sketch at Second City.

And he talks about just this great feeling. And at the end of the interview he said – I’m paraphrasing – “That was the most personal interview,” and then he signed his book, “Thanks for ripping my heart out.” And to me, someone who [I] idolised and really looked up to, because he’s mentored a lot of people, that just meant a lot to me.

The other one that – any one [interview] I could really talk about – but Dan Bakkedahl. He’s on Veep and Life In Pieces, and has been a friend of mine here in Chicago and I talk to him a couple of times a month. His interview was like the perfect episode. He was very honest and candid about his successes and some of the things along the way, like being on The Daily Show and what happened at Second City – I think he, if I remember, punched a hole in the wall because he was so upset.

And the thing is, he’s got great perspective on that. He is just one of my favourite improvisers to improvise with, and it was just so much fun. Because when you interview people that you know, it can be a little harder because you want to respect the boundaries; a lot of stuff that will get into your subconscious because you talk to them on a frequent basis.

Abbi and Ilana from Broad City impressed me. They didn’t make a Harold team at UCB, which is a very big honour and something everyone shoots for, akin to making the MainStage at Second City. If you get there, it’s a ticket to stardom. And they made their own path. And the other thing that impressed me about that was, I think it was the second season of the web series, before it went to Comedy Central, they took their own money and invested in the production. And I always thought – including myself, I need to learn this – if we all did that, how much farther would we be? They really believed in what they had.

P&C: I agree, it’s investing in yourself and believing in yourself, even when you don’t know if it’s going to be a hit. And it’s not like improvisers are walking around with huge wodges of cash, but if you do it for the love of it, it’s amazing where it can go.

When Shit Girls Say went viral, and then Shit New Yorkers Say, Ilana and her brother were in it, and I remember seeing, “Coming soon: Broad City, an Amy Poehler-produced web series.” So it started with one little video they probably made themselves for 20 bucks.

JC: For me, I’m obsessed with, “What is the secret?” with each of my guests; what has made them successful? Everyone has a different path, but I’m always trying to uncover, if I can walk away with one nugget or one tip on how to be successful – not that I’m going to apply it to my life (laughs) – but I feel like I’ve done my job.

P&C: Absolutely. I think everyone’s looking for shortcuts, or ways to avoid some of the problems, or whatever.

On that subject, you’ve been improvising for over 30 years. What advice do you have for someone who’s impatient because they’re not, either great at improv yet, or famous, and they’re in their 20s or 30s?

JC: I would say one of the biggest things is building relationships. So if you’re in a class, you’re already networking. Because here’s the thing: opportunities, or guests that have appeared on my show, Adam McKay or Jon Favreau or even Mike Birbiglia – not that I knew Mike, but he’s in my sphere so I could reach out to Brian Stack and say, “Hey, could you help me get him as a guest?” – all of that stuff comes from being a nice person, a kind person, and being someone who’s fun to work with.

I certainly in my 20s, probably 30s, and even my 40s, had an attitude, was a comedy snob, I still struggle with that. But if you can focus on the relationships, as well as having fun as you’re moving up the ladder hopefully, it’s going to pay dividends down the road. If you’re were a jerk, it’s going to be a lot harder for you if a friend gets a job, let’s say on a late night talk show, to reach out to him and say “I’m putting this packet together, can you look it over?”

I think the other thing is something I struggle with, and it’s constantly asking for help. I love it when people contact me and say, “Can you talk to me?” or “I just moved to Chicago,” or “I wanna move to L.A.” That stuff is invaluable, especially if people are successful and have done what you wanna do.

P&C: Some people might be intimidated, because they think, “Oh, so-and-so’s probably too busy,” or “We’re not on the same level, and who am I to approach them?” So you’re saying don’t feel that way.

JC: I’ll tell you, I wish I’d continue to ask more and more, because I have a very hard time asking. But there’s always going to be…for me, there’s more fear that they’re gonna say yes than that they’re gonna say no.

I love Jeff Garland. He’s one of my favourite people, one of my favourite performers. I’ve interviewed him twice for the podcast, and probably a couple of times for public radio. He’s always very generous with his time. He was doing a show at Steppenwolf and I had contacted his press person, and they said “Jeff’s only doing interviews on certain days, sorry.” The next day the press person contacted me saying, “Jeff didn’t realise it was you, he’d be happy to do it, he’ll give you 40 minutes before his show.” And I gotta tell you, I felt a ton of shame. I was honoured, but I called my [therapist]: “He’d do that for me?” And that’s the thing, that I think for me, not asking, I avoid.

I’m in therapy, I talk about it on the podcast, [he says] “You’re not afraid they’re going to say no. You’re afraid they’re going to say yes.” Because what I’ve experienced, there’s a lot more feelings that come up when somebody says yes. There’s a lot more feelings when you get “This might become a TV show.” There’s a lot of feelings with “You might get a part in a Judd Apatow movie.”

P&C: Is it feelings of “Do I deserve this? Am I good enough?”

JC: That comes up, but also sadness, like “Why didn’t this happen sooner?” Anger, like, how dare anyone recognize that I’m talented? It’s really hard, I was talking to a friend, she’s a great singer, her name is Meagan McDonough, and we were joking. It’s true, whenever you get close to your vision or your goal, you wanna quit. I don’t know what it is, but you just, like, “Uhh, I wanna quit.” And there’s been a lot of times where I felt like I’ve gotta quit, and I’ve done it. And now I know, that’s just part of it, that’s just part of my process.

P&C: Having the self-awareness to recognize that. I think Cameron and I have, just from being on the planet longer, we’re getting better at “Oh, I can see this pattern with me,” or this self-defeating behaviour.

Which dovetails into my next question: What have you learned, personally or professionally, from talking to these 200 or so people?

JC: I think the hugest lesson – and I was talking to my wife Lauren before the interview – I thought that everybody thought like me, which is, “Fame is the most important thing.”

And the thing that I’ve learned is, there’s a lot of people doing improv, a lot of very accomplished improvisers and teachers that really aren’t obsessed like I am about fame.

P&C: Did that surprise you?

JC: Yes, it totally surprised me. As an interviewer, just like as an improviser, you’re bringing your life experience and your point of view and your obsessions to the interview. It leaks out.

Growing up in Chicago around Second City, and seeing so many people that I started out with going to New York and Los Angeles and becoming huge in TV and film, I always thought you got into it – not that I originally got into it to be famous, though on some level I probably always wanted to be famous because I thought that would make up for my low self-esteem – but that that was the end goal. And to see people not only in Chicago, but to travel around and go into smaller cities and see these people that are creating these great improv and comedy theatres, and the work is really, really good, and that they’re super happy doing that, it really did surprise me.

P&C: Improv and comedy – and really, the world – is going through a sea change in 2016 with regard to awareness of and treatment of women, and also people of colour. Do you see things moving in a better direction now in the improv community?

JC: It’s hard for me to really give that perspective because I’m a white male. I would say that bringing it to the surface, that’s gone on for the last year, is really helpful. I consider myself a pretty sensitive and pretty compassionate person, and I think it’s helped me become more sensitive to these issues.

P&C: I was talking to Susan Messing about your episode on the subject, and I thought you handled it really well, even though you’re a guy (laughs). It’s a tough thing; we’ve got similar issues in Canada, and I’m sure England and Australia are having similar conversations…and this was all before Trump. (laughs)

JC: That episode…I was really afraid. It was a very angry time, and I was afraid that I was walking into something… I thought everyone handled it so well, and people’s points of view came across. Being a white male it’s not my issue to talk about. I can’t speak from experience, but I can give people a platform to discuss it. Hopefully the discussion keeps going.

P&C: When you started the podcast, there were very few improv resources available. When Cameron and I starting improvising, there was Truth in Comedy, your and Liz Allen’s book, Mick Napier’s book, and that’s pretty much it. Now there’s this plethora of podcasts, new books, blogs, e-books, improv camps, new theatres cropping up in small towns that never had that kind of thing before. Do you think having all these resources is making better improvisers?

JC: Yeah, I think it is. I will get someone contacting me periodically from somewhere in Europe, let’s say a very small town in Ireland, and they’ll say “Thank you so much for Improv Nerd, because it’s like getting a Master Class.” I think being in Chicago or any major city that has a lot of access to teaching, we probably don’t think of it as much, but there’s so much going on in Europe.

I do intensives in the summer and I get a lot of people coming to Chicago to take Second City and iO, and then they’ll study with me, and I’d say most of my students in the summer are from Europe. And what’s interesting is, Europe is like what Chicago was when I started back in the ‘80s. Will Hines has a book and Paul Vaillancourt has a book and Mick Napier just wrote a new book, and I think this is really good because [it helps] people in different countries where they don’t have access to the kind of training we have in big cities.

P&C: We all know improv has exploded in popularity, especially the past five years. Do you think it’s possible to become too popular, in terms of stage time and opportunities?

A friend of ours auditioned for a Harold team recently and he was number 600-and something. I thought, wow, you’re one of 600 for a chance to audition to maybe get on a team. And I guess that’s the reality because there’s so many people now vying for a place. So my question is, how big can this get? Are some people going to get frustrated because they think “I’ll just never have a chance”?

JC: If the improv community gets bigger, if you’re number 626 and you audition and you don’t get in at one of the big institutions and theatres and schools, that doesn’t mean you’re not good. We mentioned Broad City; they didn’t look at UCB as their gatekeeper, they created their own thing.

There’s so many people that I’ve had on the podcast who’ve said, “Once I gave up wanting to get into Second City, the opportunity presented itself and I got in to Second City.” So, when I hear that I think, that’s a lot of people doing improv, doing comedy, and I hope that just because they don’t get in there that they give up.

What I’ve seen since I’ve started is that people have become a lot more savvy. Here in Chicago, it used to be that people would do three or four MainStage shows. Now if somebody does two MainStage shows that’s a big deal, because they already have representation in Los Angeles, a manager and an agent. There’s people in Touring Company at Second City that are being scouted and are getting managers and agents. So it’s really changed.

When I started, if you were thinking about going to L.A. or you were going to get a headshot and do commercial auditions when you first started out, you were selling out. Del really preached an artist mentality, and a lot of us took it to heart, for better or for worse.

The other thing I think is interesting, because I not only come at it as an improviser and a performer, [but] as a teacher: I have seen the teaching side of it, not only here in Chicago – iO has exploded in terms of its training centre, the Annoyance, Second City just did a 25,000 beautiful square foot expansion of their training centre; there’s other theatres like Under The Gun, and Kevin Mullaney and Bill Arnett and Dina Fackliss teach independently here in Chicago, which is really super encouraging, and I of course teach here in Chicago – so that movement’s going on. But also what’s going on as far as corporate. I do it for team building, [how to] be more creative. I’ve seen it with doctors, people teaching doctors how to have better bedside manner. Or social anxiety… So the teaching aspect probably is endless in terms of where people can take this.

P&C: That’s a really good point. Cameron teaches Improv for Anxiety, and a lot of students don’t necessarily want to be improvisers, or perform onstage. But some of them fall in love with it so much they end up going through the regular Second City program and even Conservatory. And others are like, “I just wanna be able to leave my room without breaking into a cold sweat,” which was Cameron’s story. The diversity of classes available now is probably tenfold what it was a decade ago!

JC: When I go and teach workshops across the country, I’m seeing a lot more people coming to improv later in life. And that’s where it’s like, they don’t care about being famous, they don’t care about getting the writing job on The Daily Show. They’re doing it because they want to express themselves, and they want to be part of a community.

The two greatest things about improv is, one, it’s very accessible, anybody can do it, and two, you feel like you’re part of something, even if it’s a class of 12 people, you feel like you’re part of a community, something bigger than yourself.

P&C: Totally agree. OK, last question: What does the future look like for Improv Nerd and/or for you outside of that?

JC: Oh, God…

P&C: No pressure.

JC: Well, every 10 years I do a one-person show. My first show was called I’m 27, I Still Live At Home and Sell Office Supplies. So I’m hoping to start to work on that. I have a lot of material from my daughter, who just turned 16 weeks, and the whole experience. So I don’t know what the show will be about, but I would love to do that.

As for Improv Nerd, I did go out [to L.A.] in the Spring and try to pitch it, and I got some interest about it. It would be great if someone would just turn it into a TV show and I’d get eight episodes and get the biggest names in improv and it would be on Seeso… That would be great because I love interviewing people. So, I don’t really know, but that would be my vision.

P&C: Thank you for speaking with us, and for doing Improv Nerd and putting your passion out there, because it’s inspired a ton of people. And I also want to give a shout-out to your blog, because your blog fucking rocks. I love that you express things that I think many of us have felt at one time or another. Love your writing, love your honesty, so thank you.

JC: Thank you.

Jimmy Carrane is an improviser, interviewer, teacher, author, and long-time member of the Chicago improv community. As creator and host of the Improv Nerd podcast, he’s interviewed just about everybody in the comedy cosmos. He has written three books on improv, and his blog is a must-read for improvisers. 

 

I’ve been asked by several people what I think about what’s going on at Second City (http://tinyurl.com/jy6ajlf). I’ve been waiting to see if any other info has come out, but it’s mostly the rehashed story attached.

Here’s my take: There are parts to this story, and there are parts of this story I don’t know about. There are events that took place backstage that I don’t know about. There are events that took place in producer’s offices that I don’t know about. There are internal politics involved that I don’t know about (which doesn’t make SC any different than any other business, and, yes, SC is a business).

When I was told that I was cast in the Second City National Touring Company, the first place I went to was The Old Town Ale House, to, yes, have a celebratory cocktail, but also to tell my friend and teacher Donny DePollo that I got hired. His response to my hiring stuck with me for my entire tenure (1989-2012) at Second City: “Do your job, don’t get involved in the politics.” That missive became a talisman for me. I left Second City before I got bitter, feeling SC never owed me a dime, and that everyday I was there I was grateful for the experience. I still feel that way, all things considered.

In regards to the audiences spewing indignities at the actors: Satire is subversive. We ask the audience for suggestions that come from their hearts. More often than not the suggestions from the heart ranges from mundane to beautiful. Oftentimes that heart is cold and closed and quiet and scared and ignorant and mean. When the heart is allowed to speak honestly under those conditions there’s bound to be an awful shattering to all those within earshot. It’s an awful sound to hear. It’s a terrible noise. The actors who heard that noise were understandably shocked, rocked, stunned, and temporarily paralyzed. It happened. It really happened. The question then becomes, “What do we do with that which just happened?” That question was asked on 9/11 and 9/12. The answer then was: We take it and we use it. We use it as a cudgel, we use it as a sword, we use it as a firecracker, we use it as the tool for change and awareness that made it appear in the first place. We take that suggestion and we build on its bones, covering it, creating a structure that does not deny its foundation, but rather shows that hate received in the right hands can help create, that truth inspires, that expressions of hope dilutes the rantings of the desperate. That humor can teach.

There hasn’t been an issue that SC has been afraid to tackle. Satire, like rust, never sleeps.

Wishing SC another speedy recovery. I can’t wait to see what they’ll create.

Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © Kevin Thom

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Photo © People and Chairs

Last night something huge happened, and no, it wasn’t the Jays game (boo-urns): Toronto’s Big City Improv Festival opened with the motherlode of great line-ups.

Fan faves and natty dressers Bonspiel got things rolling at 7, followed by an all-star Catch-23 featuring Office Funeral (Jason DeRosse and Stacey McGunnigle), Just For Laughs Montreal Quebec (Kirsten Rasmussen and Matt Folliott), and headliners The Boys a.k.a. Susan Messing and Rachael Mason (as if we needed to tell you).

The Boys took the stage again at 11 pm with a no-holds-barred long-form set that encompassed “womyn’s” stand-up, a testosterone-fuelled locker room rant, abandoned children, and a recovering alcoholic Santa.

Tonight features another stacked line-up of A-listers: That Moment When, Ze Jonas Brothers, Sex T-Rex, Yas Kween, 2-Man No-Show, and Mantown. Tickets are available at the door, or buy here, before they sell out.

Huge props to Mark Andrada, Brendon Halloran, Norm Sousa, Erin Conway, Mat Mailandt, Sam Roulston, Kevin Whalen, Samantha Adams, Martha Stortz, Nelu Handa, Adrianne Gagnon and all the volunteers behind the scenes who’re making this 5th anniversary the best BCIF yet. You done made this city proud.

The Boys, Photo © People and Chairs

The Boys, Photo © People and Chairs

(Oh, and ladies? If the election doesn’t go the way we’re all hoping, we’d love to have you.)

Keebler

Knifey

Mr Doctor

Li’l Dumpy

Rémy Martin

Turtleporridge Vacuum the Fifth

Janet

Chair-Arms

Bacon Smith

Maskie, Capey and Captain Spandex

Geode

Greg, I mean Chris, I mean, Chris-Greg

Shhhhhhhhhhhhombeedoodlee

Potato Jones

Jenkins “Get in here!” Johnson

Clorox Bleachman

The last thing you bought at Ikea

Photo © Cameron Wyllie

Photo © @cameronwyllie

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Photo © Kevin Thom