Monday, November 28, 2016

Episode 27: Love is in the air. Not my air... everyone else's air.

"I came home tonight and got into the elevator to go to my apartment. An hour later, I got out of the elevator and Brinkley and I moved out. Suddenly everything had become clear. It's a long story. Full of the personal details we avoid so carefully... Let me just say, there was a man sitting in the elevator with me who knew exactly what he wanted and I found myself wishing I were as lucky as he."

No, I did not decide to start watching my favorite romcom You've Got Mail at 1AM... okay maybe! That quote just spoke to me though!
It's been 4 months since my last blog post and there have been many events that have lead me to reflect in general.  

In late September I had my 10 year high school reunion.  I was reluctant to make the trek back but was convinced by old friends to make the trip to good ole Palatine, Illinois.  While I was home I decided to go through old yearbooks, reading old passages, comparing where people were now.  Reading passages made me think of past friendships and relationships and how crazy most of those connections are just distant memories now.  If you asked 18 year old Don, "Where would you be in 10 years?" and receive an honest answer he would have said, "I would be teaching math at my old high school coaching cross country married with maybe the second kid on the way"  and obviously that's not where I'm at today.

Please do not assume that I am regretting my choices because I'm far from that.  Sure, everything above sounds nice and comfortable but the choices I've made have lead me to meet so many amazing people. It's astounding to think about "what if" scenarios in each of our lives.  How one choice could lead you in such a different path comparatively to the others.

Looking at all my old classmates now we all left high school in a relatively common place but now it is clear how many different paths have been taken since then where no one path is the "correct one".  What is important is that we continue to make these choices to create our own lives and to realize that people might have different outcomes but it makes it no lesser, just different.  Yeah, some deep shit.

I look forward to our next reunion.

In my blog post "Episode 22: The Wedding Blog" (click here to see old post) I spoke about all the weddings I've been to and I think now is a good time to review the weddings since then.

Jenna and Ryan Jarvis
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Ryan watching Jenna walk down the isle
Relationship: I met Ryan through Tuesday Night Pick-up!
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Tie: Purple/Silver bow tie
Say what?! moment: GOT THE GAURD! Take that tall white men...

Jeni and Johnny Lam
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Declaration of Intent
Relationship: Random Pick-up games throughout LA.  I first really got to know them during One Love Beach Tournament in San Diego.
Location: Alhambra, CA
Tie: Skinny Black Tie
Say what?! moment: I had the honor to be their Minister!/I busted a move right through my pants... butt seam to be exact

Eileen and Alex Carey
Waterworks (When I got emotional): Ceremony, Vows
Relationship: I met Alex at Mira Costa High School during Thanksgiving pickup in 2010.  I remember Chuck Aramaki talking up Alex on the sideline and me on the sideline thinking, "Pshh... yea, whatever."
Location: Kapolei, HI
Tie: Purple/silver bowtie
Say what?! moment: Being Alex's best man!  I will argue that being the best man is the pinnacle of any "wedding career" that one might have besides winning the "championship".  I'm like the Derrick Rose equivalent to weddings.
Honorable mentions 

Emily and Doug Daube
Relationship: Old ultimate teammates at Illinois State University
Reason I Could Not Attend: Too much money to make it out there.

All these weddings were amazing but at the same time I can't help but think about my current status and my own feelings about dating... and it sucks.  There haven't been many, but there definitely have been, girls where I've met and I've had an assuring gut feeling that I was truely excited about them and that doesn't mean the feelings were mutual.

Honestly, most of the time when I'm "interested" in a girl we have some things in common and she's cute so I say I'll give it a try.  Call me crazy but the romantic in me needs there to be more than just that.  I have a friend from college who always told me that I put "pussy on a pedestal", and she was and still is right. Everything I'm saying could totally be unfair creating this impossible depiction of love from all the personal love stories I've heard from friends; so I'm a walking romcom hoping to happen.

I challenge any married couple or anyone that believes that they are in "love" to tell me when did you know?  How did you feel when you first met?  Comment on this post, personal message me, direct message me or whatever you want to call it.

BUT once again to these wonderful couples, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your special day in some way.  It's an honor and privilege to just be apart of your lives.  I have the best friends in the world and if you don't think so I will fight you. It's 3:30AM I'm tired, goodnight (/I woke up at noon to edit this).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Episode 26: My Perfect Improv Team

That D!
Since the year started I've been really focusing on improv.  I started my internship at the Upright Citizens Brigade in February this year and finished on July 21st which is really fast according to EVERYONE but I really don't care.  Sure, I could have strung it out to 15 months as some people do but that's not my style.  You could say I "yes, anded" whenever someone asked me to cover for them...

I enjoyed every moment of it and I got to know a lot of different people very quickly. It's not like I'm going anywhere either because I hangout at the theater so often anyway.  Now I'll have time to focus my efforts on other projects while still having a bunch of credits to use for classes.

One of those efforts is the new team I'm on, That D.  We are now performing every LAST Tuesday of the month in Westwood at The Improv Space from 9PM - 10PM.  If you need updates of when our upcoming performances are make sure to check my website

Now on to the title of my blog, "My Perfect Improv Team".  That D comprises mostly of classmates from my UCB 401 class with Todd Fasen who performs with Convoy Thursday nights (highly recommended show).  We have been consistently practicing since March which is good but I feel like we haven't gotten past the point of being "just a bunch of people who perform improv together".  My perfect team wouldn't consist of the best improvisers but a group of friends who just want to get better together and are willing to hangout.  That's the most I can hope for in a team and I think this team will eventually get there.

For the past week I've been really focused on just thinking about the September Harold team auditions, at the UCB, which is kind of ridiculous.  For one, I'm not even eligible to audition yet!  It is all up to my current teacher the awesomely great fantastic magnificent majestic Will Hines (I hope somehow he's reading this).  Do I expect to make a team? No. But I want the experience of the audition and if I make a team WELL THAT WOULD BE AWESOME TOO.  

Today I also just finished Will Hines' "How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth" and I can tell you he teaches the same way in class and if you're taking an improv classes I highly recommend it.  He talks a lot about not "fixing" the problem in scenes, embracing silence, and letting scenes come to you but what I liked most is how to not put so much weight on your performance and to look at the positives.  You get to read about the insecurities of a lot of REALLY funny people and it's refreshing to hear that everyone has their off nights too.

The book is extremely easy to read, he even has a list of pet peeves.  In a scene during my most recent class with him he had me change my characters name from Jenkin's to something that wasn't a "J" name.  Sure it wasn't an improper move but in his book he clearly states that "J" names are the most common improv names and now I know why he had me change my name.  But anyway, after reading the book it's made me realize to make sure to continue to have a life outside of improv so naturally immediately after finishing I signed up for the 2017 Napa Valley Marathon. Yeah, I'm an idiot.

Today I also went to watch Don't Think Twice, a film directed by Mike Birbiglia.  Here's the synopsis:
Turmoil strikes a New York improv troupe (Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia) when one member leaves to star in a television show.
 If I was on a successful improv team I'm sure that's how it would probably go down too.  I can honestly admit I cried during the film and it was early on. SEMI-SPOILER ALERT:  Chris Gethard's character is worried that his father, who was involved with an accident, will die thinking that he is a failure since he doesn't have a "successful" career.  3 years ago my dad underwent heart surgery and it was a scary time for my family. I could easily put my feet in that characters shoes and it's somewhere I hope I don't find myself in the near future again.  I respect both my parents and they support a lot of what I do which is why this part of the film had such an affect on me because I want my parents to know that they're making the right choice by supporting what I do.

Overall I enjoyed the film and if you do improv you'll probably catch stuff the normal eye wouldn't.  What I took away from the film is that you should continue to do what you love and what makes you happy. "Chill the fuck out." [Stated advice from Chris Gethard (Hines, 171)]

Hines, Will. How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth. Upright Citizens Brigade, 2016. Print.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Episode 25: The Push

February I started my internship at the Upright Citizens Brigade and I've been taking full advantage of the opportunity.  The best "perk" is receiving classes for my work but what I've been enjoying the most is being part of the community.  Since taking classes, in 2011, this is the first time I've really felt a part of it.

From working at the theater, taking two classes, and being part of two practice groups where one team consistently performs is a lot of time out of my week where I'm not being paid. So I've decided to start resubmitting myself to agencies in search for a theatrical and/or commercial agent.  I've done a lot of prep this weekend which includes how I sort of revamped my website a bit in preparation as well:

I technically have a commercial agent but I'm not signed to them and she hasn't gotten me an audition in YEARS!  I'm tired of contacting her with the response, "sorry nothing is coming up"  because there are auditions out there for me JUST LOOK AT ME HOLD THAT SUN UMBRELLA I'M FREAKING ADORABLE.

I've also made a video for an application for BuzzFeed that is ready to be submitted early next week.

I have a few other projects to release and film soon and needed this to just get my thoughts out and give myself a breather.

Also I just want to state how in love I am with the PNG format... Don't judge me.

P.S. Hopefully I have a lot of good news coming up soon.  Take this as the calm before the storm BECAUSE HERE I COME!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Episode 24: The Focus Awakens

I sit here at O'hare airport reminiscent of my past year.  Comparing my plans from last New Year to  my current reality.  It can simply be put as an “out of luck” kind of year but I do not feel so inclined for simplicity, so you're getting the long version.

This year I pushed hard into acting, submitting for roles daily hoping that something would stick; while I drove for LYFT.  I must have used the wrong adhesive because I got cast for zero productions and can count my auditions with my fingers. 

In May I was "forced" to quit LYFT. My insurance threatened to drop me but it wasn't a big deal.  It was always my plan to eventually get out of LYFT.  I figured if I continued to drive with them I would just have been in the same situation as I would have been before but without a car.  I decided that it was time to start looking for a full-time job, hopefully entertainment based.  I was then graciously given the opportunity by friends to work with a company that created language applications for children, video editing as a private contractor.  It was a lucky break but it only lasted for a month before they decided to not ask for me back.

Light side Is that I got to go on a family vacation:

After my brother's wedding I continued to search for new opportunities and returned to the Upright Citizens Brigade to take classes in October.  I got lost in my “studies” and figured I would apply for the work study program for free classes and networking opportunities.  I then opened up my job search to internships and BuzzFeed happened to be one of them.

BuzzFeed video application:

I contacted as many people as possible that would make sure that my application was given a second thought at BuzzFeed.  I had multiple people look at my application video, including my improv teacher.  She loved the video and unsuspectedly forwarded it to a friend at BuzzFeed.  I fortunately heard back and interviewed with them about 3 weeks ago.  

December 30th hit and I found out that BuzzFeed chose to go with someone else.  It was quite a blow.  But nothing like a Rocky quote to pump you up...

My biggest worry is to be in the situation before my fishing boat job in an endless loop of working, eating and sleeping.  My plan?  Get up.

Now to all my friends and family.  I will always remember that " man is a failure who has friends."  I love you all and let's have a great year!