Saturday, March 24, 2018

Improv for Nursing Homes (The Emporium)

I began a project to perform Improv comedy at nursing homes around Chicago.  I recruited my friends and other talented improvisers to join me on this endeavor. It was rewarding, really fun, and it brought a lot of people together, as well as bring laughter to the elderly and ourselves. It ran from August of 2016 to April of 2017, and then I went to Prague for a month and when I returned it did not pick back up. I'm sure I will get back to it someday, it was great fun and amazing training. Often times performing for people who did not understand us, people would roll off (in their wheel chairs) in confusion, with no regard for us. It was fantastic, most old people do not give a hoot and will leave whenever they feel like, and will yell "this is ridiculous" or whatever. I remember those moments and thinking "Keep it moving." And that goes for anything now. When you know you are doing something great, and bigger than you, keep going. Because there are always going to be people who disagree or don't like it, but there are people who love and appreciate it, and it's for them to enjoy it.

I love old people, my first job was being a lifeguard at a retirement community. And I had amazing, insightful and educational conversations with old folks. They love to give to young people who are attentive and care about them enough to listen and learn.

I loved doing these improv shows, it could be hard work, having to call everybody to make sure they showed up on time, and scheduling shows, we often did shows with low numbers (3-5 people) to small and fragmented crowds. We would pull it off, and it felt great when we did. We had some rowdy shows, some were quiet and lazy. I loved to go into the audiences and involve the residents, as did other people. The residents loved it and would riff great stuff. There were some people who did only a few shows, and some people were really committed for periods of time or the whole time we did it!

Michael Kim Lewis did one show, it was our last short form improv set, and he suggested that we try long form shows to help the residents understand us more. Because we got a note from the activity director of the nursing home that we were going to fast for them. So thanks Mike! We did not return to that place but it was important, because it allowed us to evolve and made us better. That became our style after that, doing hour long form sets.

Thanks to Adam Thornburg, Joe Gianni, Firas Alexander, Matt Plowman, Shawn Shaw, Arlo Chappelle, Helen Duffour, Jeremiah Behbin, Junie McGraw, Mitch Kessler, Nikki Mikelson... Other people who were committed for a while, thank you, sorry if I forgot anyone.

Barry Lohman, Jonah Andrews, Mark Child... Anyone else who was committed the whole way through! Thank you, and thank you to anyone who did a few shows or one or whatever! I'm glad you came to have fun with us, and it was great to meet and perform with you! And thank you to all of the nursing homes that let us perform at their venues. There were some residents who became fans and came to every show.

It feels good to look back at this time and indulge in the fun and growth that came from it. I remember some really fun rehearsals, where we made each other laugh a lot, and created great stuff to pull from. It was a great way to hang with my friends, perform, make my own opportunities to get better, dealing with scheduling, making older people laugh, talking to them and many other things. It was a great thing I started, and it's easy to look past it, and I beat myself up when it stopped happening. I did not give myself credit for doing it and having done it. I could not have done it without everyone involved, so again thank you.

It was a great thing, and can still happen in the future. I encourage anyone who wants to perform anything to go to nursing homes. It is worth it for you as a person/performer and for the residents, they are waiting there to expire and love having young people to watch.

 We witnessed and created a lot of amazing stuff from doing this. Like one show we did, an old woman was passed out, with her face on the table in front of her THE ENTIRE SHOW, not moving the whole time, she was in the front row. It was ridiculous. There were a lot of things like that that happened, and I will share what I remember in future posts. Thanks for reading and for being apart of this!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Negative Thinking

I am in my head a lot. As an observant and quiet person, my mind and my mouth are constantly at war with each other. I want to say things and speak up or engage with folks, and I usually have to force myself to do so. I like talking with people and there is a fun challenge in being social and striking up conversations with strangers. And if I don't say something I will think about the fact that I didn't, later. Although, I do speak up more than I like to give myself credit for, I'm hard on myself, I was just soft on myself. 

I can also jump to conclusions on a lot of things I am dealing with. If I am messaging a girl and she doesn't contact me back I decide that she doesn't like me and wants to destroy me socially (A bit exaggerated for non comic effect). Or someone says something to me and I respond in an "untruthful" way, I think about what I should have said later. It kind of highlights a self obsession or just self judgement. I don't think I'm that obsessed with myself, I do obsess about things though, especially when I am alone, and in bed, when I am trying to sleep. I am sensitive and blow these things up in my own mind, creating stories to play out inside of there to distract me from being productive.

So I don't really smoke weed anymore because I will get paranoid and think that people don't have my best interests, (is that a phrase people use?) Especially being in a different country, I only trust certain people as much as I can in knowing them for only two months. I can stay awake late at night and think people are no longer interested in me. Or that some of my prior engagements with them have left them disliking me. This makes me seem quite insecure, and I don't want people to think I am insecure. I'm sharing this in hopes that it helps me to get it out, and to share it on others behalf if they are having similar or relatable thoughts and feelings. I am researching a lot about many other things, and feel the urge to express what I've digested in some way. One thing I want to do is not care about what people think, I feel that is something I don't possess. But something I can exercise to fit how I want to live. I cater to the imaginary/real people who read this and leave some things out sometimes, when I don't need to. There really is no threat, it is just in my head. I believe I have the answers for most things, while simultaneously feeling full of malarky.

In searching through a lot of self improvement videos, I stumbled upon a Ted talk... The Dark Side of Self Improvement 
It's basically about wanting to constantly improve yourself because you think there is something WRONG with you. And constantly searching for something new to improve creates higher and higher expectations, and leaves our inner wisdom and self reliance ignored. Not believing in yourself enough to figure it out, but turning to something exterior. I am guilty of always looking for something new to fix myself, and not being okay with where I am at in my life. It is a practice of being okay with what is and what is not, and knowing that you have room to grow if you haven't reached your goal or result. Although I do vouche for self development, it has obviously changed my life for the better, I can see how people it can turn into a nonstop, endless race to constantly improve. 

In my acting course they talk a lot about being process driven rather than result driven. And this completely translates to life, enjoying the climb rather than reaching the top of the mountain (I feel like a complete cornball using that analogy, I want to practice not giving a fuck, but I still do in regards to being a hack). So it's okay if you haven't figured everything out yet, because no one has or is going to. There is too much information in the world, and in comparison to ALL OF IT(All the information in the world), we would all be considered stupid. You can only research so much in one lifetime due to other obligations like sleep, food, work, school, and such. 

So in conclusion, I have negative thoughts of not being good enough, and that is the crux of most modern humans in making new relationships. I am good enough, I have a lot of value, and so do you. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Self Development

I have a lot of time to myself in this new country of England. Based on how cold it is right now, I can isolate myself in my room quite a bit. Some of this time alone in my room can be very helpful, I've done a lot of research on physical and mental health, what helps with getting sick or preventing it, good vitamins to take, and good food and drinks to drink and eat. Also a lot of YouTubing and article reading on self development, involving building charisma, socializing, and subconscious body language.

Being here in England for four more months I really have nothing to lose in a lot of areas I want to be more vulnerable and go for what I really want. I get that but not to where I am fully living it. It is a struggle, I make steps everyday, and I don't want to look back on this time with regrets. I am taking advantages of certain areas, but want to improve.

There are certain self help things I've discovered with dating, socializing, and masculinity. Some of these YouTube pages are (FarFromAverage, Charisma on Command and DREW and Alan Roger Currie). These top three pages are a lot on socializing, being bold, and going for what you want, and Alan Roger Currie is a dating coach and an expert on communication. One thing I've noticed about dating, especially in asking girls out is that I anticipate them thinking I am only interested in them physically, because they "know" what I am really "thinking". I think people know what I am thinking in detail, which will prevent me from asking certain questions. Which is me being severely, deep inside my head. Initially, I am attracted to people by how they look, but I am also interested in people's minds, and having conversations with people is one of my favorite things. To quote my good friend Shawn Shaw, who introduced me to Alan Roger Currie, said to me "Everyone has their own universe inside of them, and I want to get to know that universe" This has stayed with me since then, and probably will for the rest of my life. If people are willing, I want to share my universe with them and vice versa, having a great conversation with someone will open up a lot in both people's worlds. And being in a new country, I am around new people in a different culture, and I am looking to have conversations with people regardless of intimacy or dating.

One thing that I've noticed and have struggled with in regards to socializing and dating has been porn and masturbation, and how that distorts my views on people. Doing things to myself while watching naked strangers have sex on a computer screen kind of detaches me from the real world. Something I discovered about this is NoFap. This is an online forum about porn addiction and masturbation, and how to stop it. I stumbled upon this when I was alone in my room looking at porn one day for no reason. This alarmed and upset me and I found a video about NoFap and its benefits. It talks about the many benefits of rebooting your brain from looking at dirty pixelated images on a screen to have a solo sex mission, and the psychology behind that. How easy this is making "sex" which has just become orgasming or feeling good instantly. How it connects to our caveman brains of hunting and gathering, which is no longer important, you used to have to go out and win a woman's heart, now you can just go online. Because you can look at more naked women in five minutes than your great grandfather got to see in his whole life. WE DON'T HAVE TO WORK HARD FOR THINGS (like cumming) ANYMORE. If you have any interest or concern about your dating life or porn habits you should look into NoFap. There are physical, emotional, and mental benefits from not looking at porn, and not cumming at all. Two important terms from this phenomenon are "Sexual transmutation" which is channeling your sexual energy into something productive. Athletes do it before they perform as it creates more focus, and energy, etc. And "Semen Retention" is an interesting idea that explores the benefits on not cumming, and harnessing its nutrients and all of that...

Just watch this video it's only 9 minutes.
Sexual Transmutation and Semen Retention

I am quitting porn now for the rest of the time I am in England. I could tell you how long I am stopping masturbating for, but you don't need to know that (at least two weeks). Because porn is instant gratification, and millennials like myself are addicted to instant gratification and it is really killing our ability to be with real people, and to work hard for something with out getting the reward for awhile. I talked to my acting instructors yesterday, and a quote they gave me was something like "I learned all the stuff from my acting training five years after I graduated".  I don't remember the quote, but things don't start to click for awhile sometimes.

Work on yourself. You won't see the results right away but  the best place to start is yourself. Because when you work on yourself, you are able to generate from that and give to other people. And life is about other people, your relationship to them and how you can benefit from each other. If you don't work on yourself you are cheating the people in your life from seeing the best version of you.

I talked about a lot of things, most of it is being better, and being in alignment with what you are committed to in life. And don't be on your phone so much, it is a cop out to reality and it kills your charisma! ;)