Resolve to Set Your Goals

2013

It’s 2013 — HAPPY NEW YEAR!  And if there’s anything I’ve learned from the past year, it’s that a) this 10 pounds didn’t show up on my mid-section from eating too healthy, and that b) this year will be the year of happenings!  And I don’t mean apocalypses.

I read a great quote today in a magazine for yoga-doers that compared setting intentions to setting goals.  I have many intentions.  Many hopes and dreams and fleeting ideas.  Intentions are about living in the moment.  Goals, however, are about “envisioning a future outcome…then planning, applying discipline, and working hard to achieve” them.  When I read that I realized that I have not been working hard and applying discipline.  I get all cranky and annoyed because great things are happening to all these hard-working people around me while I wither away in a drab office everyday.

Well not this year!  The year 2013 is going to be a year of change!  New Mayan calendar cycle = new leaf turning-over.  This is my public declaration!  No more pity parties, no more sitting idly for things to magically happen for me.  I’m going to work hard, apply discipline, visualize my goals, and make things happen!  And so what if it’s taken me 28 years to get to the point I’m at (whatever point that is), the journey of life is different for everyone.  Some people become successful at an early age.  Others discover their calling later in life.  However it happens, we all get to enjoy each other’s talents at some point.  Hopefully I get to that point before I’m 67 years old.

I’ve known people who set goals for themselves regularly in order to stay on their desired path (of righteousness?) and I have oft thought that to be weird or new age-y.  But it may just be what I need to stay on/find my track.  Today I set some goals for myself.  Some short-term, some a little longer, but all for this year.  Deadlines.  But they SHOULD be called LIFE-lines!  HAHAHAHAHA!  Enough.  But seriously, I set goals to give myself something tangible to achieve in order to pave the way to achieve greater goals – conquests even – in years to come.  I find that I get overwhelmed by life and the many great things that I wish to accomplish, but I don’t know what to do now to make those big things happen.  Setting smaller goals helps to pave the way to the greater goals, like building blocks of a great pyramid.  I’m such a sage.  You may refer to me as Sage Guru Master Vaneesha.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do some writing.  And maybe even work out.  Go set yourself some goals, maybe some intentions, and get back to me with your life’s accomplishments as they happen.  I would love to hear from you. 

May the universe smile upon you,
Sage Guru Master Vaneesha

3 Reasons Why Taking a Break is Good for Your ART

Having a passion to be passionate about fills my heart with such passion.  But there are those times when being fully immersed in said passion can wear you down and start affecting your work.  Passionately.  Especially when, as humans, we live for so much more than just one thing.

Allow yourself the opportunity to take a brief break from doing what you love.  I myself had no stand up shows in the last two weeks, which was crappy, but then I had a really great set at Yuk Yuk’s on Wednesday .  I’m not talking about taking a nine-month hiatus because you have better things to do in the warmer months of the year, just embrace a break when one comes along instead of cursing it.  It’ll make you a better passionateer.

1) Time to Reflect

For me, not having to go on a stage for two weeks to retell the same handful of jokes that I’ve been working on was a blessing.  I came back with a fresh approach and appreciation for my material which had me more excited and the audience enjoyed it more.  And while you may not being doing shows, you can still be writing new material, exploring older stuff, or trying to come at your material from a different prospective, all of which will make you a more exciting and engaging performer when you hit the stage again!

2) A Chance to Heal

Even the most confident person can have their feelings hurt like a little girl in the schoolyard.  Even comedians are humans that have feeeeelings.  And there are times when you have show after show that just doesn’t go the way you’d hope, and that can really get to a person.  Comedians have the tendency to become jaded and fall into a downward spiral of negativity when they’re in this type of situation.  But the thing is, this happens to everyone.

Taking a brief intermission from doing shows five nights a week can give you a much-needed chance to focus on the many other aspects of your life for a moment and allow you to regain your confidence and come back at full strength.  On Wednesday night, I had no preconceived notion of how the show would go, I got up there and delivered joke after BRILLIANT joke with the confidence of a thousand nonchalant house cats because I felt fresh again.  Meow, bitches.

3) Take a Load Off

Constantly being “on” is tiring and stressful.  Taking a break means that you can be more casual about your brainstorming and writing.  It’s like anything, if it’s forced, it’s harder and less sincere.  Working with less pressure gives your brain the freedom to find the funny in anything, instead of searching for it in everything. 

When you find yourself under those stage lights again, you’ll find your jokes more fun to perform and easier to play around with because you’ll be free of all the stress and anxiety that tends accumulate. 

Taking a break: It’s a day spa for your wits.

5 Ways Stand Up Comedy Is Like a Zombie Apocalypse

Maybe it’s the excessive amount of TheWalking Dead that I’ve been exposed to lately, or maybe it’s the recent mentoring that I’ve received from comedy Guild Master Kyle Bottom and friends, but I’ve come to realize that doing stand up comedy is a lot like living through a zombie apocalypse.

1) Survival of the Fittest

Competition is essential during a zombie apocalypse, and it’s equally as important in a stand up setting.  Bold statement?  Perhaps.

Everyone wants to be the best writer/leader, get the most laughs/kills, be the most recognized ont the street/famous on the battlefield, and those that are no good often drop off the radar pretty quick.  Competition is good because it forces us to be better and, let’s face it, the weak are just not worth having around (they make good bait though).  So keep your skills sharp, your wits sharper, and your weapons sharpest. 

2) Getting By With a Little Help From Your Friends

During an outbreak of a mystery virus that is causing people to turn into monsters that eat flesh, it’s important to stick together and work as a team.  Although everyone is competing to survive, helping each other survive will contribute to a successful survival process even more.

Just like in the comedy world where people are competing for stage time, gauging their progress against others, and being jealous, people have to remember to stick together and build relationships as well as jokes.  You need a support system when you’re performing/slaying zombs.  People with whom you have things in common.  With comedy especially (I’ve never lived through a zombie end-of-days, so I can’t speak from experience), the whole stand up world can seem so abstract and ethereal, so talking with other people in your situation can make things feel more real and concrete, your goals more realistic and attainable. So buddy up!

3) Equal Rights, Right?

“In the criminal justice system there are two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders”.  Similarly, society and comedy both need the variance of two groups, men and women, to maintain order. 

Each provide their own unique and valuable outlook, opinion, and thought process, and contribute equally to creating a diverse and balanced survival environment.  Men hunt, women bear kids.  Men make dick jokes, women make jokes about dick jokes.  Balance. 

4) Getting Eaten Alive

Depending on your situation in relation to this post, you may either be in danger of being eaten alive by a very tough audience OR of actually being eaten alive.  By the undead.  There is always an element of danger, no matter how prepared you are or safe you feel.

People always comment on stand up comedians being so brave for being able to get up on stage in front of an audience of strangers.  And I’m sure they’d say that of apocalypse survivors too….if they were still alive to say it.  But they’re probably too busy trying to eat the survivors.  Sometimes when you are most confident, danger is most imminent.  Not to say that confidence is bad, it’s very important.  Equally as important as maintaining a humble heart.

5) Carrying a Weapon

Everyone knows that it’s important to have some sort of weapon on you at all times during a zombie apocalypse.  Preferably something powerful and not too noisy.  Likewise, comedians always need to have a couple of quick quips in their back pockets to shoot back at a heckler, or to pick up the energy in a dying set.  Either way, a few back-pocketers in the ol’ repertoire are always handy.  This way, no matter what, you’ll always be SLAYING!

***

Remember, we all have to be able to laugh through life’s hardest moments, whether your baby’s arm just got gnawed off by a zombie, or you just bombed in a room full of talent scouts.  It’s all good, just keep at it.  Prepare by honing your skills in either stand up or combat and you’ll be successful at BOTH!  Survive and thrive!

4 Ways Stand Up Comedy Makes You a Better Writer

Writing is writing is writing, and no matter what kind you do, the goal is always the same. You want to get your point across as effectively, clearly, and concisely as possible. Unless of course your name is Herman Melville–geez, that guy!  I’ve tried to read Moby Dick like three times, and only ever get 12 pages in. Herman, read this post!

While my “professional” writing experience has been limited to stand up and sketch comedy and a couple of plays, the same rules apply. What I have learned from all this funny business is useful information for writing of all kinds.

1. Be Concise

The point of all writing is to get your point across in as few words as possible to make the most impact. Comedy is all about this. I’ve written before on the importance of being concise because, especially with stand up, no one wants to hear the five minutes of long-winded background to a joke – they want to hear the punch-lines. And if you want your readers to stay with you on your writing quests, you have to give them what they came for. Treasure!!

Cut out redundencies, choose words carefully, and create the best structure to accomplish max impact. BOOM!

2. Know Your Audience

While it may be a mutual dream for us all to write for our target audience (people with our same brains and funny bones), this is rarely the case. And we all want to spread our field of influence to gain a greater audience, right?  Right. Sometimes this means adjusting your voice to suit the type of audience that you are writing for in a particular case. I’m not going to go do a gig at a high school and tell all the dirtiest, cussiest jokes I know (I don’t actually have any…) because that would be considered “inappropriate”. Apparently. Depending on the assignment, you should adjust your tone, word use, structure, or length to accommodate a certain demographic.

3. People Pleasers

As with all art, writing is subjective and it’s impossible to please everyone with every single thing you write. There will always be some stupid dumb know-nothing idiot who doesn’t like your work or your opinion or your punctuation use, and they can all go straight to HECK!?!?!! But it is important to appeal to the audience with your writing and give people a reason to read/listen to your work.

People may offer you criticism, and you can take it or leave it, but rejection is and always will be part of the writing game. I wrote a post just last week about how accepting feedback helps you grow as a writer. Do what you love to the best of your abilities.  Keep your fans/followers/readers happy as long as it keeps you happy, and your audience will continue to grow.

4. Practise Makes Perfect

Most normal people have to really work hard to become great at the thing they are passionate about.  There are weird freaks who are naturally skilled at EVERYTHING (dicks), but they’re exceptions to the rule. Big, stupid exceptions. But as with comedic pursuits, writing is not something that people are just going to automatically start paying you for because you’re so wonderful. You have to pay your dues, do a LOT of free work, and practise perfecting your craft. But if you’re doing what you love, then doing it should be enjoyable, so no sweat!

4 Reasons Why You Should Love Getting Feedback

What does a horse say when he wants his food back?  “Gimme Feedback!”  BAAHAHAHA!

Feedback, good or bad, is what makes us grow and become better people in every facet of life.  Stand up comedy is no exception. 

Sometimes you get a lot of feedback, sometimes hardly any.  Sometimes from your amateur peers, sometimes from a pro.  Sometimes you love hearing it, sometimes you DO NOT.  But you gots to suck it up and remember that it’s for your own good.  I love getting feedback, tips, suggestions, etc. on any of my material and you should too!  Here’s why:

1. Get a New Angle

You can record and listen to your sets over and over again, but you are still only getting your own opinion of that material.  Someone else’s response represents a greater thought pool and brings more to the table for you to work from.  Also, outside eyes and ears see and hear things that you or people who know you well wouldn’t.  Maybe a couple of your jokes are a little to inside-jokey for the average audience to understand.  You don’t have to agree with everything that everyone says, but maybe you’ll get a new punch-line, explore coming from another angle, flesh out an idea, or write a catchy tagline based on something someone says to you.

2. “If you can’t take the heat, take Science 14”

This is what our teacher used to say when we thought Science 10 was too hard.  And he was right!  Although he was talking about Science, it can be said for comedy too.  If you can’t accept feedback as a learning opportunity as an amateur, how are you going to take it when you’re a professional?  People will always judge what you do as a comedian, since comedy is subjective, so get used to hearing what other people have to say.  It doesn’t always have to be taken negatively and you don’t always have to like it.  Graciously accept criticism, take it, and grow from it.  People generally tell you things because they want to help you improve, not lower your self-esteem and make you feel insecure.

3. Free Advice!

People pay many cash dollars to take classes with professional comedians to learn how to write jokes good.  But if you have a pro or two in your audience one night, ask them for some feedback on your set.  Professional comedians give some of the best advice because they know what to say and how to say it.  They know what to look for when it comes to vocal cadence, timing, physicality, and expanding on an idea, and it may be stuff that you would never have been able to think of or see yourself.

4. Joke Evolution (Jokevolution)

Whether feedback is good or bad, it will help your jokes evolve.  All criticism should be taken as an opportunity to re-evaluate and create the best work you can.  Don’t be afraid to get rid of material that just isn’t working and instead focus on building some quality material.  The more open you are, the more opportunity you are giving yourself to do your very best every single time you hit the stage.

Nervous Nerd Verse 2.0

Toots & Fruits

Once upon a time I was standing in a line,

An average line, to pay for groceries.

An old man made a fart that blew away my cart

Which was filled with all the means to make a snack.

I didn’t mention to him that I was on the brim

Of passing out right there b’cause of the fumes.

But as I paid for all my food, I started feeling really good

And I just started to giggle without remorse.

I didn’t know what was wrong, and then others joined along,

But no one knew why we were laughing, it’s just a fart.

The old man looked behind, a situation asinine

Unfolding before his eyes, like a cartoon.

And with a knowing grin perched upon his chin

He said he farts out fumes from smoking pot.

We didn’t know what to say – Standing in Safeway

Laughing b’cause we’re high on reefer fart!

The old man was a sweetheart, he went to fetch my cart,

And bought us all some snacks so we’d relax.

The moral of this tale: Don’t directly bail

If in line you stand behind a man that farts.

 

Don’t over-think it, Bruno Mars, this is all I need.

 

I’d make our house smell of Glade for you,

Be a manly French maid for you,

Board games? I’d LOVE to play,

Because you do so much.

I’d be your personal cook,

I’d read you erotic books,

Learn to undo bra hooks,

Because you do the same.

I’d pull the hair from the drain for you,

Massage your shoulders when strained,

I’d love your body AND brain,

Because you’re the best life-mate.

I’d write you romantic songs,

Let you hop on my dong,

Then hold you tight all night long,

Because I love you so.

Feeling Uninspired? 6 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of A Slump



(I chose this video because it really embodies the soul-wrenching lyrics of the song through excellent cinematography.)

Guys, girls, it’s time for me to drop an H-bomb on y’all.  HONESTY.  Sometimes I feel uninspired and overwhelmed by the world.  Sometimes there are personal issues involved.  So, what is one “funny person” supposed to do when they feel unfunny?  Here are a few tips, all of which I will do today.

1) Watch YouTube videos or read books of people who inspire you. 

Watching clips of the greats in your field remind you of the possibilities and get your creative juices flowing…in your brain. (Perv.) Some of mine are Carol Burnett, Ken Jeong in Community, Tina Fey’s book ‘Bossypants’ is great, or just watch THIS!

2) Go for a damn walk. 

Not to be confused with a dam walk, but that would be nice too.  Escaping  the confines of my 500 sq.ft. apartment and seeing the sky allows me to think better and clearer, and reminds me that the world is full of possibilities.  Probably just getting some fresh air is good for the ol’ Thinking Cap.

3) Talk to your peers. 

Chances are the people in your field have felt this way before too.  Probably on more than one occassion.  Unless they are already on happy pills.  Dick hats.  Last night I took in some stand up comedy and had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely Lauren McGibbon of stand up and improv fame.  She sprinkled these words of wisdom on me: “Dream big and remember, even if you’re funny, you have a vagina so nobody cares”.  It’s inspiring in it’s own way, trust me. 

Talking with your peers will help you to see that everyone gets into a funk once in a while and that they get out of it and persevere.  How did they got past all the negative occurrences to get to the point they are at now, THAT’S what is inspirational.

4) Make changes to your personal life.

If there are aspects of your personal life that are bringing you down, get rid of ’em.  The last thing anyone needs in their life are more downers–the world is cruel enough.  Get a new job, ditch your crazy girlfriend, reconnect with your mom.  And stop letting negative energy from other people in your field get to you.  People talk shit all the time, and usually it’s because they’re feeling insecure.  You are you, and you’re good at what you do, so keep doing it FOR you.  Whatever it is that’s causing a negative impact on your life, change it.  It’s up to you and only you.  Plus, you love your mother and she loves you, so give her a call and tell her you love her (…as long as she doesn’t bring up going back to school again).

5) Research your field and set some goals.

The pros get to where they are by putting themselves out there and taking risks.  Do some research on what you can do to get your name out there and/or get some experience.  Actor? Look up auditions for independant projects (film/TV).  Stand up?  Look into stand up comedy festivals and see what you need to do to apply.  Look for out-of-town gigs.  Take some courses to work on or expand your skills.  Read some books.  Build yourself a website and get some business cards made to advertise yourself.  Make yourself a good demo so that you have something to show people.  Do little things that will further your career and the next thing you know, all the little steps will have resulted in a big LEAP! 

6) Work hard and practise.

This is the most obvious yet, for me, the most underrated.  People aren’t magically discovered in mall food courts.  You have to practise your craft and hone your skills.  I could whine all day about how I don’t want to write or that I’m not feeling insipred, but then as soon as I sit down and focus, I remember that I actually LOVE to write and tell jokes.  Amazing how that works!  Do it for the love not for the money and fame.  (You’ll be disappointed)

***

Whatever you do to bring you happiness, make sure that it is in fact making you happy.  Nothing happens overnight, but damn, I sure wish it did.  APPARENTLY life is about the journey, not the destination.   So get out there and make Mama proud!