Sketchy Advice: A comedy writing column from UCB Comedy. Established sketch writers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre offer sketch students advice on being creative, the writing process, and adding to a writer’s room.
Doomed to never see all the films I want to see. Still trying to chug away this list before I complete the 3rd Annual Chrome Clit Awards, but chances are I’ll watch maybe 10 more and then have to throw in the towel.
Since moving to LA almost two years ago, I’ve struggled with a handful of health problems including the worst bout of depression I’ve ever had. A few months ago after a lot of therapy, Celexa and support from loved ones, I finally stopped doing things like crying at the 99¢ store when grandmother types complimented my hair.
Since August I’ve experimented with trying to write & talk about that time in which I actually related to Lars Von Trier films. Sometimes I’ve been able to do it in a funny way, but other times I start to make a joke about it and then my throat closes up instead and I reprimand myself for ever trying to leave the house when I could just nest in a pile of polyester clothing and watch Robocop for eternity.
Now is a time where I’m feeling like I could maybe be on stage again regularly so I’ve been forcing myself to do so. It’s actually going really well, and not once have I curled into the pouch of my sweatshirt and disappeared like a cartoon kangaroo.
In fact, I’m going onstage tonight at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade for the first time in awhile and I’m really excited about it. What I love about the UCB long form is it’s commitment to grounding ones characters and scenes in honesty. Since I started studying at the theater in 2011, finding the truth and honesty of the scene has been a struggle for me because I’ve had such a hard time just being able to actually feel regular balanced human emotions. As I’ve worked to pull myself out of depression, I’ve had to confront it head on and push back on the shame of it. In learning how to confront my own feelings honestly, I find myself becoming a stronger comedian with a fuller presence.
So as I continue to stay above the tide of bleakness, I am trying not to hide anymore and I’m trying to push myself creatively again because I think it’s the only way. The internet still makes me feel gross a lot and sometimes I never write back to people I love who reach out to me because I get overwhelmed by how much I miss them. But as I work to ground myself in reality and find the honesty in my own life through writing and performing, I’m hoping the rest will get easier, too.
You can see me at UCBTLA tonight at 6pm and hopefully more places soon.
If you want to pursue comedy, that’s great. Congratulations and I hope you find some success in it.
But you need to learn how to handle disappointment real quickly or you might as well stop now and find something that’s more stable, both emotionally and financially.
Over the last few months,…
Dustin is a good friend of mine from college and has been doing stand-up a couple years longer than me. He’s my go to when things feel shitty in comedy-world b/c he’ll agree that things are 100% dumb and shitty, but then encourages me (and others) to slog on. Anyone can pretend life is grand and their career is going just as planned (and everyone in LA does just that), it’s a lie, we know you’re just grandstanding but it still makes us depressed people feel more horrible. What everyone in comedy needs is an existential friend that will agree all living is suffering, but then decides to keep at it anyways. That’s inspiration. Also Dustin is one of the few comics I know that has experienced the true hell of performing alt comedy (for lack of a better less cliched description) in a Midwestern sports bar after the home team has lost.
All that to say, I’ve have trouble keeping perspective lately, but thanks to a few good friends (and this blog post) I’ve decided to keep performing instead of escaping to Northern Saskatchewan to live off the grid.
Try to feel grateful for the feminist fatigue. A lot of people do this work out of sheer survival - the ability to notice your exhaustion and anger and sadness means you have space in your day and in your head, a privilege not afforded to many. So shift your thinking, consider how lucky we are to be having this conversation.
…Spend energy wisely. You already know that your activist energy - be it physical, mental or emotional - is a precious resource. Don’t waste it by talking to brick walls, this will frustrate you and change nothing. Consider doing your work in terms of specific goals. Maybe you can’t take down the patriarchy, but you can change a school policy on sexual assault, get a local pharmacy to carry Plan B, or help a friend. Feminist work is a lot more manageable in small pieces - it allows you ‘wins’ that energize, and chips away at broader structures.
Create something. A blog, a tweet, a zine, a tshirt, a march - have something tangible to scrawl your energy across.
Welcome to the 2nd Annual Chrome Clit Awards where I vibrate with love over the best under appreciated films of the year, and I rub out the films that make me woozy with disdain.
The Chrome Clit Awards are unique in that they acknowledge woman are hiking up their skirts and making films these days. Who knows how they manage to keep their tampon strings from getting tangled up in the gears, or how they can focus on getting a good tight angle when DSW is having a sale on ahmazing boots (so cute). Whether they’ve prayed to some lesbian pagan goddess or they’re just paying regular dues to Feminazi International, woman have somehow managed to become successful filmmakers, and the Chrome Clits think that deserves some recognition.
While the Chrome Clits puts an emphasis on honoring films with women at the helm, whether they are acting, writing, directing or have accomplished the almighty trifecta, the Clits are also rooting for those lovable movie men, despite their all around dudeliness in storytelling and/or their acceptance into the Hollywood cool club. Because when the credits roll, all the Clits are thinking about is whether they enjoyed the climax, or in the case of The Master, whether the exceptional experience made up for the lack of release.
The Clits watched 64 films that were released or distributed in America in 2012 and loved half of them. Before we honor those celluloid heroes, I’d like to note the films I was not able to see, although I wanted to, so they were not in the final running. The Clits Missed Out: About Cherry, Cabin in the Woods, Chronicle, The Color Wheel, The Comedy, Detropia, End of Watch, Farewell My Queen, Haywire, Holy Motors, How To Survive a Plague, The Imposter, Jack and Diane, Keep the Lights On, Kid With a Bike, Klown, Last Quartet, Life of Pi, Les Mis, Little Birds, Loneliest Planet, Middle of Nowhere, Nobody Walks, On the Road, Only the Young, The Oranges, Oslo August 31st, Pink Ribbon Inc, Premium Rush, Return, Robot & Frank, Save the Date, Sister, Skyfall, Smashed, Starlet, This Is Not a Film, Where Do We Go Now?, Wreck It Ralph, Wuthering Heights, Zero Dark Thirty
Because The Clits is an alternative to The Oscars, celebrating the ignored yet brilliant films made by ladies and oddball men, I’m not spending much time talking about the films nominated for Best Picture because they are already getting mega exposure. That being said here are the top three titles that please The Clits, and tonight we should be rooting for them to win everything, but they won’t: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Silver Linings Playbook.
Now, Without Further Ado, The Nominees, Losers & Winners!