What I value about the improv community is that it’s a community. It’s certainly competitive. Everybody is ambitious and wants to get ahead and succeed, but the nature of the scene is predicated on not singular exceptionalism but ensemble. I feel that ethos is what makes the improv world a very collaborative world.
It’s no mistake that I get a lot more jobs now that my friends are in positions to run their own shows. Everybody in our world is always looking out for each other. There are certainly those people for whom it’s all about them, but those are few and far between in the improv world. It’s more about teams, whether it’s a sketch group or an improv team, everything is based on the ensemble. That began then and continues now.
1. Does that make sense? Many women end their statements with,“Does that make sense?” or “Do you know what I mean?”. We do this because we want to make sure we were understood, but this phrasing suggests you think you were incoherent. Instead, ask your listeners, “What…
I totally don't want to be a jerk in saying this, but on those stickers you posted, nowhere does it say that it is for boys or girls. They are gender neutral in the descriptions.
You’re not a jerk at all, but if you think they aren’t very obvious in their gender intentions you are misguided. There is not a single woman featured on the “careers” sticker roll. There are no boy fairies or princes on the other one. And in the description of the “careers” roll, kids are encouraged to get “him read for his” next adventure. Do women not have adventures? Careers? What about the boys who might be interested in “outfits” and “creative expression” as specified in the description of the “princesses” roll?
One time I was sitting in an almost-empty café in Asbury Park, typing on my old laptop which has a “Fleetwood MacBook" decal on the back. I had headphones on. Two middle-aged guys in suits came into the café, got their lattes, and sat down a few tables away from me. After a few minutes I noticed…
I love this, I’ve experienced this, and I’d argue this is what life is like for women in every sector, not just tech.
“With millions of people out of work, with an economic recovery still far too fragile, with students and families being crushed by student loan debt, with millions of seniors denied their chance at one hot meal a day with Meals on Wheels and millions of little children pushed out of Head Start because of a sequester, with the country hours away from a government shutdown and days away from a potential default on the nation’s debt, the republicans have decided that the single most important issue facing our nation is to change the law so that employers can deny women access to birth control coverage… I have a daughter and I have granddaughters and I will never vote to let a group of backward-looking ideologues cut women’s access to birth control. We have lived in that world and we are not going back. Not ever.”—
I moved to New York City in October, 2001, and shortly thereafter began volunteering at a photo exhibit called Here Is New York in SoHo. It was all pictures related to September 11, and anyone could submit a photo. It was incredibly moving, and my job was just to stand around and answer questions. It was always packed with people, and often they would share their stories with me. It was emotional and intense, but the most moving moments of all were when a firetruck would pull up, and a bunch of firemen would spill into the exhibit. It happened every day. Guys who had BEEN THERE, guys who had lost brothers just weeks ago.
The thing that struck me, time and time again, is that these firemen would always come up to me and say “thank you.” Over and over again, they would always say thank you. They appreciated the exhibit so much. And I had nothing to do with it, of course. I was just a dumb kid who had recently graduated from college who felt helpless about the world and had no job, so there I was. In return I would thank them profusely, of course. I mean, what else could you say to these guys, especially just two months after it had happened? And they were so kind and so appreciative, and it just blew my mind. These were people who had just seen something so horrible and acted so selflessly, and yet they were always saying thank you - and for something as simple as a bunch of photographs on a wall.
That has stuck with me, twelve years later. I think about them often; about what they gave and what they lost and how they still had so much gratitude.
Some Things I Am Really Sick Of: Grumpy Old Lady Internet Edition
1. Lists, lists, lists, not everything has to be in a fucking list. If a blog post headline doesn’t have a number in it, does it really exist? Let’s find out, please.
2. Anything with the word “hacks,” in it. They’re not “hair hacks,” they’re just things you can do to your fucking hair. Let me offer you some hacks on how not to use the word hack anymore. Fuck.
3. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE TURNED INTO A GIF OR EXPRESSED WITH A GIF CAN’T WE COMMUNICATE OUR EMOTIONS WITHOUT GIFS YOU GUYS?!?!?!
4. Think pieces - too many pieces not enough thinking actually happening.
5. Live tweeting pop culture moments to death. We are beating a dead horse and our weapons are #hashtags and ugh instead let’s just for once ignore the horse and let it trot around in a pasture and eat some hay.
[I DO ALL OF THESE THINGS SO I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION GOD LORD I AM THE WORST OF ALL #ASDFGHJKL]
Hey Kate! I'd love your opinion. I'm trying to start my career as a writer. I got into a bit of a rut after college (emotionally and otherwise) but I'm pulling myself out and I've even started writing posts for the site 'That's Normal'. I feel like I'm still having some trouble putting myself out there. Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out? Is there something you wish someone had told you when you were beginning your career? - Jamie Whitebread, Pennsylvania
Thanks for the message. Congrats on already putting yourself out there, writing for That’s Normal and generally being awesome. You are already doing it, so don’t be so hard on yourself!
I wrote a very long post about starting out, advice, writing, etc, so I’ll link it here: http://katespencer.tumblr.com/post/36755698125/hello-there-ive-been-following-stalking-on-tumblr
Also, I think this is a great read on advice for young writers: https://medium.com/editors-picks/793c6eb8256c
Mostly, I wish someone had told me this: Be nice to yourself, be forgiving and kind and understand that things take time to come together and that you are doing the work whether you realize it or not. Writing is not easy. You must fail a lot in order to get better and then keep failing, because you never want to stop improving. Just write and don’t worry about it being garbage. Write about what interests you. Be honest in your writing. Learn from your peers, read their work and support it; don’t get bogged down in comparing your careers. Have fun and be a nice person.