Welcome to my home base. Iā€™m a writer and actor in New York City with a love for fairy tales, travel, and cheese.

Improv Class

I have always loved being in class. I loved school. I had almost perfect attendance in high school. I think I missed maybe three days total in four years. Same with college. Well, minus that computer science class that I failed cause I never actually went and bombed the final. Oops.Class in New York is expensive. A three week acting for the camera class can run you upwards of $400. I found a few studios that were cheaper and the lot of them had one day intensives for film and commercials, which is something I wanted to learn more about as my background is mostly theater. It cost me between $150-200 bucks but I still had room on my credit card then.New York made me hate class. I know a lot of people who found the right classes and have excelled in them. Unfortunately, I took the wrong ones and hated every minute of them. They were filled with pretentious and cold people who were measuring everyone up. Class was a competition. It was never about learning. I watched recent college graduates name drop their professors and ask the teacher if they do private lessons in the middle of an exercise. I had people fake friend me so they had someone to brag to about their recent callback during the 10 minute breaks. I sat next to women who admitted they just wanted to 'be famous' (not kidding, every class I took had one) and only asked how to get an agent and get 'discovered'. That's not why I had signed up. I wanted to learn and grow and solidify a new skill. Instead I always left with a bad taste in my mouth and feeling discouraged.I was used to class being encouraging. The classes in New York were cruel. I never felt safe. Several times I felt the individual teaching the class was just there for the payout (I suppose I don't blame them. It was easy money. They just had to show up and spit out some info). I had a casting director tell me, after the accompanist played my song far too fast and I gave a pretty wretched performance, that I was cute but not going any where. This was a CLASS. Not an actual audition. Something constructive probably would have helped after you were 45 minutes late and called me Laura three times after I told you my actual name. Thanks for taking the money I saved for two months to meet you and making me leave in tears. Don't worry, I don't hold a grudge or anything...I was always told to take improv classes by casting directors and my peers. The way the industry is going, it was a skill that was necessary if I wanted to work and create my own content that would get noticed like "Broad City" or Rachel Bloom's YouTube videos that got her "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." Not to mention the dream of being Tina Fey or Amy Poehler we ALL have. Sadly, I could never really afford to. I always put commercial classes or casting seminars above improv and found the few improv skills I have were rarely called upon so I never felt badly for not taking a class.Within my friend group, a lot were very deep into the improv world and some of their colleagues I had met were not my cup of tea. I found a lot of them that pretentious and cold type of human being I had run into in my classes. They were very elitist and it turned me off to the whole idea of improv class. How could I join and become a part of it if they were not interested and welcoming to me at a simple thing like a birthday party?Enter the brand new Vermont Comedy Club. My husband and I were lucky enough to have met the couple who owns and runs it prior to it's fall opening. They are two of the most supportive, smart, and talented people I have ever met. Saying we are grateful to have befriended them is an understatement. They've made us feel welcome in the Burlington community and introduced us to so many city transplants we are starting to feel less alone by the day.The comedy club offers improv class. That bad taste still in my mouth, I didn't want to do it. I was terrified of it for some reason and I just didn't want to subject myself to more competition and coldness. However, many of my tribe, my husband, the owners/teachers of the club, and many more said I needed to do it. So I signed up.First of all, the rate for a six week class is insanely affordable and reasonable. I told some of my New York friends about it and they turned green with jealousy. $150 for six weeks compared to a place like UCB which is hundreds more. I'm not saying the pricing for a famous facility like UCB should or can be less but for basically the same class done by trained and working professionals, it was pretty awesome not to have to put it on my credit card.I was a ball of nerves for that first class. I don't know why. Again, I think it was as though I had been traumatized by the classes I had taken. It was also the first thing I was doing on my own in this new city. I knew Natalie, who teaches the class, and I got even more relief when I saw a high school classmate was also enrolled. A few clumps of the small class seemed to know each other but mostly, it was all strangers there to learn. A mix of people from all different occupations and walks of life that had come to learn how to do improv. Legitimately LEARN. Not to impress any one or show off or kiss ass so they can nab a Saturday Night Live audition. Just to learn and play and have fun. I breathed a sigh of relief.It was the safest space I have been in years. Natalie created such a warm, welcoming, and fun environment that you could almost see the nerves lift off of all of us. After that first class, I felt myself get excited for every Tuesday. I was in class again and I was learning and I was loving it. I felt SAFE. I could be myself and let go and play and be ridiculous again. I was turning my brain off for two hours and playing games I knew and some I didn't and experiencing them in a different environment. I wasn't thinking what I looked like or was I impressing Natalie and my classmates. I was just doing it. I was learning a new skill.A skill it is. Not that I ever have said I didn't need improv or that I was amazing at it without training but I thought I was fairly solid at coming up with things on the spot. Improv is hard, guys. I mean, not computer science hard, but the kind of hard where I had a moment of "Oh shit, I am actually not super great at this and I am definitely glad I took this class." When I was a kid doing these games, I don't ever remember thinking about them as much as I think about them as an adult. I have too much in my brain now. I am now learning how to turn it off and just jump in and say whatever pops out first. Sometimes it's not funny. Sometimes it's very funny. Sometimes it doesn't make sense. Sometimes I come up with nothing and that's also okay. I am actually finding I am comfortable again with 'failing big'.Failing big. It was one of the first things Natalie encouraged in our class and when I heard it, a sense of calmness filled me. I haven't felt comfortable failing big in a while because I found so much of the city cancels you out when you do. I missed it. You go hard and fall hard and it's okay because you tried and you will take another shot when it comes around again. Not one of my classmates or the comedy community judges me or thinks "Oh, good, she sucks. She'll fail in a week." It seemed to me that some New York performers ticked off on a chart the people that weren't amazing right out of the gate to make themselves feel better. I haven't felt that here. No one is counting down to their classmates demise. They are just watching them, supporting them, awaiting their turn to try. What a refreshing feeling it is to finally return to class and leave with a smile and the comfort of knowing that I am growing as a performer again.I have signed up for the next level improv. I never thought I would take an improv class I enjoyed, let alone continue onto the next level. Without the pressure of New York looming over me, I am finding I can do incredible things I was too scared to do there for fear of failing. I'm taking a class because I am loving it, not because I have to do it so it's on my resume and that casting director for NBC will finally call me in.Tonight, we have our first performance as a class in front of an audience that will be made up of friends, family, and peers. Many of my classmates are nervous as they've never performed in front of people before, doing the silly things we've been working on in class. I can't wait. I don't feel nervous like I usually do. It's another type of performance, another type of supportive cast. It's new and exciting and I'm eager to see where it takes me.I am starting to feel like I found some of my people. I feel part of something. A student community of sorts. Even as a tiny part of this astounding comedy community, I'm having fun doing something I assumed I wasn't brave enough to do. I forgot how good growing feels. To welcome learning back into my life felt like welcoming an old friend home. I am getting back to feeling like myself again, more like an actor again.To any one interested in taking class at Vermont Comedy Club, please follow this linkIf you had any interest in improv ever, I can't recommend this class enough. It's a great six weeks where you laugh for two hours every Tuesday night. Who doesn't want that?  

New York City Was My Gym

I move the stars for no one...

I move the stars for no one...