Express Yourself

In the age of endless playlists, the limitations of the compact disc are exactly what make it so special

The drive to Las Vegas on a Friday night is very different from the drive home on Sunday morning. The former is brimming with anticipation and excitement, like the first hill of a roller coaster. The latter is a slog. When I’d road-trip to Las Vegas with some girlfriends for a birthday weekend, the mix CD I’d create for the drive there was designed to capture and escalate those feelings of reckless abandon and unabashed release.

After a long day at work, we needed energy for the six-hour drive. We needed an injection of party plasma directly into our veins…

Listening to Renegades: Born in the USA with President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

“Does my razor need six blades — or am I good with four?”

“Should I shave my balding head? Or should I keep holding out?”

“How do I handle grooming below the belt?”

When I listened to the first episode of Renegades: Born in the USA, the podcast hosted by President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, these were not topics I expected them to cover. And to be fair, neither host actually delivered this line of questioning, but it’s still bizarre to have a former president and relatively private rock n’ roll legend’s discussion brought to me by the Dollar…

It was much easier than I thought…

The constant slog to produce new content and entertain the masses is both a privilege and a responsibility. Any writer or artist worth their salt will tell you that every adoring fan is like a stone dropped in your pocket. While you can use those stones to throw at other people and harm your enemies, eventually the weight starts to pull your pants down and you wonder if it’s all worth it.

I’ll admit, I’ve neglected my audience on Medium, having not published in more than a year. …

How space work brings your scene to life

There are lots of good reasons to emulate Mary Poppins. Who doesn’t want to float away with a flying umbrella? Flirt with a chimney sweep? Walk in and out of children’s lives and gaslight them in ways that will permanently damage their ability to discern reality and fantasy?

But beyond all these rewards, acting like Mary Poppins can also benefit your improv scenes. And you don’t have to tap dance or sing beautifully or turn the world into an animated, anthropomorphized wonderland. All you have to do is live in your environment.

Don’t Be a Talking Head

When performing improv, we tend to think a…

Move the story along without dropping your character

Improv comedy is a type of storytelling. Every story needs conflict. Often, the conflict is that the characters are trying to solve a problem or overcome some obstacle. But sometimes you find yourself in an onstage conflict that seems to go against the very nature of improv. I’m talking about disagreements and arguments between characters.

It can be fun to discover that a couple of characters completely disagree on something. For example, perhaps we start a scene with a happy married couple, Anita and Sammy, sitting on the porch at sunset. They talk about how happy they are together and…

Turns out mainstream adulation comes in strange forms

In the past year, recording artist and all-around bad bitch Lizzo has enjoyed many honors signaling her success in the music industry: chart-topping records, a double platinum single, performances at the MTV VMAs and BET Awards, a collaboration with Missy Elliot. Lizzo is on top of the world.

But recently, she achieved something that signifies pop culture penetration like nothing else: a KIDZ BOP cover.

If you’re not aware, KIDZ BOP is a series of compilations that reimagine the most ubiquitous pop songs with children in mind. With a rotating cast of prepubescent singers, the entity has been replacing…

I don’t know what I’m doing and neither do you

Every time I spend more than 3 minutes on Medium, I feel like the world’s biggest failure. And that I’m lazy and bad and if I just keep clicking and skimming, I’ll eventually become successful and rich and happy and loved. Wherever you look, there are people promising they know the secret to sales, the secret to pitching a story, the secret to freelancing, the secret to finding love.

In my mind, I know most of it is bullshit that we’re scraping together for content. I know that at least half of these posts are recycling the same tired advice…

Recognizing the signs is the first step to recovery

It seemed so innocent at first. Your friend, partner, or child signed up for a class in improvisational comedy. They wanted to get over their fear of public speaking. They wanted to meet new people. They wanted to break out of their shell. Little did you know the monster that would emerge from their shattered inhibitions.

The following symptoms may mean that your loved one has been seduced by the cult of improv.

They won’t stop evangelizing.

In improv, you can be anyone. Don’t take that from others.

When you ask someone how doing improv makes them feel, you often get answers like “free” or “liberated.” That’s because when you walk onstage, there are no limits to what you can be. In one scene, you’re a fire fighter. In the next, you’re an all-knowing alien. In another, you’re a sentient dust bunny.

Even if you stick with human characters, improv means you’re not limited to the human you are offstage. I could be a teenage psychic, a tech CEO, or a hapless baker. The possibilities are endless and that’s why no two scenes are exactly alike.

But sometimes…

New to theatre? These terms will help.

People start doing improv to get out of their shell, become more comfortable with public speaking, or just to have fun. For many, it’s their first time getting onstage, so terms like “downstage” or “cheat out” may be completely new.

Here are a few common stage terms used to give instructions in theater and improv.

1. Onstage/Offstage

You can probably guess what these mean. Onstage describes something or someone that is… [drum roll]…on the stage! Offstage is off the stage.

2. Wings

The wings* are the areas right next to the stage. …

Allison Gauss

Writer, musician, improvisor, recovering pessimist.

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