Improv and Gratitude.


It best describes the way I feel after I leave an improv theater. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm in the show or I'm watching the show; I can't sleep for at least two hours after I leave such a hallowed space. It leaves a firework show in my brain long after it's finished. 

Tonight I had the insane opportunity to work a shift at a theater in Hollywood that I never dreamed I would get to work at. Three winters ago I attended a show at this theater just a few days before Thanksgiving. I had just started taking improv classes in the Bay Area and desperately wanted to see a show while I was visiting my best friend in LA. Most shows that week were sold out so I had to buy tickets to a standup showcase. Still, it was thrilling to spend an hour in an old damp theater where so many amazing performances had taken place. 

I never (EVER) thought I would be able to take classes in LA. But lo and behold; one thing led to another and I managed to get through all the core class requirements at the school of my choice. 

Gratitude is something I've admittedly struggled with in my life 90% of the time. I was always taught to be grateful for the things I'd been given... but it's hard to actually practice genuine gratitude when you've truly always had what you need. I've spent many years of my life struggling to be grateful while knowing that I should be. Most recently I had an amazing teaching job that caused me to constantly beat myself up because I didn't think I was being grateful enough for it.

Choosing to make less money by interning at a theater and working on creative projects has caused my sense of gratitude to multiply tenfold. Yet this year has been one of the most challenging of my entire life because the unknown is painful. Being artistically rejected (auditions, being cut, getting notes after a show) is worse than a punch in the gut. Not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from hurts; especially when it could have been avoided by, say, staying at your job. Yet this Thanksgiving, I still manage to feel full of thanks for life and the path I've chosen. 

I'm grateful that I have the chance to grow as an improviser. I'm grateful for a husband who is supportive and cheers for me as I put myself out there (I'm pretty sure he also winces a lot). I'm so, so grateful that I get to scan tickets and take out trash and watch shows that make my brain light up like a million sparklers. 

I'm feeling electric. 

All the reasons I think I shouldn't act (but I'm doing it anyway)

I've had some fun acting opportunities come up recently. I got to be in a comedy sketch called "Wanderlust." I'm currently working on a short film called "3 Dates." I auditioned today for another fun sketch with a group based in San Francisco (YAY!). I'm working on a quirky musical with my friend Emily that I hope to also perform in. Life is good and acting is fun. 

However, I (like many humans) suffer from many near-crippling insecurities. Here are all of the reasons I am insecure* and probably shouldn't continue to pursue acting:

  1. I'm broad-backed.
  2. I'm not a size 0, 2, 4, OR 6. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an 8. 
  3. I'm not a size XS or S. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an M. 
  4. When I take off my glasses and I can't see I get cross-eyed. 
  5. I'm almost 30... 
  6. I am missing a chunk of my gum right in the front of my mouth. Thanks a lot, "large cell granuloma."
  7. I have an autoimmune disorder (part of the reason I got "large cell granuloma").
  8. Don't look up "large cell granuloma." It's SO gross.  
  9. I didn't go to school for acting. 
  10. No one in my family has been an actor. 
  11. I'm like, "girl-next-door" cute but not hot. 
  12. I'm so insecure. Can't you tell?
  13. I have "thunder thighs," and according to my mother, I got them from her. 
  14. I have a "build like my Polish grandmother," according to my father. 
  15. My boobs are too small by societal standards, but way too big for my standards. If I could successfully be bra-less like Kate Hudson in "How to Lose a Guy" all day erryday I'd be satisfied with my chest size. 
  16. My haircut is weird. Growing out a pixie is way harder than anticipated.  
  17. ... I wish I owned a cat. All the wishing takes up too much brain power to have time for acting.  
  18. ... I'm obsessed with podcasts**. All the listening also takes up too much brain power have time for acting. 
  19. ... I can memorize lines okay! Wait... that's a good thing. 
  20. ...
  21. ... I like to improvise... wait... also a good thing. 
  22. ...
  23. Bruce Springsteen!
  24. ...
  25. Okay, I guess I ran out of excuses. And every insecurity I have is apparently linked to my appearance and not to whether or not I can play a character. WOW. Way to be vapid, Hennessy. 

Truth is, I think acting is fun and challenging. I like when I can make people laugh. I like when I can share a story or an idea that people relate to. I might be ill-proportioned (or just way too insecure about it) but WHATEVER. SERIOUSLY, WHATEVER. 

*I know how absurd this list is. My goal this year is to be honest about my struggles. I'm not fishing for compliments or searching for gratification. If I can make one human feel less alienated because of their body image struggles or other feelings of inadequacy, I will consider this post to be 100% worth it. 

**Currently listening to wayyyy too many comedy podcasts: If I Were You, Hello from the Magic Tavern, Improv 4 Humans, The Blacklist Table Reads,  With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus and probably a million more.