Monthly Archives: July 2010
Back from the Big Apple and into real life and blog-land; am slowly catching up on my faves, including this newly discovered one by artist Dana Barbieri. I especially love her ‘art biz mama’ interviews, featuring insights from women juggling life as artists and mothers respectively.
This part of her interview with Jen from Bird From A Wire, jumped out at me like a mugger in a dark alley:
“…it’s really important to have goals for yourself, for your work, for your life. Crazy, audacious goals. The kind of goals that kind of take your breath away.”
I must admit, I’m kinda struggling a bit with this at the moment. The weird part is that now, more than ever, I feel like there are opportunities presenting themself left, right and centre all over the globe. The New York trip was so incredibly amazing and affirming, with lots of terrific encouragement and amongst other bits of excitement, an invitation to get myself to LA as soon as possible – yet with this, plus the UK possibilities which have opened up of late, plus others, I find myself torn as to which mind-blowing opportunity to seize upon first. Does it matter? Are any of them as good as another?
I’m tearing my hair out.
These options are indeed, crazy and audacious – dreaming them is not the problem. It’s choosing between them that presents the dilemma.
But what a great dilemma to have, right? Right?
I owe you guys a HUGE apology. I meant to blog the entire trip, I swear I did. But I’m afraid that a combination of stupidity (translation = packing the wrong camera cord) and having too much damn fun (translation = having too much damn fun) led to Mission Blogging Incomplete.
Hot damn, it was amazing.
1. First coupla days in NYC.
My second night, jet-lagged beyond all belief and yet strangely pumped (the buzz of the city is like Viagra for the soul), I went to perform with the fabulous Chicago City Limits. Spent the next coupla days strolling the streets of Chelsea. It was jawsome.
I think I died and went to improv heaven. Seriously. Twelve hours a day of doing improv, learning improv, talking improv, eating improv, drinking improv and then performing improv at night.
Our teachers included Gary Austin (founder of The Groundlings, out of which has come Lisa Kudrow, Paul Rebeuns and many, many more), Michael Gellman (Second City Chicago – extremely intimidating presence at first, but INCREDIBLE teacher) and Kevin Frank (Second City Toronto).
I taped all my performances and will be uploading some soon, so stay tuned! Personal highlights included playing an El Salvadorian mother (with a suspiciously Russian-sounding accent) and a rough Aussie incarnation of Mother Nature.
3. NYC with FRANKIE!
My best friend in the entire planet, with 4 kids of her own no less, Frank-i-licious and I hooked up for three nights of amaziness in the Big Apple. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking, shall I?
In other words…magic.
And now my dears, I’m back. Regular blogging schedule to follow. Missed you!
Hey my darling dears,
Please forgive the complete gap in blogland – my best intentions have been thrown to the New York curbside (which believe me, is cluttered with garbage at the best of times) – but rest assured, it’s all good.
I’ve written some blog entries but want to wait a few days til I can pop my photos up with them – sadly, only realised today that I brought with me the wrong damn camera cable! Needless to say, I haven’t been so disappointed since the new SATC film. So anyway, will buy one as soon as I’ve left the gorgeous (though rather remote) camp here in the Catskills, and get this dang ole blog up to date!
Please just settle. It will come. I promise.
So long as I survive any future trips on shuttle buses.
Anyway, to give you a quick update on the past coupla days, the improv retreat is blowing my mind. I’m learning tons, connecting with many amazing and inspiring people, teachers and students alike and SO enjoying myself. I’ve finally pushed beyond the whole ‘WAAAH! I JUST WANNA SEE MY KIDS!’ stage and gotten more to the ‘I’m gonna enjoy myself, or it really IS a waste, damn it!’ one.
Anyway, will regail more details shortly.
Love ya lots, lemondrops!
The moment I saw him, I knew he was my driver.
“Why?” you ask.
Because, dear reader, he entered the airport’s ground transportation centre in uniform, staggering and swaying like a drunk man possessed by a Shakespearian nymph, and almost falling over as he high-fived the various reluctant desk clerks.
Please, I said. Please don’t let him be my driver. Please don’t let him be my driver. But deep inside, I knew there was no way out.
He was my driver.
And so, he – let’s call him Captain Crazy (believe me, this is being polite, given that my first choice to christen him was Captain Crack) – abruptly ordered us newly arrived tourists into the shuttle bus, threw our bags in the back, leaned in, turned the keys in the ignition so we had air conditioning and then without a word, strutted straight back down the street and into the terminal, leaving us all sitting there in the running van. For AGES. I felt like an abandoned kid at the casino, wondering when Mummy will make it big on the pokies so we can just go home.
Some seventeen minutes later he emerged, sauntering casually down the footpath with one other little lady, whereupon they both got into the van and miracle of miracles, we started driving.
Now, you know when you want something really, really badly and then you finally get it and are all “oh, why did I think I even wanted that? That was the worst thing EVER!” Like when you want a huge piece of chocolate cake only then you get it and there are lumps of bi-carb soda throughout?
Driving with him was just like that.
For said Captain proceeded to:
- run directly through two red lights;
- of the lights he actually stopped at, he entertained himself by tapping his foot on and off the breaks so that our van “bounced” along on the spot;
- text message his dealer somebody.
I found myself feeling pretty cheesed off and having conversations with God something along the lines of:
Me: “Dear God, if you knew I was gonna die today then I do wish you’d have taken me out BEFORE I went through two long-haul flights.”
God: “But you did get to watch some good movies.”
Me: “Point taken.”
God: “Anyway, it could be worse.”
Me: “True, I could be going out to Christina Agueleira on the radio.”
God: “See? The long haul flights aren’t so bad after all.”
Me: “But, if I’d known this was gonna be the end, I would have splurged on the plane and ordered more alcohol.”
God: “Point taken.”
It was around here that our divine conversation was interrupted by a beeping sound in the van.
What? I thought. WHAT? Don’t tell me he’s running out of petrol! Well, I guess that would make sense, I mean, that’s what HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR PASSENGERS IN THE CAR WITH THE ENGINE RUNNING FOR A QUARTER OF AN HOUR!
Suddenly and again without a word, he swerved the van off our highway and onto an exit marked “Return to Airport.”
It as all I could do to stop from yelling out a slow motion Hollywood NOOOOOOO!!!!!
Sure enough, ten minutes later and we were back at the airport, back outside a terminal entrance and again – with not even so much a sound uttered from his lovely swaying lips – Captain Crazy jumped out and left us in the running vehicle. YET AGAIN.
And there we were again, casino kids – only now on a jackpot crawl across Vegas.
Upon which, my fellow passengers started whispering in impassioned German, while I grabbed my journal from my bag and commenced my survival strategy i.e. Operation Note-Take.
Some ten minutes later and Captain was back. An older lady was loaded into the car and we were on our way again.
Only this time he turned on the radio and I swear, playing on the radio – pretty promise with a cherry on top SWEAR I am not making this up – Christina Freaking Agueilera.
God: “That wasn’t me.”
But it’s okay. I’m forgiving. And I’m taking notes. And most importantly, we’re moving.
Or so I think.
For driving past the next terminal, we stop AGAIN.
And this is where I say, “Hello, old friend!” for this is the exact point we started out at. That’s right. We’re 45 minutes into our trip and we haven’t even made it more than a metre.
He asks my German friends in the back seat to move over so they can fit another person in.
“But one of the seatbelts is broken,” says the mother.
“Move across,” he says.
“But this seatbelt won’t work,” she says. “We are not riding without a seatbelt.”
“Oh my GOD!” he says. “It works! It’s a new van, alright? All the seatbelts work!”
“Then show us how to do it,” she says calmly.
“It works, you just have to plug it in, it’s a new van, now move over!” The Captain is getting seriously peeved, like we’re the greatest inconvenience to the shuttle-bus industry since logic.
“But it doesn’t work,” she says.
“Okay,” he points a finger at her, “this is a new van, all of the seatbelts work, if you won’t move over, then I’m going to have to ask you to get out.”
“We have no problem moving over,” she says, “but we are not riding without a seatbelt.”
“Can’t you just show them?” I ask. I’m getting pissed now too, everybody is, I’m half tempted to just screw it, jump out and grab a cab.
But my stubbornness kicks in: I’ve come this far…
With a muttering of “Jeezus Christ,” he jumps up, leans over and tries to do up the seatbelt and, much to the satisfaction I believe, of everybody present, CAN’T DO IT.
I soooo wanna mutter something about contacting the manufacturer to claim his “new van’s” warrantee, and while he’s at it, ask them about the fraying fabric on the seats, but of course, will save the best retorts for where they are less likely to resort in being stranded in a foreign country.
Captain ends up ordering the Germans out of the van and swapping their seats with the four new (and apparently, less safety-conscious) guests: possibly because they hadn’t yet been privy to the wonders of his driving.
And with that, we’re off.
Til inexplicably, on the HIGHWAY, he pulls over. AGAIN.
I swear to you again, I am not making a word of this up.
He jumps out, heavens knows where to, and a couple of minutes later, jumps in and drives on as if nothing has happened.
And with that, we drove, we conquered and we entered the magic of Manhattan.
She’s a beautiful sight at night-time – indeed, at anytime – but the magic of the city lights as we drove over the bridge was enough to lift my heart and take my mind completely off the ridiculousness that had been our road journey here. In fact, my awe helps me realize that the fact it took the better part of an hour just to get out of the airport itself, probably gave Captain Crazy time to sober the heck up.
It’s okay. I’m alive. I’m here. And Captain is doing alright.
When, in the greatest epilogue to an adventure since Return of the Jedi, Captain Crazy decides to squeeze in just one last gesture of insanity. Apparently unwilling to wait the whole thirty seconds it would take until the traffic lane clears, (I mean, heavens, we are running LATE now, you know!) Captain decides to overtake, squeezing between the footpath and the cars, and in doing so, hits the side of a fellow shuttle van.
But Captain is well versed in this. He’s experienced y’all. While we passengers look in shock and bewildered sympathy at the other van’s driver, who is beeping and gesturing at us, while finally shrugging (he is both blocked in traffic and only an employee, after all) Captain simply displays again his complete and utter genius at blazing his own path.
Yes, dear readers, in his grand tradition, he simply drives on as though nothing has happened – never uttering a sound.
And as I sit there, marveling at his complete lack of empathy with the outside world, I realize that there can be something drawn from this.
That it is possible to stay focused on your goals, doing it your own way, stopping when you need to and pressing on without any reference to any other person.
But if you do so, you’re gonna eventually be surrounded by people who hate you.
Or at least are gonna blog about it.
…just here in LAX – don’t know why they haven’t thought about changing that acronym, it either makes me think of lazy people or having to race to the loo. Either way, not really a good thing, is it?
Anyhoo, just wanted to say thanks so much for well-wishes, am planning to watch a few movies on the plane, arrive in New York, grab a big slice of NY pizza and head directly to bed without passing go. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.
Saying goodbye to the fam was better than I expected – they seemed a bit sad, which was when I did my whole ‘mummy happy face’ thang and was all ‘can’t wait to see you when I get back with all my presents!’ It seemed to work. Ah bribery. Will our friendship ever end?
Now that I’m on the other side of the ocean though and giddy with sleep deprivation the thrill of being back in the US of A, I’m feeling a lot happier about it all.
And yes, I will be blogging this entire trip. If you’re very good I might even do some video blogging. Oh the wonders!
1. My guest-post is up over at the delightfully awesome, brilliant and going-places Rachel Hills‘ blog, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman. I’ve known Rachel since the old Vibewire days, since which time she’s carved out quite the writing/speaking/amazingness career and has just made the big move to the big UK!
2. Check out this hilarious video starring Ralph Macchio, the original – and BEST – Karate Kid.
3. She Goes, pretty funky looking travel blog which incidentally, is looking for contributors I believe. So if you’re interested, best get in touch, yo! (Whereupon you holler: “Thank you Captain Obvious.”)
4. The new issue of Fear.Less is ready for download! Man, I am LOVING this mag. Which led me to their blog featuring…
5. This pretty damn awesome idea on being productive. It almost scares me because I think it would work! Oh, the things that could happen! I’ve really gotta work on this fear-less thing.
Any links you’re loving this week? Share em in the comments if you please!
1 more sleep!
Two days til I jet off to New York City.
Yes, yes, I know. Please, let me state for the record, that this week is a completely and utterly remarkable one in the life of Jen.
It ain’t all like this! Which is all the more reason to just relax, not think too much and just try to enjoy it all while it happens.
Easier said than done.
The one thing that is doing my head in this week is pre-empting the fact that I’m going to miss the kids. SO MUCH.
It starts to tear my heart out just thinking about it, but then I have to stop and just remind myself that it’s only for 10 days, they’re going to be very well looked after while I’m gone (we’re employing a bit of a superstar to come play house-wife) and that I SHALL RETURN!
With hugs! And love! And yes, alright….gifts!
Two things that are also comforting me:
1) Knowing that we can video chat on skype; and
2) Knowing that this is almost half the time I was away in 2006. That trip – as mind-blowingly cool as it was – almost destroyed me emotionally. I’d just completely underestimated how much it would hurt to be on the other side of the globe from my babies for that long. It did get to a point though, where I snapped myself out of it (by watching a Keanu Reeves film, no less) and reminding myself that if I wasted away all the time in the USA just moping and licking my paws, then it really WAS a shame I was gone.
From that point on, it completely rocked.
As I’m sure, will this. AGH!
I’m also madly trying to work out what, if anything else, I wish to squeeze into these shenanigans!
As well as the Masterclass, I’ve already approached some amazing improv peeps in NYC to meet up so I can pick their brains about improv and specifically, running an improv company.
But I am wondering if I should try to squeeze more in….hmmmm….
And then of course, there’s the packing…dear heavens, the packing….
Excuse me. I need a tranquiliser. But one that keeps you awake. Now there’s an untapped niche! Any takers?
Forgot to give you a heads up that The Daily Brainstorm: A Blogazine to Rock Your Mind launches today!
What is that?
So glad you asked!
Basically it’s a hub of bloggers (yes, including moi) with posts on quite a range of topics that….well, probably best you just check it out rather than take my word for it. What am I? Ghandi?
End of blatant plug.
Ladies and gentlemen, the random generator has spoken!
The winners of the great big Comic Mummy giveaway are:
Now, in a little bit of Comic Mummy trivia (really, is there such a thing? Really? No. But let’s just pretend, shall we?) Rebecca from A Green Cow was actually a runner-up in my Facebook page giveaway, meaning that she already has a copy of my delightfully shiny CD. I’m serious. Catch it in the right light and it glimmers.
So as such…….
In a surprise bonus move not seen since God threw in Eve, I’m gonna throw out a coupla extra copies of my CD to worthy runners-up here (I know, it doesn’t even make competitive or mathematical SENSE!) but such is my mood of whimsy, delight and extravagant generosity, that to hell with logic, truth and math!
Honorary CDs coming atchya to:
Alex from Yummy Mummy Spits the Dummy
Kate from KateWares
Now how is THAT?! My first CM blog giveaway and who gets the prizes? Only 100% of the people who entered!
Thanks for spreading the love people. Shoot me an email if you please and let me know where to send your ball of wonder.
I am soooo feeling like Oprah right now. Minus the money. But other than that? SOOOOO feeling like Oprah.
I was oohing and aahing (that’s right, I never ‘um’) over whether to even post about this, namely because it just seems to damn uncool/starstruck/completely and utterly daggy to do so.
BUT…I simply cannot contain this incredible excitement inside.
The fact is, I’m not one of those cool people who can be all aloof at meeting one of their all-time heroes. I wish I could be, but I’m just not.
So here tis, in all its resplendent, unabashed dagginess.
You know how sometimes you’ll do that whole ‘who are the top five people you wanna meet in the world?’ thing? (Please, dear heavens, tell me it’s not just me…) Well, number one on mine has – for the past 5+ years – been Bill Bailey.
I kid you not.
Namely because nobody on Planet Earth, living or dead, has influenced my comedy more than him. The first time I saw “Part Troll”, I felt the earth move.
At the time I was just starting to build a bit of a profile in the Brissie comedy scene, but when I saw that show…it was like a beautiful little nymph tapped me on the shoulder and whispered mildly violently (but it felt good) into my ear: “Aha! This! This! This! This is what you want to do!”
So to actually connect with the man himself – in the flesh – well, you know…I just can’t NOT write about that.
So here goes.
As I find myself typing this, buzzing and thinking ‘how the heck did this actually happen?’ let me backtrack six months or so to Woodford Folk Festival, for that is where this all began.
There I was, supervising littlest dude playing in the Kids’ Festival sandpit, when it became apparent that he had struck up a rather cute friendship with two twin baby boys.
Thus, I really have my son to thank for this entire story. My then 10 month old son.
But first, back to Woodford. To surmise:
- boy meets boys;
- boy gets along swimmingly with boys;
- mums get a-chatting’
- mums hit it off like a house on fire;
- mums realise they live only five minutes’ drive from each other;
- mums swap phone numbers and walk away into the sunset with promises of playdates floating on the breeze.
In other words, a potentially beautiful friendship is born.
(Note: my hubby will point out that he started chatting to said mama first, and thus HE is responsible for this chain of events, but it just doesn’t read quite as well that way. So let’s just move on, with the truth at our heels like the wind at Superman’s cape.)
A couple of nights later, the mother in question and I bump into each other again, but this time I’ll all dolled up.
“Look at you!” she says. “What are you all glammed up for?”
“Oh, I’m performing tonight, you should come!”
“Oh, no, I’d love to but we can’t, we’re off first thing in the morning and I’ve got to get the twins to bed. I didn’t know you were performing here!” she says.
“Yeah, I’m a comedian!”
“Are you really?” she says. “Wow! You know, I went to school back in England with a comedian, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him…”
insert dramatic pause here
I do believe the entire Woodford Folk Festival site felt a tremor measuring about 8.4, this being my jaw hitting the hippiefied earth.
“Oh, you know, I’ve heard of him I guess, he’s only like my favourite comedian on the entire PLANET!”
And with that, she proceeds to tell me that she’s still in touch with her childhood friend, that he used to play funny songs for entertainment at parties – including her own 18th! – and that whenever he comes to Australia on tour they catch up.
Cut to a couple of months – and several playdates – later, when my friend sends me a text that reads: “Bill is coming in July! Will see if I can get some tix!”
A small part of me floats off to a higher realm.
And that, dear friends, brings us to this Sunday night just gone.
There we were. Dressed and psyching up to to go tick another box off the bucket list: seeing Bill Bailey live AND meeting him afterwards! (Hopefully also live.)
The show was amazing. As expected. He did about 15 thousand encores, half of which happened as a genuine surprise once most of the crowd had left the building! I just dug that so much, as did the remaining audience members; just knowing that he didn’t HAVE to come back out, but just did because he WANTED to. Loverly.
And then, once it was all said and done….we headed to the greenroom.
Now I must say that as excited as I was about meeting my comedic mentor/inspiration #1, I’d also spent the better part of the past week trying to psyche myself down for it. That is, to not get my hopes up too high of what could happen (you know, ridding myself of dreams of the “he’ll pronounce you the chosen one!” variety) and just being prepared that in reality our introduction would most likely happen more like: “Hi, nice to meet you!” followed quickly by “Well, I’m really exhausted and off to the hotel now, see you!”
The reality of how things turned out is really hard to wrap my head around…
We walked into the dressing room – a daunting sight for Bill, I’m sure, with his childhood friend, followed by five other adoring women descending on his headquarters – and took turns introducing ourselves.
Even still, over-run with company, I’m really, really happy to say that he was nothing less than completely friendly and super hospitable, offering us wine, nibblies, beers, whatever was in the room short of the mirrors. As I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I really love it when somebody you look up to in the public eye actually turns out to be a nice human being. I think I actually felt relieved!
We all sat down and chatted – about his time in Coober Pedy (he showed us some incredible photos of the underground hotel, houses and shots from the air), his dogs, his family…all the time I was trying to just hold my shizz together, and not devolve into a slobbering amoeba, for fear that security would kick me out for not having the required minimum grasp on reality.
After half an hour or so, Hatty mentioned her proposed plan for the following day: she would take him to Australia Zoo, after which I would meet them at the beach to hang out, then would drive him back to Brisbane for his gig.
“Oh really?” he turned to me. “That’s very nice but I have a driver, you really don’t need to put yourself out,” he said.
“Oh no, I’d be totally happy to,” I said, then… “I have a bit of a confession to make…”
“I’m a comedian too, I do musical comedy and I don’t want to be all gushy but you’ve really inspired me so much…”
All the women in the room went “awwww.”
No, I mean literally. They went “awwww.” It actually made me feel supported and a bit like I was on some sort of bizarre comedic dating show.
“Oh, well that’s very nice, thank you,” he said. “Well if you’re sure, I mean I’m sure my driver would be happy to have the afternoon off!”
Our mutual friend then mentioned that I was going to New York for the improv masterclass, so we spoke a bit about that and what I’d been doing in Canada. We talked Edinburgh Fest, Just for Laughs, then Melbourne Comedy Fest – and I told him how the plan this year to take my show to Melbourne was derailed by the car crash.
“Hmmm,” he said. “Have you thought about doing Edinburgh?”
“It’s funny you should say that!” I said (oh, if he only had a dollar for every time he’s heard that…hehe) ”I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately – seeing as it’s so much work already just taking the show to Melbourne with the family – maybe I should just go for it and go straight to Edinburgh.”
The ladies all but cheered whispers of encouragement: “Yeah you should! Just do it! Go on!” Actually in hindsight it was kinda like a very small circle of Oprah angels, surrounded by an all-knowing wizard with a British accent.
“Well,” Bill said, “I’d certainly be very happy to do what I can to help you out.”
I still, to this moment, even typing this, cannot believe that moment actually happened.
I even tossed and turned the next day wondering whether to call my grandma to let her know – on the one hand, I knew she’d be super excited, but on the other hand knew that her genuine pride mixed with elderly confusion would mean she’d soon be telling everybody including the check-out chicks at Coles: “Oh, this is my JENNY! You know that lovely Bill Bailey chap off the TV? Well, he’s decided to had over the reigns and give his entire career to HER!”
The next day I met the gang at Australia Zoo and then drove Bill back to Brisvegas, during which we chatted tons about comedy, how he writes his shows, where things are at comedically for me and what the best plan of attack might be from here. He then gave me some really cool advice (which too, is making my head spin) on taking the next step, again, offering to help point me in the right direction and help where he can. We’ll see what evolves in the next couple of months, but at this point I’m pretty sure the UK is in my not-too-distant future….
There’s not even an expression in language (not just English, but any language, full stop) to encompass how I feel about all this jazz.
So for now, this will have to do:
See? I told you. I should win an award for outstanding achievement in incredible displays of uncoolness.
But thank you for listening. xx