#startedfromthebottom #nowwehere

#startedfromthebottom #nowwehere


More SNL hiring news: Natasha Rothwell, Streeter Seidell, and Jeremy Beiler Join SNL’s Writing Staff

Dogs can sit here but they best not dare smoke


Dogs can sit here but they best not dare smoke


Hello my fellow improvisers,

Some of you know me, and for many of you we don’t know each other but we’ve watched each other perform. I want to write to you about an incident that recently happened to me at a show at the Triple Crown.

My team and I were mingling before our show. I don’t typically…

Insane. Also Jake is the best guy and Mimi’s show was my pick for best improv show. So sad.

Has anyone written a "Surviving Your First Spank" post? Basically, I'm a new writer and barely even know where to get started with working with a director. Would there be table readings before it's even submitted? And then, if it gets picked up, I assume a schedule of rehearsals?


WARNING: This post is only of interest to people in the UCB community. All other followers I have will be baffled and bored. People in the UCB community will probably be bored as well.

Here’s a really great question! Good thing it only took me a month to respond to it!

I am both incredibly qualified and incredibly unqualified to write this post. On one hand, I’ve written, directed, and acted in every single type of Spank imaginable (straight sketch show, themed sketch show, narrative sketch show, game show, talk show, one man show, play). Every single type, that is, except for a successful one. And, by that, I mean that none of the Spanks I’ve been a part of have gotten a run yet. Fingers crossed on the latest one! But, until then, feel free to take everything I say with a grain of salt.

With that out of the way, here are the qualified/unqualified answers that I’d give to some frequently asked Spank questions.

What Makes a Good Spank?
At the end of the day, this question is always going to boil down to the personal tastes of the Artistic Director and Assistant Artistic Director. That being said, whatever their tastes may be, it’s their job to put up the best shows that they think belong at the UCB Theatre. So, the question isn’t “What makes a good Spank?” but rather “What makes a good UCB show?” And the most concrete answer I’ve gotten to that question is that shows should have a good “hook” which is kind of a nebulous idea.

My advice is to go to see a lot of shows currently running or in Spank form. Check out what works at the theater. The shows are incredibly varied in tones and formats, but you can still get a feel for the type of thing that the UCB audiences respond to. Plus, seeing a lot of shows will be great for inspiration. My most recent Spank was an idea that I’d completely shelved until I watched Alan Starzinski’s recent show and thought how much fun I’d have messing with audiences.

You probably want me to be a bit more specific so here are two things that I know DON’T make good Spanks:

  • Straight up plays. There have been successful sketch shows with full narratives that felt like plays (Standards and Practices is a terrific example) but, for the most part, recent AD’s have seemed to work under a “Is this more of a Fringe show or a UCB show?” rule.
  • Acting reels disguised as “one-man shows.” The AD’s are looking for a show with a hook that will appeal to audiences. If you’re writing your show more for potential agents and managers instead of the actual paying people hoping to laugh, you’re not gonna get a run.

How Prepared Should My Spank be Before I Submit It?
As much as possible. That’s the simple answer.

Putting as much of your show up in other venues as possible is a great idea. Nothing tells you what works for actual audiences like other actual audiences. Even more importantly than that, it helps you get comfortable with the material. So doing individual sketches at shows like BYOT or renting a space like Under St. Marks to put your show up in total is a great idea.

However, sometimes you can’t do that. Maybe the show’s format doesn’t really allow for that kind of thing. Maybe your show is unscripted or maybe the sketches wouldn’t work out of context and you don’t have theater rental money on hand. That’s fine. These things aren’t a necessity. But the more preparation you have, the better.

You specifically mention a table read. Absolutely. Do it. It’ll make your show better.

How Do I Choose a Director?
I did my first Spank in the fall of 2011. At the time, I was an unknown sketch student. I needed someone who the theater knew and (more importantly) who knew the theater.* So, I thought of all the established sketch people in the theater that I wasn’t terrified to enough email; Eric Cunningham, Brandon Gulya, Lauren Conlin Adams. Eric became my (wonderful) director and Brandon and Lauren joined my (wonderful) cast.

*By “knew the theater” I mean literally knew the physical space. Knew the UCB’s layout, sound quirks, and lighting capabilities. The kind of stuff that you want in a director.

I lucked into an absolutely perfect director in the case of Eric, but (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) I was lucky. I was terrified to email any Maude person who wasn’t actively friendly to me. What if I hadn’t met those three people previously? Would I have ended up with some lesser director just because I was too afraid to email someone who was perfect but I was intimidated by?

Just ask. If you think someone would be good, just email them. The worst case scenario is they tell you that they’re too busy but they’re flattered you asked. And they won’t be lying. Your email will be flattering. So just ask.

You’re gonna hear that advice again in the next section. So, get used to it.

So, what makes a good director? Someone you think you’d like to work with and who would be a good mesh with your material. It’s as simple as that. Look for people who have directed shows you really liked or have acted in or written Maude sketches that really correspond to your material. I don’t want to be some elitist “Only hire people from in house” typer person, but the more directing experience they have at the theater, the better.

Once a director has signed on, ask how much they charge to direct a show. For real. Just get that out of the way up front so there isn’t any confusion later.

Then, once that’s done, let the director direct. They should know how many rehearsals you’ll need, what UCB actors might be good matches for roles you need to fill, how to deal with tech, etc. The director is now the ringleader. However, at the end of the day, it’s still your show. You’re the writer/producer. So don’t feel scared to give a note to your director when you disagree with something. They’re trying to make your vision come out the best it can.

How Do I Choose a Cast?
Alright. Let’s just get this out of the way.

Just ask. If you think someone would be good, just email them. The worst case scenario is they tell you that they’re too busy but they’re flattered you asked. And they won’t be lying. Your email will be flattering. So just ask.

Now that that’s out of the way, get people who are talented and will really care about your show. Since actors probably spend the least time actively working on a Spank (unless you give them an impossible to memorize monologue…), it’s easiest for them to say yes to shows that they aren’t really going to focus on. This is more of a given for a director but it’s equally important for your cast; get people who are going to be passionate about the show.

Also, in case you’re not a broke Theater Arts major like me and never heard this rule, you don’t note actors in a show. That’s for the director to do. Not only is it a matter of courtesy, it’s never good to have just a swarm of notes going around from all different directions. If you have thoughts about how a performer should play a part, just tell the director. He or she will handle it.

What Do I Need to Do for the Tech?
Whatever the fuck they need.

The tech guy is God. His or her job is incredibly difficult and goes completely unrewarded by the audience. So, yeah, whatever they want.

When you get a Spank, you’ll be sent a tech FAQ written by Alex Adan. Read it. Follow it. It’s as simple as that.

How Many Rehearsals Do We Do if My Show Gets a Run?
Depends on what the director thinks is necessary to keep everyone fresh. There may be mandatory rehearsals that the theater requires for running shows but I’ve never gotten that far in the process to know. Oh, well.

Am I Going to Get a Run?
Probably not. Hell, you’re probably not even going to get a Spank. There are so many shows out there and so few slots at the theater that, statistically, you probably aren’t going to be on the UCB calendar any time soon. That being said, do it! It’s just going to make you better. And, even if you don’t get a Spank date, you’ll probably get some notes on your script that will, at the very least, help you understand what the theater is looking at.

Also, here’s a secret; No one knows writers. We’re invisible. But the theater’s AD watches every Spank. So putting one up is a hell of a way to get people to know what you’re about. That’s a big reason I wrote that show in 2011.

Every time I do a Spank, I’m reminded of a quote from Dogma, a movie I haven’t seen since I was 14. Allow me to paraphrase:

Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity one can engage in, next to putting up a Spank.”

Putting up a Spank is exhausting. It’s stressful. But it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Do it. You’ll have a great time.

I hope that helped in any way! At the very least, writing it helped me feel busy for an hour!

This is correct.

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

As I walk down the London night, down Shaftesbury Ave in shorts left from Barcelona, I prepare to return to New York without answers.

That isn’t right, my brain tells me, even as I write it and rather than delete it or self-edit, try to kill my thoughts before they come to you, I’ll lay out my confusion at your feet and see what you and I will make of it.

I found some answers then, but the not the ones I intended.

I love my girlfriend quite a lot apparently, which was never in doubt, but was reinforced by constant thoughts of her and my real lack of desire to attempt to make out with whichever silly girls thought the fact that I was a 27 year-old unemployed American to be charming.

I’ve found other people are searching, that I’m not alone. This is important because it means beyond my ability to want not to make my own lack of direction shameful by sheer force of will, it is made less shameful by numbers at least. There were the 19 year-old hard-partying nazi youth/children of the corn so-friendly sojourning Australians whom, while I judge them so harshly, are probably getting their first and maybe last real taste of life for a while, as I was always reminded by them, travel from Australia is neither fast nor cheap and for them, jumping across boat ferries in Hava, Croatia might be their version of getting mono from a girl you made out with on a car right before Hurricane Sandy.

Or maybe I was just jealous because the joy they had seemed so real as they talked of staying in Europe through Oktoberfest. Didn’t they have to find themselves too? God, I forgot what holier teacher said that cruelty was pain from the body overflowing and calling for help.

I found 30-something nurses and teachers looking to see the world before finally settling down or, more disconcertingly, trying to figure out the same questions as me still or maybe mourning that they weren’t.

Finally, i found a few friends my own age, tackling similar questions. Anton, the Siberian-Ukranian, thought the point of life was to struggle to obtain power. Idil, the Brit I’d met during an improv show I unexpectedly performed in, studied with Bobby Moynihan and aspired comedy until her photography became so successful she settled into a life mostly without.
Stella, the Italian, studied to be a psychotherapist but also loved acting. She said she didn’t want the years of doing work she hated and no one appreciated before maybe a chance of success.

And me, well, I still didn’t know. The answer, let alone the question. Suddenly I remember the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the book I loved so much as a child that I named my AOL Screen Name “ADent2005” after the book’s protagonist, Arthur Dent and, embarrassingly, the year I’d graduate high school, as was the fashion of the time.

In that book, a giant computer, beyond anything ever made before, is commissioned to find “The Answer” to “Life, The Universe And Everything”. It’s answer was, cryptically: 42.

But to figure out what the question was specifically about “Life, The Universe and Everything” that was the answer to was an even greater undertaking, as I remember, one never truly solved in the books.

Douglas Adams died anyway before he could finish them all, but often artists could have made more if their life was extended but such desires only speak greatly of the effects of their art, rather than of a profound wish.

As a heavily pimpled, friendless 12 and 13 year-old, the escape to the world of extremely useful towels, two-headed rock stars and inter-dimensional adventure held great allure to me as my policy was to imagine anywhere else other than the painful business of being that age and instead, in a funny, amazing world that makes you laugh.

That laughter was very important to me as I rarely liked “hard sci-fi” or fantasy, preferring tomes laced with humor (I hated C.S. Lewis). Laughter offered the relief and joy my tweenage self rarely had and after all, what use was a fantasy world to escape to if it wasn’t fun.

Honestly and I’m just realizing this now, it must be one of the reasons comedy is so important to me. Because it allows joy in times of sorrow (which sounds like a fucking cliche, as my mind says unedited).

But back to my question and answer questions.

It’s not like no one tried to sit me down and have this conversation before. Everyone from my dad to my mom to my girlfriend to two therapists to a career coach to god only knows how many strangers and friends while I was intoxicated were subject to my soul-searching while back on the homeland.

In London, my grandmother’s friend expressed it to me in ways that are painful to even recount because to recall something might recall that it’s painfully true.

She was a career actress living in “Dickensian London” as she described it, a claim which was verified when we passed a “Dickens’s London” walking tour as we tried to find the proper route to her errands.

She took me around for cakes and coffee and some Vietnamese sweet potato chicken curry we found at Borough Market but there seemed nowhere to sit and dine.

Finally, we settled on the church steps.

I somehow knew there was some reckoning to come, either sensed on her part, put up to by my family or just manifested through my own needs and fears.

"Firstly," She told me. "I want you to know that you’re not alone not silly for thinking like this, finding yourself at this age."

She laughed,

"I think it’s proper particularly for creative people to be finding out their lives at this point. After all up until this point you’ve probably just muddled through and gotten by. But now you’re 27, 28. And soon you’ll have decisions that require, things that you want, that will require not just getting by, unless you’re coming in to some money, or incredibly lucky. Decisions like starting a family or buying a house at some point in your thirties that you don’t want to be ‘just getting by’ for."

"Our business, the creatives. It’s one of extremes. There are a few of us who get massively wealthy and successful and the rest of us who just get by. And if you’re committing to that life, you should be sure that’s what you want to; to at least contemplate that for the rest of your life, you might be just getting by."

"You know and if you do decide to do it, it’s as much about elimination as choice. What are you willing *not* to do? What could you not live without? If you’re an actor could you say no to director, a director say no to writing, or a writer, really commit yourself to that? Or would there be some part of you that’s really screaming, no let me out. What would it look like to really dedicate yourself like that, for a year at least?"

"Scary." I replied and I’ll spare you and principally myself from the rest of my self-pitying interjections.

Because as my trip comes to an end I’d like for it to, well, come to an end. I’d like to have a clear idea of what ju life might look like, be ready for whatever comes but have a path to return to. I’d like to know, a bit.

"If I could leave you with something." She told me. "It’s that none of us does know. None of us has that plan for life. Ultimately it’s just enjoying the present moment."

"Just like acting." I smiled, "Just like everything else."

After I performed in an impromptu comedy show in London, I felt so free and ready. The people gathered at the insane storage space where we performed under rail tracks were *my* people even though I’d never met them and wasn’t as funny as I wished I was (when was I ever?).

Still there we were going out for a pint as I prattled on about how there must be a god, due to Jungian psychology gleaned from my stolen video game, because if the idea of god motivated men to pray, live chaste and kill, could he not be said to be powerful? They seemed decently impressed. I could bullshit with people comfortably I’d met only an hour ago.


Tonight I walked home to my dormitory rather than taking the bus, my last night in London and of my trip. It seemed something of a tradition at this point.

There were so many things I felt I failed at, so many questions; how would I make money, what should I be specifically doing, what was the point of life anyway and how does one achieve that, what specifically should be valued?

But somehow I didn’t feel so bad as when I’d started my trip.

I had a show at the Triple Crown booked for 6 hours after I landed and a pretty girl and a funny-eared dog to return to home to. If nothing else seemed worth enjoying, I knew that was.


Yesterday was the premiere of the Shane and Dave: The Epic Finale and I thought I would take a minute and unpack what it was to work on that project over the past two years. Most of my friends are writers and performers and comedians. All of us would like to have careers in comedy. For the most…

Brilliant words from a brilliant man



Fuck this man. Fuck him so hard in the fucking face that his brain dies.

A long day of work and play and it was time to go home, so I was treating myself to a cab. One of the new Nissan Future Taxis picked me up. These things are spacious, but also have a very high separation wall, so you really don’t get a good view of the driver.  I told the cab driver to take me to Queens via the Midtown tunnel. We arrived at my destination, which is always across the street from my apartment building. I have never felt comfortable letting a cab driver know where I live. I paid the fair with a credit card. The driver told me I still owed him for the toll. I told him I have never paid separately for a toll before. He told me to wait a minute, but I did not see him doing anything, the separation wall is high.  I told him he should have added it in, I already paid the fare. He told me to wait a minute. I was feeling very uncomfortable and his behavior was feeling shady. I went to open the door and it was locked. I told him to unlock the door. He told me to wait a minute. I got LOUD and told him to unlock the door. He told me to wait a minute. I threatened to call the cops twice or more before he finally unlocked the door. I got out and walked the opposite direction. The Cab Driver got out, I turned around and he was pulling his unzipped pants up as he came around to the back of the cab. I yelled some things at him about jerking off that I can’t quite remember. They were not witty or clever, they were freaked out and coming from a place of shock.  He told me he was having me banished or some shit and was pointing to the sky.  I stepped into the street to take a photo of the license and he blocked the license plate.  My body started shaking realizing what was happening. Something I can’t prove.  But I will say it. This pile of garbage was keeping me locked inside his cab so he could jerk off with me in there. God knows if he had any other plans. I started officially walking away and called my husband and could barely get the words out. I started shaking and had to think really hard to get my body to move towards my building. Thankfully there is a median on the street I live on, so the Cab Driver could not make a U-turn and follow me. I made it to my buildings driveway and froze, a few minutes later, from a safe distance.  I saw the cab driver pass. My husband found me shivering and crying, frozen in place.

I have no proof is limp dick was in his hands while I was in the cab.

I can’t prove the door was locked and he refused to let me out.

I can and did dispute the charges on my credit card.

I can and did file a complaint with T & L commission.

If I ever take a cab again, I guess my first move is to always take a photo of their license and request the doors remain wide open while I am driven home.



I have no right to comment as a man. This is important to understand. It’s a different world we live in.


I’ve been around a long time and this is my blog so I’m going to say a thing here and it’s good I’m not on facebook so I can’t post it on your news feeds but here goes also it’s really judgmental I’m sorry sorry sorry:

You are supposed to go to your indie team/house team improv practice every…



Humor piece I have up at THE BIG JEWEL. It’s practically ripped from the headlines.