i started class

We had DSL problems and I’ve been busy, so pretend I’m writing this last Thursday and not today, which is Monday.

Well, I started my comedy classes. I’ve learned I’m quite rusty.

I hadn’t done any real improv work in almost a year. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, I did my one-person show and I filled in on a couple of quick improv shows, but real scene work and instruction were things I hadn’t done in probably close to a year, if not more.

So, needless to say, I was quite nervous walking in for my first class.

Here’s what I love about my new class: well, everything. But what struck me first was walking up the steps into this old-ass nasty building with the callboard taped with upcoming auditions and classes, signing in and standing with all of the other new students. The building has that Fame look about it where it’s dingy and the floors are all marred up and the place is drafty and old and the vending machine rarely works and it’s across the street from boarded up buildings and on the Walk of Fame.

It felt like I was starting over. Like, we were all going to walk around the room and whisper, “God, I hope I get it. I hope I get it. How many people does he need?”

We did a warm-up where we had to learn everyone’s name. I’m really bad at this, because I’ll remember faces but not names, and several times I called someone, “JenniferJessicaDamn!” instead of her real name. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was coming across as a nice person or this manic freak with ADD.

We went into physical warm-ups (I had forgotten to bring a ponytail holder, which shows just how long it’s been. I had the much-frowned-upon hair-in-my-face) and then walked around the space talking to each other, getting used to the sound of the room, the floor on our feet, things like that.

It had been so long since I’d done this stuff that when we were paired off and one girl started doing scene work with us, I didn’t know if I was supposed to play along, or if she was doing her own sort of warm-up. Good thing I started playing along, because seconds later the other groups were instructed to stop and watch us. The exercise was to pretend to find an object in the room, start working with it, and then continue to work with it while you did a scene. Generally you’re not supposed to comment on the action you’re doing, but usually in scenes with people you’ve never met before, you all start talking about what you’re doing, as you have no idea who this other person is. I started with a basketball, but figured that was too easy, and that everyone would be bouncing a ball. I quickly chose a paddle ball, forgetting that basically a paddle ball is another way to bounce a ball.

Once my scene was over and we started watching the others, I realized that I was one of the four people that had chosen an imaginary paddle ball to work with in a scene. So much for my individuality.

I also found myself getting so nervous about getting up and doing scene work that I started thinking about what I was going to say, do, be. This is so not what I’m supposed to be doing. I can’t help it, though. I start trying to guess what direction my scene will go. I look at the actors I’m going to work with and think about how they might react to different things that I’ll do. We took a break before it was my turn, and the girl I was going to be in the scene with started telling me the character she was going to play, and then we decided to just not talk about it at all and just have fun and do the scene the way you’re supposed to.

It went well, I think. In any event, it was lots of fun.

And something happened in the beginning of that scene. Once I heard that first burst of laughter from the class, my entire body eased. There isn’t a warm-up out there that can give me that sense of rhythm and calm as the sound of laughter. Then I know I’m on the right track. I know I’m in the right place. I know that I’m doing something I can do and I start to have lots of fun. It had been a while since I was in that classroom situation, and the laughter from the class gave me such a sense of relief.

I was back. I felt good. I had fun. And the rest of the time in the class I wasn’t afraid to answer questions or ask questions, or participate. I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to do anymore. I was watching scenes and enjoying the work of my other classmates and laughing and having a great time.

I’ve been the new kid in class so many times. I guess I never lose those first-time jitters. That gnawing in my stomach right before hand that says, “Run away. Go home. Don’t be a fool. What are you doing here?” I’m getting better at ignoring it and pushing forward. There’s a sense of familiarity in the work so that it’s not totally nerve-wracking. Looking at a stranger but knowing that you both know the same words to describe things, and that you both understand what you’re doing and what you’re going to do– that’s a great way to start a new school. It’s not completely unfamiliar. And you know that this stranger across from you is probably just as nervous. Even if she’s already finished three of these schools. She wants to trust you like you want to trust her. She’s funny. You’re funny. You just don’t know if you’re going to be funny together. You don’t know if there’s going to be a good give and take, or if it’s the two of you just screaming at each other trying to be the Big Funny Actor. But when I stop thinking about that, breathe, and relax, I find that the ride of the scene is over and you’re left a bit breathless and laughing before you even know you started.


“YM Girlz Rule!”

First Kiss Tips

Smooching a new sweetie can make anyone jittery. Here, three ways to give better lip service.

Reading this stuff makes me jittery.

  • If you want to kiss him, don’t be shy. Sit near him, maintain eye contact, and be willing to stop talking to give him an opening.Sit down, shut up, and stare at him like a stalker. For God’s sake, don’t ruin everything by talking. He’ll hate you if you talk! Just sit as close as possible and stare. Eventually he’ll kiss you just to get you to close your eyes! Works like magic, every time!
  • Keep mints or toothpaste nearby; duck away to refresh when you feel a kiss coming on.If you’ve never kissed anyone before, there’s no way you can see this one coming. My first kisser got to experience Pamietongue soaked in the essence of Garlic Chips. Dude. He could have warned me.
  • Take it slowly and enjoy it! There’s all the time in the world, and a first kiss with someone only happens once.In my experience, this isn’t a tip that the young girls need. The young boys need to know that kissing lasts a long time before boobie action.

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