A great, big “THANK YOU!”

29 03 2013

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating:  One cannot do a solo show alone.  I had great help from the obvious suspects, of course, like my director, Jen and the technical support of Joey and Andrew.  But there were also others who helped with a variety of skills and talents, including, most definitely, my amazing opening acts!  I was very lucky to have gotten so many talented people to open for my solo show.

One cannot do a solo show alone!  Thanks to everyone who helped me!

One cannot do a solo show alone!
Thanks to everyone who helped me!

In addition to all of these people on my list of “Who To Thank” I add every single audience member who carved out a bit of time on their schedule to see the show.  Life is busy and it can be hard to make time to see a bit of art on a Thursday night.  So I’m grateful and honored for everyone who took the time and came out.  Beyond that, I again thank the audience members who were generous enough with their enjoyment of the show to tell me (an actor’s ego thanks you for that) and to tell others.  I had quite a few audience members over the run who had heard about the show because someone they knew saw it, loved it, and suggested it.  And let me tell you, it certainly gives a performer a warm fuzzy feeling to look out into the audience and see so many familiar faces!  Yet it gives the same performer another type of joy to look out into that crowd and realize she doesn’t recognize every single face; that there are people who came–not because they’re supporting their friend–but they just want to see a good show, and heard that this was one.

I hope I gave everyone–friends and strangers–a good show.

Twenty Years

7 03 2012

Twenty years ago, I had just started performing improv.  Admittedly, it was pretty bad improv.  Bar-prov.  Improv in bars, is not the most artistically satisfying experience for a performer.  Performing improv in bars is like doing a cooking-demo in a strip club.  Nobody gets what you’re doing.  Nobody cares what you’re doing.  You’re just a distraction from the main event.  (And they’d probably prefer it if you were naked).  Now, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do some good, quality improv in bars, it’s just difficult.  Some current Chicago improvisers might disagree with me on this point, and that’s fine.  But I would mention to them that this was in Kentucky in the early to mid nineties.  No one even knew what an improv group was.

We were sometimes booked for gigs only to disappoint the establishment when we showed up without guitars and a keyboard.  When folks heard the words, “improv group” they thought they were either hiring a group of stand-ups or a jazz ensemble.  Twenty minutes into our show at The Kentucky State Fair, we still had audience members shouting out requests for songs we should play.  To this day, I sincerely believe that they weren’t heckling us.  They were just drunk, confused, and honestly thought we were a group of musicians.  Without instruments.  A really shitty band.  But why else would a group of people be on stage together in a beer tent at the fair?  The concept of improvised theatre was so far out of the realm of possibility for your average person back then.

Our steady gig was closing out amateur night at the local comedy club.  I guess you could say we were the headliners of amateurs.  Sort of a back-handed honorific.  The highest of the lows.

Let’s give a hand to all of the comics you’ve seen tonight!  We’re gonna do a little something different for ya.  We’re the ReActors, and we’re going to take suggestions from YOU, the audience, for our entire show!  We’re gonna start tonight off by telling you a joke.  And the joke goes something like this:  185 blanks walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve blanks.”  And the 185 blanks said, something funny.  You give us the blank and we’ll give you the something funny.

Now since we were performing in bars, typically we’d get the word, “dildo.”  I was seventeen.  I didn’t know what a dildo was.  I understood the concept.  But the first time I’d ever heard that word was on stage during an improv show.  It only took hearing a few punchlines to figure out what everyone was talking about.  By then, I could come up with something myself.

 185 dildos said, “That’s okay, we’ll go to the bar that’s a little to the left, no right, no left, yeah, right there.”

I learned a lot as a young improviser.  I learned about prostitution, gynecology, proctology, and sex.  I got kissed a lot in my late teens and early twenties (minus a few exceptions, they were mostly stage-kisses).  I referenced movies before I saw them, acted out sports I’d never played, and basically, portrayed experiences I’d never experienced.

No wonder my improv wasn’t that great.  Sure, part of the reason is that I was green at improv.  (Part of the reason is that I was performing most of my shows in bars.)  But part of the reason is that I was green at life.

Now, improv and I have been together a good, long while.  But I still learn a lot as an older improviser.  I learn about relationships, people, and myself.  More and more, I portray experiences I’ve actually experienced.

Twenty years ago, I had just started performing improv.  It has made up such a huge part of my life.  They say, “Good things come to those who wait.”  But with improv—or any theatre—or any art-form, for that matter—good things come to those who do.  Those who do poorly at first, but continue to do…through the dildo jokes, the beer tents, and the 185 whatevers…..until they are able to get to the relationships, the people, and themselves.

Twenty years ago, I gave improv myself and improv gave me the something funny, the something expressive, the something connected, and all the countless somethings about myself.

drinking up today’s moments

16 01 2012

sleeping in

downton abbey

dancing to loud music

mango smoothie


waves on lake michigan


spontaneous meal with a delightful friend

nerding out about improv

peaceful solitude

Over and Out

19 11 2011


The short run of The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey has come to a close.  I am very grateful that it was a success!  I’ve said (typed) it before, and I’ll say (type) it again….  A solo show can’t be done alone.  It truly takes so many people supporting the performer to make it a success…..   And I’m not just talking about the director, stage manager, house manager, etc….  In addition to these fantastic folks, a solo show could still not be done without an audience.  I am so very grateful to all of the friends, colleagues, students, and also the folks I don’t know that came out to see this show.  I’d like to also mention how thankful I am to all of the people who urged their friends and colleagues to see it.

I’m split right now between thoughts of touring Monkey again next year and writing a new solo show.  Well, actually, it’s a three-way split.  I also just want to go to sleep.  The monkeys, it seems, have already made up their minds with what they’ll be doing in the near future…..

…perhaps I’ll join them.

Today is our anniversary.

1 06 2010

He woo’d me with his knowledge, love, and skill of good theatre.  He wow’d me with so many possibilities and opportunities.  He made it easy for my family to visit.  He was–and continues to be–supportive of my creative whims.

I’m not saying it’s always been easy.  He didn’t really understand my vegetarian diet at first.  And he still forgets to recycle (we’re working on that one).  But all in all, I think we’re having a lovely time together.

Happy Anniversary, Chicago.  Remember when we first got together?  Yeah, me too.

Results of the online raffle

3 05 2010

Whew!  A huge thank you to everyone who participated in my online raffle to raise touring funds for The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey.  What a success!  I was able to raise enough for my airfare to Austin with some left over to either apply to my hotel stay there or (since I’m hoping to mostly couch-surf while I’m down there) airfare to one of my next destinations (either Louisville, Philadelphia, or Victoria).  As performers know, touring can be super expensive.  So I’m very grateful that so much of my costs have been nearly taken care of!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Without further adieu, here are today’s winners!  Congratulations everybody!
Evan Jacover, Dominique Lewis, and Eric Paskey, each winners of an adorable sock monkey from Diffraction Fiber
David Lawson, winner of two tickets to see a live taping of WBEZ’s popular show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
Dennis Frymire, winner of a box of wackiness from Uncle Fun
Joe Janes, winner of two tickets to see a production at Lifeline Theatre


20 11 2009

My head, my heart, and my soul are all still swimming from it all.

About a year ago, I created some short, cute scenes involving dating and break-ups with a sock monkey playing the other character.  They were entertaining and well-received.  An audience member came up to me after one of my performances and asked if it was part of a bigger project–if I had any intentions of creating an entire show out of the idea.  I didn’t think that would be possible.  I mean, I had thought and dreamed about doing a one-woman show.  But based on talking with sock monkeys?  No way.   It’s a unique idea, but I didn’t think something like that could sustain itself for a whole show.

Months passed and I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I wrote a couple of more scenes and was really liking what I wrote.  After performing some more of these vignettes in front of audiences, I was starting to become convinced that maybe it was possible.  I approached Jen Ellison, a theatre artist who I greatly admire, and asked her if she would be willing to direct me in this weird project.  Thankfully, she accepted and after a summer of rehearsing with her, I had a show!  A show when an actor is on stage talking to sock monkeys–under someone else’s direction–could’ve been disastrous.  But Jen is a master.  She understood my vision for the show from the beginning and fostered the depth it needed to sustain itself.

It’s still amazing to me that I did it–that I wrote a one-woman show and did a whole run in Chicago.  The irony about doing a solo show, is that you can’t do it alone.  I had a fabulous director, a wonderful producer, and a fantastic crew of people who made the show possible each Thursday for seven whole weeks.  And, of course, the show STILL wouldn’t have been possible without an audience each night.

In my show, I say to one of the monkeys, “I can’t do that.  I can’t promote myself.  I don’t know how to market myself–it’s just weird.”  In the scene, I’m referring to online-dating.  But I can easily apply it to being an artist.  I felt weird about sending out the countless emails–practically begging folks to come–not to mention the abundance of facebook invites, messages, and postings I sent out on weekly basis.  But I did it.  And I’m glad I did it.  Because people did come (even when the weather was super crappy).

So, I want to thank everybody.  Thanks of course to Jen, Don, Dominique, Speedy, Jessica, and Sophie for helping make this run possible.  But thank you also to everyone who supported me during the creative process (you know you you are) and to everyone who came out to the show and told people about the show, and came again and brought others!  (Again, you know who you are)!  Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am proud of the show and will definitely perform it again.  But in this post-run, hazy time, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around booking shows and filling out applications.  For now,  I will just don my comfy pants and have a good rest.