Opening Night of #aChristmasCarol  (at Sierra Madre Playhouse)

Opening Night of #aChristmasCarol (at Sierra Madre Playhouse)

Uh Dress Up in #costumes w/ @allymarksss @ #HiddenTreasures

Uh Dress Up. #costume #thrift #HiddenTreasures

I promise to Like it.

After 2 years of hollywood living, my Facebook friend count has gone up around 400 or so. It’s mostly actors, or at least people involved in this industry in some way. 

What that means is, I get loads of media shared with me on the regular. To me, it appears as a youtube link, a funny or die banner, or just a picture with their face beaming. But you know what? I care. I really, really do. 

Because, to that person it is their everything. To that person, its what they auditioned for, rehearsed for, and finally waited who knows how long for it to be edited and uploaded. 

And you know what else? I can click that link on my hot, new macbook and “like” or click “funny” in a matter of seconds. It does not occupy my day, it does not hurt my youtube account’s street cred; it instead makes that person smile 1 more time during their day. And that’s something I’m interested in having happen. 

The only reason I can think of to not support someone in this way is if I see them as a competitor in this race to stardom. And, I think thats stupid. Just stupid. This life is already so lonely, considering most time is spent alone submitting and drafting new content. Seeing a potential friend as a challenger is unsettling to me.

Stop doing that. 

Here’s my promise. Any content directly shared with me via tumblr, Facebook, or the like will be clicked on and liked. Because you deserve it. 

The Build

Standing Up
Falling Down
Struggling
Struggling

Looking Forward
Sliding Back
Struggling
Struggling

Seeing Goals
Doubting Self
Struggling
Struggling

Focused
Grounded
Settled

Ready.

I remember you, 24.

I had a birthday last week, and I am giving myself the present this year of blogging. Every week. At least. Even if its silly or short like this one will be. 

These are my top 5 memories of 24. They may mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to me. 

5) Crying

     Improv comedy is weird. Making the right choice is impossible. Making a great choice is invigorating. I performed a scene, where I was vandalizing Shamu’s tank. A friend walked-on with a gun ready to shoot things. I chose to be afraid of guns, and I started crying. Real tears, none of this “high-schoolers performing Checkov” B.S. My friend comforted me, the stranger put the gun down and we got back to vandalizing, only to have the gun come out more and pushing me farther. It seems awful reading about it. When does improv not? But, the crowd loved it, and I felt very comfortable and had a blast doing it. I start my memories with this one because it was a moment, if not the moment, when I felt studying improv was an asset to both my profession and being. 

4) “Tim, you made me cry.”

      As an actor, the smallest things go incredibly far. A compliment from a stranger can be all you need to get you out of a slump. And that’s what the above is. I performed an emotional scene in my scene study class, and had a grad director approach me with red eyes and laid this one on me. She said that she had been in a similar spot and could feel what I was going through. It was all i needed. This is a bit of a braggy memory, but I don’t much care. 

3) Ghost Ride the whip

     Memories with friends from Camp are endless. However, a time that comes to mind that really defined our relationship and the sense of belonging I felt with these fools, happened the moment before taking the picture below. I wanted to ghost ride the whip, she didn’t know what that was, so I showed her with this rent-a-Spark. I forgot to unlock the doors, so we couldn’t stop it. I did remember to keep the windows down. Just before it hit the wall/fell off a 5k ft cliff, I lake-dove in and slammed the break with my palm. My body twerked, the car stopped, and I fell down laughing. It was a good day. 

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2) Receiving letters from campers after they left camp. 

    Wow. Asking myself to pick 1 memory from camp: From the amazing theatre program? From the weeks I lifeguarded? From the kids performing evening activities? From the hilariousness in my cabin with the program heads? From the nights off? From the days away from camp? Unfeasible. I can, however, sum it up with 1 photo. This is a shot of some letters I received from campers. To me, this is a favorite memory because it means I actually impacted the life of a child. I may have had a blast with these campers and lived each day trying to make a few of them laugh, but deep down, I wanted to make these kids leave camp a better person than they came. I did not attend camp growing up, and its a huge regret. Camp for a child is a sure-fire way of shaping them into men and women. The experiences they have and friends they make are for forever. If you’re a kid, ask your parents to send you. If you’re a college-age/young adult, apply for a job at one. If you’re a parent, send your kid to one. I cannot stress enough how an experience like camp can benefit a child. I’ll stop blabbing, and probably post a longer “pro-camp” blog at a later date. Anyway, I got letters and it meant that the kids were inspired by me and, especially from these kids, that gave me a real feeling of self-worth. Also, they’re artists. 

1) Dancing pretty naked at Mustache Riots

    Like every other human ever, I’m nervous about body-image. Whaaaaa. Boo hoo. I’m not perfect. Whine. So, I performed as naked as they’d let me and in front of as many people as could fit in a cramped indy theatre. And I completely loved it. It was comedy, a character piece, but I danced like no ones business. I felt alive. That sounds nutty and cliche, but its the truth. A year ago, I did not have the courage to do that. Add the realization thats its my body and im stuck with it, the support of my best friend and her puppy dog, and a few MMA classes, and I’m stripping. I also added stuffing to my underwear, but thats neither here nor there. 

So yah. 24 was cool. If none of the above meant anything to you, thats ok. But, I do hope that you can look back at your years and find things you loved about yourself or things you did. I hope you take note of times when you are emotionally high. I hope you hold onto these and remember them (or read your blog where they’re written) when you’re feeling down like you/we eventually will. Also, I hope you dance naked. Invites welcome.

Written/Directed by Ricky Sanz

(Source: funnyordie.com)

Written/Directed by Andrew Fernandez.

(Source: funnyordie.com)

Filming for season 2 of the Tiffany and Erin Show! It was such a pleasure getting to work with these talented folks. Look out for the hilariousness.

I don’t know about you, but I think my biggest problem is that i am STILL dancing like I’m 22. :(

April Fool’s Day is no joke. 

"Roll of the Dice"

Some serious acting. 

Anonymous said: Just wanted to correct you. UCBTLA has 6 maude teams, with 6 actors on each. So there are 36 Maude performers, not 80.

I corrected this to separately count Maude actors and writers for future readers, thanks to this message from a very successful hacktivist group. 

theoriginaljoefisher:

(via Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Dumb, Unoriginal, Lazy and Overly Serious)


Writing today. Needed this.

Groundlings and (but not vs.) UCB

I get a lot of questions about the two schools that I study at, and so I thought I would write about them as a reference point for any and all asking. After all, we as actors have very little money to spend, so why not be a bit informed before spending it. I think I am in an interesting place to be writing this piece, considering I have not finished either school, but am simply in the midst of doing so.

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Background of Tim: At Upright Citizens Brigade, I have finished UCB 401 twice and am now in my first Advanced Study starting the first week of March. At Groundlings, I have completed Advanced Improv and have been on the wait list for Writing Lab for almost a year.

In other words, I am on the cusp of what both schools refer to as their “Performance Track”. Woo.

Initial Notes:

Below are my thoughts. They reference the main curriculum and the main shows. There are dozens of extra classes at each school and countless shows at each theatre that feature every form of comedy imaginable. This is because of the complex backgrounds of each and every performer and teacher at the schools. 

So let’s get to it. The title of the post mentions “and (but not vs.)” and I want to tackle that fact first. These schools are not in competition. After having a hunch myself, I had the great pleasure of confirming this fact with the head of the Groundlings school firsthand after a few brews at Dark Room. They offer a different product- plain and simple. 

Product Offered: Curriculum

The first thing to note is that UCB specializes in long-form, and Groundlings in short-form. That info you can get from a google search. What I have come to realize is that UCB offers a tool that is in addition to your acting technique, whereas Groundlings is a tool to improve your acting technique.

Since it is in addition, you do not have to be an actor to take and love UCB’s classes, nor to be a great long-form performer. I have seen many “non-acting” writers, and even some “non-acting” non-writers, absolutely DESTROY crowds in improv shows. The skill of Acting (or Acting Training, specifically) is not always necessary. Long-form relies on truth-telling, commitment, and a simple identification of what’s funny. Longform scenes primarily contain justified dialogue as a means of adding information. UCB curriculum teaches you the aforementioned, and how to better it. That’s not to say acting doesn’t help in long-form improv; it most certainly does. The art of acting focuses much on truth-telling and commitment, and aids the long-form improviser in even more ways like spacework, dialects, character work, stage picture, etc.

Groundlings classes improve acting technique. Since Groundlings focuses on character work, their curriculum is almost necessary to the actor. Different from long form, with short form one has very little time to fully inform the audience of their point-of-view. Therefore, dialogue is only one way to add information. Spacework, emotion, stage picture, and character are the others. Without acting, a groundlings scene would be very dry and uneventful because of the lack of training in “funny-identification”. It is also important to note that Groundlings training involves a director who leads the scene or game.

Yes, games. In a Groundlings class, unlike at UCB, there are “improv games” which are important to the curriculum and training. A few that come to mind (and my faves) are:

 1) Family Dinner where the audience gives the improvisers a recent event (ex: father lost job, son busted for pot, daughter wrecked family car, mother ran over dog) and the improvisers try their best not to bring it up, but rather move on with the family dinner.

 2) Talk Show where the audience gives a name of a talk show, a topic, and a personality trait for the 3-panelists.

3)Genres where the director gives a genre (Shakespeare, Dickens, Sorkin, Film Noire) and the audience gives the improvisers an activity or job.

In any of the above games, the director can stop the scene and give the improvisers a new gift throughout. This, again, is exclusive to Groundlings (in this context).

My friend Johnny, drew an infographic about what we learn at Groundlings. Maybe this will help you understand. If not, you will at least know how to plan out a meth lab. 

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Product Offered: Performances

The performances of each are geared towards different audiences. This section should help explain why Groundlings charges $15+ on most shows and UCB charges $5-10 on all shows that are not free.

The simplest way to explain it is to say that UCB performers perform for their peers and Groundlings perform for comedy audiences.

The main UCB shows Monday through Thursday are all $5 and allow you to get in free with a student ID. Seeing these shows make you a better student and inevitably a much better performer. Because of this fact, the audiences are primarily made up of students. They’re amazing shows stress long-form technique, particularly Harold Night.  Laughs come at times of hilarious dialogue, stabbing call-outs, and a breaking of the “rules” of improv. Students eat this stuff up. Non-students are less concerned as they won’t understand all the callouts and have never learned the “rules”. (Note: for “rules” of improv, look to anothers’ blog. They don’t really exist but are taught in the beginning as a foundation. I am without a doubt too amateur to try to explain anymore than this. I am an honest person. I promise.)

A Great Call for an Edit to the Above by a friend and amazing blogwriter, Caroline. Besides the $5 or free for students shows at UCB during the week, their shows can be great for a comedy audience. Specifically, their late night shows on the weekend. In fact, I have been told by multiple teachers NOT to see Shitty Jobs on Sunday nights as a student. (However, i say go to it; It’s amazing). There are other shows too that are fit for a comedy audience, thus adding to the fact that there are dozens more shows and types of comedy seen at UCB than Groundlings. 

The main Groundlings shows are for comedy audiences and are priced that way. Groundlings students get 1 free ticket to each main show. Therefore, there is a clump of students in each main show, and 1 clump only. The rest is “normal folk” who are just coming for laughs. The laughs at these shows come from seeing funny characters, hearing amazing songs, and feeling fully immersed in the improvisers’ world. The audience needs no information before they come in. They find everything they need in their programs, the words of the director, and by watching the show.

Another thing to discuss is the question of who gets to perform. At UCB, there are sooooo many performers. Countless. Know somebody or be somebody or do something and you will get on their stage. Harold night offers almost 50 performers, Maude night offers 72 (36 writers/36 actors), and those numbers comprise 2 of the 7 nights they have shows. There are 30 Groundlings, 11 Sunday Company members, and they have 2-3 nights where they invite their friends/Groundlings Alum to play with them.

That said, Groundings just added a student stage- G3 which will eventually house student shows so that more than the above get to perform.

Brag Moment: I got to perform in the first show at G3.

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These kids are great.

Two More Things I Think You Should Know:

There are a million and a half indie improv shows in Los Angeles. You are all an email away from performing at these. Something to note is that the improvisers here are primarily trained in Long-form at either UCB or IoWest. I perform with my pleasant crew, It Girl on the regular and I have only seen 1 team that did Groundlings work.

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This does not mean that they are not welcoming of short-form. If you love it, do it. Full disclosure: I am working on a way to present short-form at an indy show because it is extremely fun for me. Until then, I am content doing long-form with occasional characters thrown in that I have developed in Groundlings classes.

There is a component of Sketch-writing at each school. At Groundlings, it is built into the program. At UCB, it is a different track. At UCB, most of their main shows (weekend and weekday) are improv. At Groundlings, their weekday shows are improv and their weekend shows are sketch with a little improv therein  The Groundlings themselves do sketch/improv. The UCB itself rarely performs together- if ever. I guess Asssscat is the most “ucb-original” and it contains zero sketches. Stupid comparison. How about this comparison- At Groundlings the level below being a Groundling is Sunday Company. They perform Sketch with improv tossed in. At UCB, that same level is Harold Team (improv) and Maude Team (sketch). That works. Now, you get it.

Boom.

There you have it. My comparison/contrast of the two. I sincerely hope this aids your decision if you must make one. I cannot stress how beneficial these two schools combined are for me. There is no difference in the level of talent at either a student or teacher level at these schools. If you have questions or comments, message me and I can always edit. 

I have not trained at IoWest, nor Second City Hollywood, nor anywhere else. Therefore, I did not write about them. For those curious, I hear they’re great firsthand, secondhand, and thirdhand. Never fourthhand. 

Tagged are all my teachers.