BIG FISH IN A SMALL(ER) POND: A LESSON IN MAKING YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE

Amy stole my heart when I saw her as the most hyped hype-man in a rehearsal for our Second City show. I’m so sorry that rehearsals were VIP only, because she owned the stage. The world has been deprived.

Not only did she have me in stiches in EVERY class and EVERY show, she’s still delivering the laughs via Last Retort – an awesome collection of all things funny based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Shout out to the mid-west best!

AND not only is she naturally talented, she’s also dedicated to boot. Amy would drive 6+ hours every Sunday for over a year to enrich her brain in comedy teachings at the good ole SC. AND NOW she’s brought it all back Michigan.

PS from Amy: For what it is worth I am currently taking classes at iO now too. This time I have some improv buddies going with me-so still the 6 hours of car time but now I share lead vocalist duties during Let it Go.

When the average person thinks of pursuing their creative dream(s), or dream(s) in general, I feel like they picture New York or LA. Maybe London if they’re feeling extra posh. But you’re taking everything you know to the streets of Grand Rapids. You’ve done so much there. You’re acting, you’re teaching classes, you’re going to classes, you started a production group – the list is honestly endless. How’d you do it? How are you fulfilling you dreams in a small(er) town?

I have found that Grand Rapids is a city where I can make things happen rather quickly and with a greater impact than I probably would in a larger market. It just feels very accessible without a lot of barriers. If something doesn’t exist, I can just create it. Fortunately, there are a lot of people here who are eager to create. I consciously rotate seasons of doing vs. learning and pick my projects based on that. One season I might focus on taking weekly classes and doing low-commitment improv shows, the next season I might put up a show and so I will just take a workshop here and there. I try to learn as much as I can outside of the city and then bring back what I’ve learned and infuse it here. Of course I don’t come back  an expert, so honestly, I do have doubts like ‘should I really be hosting this workshop’? The whole imposter syndrome and whatnot. But then I think, if not me then who? So I keep plugging away.

Do you think you’d ever move out to a big entertainment hub like NYC or LA? Is that something you’re working toward?

 Believe you me, making it in a big city is something I still romanticize in my head. I’d love to write for television. That is something I feel like I couldn’t do here. I don’t have a clear end goal in mind, so in the meantime I just am doing what I love and what feeds my soul and letting the universe take it from there.

Where does your drive come from? You have an extremely busy life, YET you find the time to keep that passion burning. After I get home from work, I barely find the motivation to make dinner. I often settle for a protein bar. And you’re out their building a mini empire. I feel useless.

 Ha! We eat similar dinners. Right now I am trying to stealthily eat a snack pack while I work an audition table for a college play. My drive comes in part that I feel like I got a really late start in all this. I think I started around the age of 25 and so I am trying to go through as much work as I can. There is a really great YouTube video thing of Ira Glass talking about creativity and the importance of just going through a lot of work before you get good which I find inspiring. More importantly, I am driven by this work. It is what fulfills me spiritually. It is so freaking corny, but performance is my religion and I feel very off if I am not actively being creative.

You’ve managed to gather together some great minds with Last Retort. How’d you find quality people that you enjoyed collaborating with? Do you need more than admiration for one another as comics to keep things afloat?

 Admiration is definitely a great place to start. I often say that my friends in the comedy world are aggressively supportive. I hope everyone can experience that in their own group of friends. You look at all the big comedy entities-UCB for example, and they all just started with a group of buddies who had similar visions. That is something else that inspires me. Everything we need to create really cool funny work exists in my friendships.

Last Retort, I run with my creative partner Will. We met in an improv class here a few years ago. Fortunately for me, Will has an incredible work ethic. More so than me.  A lot of the people we get to work with us are our friends from our original improv class. We invited our friend Paul to be our science meme guy, based on the criteria that he is smart, funny, and diligent. I think those are the kind of people we look for in partnering.

Rejection. We’ve all been there and it sucks. And sometimes it’s really hard to get back on your feet after receiving discouraging feedback. Or when you encounter someone who just doesn’t get your vision. Or when you don’t make the cut for a show. How do you keep pushing forward after you take a blow to your ego?

I am glad you asked this because sometimes I worry I might give people the wrong impression on social media that everything is always great. Everything is not always great. Sometimes there are days when it is hard to get out of bed. Sometimes there are days when I don’t get out of bed. Those are few and far between but it does happen. The hardest blow was when I did not get into Second City’s conservatory a couple years ago. I auditioned multiple times. I did not take it well. It made me question if I was delusional about my talent. I have a very strong fear of not being self aware so it shook me. Looking back I probably just wasn’t ready yet. I know I have probably sounded like a real hippy this whole interview, but I really just have to trust that the universe is pointing me in the direction I need to go. And at that point in my life the universe was just like girl, no.

Please plug anything and everything you’re doing because it’s great and the world should know.

Please follow Last Retort on Facebook for funny videos every Friday! Or find me on Facebook at Taco Bell!

 

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