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Postby kaci_beeler » June 17th, 2011, 3:14 pm

I remember when I went to my first improv jam at the Hideout in the summer of 2005.
Everyone was older than me, and I felt very self conscious and assumed they would also be more experienced because of that fact.
But, I was enthusiastic and joined in wholeheartedly, and very quickly felt accepted and taken care of. Soon I learned that everyone had different experience levels, age had little to do with it.

Weeks later, Wesley Bain (former member of PGraph) told me that when he first saw me, he thought, "Oh, here comes the Britney Spears references and valley girl talk", but then redacted that thought after I played a few games/exercises and we got to know each other.
I knew then that I would continue to face this sort of assumption as I moved into adulthood.
I worried that people wouldn't take me seriously, as a teacher, as a director, as a performer. And sometimes it has come up, but all I can do is charge forward with my own positive and, I'll admit, sometimes forceful energy. If a path isn't open for me, I'll carve my own. It's scary and I might fail, but it's a hell of a lot better than living in fear from the opinions of others. Like they say, the proof is in the pudding. I'm going to take care of my pudding and not worry about what the other pudding chefs say (does that analogy work? I don't even know, but you get what I mean).

I mean, those worries *are* relevant. I don't mean to say they're not. It's worth talking about. Am I getting cast because I'm a women and there are less women around? Etc, etc.
Ultimately, though, attitude is #1, talent is #2, and looks is probably around #10.

Directors have to take a few leaps of faith based on promise when casting, if they want to work with new people. But it's always going to be based on a combination of factors, and I really doubt looks or age is #1. It just can't be, because ultimately, when it comes down to it in an improv show, you need people that will have your back.

If anyone said anything that made you feel like you didn't deserve your spot, Ruby, they were saying it from a place of jealousy, fear, and most certainly not a place of "Yes, and". It's important for us to remember as humans, especially creative humans, that someone else's success is not a reflection on ourselves. It has nothing to do with us.
We need to remove this reaction from our vocabulary because it is so counter-productive to the work we do, and yet intuitive to our feelings as self-conscious beings.
Less, "She got that because she's young and cute." and More, "Maybe I didn't get that because I wasn't right for it, or I didn't prepare enough for the audition, or there was just someone else out there that was a better fit than me." And move on, people! Life is short and it's time for the next audition!

When you put yourself out in front of people, you're going to be judged. It sucks, but that's just how our society works. My hope is that people will at least weigh multiple factors before cementing their thoughts, but that's only a hope.

Just the other week I auditioned for a "mom" role in a commercial and I felt completely ridiculous at first, because I knew that I did not measure up in that role, and I was surrounded by women much older than me. I've also gone to auditions where I was supposed to be a young teenager, and being surrounded by actual teenagers, with tiny bodies, and I felt self conscious.
In those scenarios, I'm being judged based on what is right there. My appearance and demeanor. Maybe I'm not pretty enough, maybe I'm too young or too old, maybe they think my glasses are stupid.
But that's their beef. Either they want me or they don't. I'm not going to starve myself or change myself completely to fit what I *think* they might want. *I'm* the one who ultimately decides how I want to perform in these scenarios. If I let myself get spooked, it's my damn fault. I do the best I can and they can take it or leave it.

Don't let the opinions of others, or the half-heard or hearsay opinions of others discourage you. Likely, it's just their own jealousy or self-consciousness rearing its unfortunate head.
In the words of Batman, "There's always gonna be haters."

We have to push through it together, ladies! Defy expectations and love ourselves and each other.
I'm not saying I'm great at these things myself, but they are thoughts I am constantly chewing on and actions I am continually trying to make apart of my everyday existence.
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Postby York99 » June 17th, 2011, 3:36 pm

Well put, Kaci.

I'd like to add that these issues are not unique to women. Obviously some specific ones are unique to women, but overall, guys share a lot of these insecurities, too.

I certainly don't mean to marginalize the female experience. I only mention this say that you ladies are not alone. Solidarity.
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Postby shando » June 17th, 2011, 3:55 pm

Here's something that female improvisers probably don't hear enough; heck, I don't think I've heard it articulated anywhere else.

But I and a couple of other male improvisers I'm close to have had this conversation and we are agreed that in huge huge huge generalized brushstrokes, we prefer working with female improvisers because they are usually:

1) more professional and conscientious about their commitments

2) more likely to not be annoying offstage (in that they can turn off the performing once the show is done)

3) more likely to come to improv with other theatrical skill sets besides the funny, which leads to their improv being richer and more varied

There are obviously tons of counter examples to this (super conscientious dudes, poor social skill set ladies), but I thought I'd put this out there. Not enough dudes appreciating on the strengths of ladyness.
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Postby Brad Hawkins » June 17th, 2011, 5:08 pm

kaci_beeler wrote:If anyone said anything that made you feel like you didn't deserve your spot, Ruby, they were saying it from a place of jealousy, fear, and most certainly not a place of "Yes, and". It's important for us to remember as humans, especially creative humans, that someone else's success is not a reflection on ourselves. It has nothing to do with us.
We need to remove this reaction from our vocabulary because it is so counter-productive to the work we do, and yet intuitive to our feelings as self-conscious beings.
Less, "She got that because she's young and cute." and More, "Maybe I didn't get that because I wasn't right for it, or I didn't prepare enough for the audition, or there was just someone else out there that was a better fit than me." And move on, people! Life is short and it's time for the next audition!

I have to cop to this, to an extent. When I actually heard the "she gets things because she's young and cute" theory articulated, it sat poorly with me, but had to admit I did feel jealous about certain shows and opportunities, and wondered if it was for that very reason. I've discussed this with various people I found myself particularly jealous of, and have come to understand two concepts which may seem obvious to anyone with a performance background, but were not to me:
  • There is such a thing as being "right" for a particular show. I didn't get that. In my mind, if you're good, you're good. If you're good, you can adapt to anything. I've come to realize that this is not necessarily true. It's true that a skilled artist can adapt to a lot, but that doesn't mean there's not a still better choice*.
  • There will indeed be more auditions. I've been plagued, since 30, with an impending sense of doom. I have felt like my death is right around the corner for a while now. So while I KNOW that there will always be more auditions, it's hard to internalize. Also, there's a fear of eventually getting to the point of "Well, you haven't done anything by now, so I don't know if I should take the risk of going with you" (what I like to call Credit Card Syndrome).

Anyway, from those things come insecurity, and from insecurity comes jealousy. I'm working on it. But in any event, it's my trip and I own it. I actually begrudge no one their success, particularly any of the amazing young women that I've come to know in this community.

* I realized this recently, after studying the Marathon PKD show. The scene in which Jason Vines chased Troy Miller, straddling two chairs, his face contorted maniacally... I tried picturing half the improv community in that position and concluded that the scene was at its absolute funniest with Jason on those chairs. It wouldn't have worked as well with Jordan, or Asaf, or Kaci, to name just three. It would have been different, and each improviser would have brought their own kind of funny, but Jason was the right man for that moment.
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Postby Jessica » June 19th, 2011, 6:24 pm

Hey, one interesting thing about LNI and the women in the cast. Andy specifically asked several awesome/talented women to audition or join the cast.
I, myself asked several ladies that I wanted to play with and I thought would be a good match, if they were interested. The replies I got fell in two categories:
1) My husband/ boyfriend doesn't want me to. (also career concerns)
2) No one wants to look at my body.

I actually am a little sad about both of these, not judgmental at all, we all have to get through our lives in whatever way works for us. But I think this may be part of the reason that our average girl is younger than our average boy. Younger women tend to be in less relationships and less serious relationships. And older women tend to be less okay with their bodies. Guys don't have as many hang ups for the most part.

So, less of a casting decision and more of a opting out of the demographic that would have been perfectly welcome.
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Postby Brad Hawkins » June 19th, 2011, 6:47 pm

Jessica wrote:1) My husband/ boyfriend doesn't want me to. (also career concerns)

While I can't personally relate to that first one (I've dated my share of strippers, and that lacked the artistic merit of this show), I do understand that it could make guys uncomfortable. Still... dude, that's your problem, not hers.

As to career concerns, man, that saddens me, but I get it. I know a couple of the cast members adopted stage names for this show. (I went through my posts on this forum in a panic, making sure I didn't name any of those people. Whew.) I wish that circumstances weren't such that anybody felt they had to do that. But they are, and every once in a while you hear of someone (usually a woman, sometimes a gay man, rarely a straight man) being fired on some bullshit morals clause because they got naked in public (in a bar, in a magazine, etc) and someone started shrieking "think of the children!" How about you think of the example you're setting for the children when you stifle free expression!

Anyway, Jessica, you have a very good point about the age thing, and one I hadn't thought of.
The silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe. A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee. She says "My body is the life; my body is the way." I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride's bouquet.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 20th, 2011, 11:07 am

Brad Hawkins wrote:There was one thing I noticed just now, though. We were discussing the Live Nude Improv show, and I took a long look at the cast. On the female side of the cast, Jessica (whose age I don't know, but I assume to be in her 30s) is an outlier, with ALL the other female cast members between 20 and 23.

I don't know how old Andreas or Brett are, but the other dudes are all over 30.

What does this mean? Can it be nothing more than "if you have a show advertising nudity, you stock it with hot young females?" I like to think Andy "Casting" Crouch -- marketing-savvy though he may be -- has more going on than that.

Or is it a reflection of what Jordan was talking about -- younger female improvisers being ready and skilled sooner than younger male improvisers? Any thoughts?


on this matter specifically, i think it should be taken into consideration that the majority of females who auditioned were younger as well. and one of our original cast who had to drop out for another project is in her 30s, too. the reason for this demographic discrepancy is, perhaps, a separate discussion (or it may well be pertinent to some of the issues at hand here?). but i don't want anyone thinking older female improvisors were shunned in the casting process, or that the incredible females we DO have in our cast were selected for anything other than their incredible talent, intelligence and emotional maturity. because this cast is INCREDIBLE!

EDIT: i see this matter's already been somewhat resolved, but damn it, i spent a long time typing that and i'm petty enough to post it anyway. :P

kaci_beeler wrote:In the words of Batman, "There's always gonna be haters."


also important to remember, haters are a cowardly and superstitious lot.

shando wrote:Here's something that female improvisers probably don't hear enough; heck, I don't think I've heard it articulated anywhere else.

But I and a couple of other male improvisers I'm close to have had this conversation and we are agreed that in huge huge huge generalized brushstrokes, we prefer working with female improvisers because they are usually:

1) more professional and conscientious about their commitments

2) more likely to not be annoying offstage (in that they can turn off the performing once the show is done)

3) more likely to come to improv with other theatrical skill sets besides the funny, which leads to their improv being richer and more varied

There are obviously tons of counter examples to this (super conscientious dudes, poor social skill set ladies), but I thought I'd put this out there. Not enough dudes appreciating on the strengths of ladyness.


i think i mentioned such a preference earlier (and if i didn't, i damn well should have!), but haven't been able to articulate why beyond "i get along with girls better." so well put and thank you for saying so, sir!
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Postby Asaf » June 23rd, 2011, 4:52 pm

An interesting article by my friend Will Hines on Chivalry and Improv:

http://splitsider.com/2011/06/chivalry-and-improv/
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Postby Terry » June 23rd, 2011, 5:40 pm

Very well-put article, Asaf.

Thanks for sharing it.
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