Judging

The problem with being iconic, is that you are too easy to recognize and that can lead to a whole lot of TMI. Here is to you, Lindsay Lohan and your bad decisions and bad luck, here is to you, Apollo Anton Ohno and your making out with a random girl at Gold’s Gym and here is to you, light and dark pink stripe bag, for making me picture way more people in their bloomers than I ever wanted to imagine. 

Surprising Yourself

Hi, my name is Ashley, and I love validation. Let’s not front, almost all of us vie for validation in some manner, and it’s totally fascinating, but I am also totally trying to wean myself off it.

There are nerdy boys vying for validation from prom queens, interns in cheap suits vying for validation from men in expensive ones, writers vying for validation with book deals and Facebook fans.

Show me the actor whom is 100% in it for the art of acting. You can’t because he is doing community theatre in Portland, Maine. And heck, even he has a back-pocketed dream of being on Broadway.

Right now he chants “just the chorus! just the chorus!” but only because he is too afraid of feeling crushed when he doesn’t get the starring role. We back pocket dreams because being an adult kind of sucks, paying rent sucks, working sucks, but making the jump away from that suckage is terrifying. This post may not apply to trust-fund types.

This is vain, but I will admit it. I think I write and do improv because I want to be brilliant at something — and be recognized for it. As my celebrity dream father Steve Martin once said, I want to be so good at something that I can’t be ignored. I think it comes from my deep-seeded fear of being perceived as boring.  To me, brilliance seems like the antecedent to an interesting life. I know it’s very celebrity dream crazy uncle Bill Murray of me, but I want to see what brilliance unlocks once I achieve it.

I think I am only willing to admit these things publicly because I work so hard at bettering myself. I do comedy four+ nights a week, I study it another 1-2 and I try to write one short story a week all while holding down a full time job. I imagine it’s a similar workload to being a mother, but replace a husband and children with comedy. As celebrity dream awkward neighbor Will Ferrell said, it takes 10 years to make it overnight. If there is one thing my celebrity dream crew has in common it’s hard work and cultivated talent. Full disclosure: celebrity dream older sister is Kristen Wiig and celebrity dream dog is Yoda.

The point of this post being, I made it to callback auditions for house teams at iO last week, and that’s a huge deal for me because I haven’t been on my journey for that long. I felt like I killed it in my first audition, but I still really wanted to know what everyone in the room thought about it, which is kind of gross, but comedy is so hard so any good feedback can keep your fire going for awhile. I did just OK in my callback, but in my first audition, I was so good I don’t think they could ignore me.

Isn’t it weird that it’s so hard to admit that you were good at something?

So my comedy debut to the overlords of iO went well, and it feels so good to have a small victory every once in awhile. Now back to the comedy grind, come see my team, Spaceman’s Promise, tonight at The Middle Theatre in Hollywood at 10pm!

Giving Up, Let’s be Unafraid

I’m not one to let things to defeat me, but today I gave up on a book. I tried, oh how I tried, but the novel 2030 by Albert Brooks was the worst thing I’ve read in a long time. Read is a strong word, because it was quite unreadable. I remember seeing Brooks on late night talk shows and all the hosts made a huge deal about it. It was such a big deal that Brooks was even forced to make a Twitter account that I will never ever follow because his book is unoriginal and without style and I wouldn’t expect his tweets to be any better.

The other egregious example of this that I’ve recently come across is I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron, which is really just a shallow book of essays. I want a memoir to have glaring bits of vulnerability and not be about how unhappy they were with their namesake meatloaf at a restaurant I will never be able to afford. OMG, I don’t care. I also can’t follow Ephron on Twitter, because you know, she’s dead.

This is a call to critics and the media to not give kiss butt book reviews to authors who make movies. Let’s only award work if it’s actually good, otherwise your reviews don’t really mean anything at all.  Maybe it’s that these critics themselves want to write for movies, or television and are hoping that a positive review will give than “in” with the “author” because I don’t think you go into arts criticism without having a solid lens of art. The only logical explanation I can think of is that they are jaded arts critics who want to branch out by sucking up.

Critics were not afraid to slam Snooki’s autobiography, but let’s not pretend that the aforementioned books were any better. At least Snooki has more Twitter followers than Albert Brooks, because let’s be frank, she deserves it. To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with her lifestyle, but I do respect that she knows who she is and is not afraid to share it with the world. She’s also more interesting than fancy meatloaf.

——–

Things I’ve learned while writing this post: Albert Brook’s real name is Albert Einstein and his wife has an artist’s studio in my neighborhood. Awkward.

Please comment with books that are awful, you know, so we can spare each other some pain.

Harry Houdini, Improv

I was reading an essay written by Harry Houdini called “Helpful Hints for Young Magicians Under Eighty” and as someone who only thinks about comedy, I’d say most of the hints apply to improv. See below:

  • “In winning your audience, remember that ‘manners make fortunes,’ so don’t be impertinent.”
  • “An old trick well done is far better than a new trick with no effect”
  • “Never tell the audience how good you are; they will soon find that out for themselves”
  • “You may think your trick is old, but it is always new to members of your audience”
  • “An old trick in a new dress is always a pleasant change”
  • “Don’t drag your tricks, but work as quickly as you can, bearing in mind the Latin Proverb, ‘Make haste slowly.'”
  • “When your audience is far distant from you, pantomime work will be well appreciated”
  • “Well-chosen remarks on topics of the day are always in order.”
  • “Walk right out on stage, and tell your tale to your audience, and perhaps many will believe it”
  • “It is far more difficult to give a trial show to a house full of seats and one manager than to a packed house and no manager”

///

AJ

p.s. Just read about how Houdini died …

Place

“Damn it, Hugh, the cigarette lighter, where did you leave the G-d damned cigarette lighter?”

Phillip thrust his hands in his back pockets, “Damn it, Hugh, never mind!”

Phillip lit up a packaged cigarette, grabbed the TV remote and joined a Law and Order: SVU marathon, despite not being predispositioned to join anything.

“Damn it, this shit again” he mumbled, fusing further into his roommate’s coach and settling in for a long run of sitting and passive crime solving. He always figured out the culprit, but never said it out loud. It was always the damn white guy who got cold feet, cold blood or a cold heart. Phillip knew it was a thinly-vieled attempt by the network to come off as post-racial — like those damn college brochures he gets in the mail with one person of each race.

“Hugh! This is the episode where Jackson gets killed! Damn glorious! If only this would happen in real life, then maybe I wouldn’t be the damn black sheep anymore.”

Hugh stumbles down the stairs, hacking up a handful of phlegm.

“We’ve had the conversation a dozen times, Phil, you’re a brilliant graphic designer — you’re going to leave your bro in the dust. He’s just a background actor, not some Peter O’Toole genius shit. I can hack into his IMDB profile, it’s all bullshit anyway.”

Phillip sighs.

“Want an omelet?”

Phillip nods and watches Jackson’s scene on loop. Fake blood spews out of his body in the flash back, in the present his body should be motionless, but Phil still could sense that his brother was breathing. Phil begins to breath heavily, blowing out his cigarette.

“Damn it!”

————

I’m a little bit apprehensive of sharing a full one, but here is a third of a short story. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. Also, my team, Spaceman’s Promise, has a show on Tuesday at 10:30 PM at The Neon Venus in Hollywood. We would be excited to have ya!

Hugs///

At

The Rehearsal

A man’s journey down Santa Monica Blvd. ended with two hookers, an open window and a double dose of Christina Aguilera.

Los Angeles can be a dirty place, like the suspect’s theatre-top apartment and his wardrobe that serves as a vague homage to Dennis Rodman. This is where the rest of the story gets more or less likely – a series of active decisions gone puzzling. Gone awry. Gone baroque.

“The soundtrack was fucking weird,” said an improviser who was trying to rehearse next door to the not so tired trio. “I’ll never be able to listen to ‘Waterfalls” by TLC the same way again.”

The four song affair also involved Ms. Aguilera and Britney Spears — in song only.