United Citizen’s Brigade New York
Since I was a little teeny tiny person, I’ve had a dream. A dream that so many others have had and still have today. A dream so unattainable and cliche yet real.
I dreamed of fame and fortune and funny.
But I’m not famous, I have no fortune and, as it turns out, I’m not nearly as funny as I’d like to think I am.
I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed, but I never once was discovered on stage and invited to audition for Saturday Night Live. Not ever or even once. Craziest thing.
I dreamed and I dreamed and I passed film sets slowly, dramatically and charismatically, but not ever once was instantly cast, on sight, in any feature film*, of any kind.
Not as hot young mom dragging her brood of toddlers down the sidewalk to the bus stop in her pyjamas.
Not as hot 30 something year old casually walking her dog through the park in her pyjamas.
Not even as hot middle aged lady looking generally defeated and exhausted by life and the 346 pound 4 piece luggage/backpack/tote bag/laptop carrier set she drags to work and back every day.
Yes Jo, I DO need all of these bags with me, every day, all the time, everywhere I go. They have my professional agendas, my personal agendas, my to do lists, my journals, my bullet journals, my artist journals, my lunches, my bottles of waters and cups of coffee and cups of after coffee tea in them. And also my work stuff. And kleenex and ginger chews and lip balm and a variety of 5768 different coloured pens and highlighters and gel writers and… stuff.
But somehow I’ve managed to keep the dream alive. And I do that by allowing myself to nurture my inner artist. By living vicariously (read stalking) through others. And by living on fantasy island basically.
Oh and also, by…
Going to New York City to study improv at the ONE AND ONLY United Citizen’s Brigade!! OH MY GOD!
Can I just tell you, earlier this summer, thanks to my amazing super-mom, I spent one entire whole week in Manhattan doing/learning/watching basically nothing but improv all day and some nights. For those of you who don’t know, the Upright Citizens Brigade Improvisational and Sketch Comedy Training Centre, was founded by The ACTUAL Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh.
What? What? WHAT? Shut UP!
The first couple of days I fully embraced the vibe of the city. I’M A NEW YORKER! I skipped over puddles of vomit, like Gene Kelly dancing in the rain. I sang good morning to the rats in the gutters, gave change to homeless people and plowed through the piles of tourists like a local. The constant noise was romantic hustle and bustle, and as an added bonus, it drowned out the sound of my tinnitus. THIS IS SO NEW YORK! I squealed with delight. I’m at home! I’m in my element! I’ll have to be dragged back to Montreal, kicking and screaming, I thought.
Monday morning I arrived at UCB to realize that my presumption that everyone in my class was going to be 20-30 years old was basically true, only there were even younger students than that.
In the following days, I had learned so much and exercised my brain so hard, that I seem to have come home missing half the nouns I went there with.
Despite the grandiose ideas I’d had of starting each morning by practicing yoga or running in central park, followed by a full day of classes, and hours of writing each night. Maybe I’ll finally finish the rough draft of my series of personal essays! (I thought.) I was so exhausted by the time I got home each evening, that some nights I was even too tired to watch Television.
My class performed on the Saturday night at UCB Chelsea, and we had so much fun. On top of the obvious thrill/embarrassment of being amateur improv artists doing our first show together, the honour of doing it on the very stage that has been graced countless times by the genius of Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh and Kate McKinnon, and the talented likes of Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Aziz Ansar, Abi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer and so many many many more… was SO EXCITING!!
I went through (tortured myself with) a range of agist self-deprecating thoughts and emotions. It’s too late, who do I think I am, I’m too old for this, I might as well give up, etc…
and then later in the week, some inspiring and excited thoughts about what’s to come in what is left of this life ahead of me.
** John’s team performed right after ours and it was an honour and a joy to see him in his element. He’s a great performer and if ever you have the chance to check out his team, The Curfew, you absolutely should.
***The kids in my class weren’t at all annoying. I wish I’d been as smart and mature and driven and ambitious and cool as them at their age. Or even now, for that matter.