Improv, Comedy, Women, Melbourne and everything in between.
Yeah, I’m writing a ‘lil retrospective of my 2014. Part of me is disappointed in myself for doing the obvious, self-indulgent thing of highlighting the achievements and the good times of this year and leaving out the amount of time spent in my ripped Paul Frank hoodie watching my social media feeds on a Saturday night feeling like everyone’s having a good time but me. The other part of me, the part who I’m ashamed of, wants to have the nonchalance of everyone else bragging about their year and not copping cynical criticism for sharing “My Year” on Facebook. That same part of me is the one who battles between listening to GOOD rap and listening to that Nick Jonas song. ALL I DO IS FIGHT WITH MYSELF! (Just kidding, I am so afraid of conflict that I wouldn’t even fight with myself. Because I know that bitch, and I wouldn’t step to that).
People look back on their year and reflect on the “highest of highs and the lowest of lows”, usually the lowest of lows being something pretty mid-height, actually. But they’ll talk of success, heartbreak, personal growth, and they’ll leave out the disclaimer that this post is brought to you by the NSFW rip in their old-as-fuck pyjama pants right now. #blessed
Disclaimer: as I type this blog post, I’m wearing the aforementioned Paul Frank hoodie, I have a mug of instant coffee next to me, I’m drinking water from a wine glass and I have a piece of blonde hair strewn across my lips because it feels soft on them and it’s a weird habit I have and people think I’m eating my hair but I’M NOT. I’M NOT EATING MY HAIR, PEOPLE. IT’S JUST SOFT AS FUCK. But anyway, that’s the realness right now. So keep that in mind when you read “And then I flew to LA and achieved my dreamz” or whatever.
So, what did 2014 do apart from raise my spirit into highs I didn’t know my mind and body would ever know? I’ll do it month by month, so you can see the times when it wasn’t all glamour shots and airplane food.
—– WARNING: LONG AS FUCK AND SUPER SELF-INDULGENT —-
January: Looked the fittest I have all year. Currently striving to get that back and I’m miserable about it BUT LOOKS DON’T MATTER! buuuuut they kind of do. Went on tour with The Improv Conspiracy to Perth Fringe World. It was the most amazing time, performing with people who I wanted to be friends with who are now some of my closest friends. Realised that after the Perth tour, I felt like I was invincible on stage and you could throw anything at me because I felt like I’d been in the thick of it on stage. Laid down some “romantic” groundwork that wouldn’t really eventuate for months afterwards until what was already a lack-lustre pursuit drew to a fizzle (#ClassicHayley). All up, one of the best months of the year. It was filled with excitement, anticipation, total happiness, goals unlocked, and wonderful people.
February: A fun month. Still getting over how good the tour was. Auditions for Melbourne International Comedy Festival begin within my improv company. Didn’t work much. Pretty broke.
March: The first half of this month is Uncertainty City. Everything is up in the air this month: I’m still undergoing auditions for the Comedy Festival and they’re stressful and competitive. Starting to think that maybe my romantic pursuits are an unrequited venture, but then I’m not so sure. I might be teaching my first improv class, but I’m not so sure.
The second half of the month: I’m performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (dream unlocked!). I’m teaching my first improv class. I’m making out with handsome booiiizz. HUZZUH! March has turned out to be insane, very alcoholic, and not too shabby.
April: Comedy Festival takes up a majority of this month. It’s amazing. I dance and drink and perform a lot. New friendships emerge. I start to regret less after being drunk with my improv friends because we’re all stupid and fun anyway. I pay off my flights to the US.
May: Comedy Festival is over. I work at a cafe on Saturdays and I teach an improv class, but I need more money for my USA adventure happening in July. I spend the first half of this month feeling shit about myself for being too lazy to go and get a third job. I have my graduation ceremony at Monash University, and if I wanted to make myself feel better I could just post a picture of that and say “GRADUATED UNI!” in this month’s section of this retrospective, but the truth is, I’d already finished uni 6 months earlier. This was just the ceremony and I’d already forgotten I’d went to university.
I end up getting a job at a shitty cafe. It’s the worst job I’ve had (only because of the people there) but I make decent dough for my American Dreamz so I work hard and pick up more shifts.
June: June is an average month on paper. I do a lot of improv which is amazing. I work a lot of shifts at the shitty cafe and realise my boss and all the girls around me don’t like me very much. I end up getting another job at this cafe’s “sister-cafe” down the road, so at this stage I now work at two cafes. Good money, bad for my mental state. Thank FUCK for improv and my wonderful friends.
The improvisers headed to Chicago in a month have drinks together. I find myself in the corner with two guys named Mario and Simon – these corner-hangs as an eclectic trio are becoming a regular occurrence at social gatherings. We all talk about comedy and feeling socially awkward. I like this very much. We start group messaging on Facebook.
July: The first half of July is shit. I’m still working at the two cafes and my boss legitimately HATES me. After being in such a supportive improv community for a year, I wasn’t used to having people hate you just because you’re not a boring, pretty brunette girl who delights in the emotional complexities of The Bachelor. Soz 4 bein different and not giving a fuck about terrible television.
The artistic director of my improv company announces we’re doing a Melbourne Fringe show in September called “Small Plates” where improvisers make up teams of two, three or four people and perform 20 minute sets. I message Simon and Mario, saying maybe we should do something. They agree and this makes me happy. We call ourselves Trillcumber because of a “bit” we were doing in our Facebook messaging threads.
I’m getting dough. I’m getting ready to go the ~Land of the American Dream~ ie. The United States of America. I’m getting my photo taken with my improv pals for Melbourne Fringe Festival. This is good.
July 15th: I get on a plane with a girl named Laura who I know through improv and we’re sort of friends but I get the feeling I’m not her favourite person and I wonder how the next 2 months of bed-sharing in LA and Chicago are going to go for us. I know we’ll either come out of this loving or hating each other. Spoiler alert: It’s LOVING each other and it’s the greatest because she’s wonderful.
I learn that LA is weird, Laura is lovely, and Chicago is HOLY SHIT AMAZEBALLS.
August: I’m training at iO Chicago, stomping grounds of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carrell/Colbert, and anyone amazing ever. I drink $5 gin and sodas after class every night. I’m in constant fear of my heart exploding from being too happy with everything. I go to Lollapalooza and see Outkast and Nas. My brother visits me in Chicago for 2 days and I love him so much. This month is just spent in a constant state of delight. Oh, and doing/watching improv 24/7 is also great. It’s the best.
A lot happens in August, I go to New York after Chicago and it’s pretty good but Chicago was a really hard act to follow. I see Dave Attell and Rachel Feinstein do standup at the Comedy Cellar, I eat at Ben’s Pizza like Louis CK, and I can’t handle watching another improv show at this point. I’m a little burnt out.
September: I get home from New York. Rehearsing for Fringe Festival begins the weekend I get back. Oh, and Laura and I are also doing a two-woman show called Fight Clurb. I go to YEEZUS and remember why I love Kanye West so much. Fringe Festival begins and it’s fun. Trillcumber and Fightclurb are awesome.
October: I get to teach MY OWN Level 3 class at The Improv Conspiracy. The first time I taught, I was a co-teacher. This is a pretty average month on the job front, though. I’m lazy and constantly disappointed in myself. I do some freelance work which is good.
Trillcumber decide we’re writing a show for Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015.
I start coaching an indie improv teach called Inadequate Children who are training for a cage match. I’m starting to get some real experience as an improv coach!
November: I work for Cards Against Humanity at the Penny Arcade Expo. I’m coaching and teaching and performing a lot of improv. I’m freelancing a lot. I’m happy. Comedy Festival registrations are due soon and there’s so much to obtain before you can register (getting a venue is the hardest). We secure our venue the night before registrations are due. That week was an emotional roller-coaster (I cried on the Tuesday because I was certain we weren’t going to do this show I’ve been bragging to everyone about). But we did it.
There’s also a big shakeup of Harold Teams within my improv company and I’m anxious. I love my team, Foggy Windows, so much and I can’t deal with the thought of being put on a shitty team.
November 30: I see my new Harold team. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. I scold myself for being so negative beforehand.
December: Trillcumber’s show for Melbourne International Comedy Festival is called Is This Intimacy? And it’s really starting to come together (and get pulled apart) and expand and get messier as we come up with more and more sketches. I’m nominated for a few awards at The Improv Conspiracy end of year picnic: Best Instructor, Most Improved Performer, and my old Harold team, Foggy Windows, wins Favourite Harold Team. My new Harold team does a super fun and hilarious first show.
I plan 2015. The first months are hectic and I’m so excited. January and Feb are spent teaching improv, coaching 3 or 4 indie teams, preparing for Perth Fringe World Tour in February, writing our show for Melbourne International Comedy Festival in March, writing for a new startup project, and trying to keep my anxiety/OCD at bay throughout all of this. Luckily I’m surrounded by favourite people.
I end 2014 feeling loved, happy, and appreciative of the people I have in my life.
For 2015, I’ve got enough career stuff on the burner. After reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, I realise my new years resolution is to be more emotionally vulnerable. To wear my heart on my sleeve. To give love and support and to not expect to receive any kind of emotional validation in return. Just do it to make other people’s lives better.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Special thanks: My family and my beautiful best friend Clarissa. You think it’s hard reading about this much improv? Try being them having to listen to my boring-ass improv stories and dreams and anxieties 24/7. Thanks and sorry, guys. If I ever get hella rich, you know you’re the first people to get a Benz.