YBY ep 221: Robin Gelfenbien is the Ambassador of Fun!
This week on Yes But Why, I talk to NYC comedian Robin Gelfenbien!
Robin Gelfenbien is an NYC-based storyteller, writer and comedian. She’s a three-time Moth Story SLAM winner who has performed on PBS, RISK!, Mortified and countless other shows. Robin is the Creator and Host of the storytelling series and podcast, “Yum’s the Word,” that features amazing stories alongside her homemade ice cream cakes. The show was named a New York Times and Time Out New York Critic’s Pick.
In our conversation, Robin tells us the stories of her life that have helped beget award winning theater: “the Calamity Jane” story and the “Wienermobile” story. Robin is a force of nature. She is the Ambassador of Fun. I had a great time talking to her.
From her aspirations to be a wacky weather girl to her career in advertising and marketing, we discuss all that she learned along the way. She talks about taking classes in sketch comedy and storytelling and later, teaching those classes and inspiring future performers.
Robin Gelfenbien is a fun lady and she works hard to bring the fun to her audience. I can’t even believe she makes her own HOMEMADE ICE CREAM CAKES to share with the audience of “Yum’s the Word” live events! This show brings together my two very favorite things – comedy and ice cream.
Support this hardworking woman of comedy by taking one of her storytelling classes! And you should listen to Robin’s podcast, “Yum’s the Word”!
You can also find Robin out hosting big corporate events. You should hire her for YOUR corporate event! Robin is an indispensable resource for you!
Robin and I are actually both going to be speaking at the #PodfestGlobal Summit! Check that out to support both of us by going to Podfestexpo.com and signing up for your free tickets to the event!
Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Download the FREE HC Universal Network app for Android and iDevices or visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com and join the fun.
This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at http://www.audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.
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(production notes: recorded Skype call with Rodecaster at the home studio on 6/15/2020)
TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan. Welcome to episode 221 with Robin Gelfenbien. But first, a bit about our sponsor. This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible. You can get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY. My guest this week, Robin Gelfenbien makes her own HOMEMADE ICE CREAM CAKES to share with the audience of her storytelling show, Yum’s the Word! This show brings together my two very favorite things – comedy and ice cream. So let’s see what Audible knows about ice cream. Ooh it’s lots of fun fiction and one book on Ben and Jerry! Awesome. Man, I need to add ice cream to my grocery list. Audible is available for your iPhone, Android, or Kindle. Download your free audiobook today at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY. This week on Yes But Why, I talk to NYC-based storyteller, writer and comedian, Robin Gelfenbien! Robin is the Creator and Host of the storytelling series and podcast, “Yum’s the Word,” that features amazing stories alongside her homemade ice cream cakes. In our conversation, Robin tells us the stories of her life that have helped beget award winning theater. She talks about taking classes in sketch comedy and storytelling and later, teaching those classes and inspiring future performers. Support this hardworking woman of comedy by taking one of her storytelling classes! And you should listen to Robin’s podcast, “Yum’s the Word”! Robin and I are actually both going to be speaking at the #PodfestGlobal Summit! Check that out to support both of us by going to Podfestexpo.com and signing up for your free tickets to the event! I now present to you: Yes But Why episode 221 Robin Gelfenbien is the Ambassador of Fun!
I’m Amy Jordan. And this is yes, but why podcast. Yeah.
I just felt like I always knew. Um, yeah, I think. Yeah. Oh yeah. Because I was always being like a clown in the house. I mean, it was very quiet outside of the house, but in in my house like any family members knew because I was always mugging for the camera. And being silly. I was always making up, always making up characters putting on different like, we’d have We go to my grandmother’s, and I would put on my grandparents like coats or hats or grab an umbrella. And I would just make characters up, I would sit at my grandmother’s table and flip a bowl over and say, My whole family, I want to tell you a fortune. And then I would just make stuff up. And so like, I just was always making things up. And, and I did, I did a children’s theater as a kid, and I never won. I mean, in some ways, I wanted to play the lead, but, but I was always more drawn to like the witch, or like the sidekick, you know, because they were funny. They were the ones who got the laughs Yeah. Um, so I feel like I just started when I was really young. And I just thought it was really, it was super fun, you know? And then I just was making stuff over makeup. dance routines and I would make up rollerskating routines in the basement like, my poor sisters. I was always like making them do things and like directing us in our little dance routine shows and stuff and like everything was meant to be. You know, it was fun choreography, but it was also meant to be really silly. You know? They’re nice. They’re nice, really funny.
How many sisters do you have?
I have two younger sisters. And there’s five year difference between the youngest me.
Oh, okay, so you’re really like, Alright, listen, I’m in charge. I’m the lead.
I had a lot of control.
Yeah, yeah, I was like, do this.
Funny. Oh, man. I have one sibling and I have all these memories of like being alone doing shows by myself in the basement. So my sister where she like, Where is she in my memories. Maybe she was sitting there and I was just so involved with my own self Who knows? Your parents they noticed that you’re quite the performer. So got you into plays and shows when you’re a kid. Yeah,
I mean, there wasn’t a lot in the way of classes around here. I grew up in the Hartford area, but there were opportunities to do children’s theater. But I did that in high school and I did it in a neighboring town and my mom did theater when we were growing up. So she was it’s funny to think about the song that she was saying, because I didn’t it didn’t register for me. And now I’m like, ah, she auditioned with the song can’t say no, from Oklahoma.
Yeah, I do know that song. Yeah, she auditioned for a place I knew that.
Yeah, so musicals. So she was always rehearsing in the, in the living room, that’s where we have a piano. And she’s good voice, but it’s just funny to me now, because if you think about those lyrics, it’s like, ya know,
there’s a lot of problematic about old musicals. I definitely did Oklahoma in 10th grade. So I understand me and my child. friends were singing those songs
in high school too.
Yeah. And then I, I, you know, I always I was in chorus, I may have played piano I danced for 20 years. So I studied the most I think I would say I studied with dance. But even with that I wanted to be more expressive and funny, and I did more of that in college. And I studied piano for about nine years. And then I did I was in chorus, and I was in the Select choir and in high school, and so we toured around the Hartford area. I always like joke. I’m like, you know, quite the circuit of like, nursing homes and school assemblies. So I got used to life on the road, you know,
and yeah, it was, it was fun. So I was and then
it’s pretty impressive, though. I mean, yeah, like plenty of us do high school plays, but we’re not touring.
Yeah. I’m not joking that we owe this. It was hardly touring because it was just Like after school you gotta be at you know mapleview Manor for this, you know, little concert you’re gonna do.
Oh, that’s awesome. I was 30 before I knew you can go to nursing homes and perform right so Hey, your mom was on top of it. She was like, Listen, I got all the performance spaces mapped out we’re going like that. I like that.
Yeah, so that was fine. I mean, it was just it was pretty, a pretty big part of my life growing up and then even though like I desperately wanted to lead in the High School Musical, I never got it and I always thought it was because it goes to the soprano, and alto and and then I did something my high school when I was a senior I thought for sure I was going to get it because they were doing Calamity Jane, which is like the first story I ever told on stage as a storyteller. It’s such a ridiculous but very fun story. And I was like I just want to be I just want to be Calamity Jane because I thought they needed because they needed an alto and somebody who danced with Right again and I was like, Oh my god, I got this on lock. I’ve totally gonna get it and like our choral director, I call him Mr. Schmidt’s not his real name, but he was super intense and like, he put the fear of God and all of us. And he would, he had this like, sort of blonde clown hair and his, like a like this. He bought shirts that were two sizes too small for him. Like he just he just didn’t really do a good job enforcing Well, he scared the crap out of us, but like his luck didn’t really match his intentions. And um, and anyway, so he scared us all but I didn’t end up getting the lead. I wound up being relegated to the chorus and they gave the lead to a junior. And
Unknown Speaker 8:50
yeah, I know
Unknown Speaker 8:53
what’s the point of growing up, right? Yeah. Oh, that’s
totally suck. So that made me angrier and like she was going for soccer I’m like, come on I have dreams of being on Broadway you most certainly don’t you know and so he I think he felt Mr. Smith felt bad so he gave me one line Yeah, so in addition to just being in the chorus, which was fine because like all my friends were in chorus anyway so that’s fun, but like I was like, No, I I dream big you know? And
yeah, you do you dream big? No, tell me did this Jr. Is she currently working in theater and comedy? Oh, you can find her on social media. Exactly. There we go. That’s right. But I got I got
my because this one line and it’s told from backstage which is already insulting. And yeah, and it’s the queue for the big opening number. Oh, for the whole thing. And all I had to say was it’s the Deadwood stage like this stage coach is coming to town sort of thing and then every all the villagers come out and everybody’s frolicking and happy and everything’s great in Deadwood. But this is my cue for Mr. Schmidt, who’s now in the pit, you know, directing the orchestra. And for whatever reason me, I truly don’t know why I did this. But I decided to take some liberties with that line. Yeah, I was like backstage What’s he gonna do? And he put the fear of God in every but he really did. He was so scary. But I was just like, I was a clown, you know? And I like sort of gotten a little bit more, a little more comfortable, like being silly outside of my house, you know? So my friends like my friends all called my jokes, Robin jokes because they’re very punny and dorky. So I just was like, woohoo, you became a random cowboy. The Deadwood stays, you know, it’s like, everybody came out there looking. We’re all supposed to be seeing, you know, and everybody’s looking at me. And I’m like, Oh, no, you’re like, I just I was fun. It was fun. Yeah. And then they were like, what are you gonna do tomorrow? Like after the show? I was like, I don’t know.
Unknown Speaker 11:00
probably know that cuz he’s gonna yell at me.
He also like, I mean, you’ve done plays, right? Yeah. Like you get notes as soon as the show’s over. I mean after people say hello and stuff, you know, but like audience, he didn’t do that he would give you notes like right before the next show. He’s like, gives you no time to work on anything. Nothing I had much to work on but like, Yeah, he just had this very unconventional way of doing things. So I get so afterwards my friends were like, you know, what are you gonna do? I don’t know, I didn’t plan any of that. And then I was like, Oh, well, you know, I got such a warm reception my fans down and I was like, and then I was like, I can get him to get away with it because there’s like, there’s no mention in the program of village idiot played by Robin Galvin, but so yeah, so then the next day I go in, but I’m like, he’s gonna yell at me. He’s totally gonna yell at me when we when he gives notes and he doesn’t and I was like, Oh, sweet. All right. So now I went from like, being furious at the junior. And she, by the way is like, plowing her way through the show and she sucks. Now I’m backstage and I’m like, give me a cue pitch give him a cue because I got something good and like I and like, I I went even crazier the second night, and I honestly don’t even remember what I said. But it was just like, like, it was just like just a premium of spectacles and celemony first, like, ridiculous
cuz they even hear you. I mean, like, where you might No, no, I hailing from the backseat. I had
to really project Well, Mr. Schmidt certainly can hear me because you know, he’s right there in the pit. Sure. me not like he could have done it. Oscar styra silent just played me. You know, played me. Not played me off but played, like, drown me out, you know? Yeah. And, and he never did because I think he was like, wait, what is happening? This woman’s taking over my show.
And maybe it was like the This is a problem I don’t need to fix.
Yeah, I don’t know. Fine writing was when I was like, like that, like such a good kid all the time. And then then it’s like closing night. And everybody’s in the courtroom, we’re all sitting there. And he is he used to get so angry at us. Like, if people we would do fundraisers for like, our choral trips. And people we would just like rake leaves, you know, and stuff and if people didn’t show up, because you’d have to fill out a form, and then he’d screamed us into like, sign up, show up, and like slam his hand down on the piano. And like that sound like echo through the chorus room. So when it’s closing, he’s just like, giving us the leads and some of the supporting characters and he his blood is boiling like he’s getting his face is getting like beet red and he’s getting madder and madder. And then he slams his hand down on the piano and he looks at me dead in the eye and he goes, No, it provides like stuck I scrapped. It was like, Oh shit, now, now I’m in trouble. And like I did everything to always avoid being in trouble. Everybody knows me because he’s staring right at me and also like, hello. It was obvious. So I was like, Alright, fine, fine, I have my fun. And then show starts and then we’re all backstage and I’m watching Maureen again. That’s her name.
like fucking her way through the show. And I was like, this portion of
the mind. Nobody ever saw my real potential. This is bullshit. And so it was like, I always say like a leash like a channel my inner Delta Park. And I was like,
Unknown Speaker 14:40
wow, like it’s just like,
like so over the top like, and I was I was talking about like, wow,
Unknown Speaker 14:48
get out here. I don’t care if you smallpox.
And then I milked it for the rest of the thing I was like,
by the way, I’m being quiet for the benefit of your Listen,
it’s just so stupid stickers. And like, everybody comes out and like, the whole chorus comes out. Nobody can sing band is like, they can’t even play cuz everybody’s laughing too hard. And Mr. Schmidt has like officially blown a gasket. Like his tie is all skewed his hairs all fucked up and he is like, trying to conduct like, fast vigorously, like staring at me. And I was like, Oh shit, he is past and then I’m like, You bet. I didn’t say this, but in my head, I’m like, you mess with the wrong girl. Like, don’t pass around. But then, I mean, this is so pathetic because it was like, the highlight of my high school career. And just to give you a sense of like, you know, how it really took a lot of chances.
And yeah, so like, so proud of myself because I was like, you know, technically, it’s a lead but like, Hey, I’m only stole the show, because I played my own version of Calamity Jane. Yeah.
Right. Plus, like rebellion in high school is so necessary, right? Like, honestly, even though like, I’m sure he was mad in the moment, like later on, you know, I’m sure it’s like, well, she’s better off because she’s going to go her own way and, and be strong and make a decision and do it versus like somebody who’s like what am I supposed to do? It’s like those people are having a hard time in life. Right? Like, if you can be strong and mess with stuff and also you’re like, confident enough to break a rule where it’s like, it was a very low stakes situation in that like, everyone’s just gonna have a fun time. The only one mad is the teacher, right? The audience liked it everyone when the show liked it, you know, you got a sweet story to tell out of it. Like nothing wrong with that. Right, like all good.
Sounds good. I want a month with that story. So
Unknown Speaker 16:57
take them as freshmen.
Yes, right. I think the thing was jealousy and I was like, Oh, do I? Oh, I can. I’ve got a good one for you. So it’s a fun one to tell cuz it’s so it’s so you can picture like a high school kid doing that, you know? Yeah.
So were you immediately waiting for government didn’t have something like that in their show, you know? I mean in the movie I love that movie.
Yeah, that one’s very real. That was like the first like behind the curtain sort of like where they were like this is a fun parody and you’re like, what do you mean this is actually real? Oh,
totally. Yeah. People so many people like best in shows the best one I was like, I can see why you think that but if you did any level of community theater growing up, you know how completely realistic when you forgot? Like, it’s funny, but it’s funny because it’s true.
Yeah, well, you know what, though? Good on them for being like, okay, we did a great job with this movie, but it’s not a huge hit. What do we add to make it better and they’re like, what about dogs like,
Unknown Speaker 18:01
Yeah, everybody loves dogs.
And it worked. It worked. It was like the exact same cast, similar vibe. Plus dogs. That’s the key guys add some dogs. Not your live shows, but
I just saw mascots. Did you see that one? No.
It was better than I thought. It’s not as good as the other two that we just mentioned. But it’s still it’s still I was like, Oh, this is surprisingly good. I mean, they added there were a lot of people who are like, Eugene Levy and Kevin O’Hara, I’m not sure they’re busy. Probably. Yeah. But yeah, it was it was pretty good.
Yeah, totally. And some of the new newer comedian actors to be in that too. That must be Oh, gosh, that must be so fun when you get that call. And it’s like what Christopher guess once I hang out with me. Oh,
totally getting to play with like Fred Willard. It’s like, come on.
Unknown Speaker 18:56
I know. Total comedy royalty for sure.
Hmm in doodly doo.
So what happened after high school? Were you immediately like that? Let’s go get a theater degree at a college. Did you go to college? What was the path for you? How did you get from? I’m going to do some plays in high school to now living in a big question and many years in between, but like, how do you get from? I’m in high school plays to now you’re working full time doing performances and stuff? What education did you have? would you do?
So, um, I Well, I went to Syracuse. And I wound at once I studied broadcast journalism, because I thought I could be on TV and be funny, like, but I wanted to do like, features like interviewing celebrities at the mall, or, you know, I’m like, I’ll be the wacky weather girl because I thought that that was like, a safer sort of path. You know, only
Unknown Speaker 20:01
Yeah, wacky weather girl boats, boats, boats, boats, boats.
Yeah. Because I was like, it wasn’t really encouraged to go down this path. Yeah. So I was like, oh, but this can be acceptable probably. So. So then I wound up I didn’t, I wanted to study at their communications program, which is a really strong program and I didn’t get in. Right away. I got into the business school because my math scores were way better than my verbal LSAT scores. And obviously, for communications, you need better verbal scores. So I got into the business school and then I transferred into the new house school, the earliest I could which was like halfway through my sophomore year, and then I had to take like tests and get a certain you know, like, certain requirements like credit requirements
and then I wound up not
didn’t actually it’s kind of it’s such a long story, I don’t want to get into too much of the detail. But I had some like really crappy experiences happen, where I was being like horribly bullied by about 60 guys and so around the clock so that like really kind of diminished my self esteem because I thought I don’t want them to see me on the campus TV station because they’ll make fun of me more. So I kind of laid low I was doing things still, but not as actively as I really wanted to. I was very, very scared. But I still want to get my degree. And then I wound up having this amazing professor who had had like every job in a TV station. I also was working for like campus radio, but doing more like the production side of things on like a Sunday morning show and, and then, but the professor wound up becoming my advisor and he said You’re such a good writer you should really be studying, writing for television, radio and film and I’m like, really? Like, I don’t think I’m that writer. That’s also because my self esteem was like in the toilet. So
he was just like, you’re so creative, and I didn’t think I was creative at all.
So, yeah, so I wound up studying that. And I had some amazing professors and I was taking some, like broadcast journalism classes. And it’s funny, I remember sitting there, like, towards the end of my senior year, reading some copy, and the professor like, I just started doing stuff in different voices. And like, the class was howling, and the professor was like, I didn’t know you were funny and, and, and because I never like because of what happened in college. I just was like, such a mess. And so I finally was like, finding that voice again. And I’m like, oh, people are laughing and people responding to this. That’s cool. And then I wound up getting what I consider the world’s best job which allowed me to To be on TV and on the radio and be a ham and like, be on camera mostly. And that was to be a driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?
Unknown Speaker 23:10
yeah, so I had a very, like, unusual path. But there I was, like, totally free to express myself from a creativity, you know, they, they like paid me to say how dark parts, so I was like, Alright, I can do that.
How’d you get that kind of job because I think of those jobs like promotional things like, like when you see the people selling Red Bull around they drive the Red Bull truck or like there’s a couple where it’s like, they really sent a lot of sometimes beer like they’ll send people out to go to places and be like brand ambassadors for that kind of thing. How did you even get connected with that kind of job? Was it like the professor was like my friend runs the Wienermobile if you want to know
oh my god, it’s like, it was such a it was a really hard job to get. Oh, wow. Oh, yeah. Thank you, man. Don’t say that to like, you know, boastfully but I mean, I am. For sure I totally, I totally had to wow them with my creativity to get it because they were the first company to ever do any kind of mobile marketing program. They started it in 1936. And they nobody else was doing it when I applied because this was like in the early 90s and early to mid 90s when I applied, so they had an information session at at Syracuse. And I went, and I was like, What in the world like I have to do this. I’m so excited. And I wound up finding out that they were choosing 10 people out of 1000 applicants. And part of the reason why it’s so hard is because it’s not just like smiling and handing out they have these collector’s items that are called Wiener whistles. It’s not just like handing out like coupons and Wiener whistles and being nice to the public. We actually pitched media and came up with events to garner media attention and like, just community goodwill everywhere we went. So they wanted to have people who had communications backgrounds, and they needed people to like, represent the brand really well, because the web really wasn’t around at that point. So we were their foot soldiers, and you had to be a good spokesperson for Oscar Meyer. And because we were in we had like media goals, we had to meet every quarter. So there was like, a real bigger job behind the scenes that we had to do. And that’s part of the reason why it’s so hard to get is because, yeah, I mean, I had no media training or PR training, going to Syracuse, but they all they gave it to me, was it hot dog high, but they needed to know, like, that you had like the potential and the skills to to kind of work on that part of the there was a huge part of the job a huge part of the job.
Unknown Speaker 25:55
I what I wound up doing was, you know, I like hated my resume to the job I said like I got like a BSS degree in bologna sandwich skills and like, brag my excellent driving record and in the like, my cover letter had all kinds of puns in it. And then I was like, that’s not gonna be enough because that seems so, like, seem so obvious people are going to do that. So then I was like, I made a cassette of me singing self promotional songs. Yeah, and they called it rockin Robins hot dog holiday favorites, because it was around Thanksgiving leading into the holiday season. And I did like, parodies of winter wonderland. It was like, Ostermeier Do you hear me want to be in that weenie? Like ridiculous like it went on from there. And then I made like a Christmas tree on the cassette with little hotdog ornaments and a menorah with a little hot dog candles, which is obviously completely sacrilege. And then I sent off this packet and like waiting and waiting, waiting because like Back then, and I’m waiting for a letter
or an email.
Unknown Speaker 27:06
That’s how I got into college for the letter
O, again, the first round, and they meet with somebody local, like district manager. And we’ve great conversations like easy and fun and I get to the second round at that point, they’ve narrowed the pool down to 40 people so they were taking sending people out in waves of 10. So they flew us in the night before for hot dog social to like, see if we to see like how we interacted with the senior execs and to see if we actually ate hot dogs because apparently vegetarian has slipped through the cracks. Yeah. You know, eventually they were they were okay with it. But um, I think for future for future through your hot dogs. And that’s where I met this guy Ross and Ross was the spokesperson for sorry, he was not the spokesperson. He was the Wienermobile manager, aka top dog. And he was like Mr. Schmidt, like super intense. Like this guy was the former Army surgeon. So I was like Jesus Christ. And I had heard he was incredibly intimidating. So next morning, up at 7am, at Hot Dog HQ in this conference room, it’s like a reality show. There’s like 10 people sitting around this conference room. We’re all like, it’s like these, like super intense people. But like, very energetic. It’s kind of like Disney employees, but people who are also like, really, you know, they were kind of cutthroat. Like, one guy had made like a miniature version of the Wienermobile like Jesus Christ, like another guy for his on camera interview, was doing a debate between ross perot and Clinton, Bill Clinton. So like which hot dog condiment is the best. So I was like Jesus and so but I knew I was like I got something good. So I like meeting with like HR and PR and You know, sales and marketing all these people throughout the day and I’m feeling so good Amy. I’m like, yeah, nail on these interviews doing really great. This is awesome. And then I got on my on camera interview and I was like, I’ve got a showstopper for you guys. And I get to this windowless conference room. And I looked down and I’m like, How the hell am I going to tap dance carpet? So, I was like, I can’t believe this is like the one thing I didn’t think about. You know, I had been like practicing in the bathroom with my tap shoes quietly. Because I had like a song and dance. I’d written another parody and I did a dance. So I wound up doing this like ridiculous, like, parody to the tune of the bare necessities. And the guy who’s like shooting the video was just like, so not. I was like, can you pan down to my shoes so they can see you’ve gone the extra mile. He’s just like, Alright, and then he’s like, whenever you’re ready, you know that Like launch into this routine I finish and I’m like, wow, you know, and he’s just like,
they’ll do it. Like there’s like no response.
And I’m just so defeated. And I was like, you know, I have to really, like redeem myself. So I went over, I was like, on my way to his office and I’m so scared because Mike this guy is so you know, intimidating. And I go in, we’re sitting like, like a foot away from each other in his office. He asked me a bunch of questions. And then I asked him, like, did you have a chance to listen to my Wienermobile demo? That’s exactly what I called my cassette, which is so so ridiculous. And he’s like, then he opens he opens his top desk drawer. And rockin Robin has like holiday favorites is sitting there. Oh my God. He knows my work. Like, I’m so excited. And he goes, Oh, you’re this Robin. I’m like, Oh. I’m like, Well, if you want and he’s like, No, I haven’t listened to her. It’s like, Oh, well, if you want you can listen to it on my Walkman right now.
If that won’t be enough,
and I was like, how about this? Why don’t I sing a few songs that didn’t make it on the album Besides, and then I just launched into the two songs. And like the first one, I think he there’s no response. It’s meant to be funny, by the way, nothing. And then I’m like, Oh my God, that’s my last chance I got, I have to go for it. I think the second one, the last thing I think is I’m gonna have this job before I’m dead. And he goes, huh. I was like, I don’t really mean. But I just assumed the worst. And I like cried the whole flight home and I get back to campus and I’m like, I made such an asset myself. Everybody hates me there and I’m just like, I wasted all of these four years, like being afraid of the bullies. And my life is worthless. Like I really was just like, in such a bad place. And then like a month later, I got a phone call. And he’s like Robin, and by the way, he used to breed like Darth Vader, which is also scary. So it was like yeah, and so I like screamed and cried. And I was so happy. I was like, Oh my god, it was like he had proposed to me I was just like, over the top. So happy. Because it really it really I say this all the time. And I don’t mean it in a I mean 100% seriously, that job totally saved my life. It’s such a long story.
But then it led to you doing a one on one show about it. How did that happen? So I’d like to jump forward after you had this wonderful experience. You got the job? You have this wonderful experience. And then how many years after you did it? Did you write the one woman show and start performing it?
I started performing that in 2007. So I started actually I started working on in 2007. It premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2008. So there’s a huge gap in in between there because the job I wrapped up the job in 94. And then from there, like move to Atlanta, I did improv in Atlanta. live in San Francisco did improv out there with Bay Area. barrier theater sports. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 33:07
Yeah, it makes sense.
And I live and then I moved to New York and I did like comedy intensive where I was like, writing spec scripts and and I did stand up and did all kinds of improv and all that stuff. And then I started out doing mostly stand up. This is like, 2000 2000 I started stand up. I didn’t like it. But, um, but the first time I went up, the host was like, I told him, it was my first time after I was done. I didn’t want him to know ahead of time. And he’s like, that was great as I’m really He’s like, you’re so natural. Oh, thanks. That’s nice to hear. But because I it was mostly like setup, punchline setup punchline, you know,
we had so much experience performing at that point. I mean, you had gone to three different cities to do different kinds of improv and performance. Like that’s, that’s a lot, right. And you had had a lot of experiences with different kinds of audience. The audiences in Atlanta versus San Francisco versus New York are all very different. So the experience plus like the Wienermobile experience of just traveling around and talking to your random, like a person who’s going to a comedy club, they’re like loosey goosey. They’re like ready to have a good time, but like schmo on the street when you swing up with a Wienermobile, that’s way harder. So like, you had such intense experience, the hardest part about stand up is getting through the part of like, I need to speak now. And then you know, also your professor clearly pointed out the truth of the matter, which is that you are a hilarious writer, and that you have this creativity that like can come out if you like organize it in this way, like the idea of the parodies that you wrote. So awesome. By the way, you us telling me that you wrote those parodies, like totally reinforces this thing like I I’m teaching this kids comedy camp and next week I’m teaching them how to write parodies because I thought this is a good way to like get you into stuff Now that you told me this story, I’m like, Listen guys parodies got a girl a job, you could do this.
It’s true. You never know what it can lead to. I mean, oh, look at Randy rainbow. Right. And he’s machine with his parodies. I mean, you probably don’t want to do that, because that’s all political. But
no, but you can use parodies or whatever you want. Like, that’s the beauty of a parody. A parody is you using a familiar thing to get information out right. Now sometimes in the case of the Wienermobile job interview, you were trying to sell a product great. Makes sense. Cool. They’ve done that before. And people like it. It’s totally cool. But like with him using politics, that’s just a different way. It’s like a soft pitch of like, here’s some ideas but you’re gonna enjoy it because it’s the Brady Bunch theme or whatever. Like that’s how comedy works. You know, you’re like, you’re like, look at my hand. It’s swinging over here. By the way. Here’s some serious things to think about. Right. feels right. Yeah. So did you do stand up more at this point because you were ready to move on to perform by yourself, you would had a lot of experiences with group performing doing troops and whatnot. I have also had that. And I can understand being like, yeah, I’m done with navigating a bunch of other people. I want to do this. So how do I get it done? Was that what motivated you? You were like working with people? And then you were like, no, my path is my own or what made you want to go out by yourself? A lot of people find standup scary because you’re alone. But yeah, Matt, and you’ve done storytelling and now you’re hosting by yourself and doing things where like, you’re the main one we’re all looking at. How did you get to the point of having the confidence to do that?
What would the stick was standard because it was never anything I wanted. It was just part of the curriculum that I was doing with that intensive comedy program and So I did it for like a year as part of this program, but then my Lord, what, what was the program? It was through the American comedy Institute. I don’t even know if they exist anymore. Okay, right now, but it was like, it was like a seven month program. And I thought, Okay, well, that’s enough for me to do. By the way, I had, I had audition for the Groundlings too, but I didn’t like LA. And I’d gotten in but I didn’t like la so I was just like, what am I doing? I just was like, Okay, I’ll go there for seven months. And then I’ll come back because the company I was working for allowed me to work remotely, which was amazing. It’s part of the reason I did it. And and then I wound up when it was over, I decided to stay and I’m so glad i’m glad i did although it was like, it’s the timing was like crazy cuz I had some stuff in storage. I flew back on the morning of September 11 2001. Which is like an intense and Crazy and I was like, oh my god is that I do the right thing and the city is falling apart and the world’s, you know, on to share it and and a month later I booked my first commercial and it was directed by Spike Lee I was like holy shit and so I didn’t answer your question I’m
Unknown Speaker 38:18
just yeah like no no that’s what a path.
Yeah, I was like oh my god I guess I should say here you know, totally confirmed my decision to to move there because I was very nervous about it. I never really loved New York. But from then on I actually started writing originally I will say this too just because I think it’s important for anyone listening but also for your students that I had a tremendous fear because of what happened to me in college of performing. I was terrified that people were going to be laughing at me and not with me. So I was I would be doing things that were protected that I where I felt protected in that means like in classes so I was Do like class performances, but then I was like, This isn’t like you’re not being that brave. You’re just in this cocoon. And I would I took classes at UCB went through, like that whole program. And I took classes like with. I mean, the instructor, one of my instructors was Jason Min zuckuss. And are my instructors was Matt Walsh. Like, at one point, I was taking classes with meaning like they were my fellow students with Mindy Kaling and Ben Schwartz. So like, it’s crazy to see how like, it’s amazing how, how well, they’ve done, but like, I was part of like that UCB crew like raian that was like really kind of when they were really establishing themselves. So But anyway, the point is, like, I wanted to do so much with it, but I was so incredibly terrified of like, the traumatic thing that had happened in college. So every year on New Year’s Day, I would right commit to comedy. And I just had such a hard time with it, and eventually I took a solo show class. At the pit, that was in 2004. And I met somebody there and we started we I started writing original comedy songs. And then I started playing piano with it and singing these original comedy songs. I had a CD at one point, but she and I paired we got like a one hour slot at the pit. I did 30 minutes. She did 30 minutes, she did a character. And from there, we decided to start a sketch troupe together. And we co produced that. And we had four other guys in the group. And we toured with that for a couple years. And then that was what I was like, I don’t like playing characters. I just want to be myself. I want to do my Wienermobile show, because I knew there was something really powerful with that story. So that I took a solo show class in 2007. And I was still doing somebody original comedy songs, but then that really pushed me to share that story which nobody was talking about bullying, even then it was it was scary. The bigger part of the Wienermobile story is like once I actually get in the vehicle, but sharing like this sort of kind of Pun intended meat of that story is, is is important. So it’s not just all like wakawaka, you know? So yeah, so then I did the solo show. And then in 2009, I finally started storytelling. I had a friend Tell me many years earlier, you should totally do this, you’d be so good at it, you should check them off. And I’m like, ah, and I finally did. And I was like, Oh, I see what he told me. I should have done this years ago. But I saw you touched a lot of different elements of the comedy world, but the storytelling has been where I’ve landed. I absolutely love it.
Totally. It’s so hard to take people’s advice, though, and it sucks when later on you get in there and you’re like, Man, you really should have listened to them. But we have to we all have to get there on our own way. Yeah, I agree.
And I think like when you look In these other disciplines, it’s so helpful because with improv, like exploring and heightening, like those rules are really important for anything for sketch for storytelling. There’s so many, there’s so much overlap. Plus, I felt like I also worked in advertising. So like my writing got better for everything that I did, because everything has to be super tight, you know? And
oh, yeah, so advertising is that so like, after I could totally see that the stuff that you got, that you had to do for being in the Wienermobile was like such like marketing and content creation and all the stuff that’s like important these days. Like so during the when you weren’t on stage doing comedy. your day job was an advertising that seemed perfect.
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I yeah, I mean, first, like when I was in Atlanta, I was working for a sports agent slash sports marketing firm. So I learned a lot there. And then it was router when I was in San Francisco, New York. I was a recruiter for creative positions, because I am such a people person and I like connecting people. But then I was like, I want to do some of these jobs. Um, but after that, then I, I actually lost that job. I was laid off in 2001. And then I started becoming a freelance copywriter slash creative director. Well, I wasn’t a creative director for a while. But the first gig I got was at a Food Network when they were not as branded as they are now. They were way out. They were open to a lot of cool stuff. And the guy who was the executive producer of Creative Services, he brought me in because I did stand up. He didn’t look at my the rest of my portfolio. He just liked that. I did stand up. Yeah, because I was writing and then he he hired me to write
comedic spots for Andy Richter. I was like,
Unknown Speaker 43:52
Yeah, nice. Let’s do that.
Yeah, they did this thing called the couch potato marathon was super fun. Super fun. It’s like Oh, I know that. This guy yeah and I got 30 seconds. gotta write in this basically writing scratches
plus promise tell me that Andy Richter is nice.
They never produced
Unknown Speaker 44:10
it. What you never ran like you wrote all this stuff but he never got to say what Yeah.
Are you like write write scripts and scripts and scripts and then they never produced them.
Oh my gosh, yeah, that’s in her heart. I know. It’s thinking. You’re in a room and he’s sitting on a couch and they’re like, Okay, next movie is this what do we say? Rob? What do we say? And you just toss him lines and he says stuff. Oh, man. Yeah, I bet you I bet you you
didn’t get to work with other cool people, but I didn’t get that chance. I’m
like, especially them because he was so popular.
Oh, he’s my new favorite like pod podcast host to like his new podcast is like my favorite. So what’s it? Oh, I’ve heard about it. Three questions with Andy Richter. He’s just so warm and sweet and self effacing and it’s like, I love it. I love it more than the ones that I’ve been listening to for years, like I stopped. And I just listened to him all the time. It’s just
Unknown Speaker 45:06
he’s loves it for sure.
I mean, it’s an hour. But again, I people say with podcasting that you do what you like. So like, people have often said to me, like, oh, why are you having these long conversations, but I love having long conversations, because I love listening to the long conversations. And also like, from the point of view of like, me being human and you being human, I think it’s more fun when we talk for a little while, right? Like, if we talk for 10 minutes, then it’s like, well, you got like, kind of a vague notion, but like now it’s like, we get to dig in and figure it out and even talk about like, even the idea of what we’re talking about right now, which is like you wrote this thing for a director and then it didn’t happen. Like that’s such a real thing that happens in comedy work like,
Unknown Speaker 45:55
all the time. Yeah, like
myself, right? It you are working, you’re doing it like don’t hate yourself for it not being made. You know? No, I
absolutely don’t. But because it was my first thing I was like, this is an amazing, you know, like, entrance into this world.
Totally, totally. Like, for people listening like this is if you’re going to be a writer that’s like, that’s like a real thing that happens where like, you know, you put stuff out there or like, you write something, they buy it, and then it goes on a shelf forever, and no one ever sees it or like you work on a whole project. And then like, right at the end, they’re like, oh, by the way, we couldn’t get the rights to do it. So we’re not doing it, you know, like, right. So I mean, it’s just such a real, like, if you’re working in this kind of stuff, like you’re, it’s very likely you’re going to do a lot of work and nobody might ever see it. But I suppose if you’ve been working in live theater for a long time, you can accept that.
The other thing that I would say that I think has really been like incredibly In valuable to me, in terms of rejection is working in advertising because my work has been rejected so many times. And I’m not saying it because I am not good at what I do. But it’s just the reality. And they are. It’s a different kind of business than theater or comedy, where people are rejecting your work. So it helped me develop really thick skin when I started sharing other work of mine because I just was like, okay, it’s not so much about me. It’s about, you know, the audience. It’s about the client that goes that is that is so true for our auditions. Like I don’t even get nervous for like commercial auditions because I’ve been on the other side of that table. And I’m just like, whatever. Like, I know, this has like a client, like I’ve worked on so many brands where they are so nitpicky, but the little the littlest Things you wouldn’t even imagine. You wouldn’t even imagine I work on a website for this very well known brand who I won’t mention. And during a call, they were like, I’m, I’m so sure but the gray in the footer kind of reminds me of battleship gray. And that kind of makes me think of Nazis and I was like, Okay, so this was, I think, like six years ago, I was like, okay, as the I’m going to assume because I’ve met all these people. I was like, I’m pretty sure I’m the only Jewish person on this call. So I’m just gonna let you know like, that actually never was like a consideration when I was looking at the website that didn’t cross my mind. So I don’t know if that should be something that we’re considering need the consumers to be concerned about. You know that that should be a fear for the consumer. It’s like I hung up that call and I called my partner but that’s what you call it advertising. We’ve got like our directors, copywriting partners, creative team, and we are both creative. And I was like, What the
Unknown Speaker 49:01
Are you kidding me? That’s what they’re concerned about. I was like, and then we got in this whole conversation after that if like, warm white versus cool white. I was just like, so that we wouldn’t use the word gray anymore. I was just like, oh my lord like what in the EverLiving
Unknown Speaker 49:19
there is so just
sir like your students who maybe are doing any kind of like working with cartels do yeah, like, you just need to know like fetal stuff, it’s very often has nothing to do with it.
Yeah, also it It also like doesn’t really have anything to do with you when it comes to like what they’re looking at like, like even though you are what they’re looking at. It’s not you personally, like I was in this commercial where I was a roller derby girl. And I know we’re not you’re not visually looking at me but I am a large plus sized woman right? And I am they strapped me into so many Spanx and they got me in some tights. lycra, and then they put rollerskates on me and they stand me in front of five ad execs who talk about me like I’m a picture. And I thought it was such a fascinating experience. Thank God I am like sociology first. Ego second, because I was like, what an experience it is to be a picture. Like cuz they were like, I don’t know about this little PC yellow here, could we pull it down and then like a costume girl would mess with me. I was just like, God, this is so funny. Like, if I had been at all worried about them saying like, she’s fat, but they hired me. So who cares? Man, I’m it we’re in. We’re recording this right now. Like this is happening. But it was just such a funny thing to be like a statue for them. And they would come over and like, they ask the costume. Oh, can we fix this piece of hair? Okay, what about this thing? And I was
like, Oh, God, so it’s about perfectionism.
Yeah. And it’s like in 30 seconds when you put me into the roller rink, like This wrinkle is coming back and my hair is flying out like I’m moving in the air like so, though, like just the details like this gray isn’t gray enough for your hair looks a little flippy it’s like, oh, so funny. They’re really gonna sell this for you. Oh,
yeah. And it’s funny because like, because you just never like I was in a commercial a few years ago where I played a dentist, which I found hilarious because I was like, I have worked on so many brands that are connected to oral care like, like Philips Sonicare and like Colgate and like, I worked on tons and tons of projects for Colgate. And I was like, Well, I know something about dentistry. Like I know nothing about dentistry, but I was all I had to do is yawn all he was young. And I was like, because I was playing a dentist who was tired and the patient was nervous, because it was for like a sleep aid pill. A camera was off. Yeah, and I was like, I so I you know, when am I That’s all I did. And it was hysterical. I’m like, I guess the callback Really? Okay. And I went in and I got paired with this guy who I found out later was is like a character on freakin Sesame Street, which is amazing. Yeah. And we did you know, we did our thing a yond a million times. Which is funny, because then it actually makes you really tired. The more you do it, yeah. And when we left, he made some really good choices. I was like, What are you talking about? Like, I’m like, I didn’t think I made any choices. Like, what kind of choices can you make when you’re yawning? You know? Seriously, like, what I was like, Oh, thanks. Yeah, appreciate it. He’s like, because I thought because they were all laughing and they were laughing. I was like, they’re mostly laughing at him because he had all these great facial expressions. And here I am, you know, clown was like, I mean, it was just to me, it was just so funny. So when my agent like emailed me like you booked it, I’m like, I can’t Seriously, and then, and then me I was thrilled Of course. And we wound up shooting it at the soundstage where they did two things that they’re known for the single ladies video, which was super cool. And so there’s this guy, Chris and I like, reenacted that, you know, like was like the wave. And then um, and they used to shoot porn there.
Unknown Speaker 53:24
Yeah, great, cool.
Unknown Speaker 53:27
Oh man, hilarious.
audition I went out for it was like a bird color for eye hop. And so I really like contacted Stacey, I was like this message. I was like, um, so what are you sending me out for stuff? Where I’m just making sounds? No, I’m not actually speaking. I just yawn or I do bird crawling or is yodeling on the dock like what’s happening?
Is this you? Is this your way of telling me you got to recollect commercial break? Like Yes, that’s Me actually everyone, you know, you’re listening. It’s just me. They they dial down the voice what sounded like a man, but it was really Robin.
Yeah, yeah. No, I did not. I didn’t audition for the I’m open to it if anyone from Rico was listening, but
Unknown Speaker 54:17
I think they’re doing a lot of marketing right now. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll say,
I don’t know. I hate to say it if people are coughing, you know?
Unknown Speaker 54:23
Yeah, you need yreka Absolutely. Perfect advertising. Good job.
It also helped me like learn how to promote my own stuff. Yes, working a business because I’m always like, what’s in it for the audience was so the biggest question I always ask myself with every project I work on. And it also because when you’re promoting because so often people don’t want to promote themselves or they feel weird. Some people have no problem with it. But I think most artists don’t want to. And it’s like if you position it in a way where you make it about the audience, and what They’re going to get out of the experience, then it kind of takes some of that pressure off of you. And so with when I started yums the word which is my storytelling show, I started that almost nine years ago. I was like, Okay, I’m gonna have funny True Stories cuz nobody really was doing that. There’s plenty of storytelling shows in New York for nobody was just only doing funny True Stories although actually know that I take that back the liar show was doing that, which I loved. And I was gonna make homemade ice cream cakes for it. Yeah.
I saw that you make homemade ice cream cakes. How is that a? a? How is that a skill that a person develops and then be? How do you take an ice cream cake from your home in a New York City apartment and travel it to a location without it melting?
Excellent question. Thank you for the empathy
I because if you only knew
Gil, I have so many stories that the skill of I developed because my mom used to make them when we were kids. And she actually made pretty, pretty simple ones compared to now what I’ve created, because I’ll put like, and I would let the audience decide. So we would have people celebrating their birthdays of the show, and they would get to pick, like the layers and the toppings and the flavors and all that kind of stuff. And it took me I’m gonna guess, a year before I found a cooler to transport my ice cream cakes to the venue, and I get carsick. So I used to take that cooler, into the subway, up and down stairs. And by the way, it depends on the show, I would do like three to five ice cream cakes. Which also begs the question, how do you have that space in your New York City apartment freezer. I put nothing else in there and sometimes I Like us my neighbor’s apartment. If we have like a big show like we had mo Rocca on the show in December Yes, my dream cast was the best night one of the best nights of my life. If not the best time of my life. It was amazing. I may work my app off on that show. But he is the love but I’d made five for that. I paid for that and there were times where so the cooler because so often this is gonna sound super dorky and feel free to cut this because I don’t know how I’m
Unknown Speaker 57:30
talking about it. Would you say
I said I’m into the cooler stuff. Let’s talk about it.
All right, like your standard cooler is wide
and not high. Right? Right. And sometimes they wheels and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they have like that wheelie thing to like, you know like a wheelie suitcase where you can pull it and sometimes they don’t. And I was like I cannot store a wide gas cooler in my apartment. That’s ridiculous. And also I would bring pans I was going to like Kmart, bringing my ice cream cake pans, trying to sack stuff to see how it would work. I was like these things are all going to topple over onto each other. It needs to be stackable vertically. I would be I was a maniac I was trying to find I couldn’t find anything online. I don’t know why. I would walk by like a bodega or like a newsstand and see their cooler and be like, Hey, where’d you get that? Like, and then I would be sometimes I’d have a piece of paper with me. And I’m like, okay, that’s 11 inches high. So I could like measure how I mean, I was ridiculous. And at some point, I was walking. Like it was a winter I was walking down the street in New York, and I saw my dream cooler. And I was like, where’d you get this? How much was it? Like a million questions? And can I take a picture of it? He’s like, yeah, like, like, okay, crazily. It was like, I think it’s a Coleman cooler. I’m actually not in New York at the moment. But it was it was exactly what I needed. I was like, This is perfect. It’s Rolly. It’s got like, good. Like, it’s like the tires on this thing are no joke. It’s like an off road. It’s amazing. And I could stack for cakes in there. And when I stack them, like, by the way, because I spend so much time putting these together, it takes three days to make just one ice cream cake. And by the way, I used to make all the ice cream too now is its own adventure. Don’t do that anymore. But q4 so
Unknown Speaker 59:33
Thank you think I’m crazy. Some would say they’re like, it’s hard enough to produce a show. I’m like, trust me. I know. And they’re like, then you put on this other whole other layer of ice cream cake. So I was like, Oh, yeah, and I’m catering it to what these people want. I’m not just like making up nickels.
I like making these cakes. You’re gonna like it get over
Yeah, no So at one point, my friend was like, you know, rather than people don’t just come from the ice cream cakes, like, you don’t have to do that you can farm that out. And I was like, I love that is customized. I think it’s really important because some of the cakes I’ll do like donuts is a layer. I mean, Baskin Robbins isn’t going to do that. I mean, I wouldn’t go around. I would use a local New York brand. And I’ve met many of them. And they’re wonderful people. Anyway, the whole thing is, yeah, got a little crazy. There was one time that was the most heartbreaking thing I’ll just share very quickly. Also, like looking for a venue, by the way, which is like the number one criteria is do you have a freezer? That was I always had to know that. And it’s not, it’s hard to find in there. Yeah, I found one that took a long time to and they were like, well, we have a cold storage unit. Like what’s the temperature? This is 40 degrees. I was like, Alright, well, freezing is 32. We all know that eight degrees warmer. I don’t know what that testimony is from kings.
Like science was our subject in school. To the point where my sister used to go, she got to see and science.
Goddess in soils, dude, sure your students are like, What are you talking about lady?
Unknown Speaker 1:01:11
This week? Apparently I’m into a apprec Yeah,
yeah, it’s gonna be hard to find a venue with a with a freezer in it for sure.
Yeah, so now these things were like
I have like a condoms on each one of these things. I put them in a plastic bag and then I put them in when those hot cold bags and each one of those hot cold bag gets two ice packs. Like I’m crazy because I’m just like, if this is all this work, and like a female, I will be absolutely heartbroken. And one night one of them did. And I was it was because the venue was like, we have this other little freezer here. If you want to put one of those in there. I’m like, I’ll try it. Okay. So it was just one but out of three. That’s a bummer. And we went back and it was super It was like
Unknown Speaker 1:01:59
like who likes it? Three members, you know, you have
Unknown Speaker 1:02:06
healing By the way, this is not a Fraser.
So, we’re we’ve taken I’ve taken a lot of your day and I we both know I’ve give massive long stories to like my entire company.
Oh, no, you’re perfect. I just wanted to. I just wanted to ask you sort of one last question. What is the thing that you’re doing now? Or either COVID times or previous? That is like the exciting project that you’re working on. Now. I know that you’re still doing yums the word and you’re still making the ice cream cakes. And I am fascinated by all of that, like the ice cream cake part was my question. So I’m so glad we talked about it. Because it was like, okay, storytelling, I gotta you gotta guess Cool, cool, cool. I get it. And ice cream cakes, tell me everything. So I’m down. But like, what’s the thing that you’re working on now or there abouts? time wise, that’s like exciting to you most exciting to you.
Um, my screenplay about driving the Wienermobile my writing partner, it’s my it’s funny cuz my writing partner saw my solo show in 2011 and said, I want to write this would be amazing buddy moving like I know because I get paired with my complete opposite and the Wienermobile just to give you a sense. So it’s like, you know, like he listens to hip hop I listen to show tunes like he was he was like a total horndog. I was a virgin, like, it’s just like, you know, ripe for this. And she approached me and she wanted to get the rights to the story. And I said, I actually was always hoping I can write this with somebody rather than just turn it over to someone. And she was exclusive with another writer at the time. So we said, okay, well Thanks, but no thanks. And then Several years later, I reached out to her again, I’m like, are you still like exclusive with that partner? She said no. And, and so we started working on it, but you know, she’s got a little one and things, you know, things make it hard to sort of
Unknown Speaker 1:04:15
write. But the journal pandemic, yeah, I get that.
Yeah. But even prior to that, just like you know, both have different things going on in our lives and trying to connect and, you know, I’ve never worked with a writing partner before. Except like when I do sketch comedy is different because that’s so much shorter than writing a screenplay. It’s like such a bigger animal. And so we started the beginning of the pandemic, and then stuff happened with her kid in school and having a hard time with him, you know, on zoom and she was just like, I can’t, I have to take a break from this for a bit. So I was doing a lot riding with it. And we have a call later today about it, which is exciting. Then we have a call with a I took a class and I got like a free one on one. console with one of their peeps. And that’s next week. So I’m like, pretty fired up for this. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I did some virtual shows for yums the word at the beginning we did about four of them. And, you know, I had already done. This is like another thing for your students I hosted and created shows in virtual reality last year for Microsoft, which is like, what, that’s a whole other thing, just something to explore. But that actually helped prepare me for this world. And I had a lot of experience with that. So but I’m putting that on pause because like, people don’t want to be in front of screens all day, you know?
Yeah, it’s it’s like we did all the screen time for a year and three months and now it’s like, that’s why when people are like bemoaning the like, Oh, see, it was over like there’s not over we’re dying to be in the room with each other. We are literally hoping we could do anything like spending time in a room with one another theater is going to be Whew, when we’re allowed to do it again, because everyone’s like, Can I sit really close to a stranger? He’s gonna cop on me and I feel safe. It’s the best. Like it’s not, you know, we that’s what we want, you know? And yeah, all the all the figuring out how to make online stuff. I mean, that’s wonderful. It has opened us up to learning from people all over the world and playing and meeting different people. And that’s great. I mean, the internet literally, you know, admittedly, we were connected to a person I met in person, but here we are, we’re strangers talking over the internet. And there’s something beautiful about that, because I can write because this is a technology that we live in the world of, and that’s super great. But you know, as soon as the time comes that we’re able to get back on stage you and I both are going to be doing it because a it’s what we love and then be people want to see it and want to be part of it and feel the energy of other people. So we’re back for sure. For sure.
Yeah. To be patient with I’m excited for the energy of other people in a theatre space, way more so than on the subway. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 1:07:09
yeah, definitely for sure.
Very different, you know purposes.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:13
I look for tainment on the subway so you know, yeah, that’s you don’t even pay for that is thrust upon you.
I love that you mentioned that you took that you take all these classes, you know, you’re, you’re using this one on one that you got through a workshop that you took to help you write this screenplay. You’re still taking classes all the time, even though you’re working constantly in this in this art form. You’re still trying to get better and better and I think that is a great indication of what a good artist you are. Because it’s not like you’re just like, well, this is me check it out. You’re like how do I learn more? How do I develop How do I take the what’s around me and let it inspire me even like this? woman asked, Hey, can we write on this and it took a few years before your brain came together and was like, You know what, let’s do it or like, you know, you finally take this class that allows you to have somebody to give you a one on one on the screenplay. Like, it’s just really cool, and very admirable that you’re like continuously making yourself better and better.
I try thanks. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of load days, like what am I doing?
But it certainly helps from Couldn’t you were talking about like doing stuff on your own versus working with people. I missed that accountability. You have to really be very driven to do a lot of this stuff, you know, yourself. And because I want to do more with hosting, because I absolutely love hosting and like I host a kids show, I’ve been hosting a kitchen during the pandemic. Like, that’s easy, you know, but having a writing partner helps you be more accountable and then classes always do absolutely cost us Do you know, so I feel like that’s often what people do. If it’s just to, you know, get moving on a project. So you have 10 built in deadlines. Otherwise, it’s really hard to motivate ourselves to commit, you know?
Absolutely. And then you have all these other people around you, that can inspire you with this or that reaction, you know, either they’re similar to you or they’re like, taking the inspiration and doing something different with it. And you’re like, what is that guy’s brain about? But it makes you work and it makes you figure it out and become more creative.
Totally. And I actually was really inspired because I’m somebody who I’m friendly with who has a huge had a huge roll over at at Broad City was in my class. And so but he wasn’t showing himself on screen. So I privately messaged him and I’m like, is this the same person? I think it is. Because it could have been like a it’s a it was a kind of a common ish name. And he was like it is Hey, Robin, how are you? And I’m like, that’s super cool. That he’s like polishing, you know, so it’s like you can never you. I’ve often like thought like, maybe I should take improv classes again so that I’m not so structured with things and I can have a little bit of fun and learn to let go again, you know, I think that we can always benefit from classes. And yeah, cuz you just never like you said, you never know what you’re gonna learn. And also, like, if you feel this way about teaching, like because I teach storytelling to, like, I learned a ton from my students. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
I like to teach. I teach one on one improv one on one, I teach the same most basic elements of it every single time. But for me, it’s different for them. I hope I give a consistent education. I’m using the same syllabus from the schools that they give me. And I do that and that’s great. But for me every time I learned something new from them, and that and then it really informs me for the next group that I teach, you know, it’s like the last class had this situation go on. I wonder if this class will have that. Same bumps in the road or whatnot. Yeah, yeah, it’s really great. It’s really wonderful to be able to connect with people both as a student and as a teacher. I think that also for you, the landscape of New York, improv is changing quite a bit. And so will actually lead to, I have high hopes, I have high hopes that like, it will mean that the other theaters in town who are able to stay open, are able to thrive and actually have a creative Renaissance because all these other people will need a new home, and they’ll find different spots all around and then they will meet new people in the collaborations will create new and exciting art forms. So it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s easy to say goodbye to something like UCB. It’s not over forever, but it’s certainly over in New York. And but that doesn’t mean that art is gone or that even the UCB community has gone they’re all still there. They just made stage to do so. On and as soon as it’s available, they’ll be finding a spot to put up their shows and song and dance numbers and everything. So yeah, I mean, it should be really interesting to see how that stuff is out. And you know, maybe, you know, your classes can help people and then maybe there are some classes where somebody’s like, Hey, I have this knowledge I’ve never been able to share and you’re like, what
I want it so who knows? Yeah, I think it’s, it’s it’s good practice to just take a little dip into each one of the art forms to see how one informs the other one kind of overlaps with the other because there I say, I actually, this guy interviewed me for his podcast a few weeks ago, and he’s an incredible storyteller. He’s one of the most like 45 times it’s insane. And I said something to him. And he wrote an amazing book called story where they, and you know, so obviously, we’re friends and we’re peers. And I said something to him about the idea of truth and comedy. And he was like I said, Have you ever heard of that? He’s like, No, I said, Oh, that’s like improv one on one of besides like, yes. And of course, there’s a book called truth in comedy, which is like a must for all improvisers. It applies to everything. Because you don’t have to force jokes in a story. You just have to understand who that character is. and figure out what those personality traits are, which most of the time is us. So we know ourselves, you know, pretty well. And then you can fig you don’t have to force like, well, first of all, our stories are so far, like, quite often so funny anyway, like you don’t to force that. You just find the things that are funny as the story’s unfolding, and that’s where the humor comes in. And he’s like, Oh, I never knew that, like.
Unknown Speaker 1:13:47
So fascinating. The way people come at creative information, you know, we all learn from different things. I didn’t know improv was a thing until I was 30 years old. like are you kidding me? You know, I grew up in Boston, I lived in New York for 10 years during ucbs height, and I didn’t ever hear of it because I was doing random avant garde open mics over on the Lower East Side with Michel Carlo.
Unknown Speaker 1:14:13
You know, like, I had
Yeah, surf reality collective unconscious Bowery poetry club, that whole crowd. I was fulfilled with, you know, my creativity with them. So I wasn’t like looking to take classes. And then later when I moved away, and they were like, you lived there, and you didn’t take classes. I was like, I don’t even know
Unknown Speaker 1:14:31
what. Yeah, crazy.
Yeah. Very divided sort of audience, like groups like not not like in a bad way. It just was, you know, a different sort of spirit.
Like you pick an area, you stay in that area. So you know, it’s all good. Robin, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to chat with me and share your story with my audience. My pleasure. Thank you so much.
Great. Thanks. for having me and and best wishes with your your kids come to camp
Unknown Speaker 1:15:11
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Unknown Speaker 1:15:16
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai