YBY ep 232: Steven M. Saltsman explores improv, identity and good life choices.

This week on Yes But Why, we talk to Houston improv community leader, Steven M. Saltsman.

Steven M. Saltsman is the co-founder of Pronoia Theater in Houston, Texas. Steven and his business partner, Aaron Garrett, founded Pronoia in the summer of 2018 as a theater for everyone and so they seek out unconventional theater spaces to present their shows.

As a performer, Steven has completed the conservatory program at Second City theater in Chicago and he has performed improv all over the world.

In our chat, we talk about what it’s like to produce small, independent theater. Steven talks about the magical smell of cleaning products, transporting him to the time when he performed in his first school play.

We go down quite a few philosophical rabbit holes. Steven brings up The Ship of Theseus, and I can’t help it, so we talk at length about my 18 year theory. We talk about organization as an important element of success. And Steven teaches me about the 7 types of conflict in improv scenes. This was a great conversation and I can’t wait for you to hear it.

Support Steven M. Saltsman by watching comedy shows produced by Pronoia Theater. You can also check out Steven performing in the Pronoia show, “Magical Lying Hour.”


Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com to join in on 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

This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. Swing on by PodcastCadet.com to get help for all your podcasting needs! Go to PodcastCadet.com and put in offer code YBY20 to get 20% off your first consultation!



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(production notes: recorded Zoom call with HyperX earphones and my lapel mic at the home studio on 9/16/2020)



TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai

HOST  00:00

Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan.   This is episode 232 of Yes But Why Podcast, my interview with Houston improviser, Steven M. Saltsman!  But first, let’s talk about our sponsors.   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.   In my conversation with Steven, we go down quite a few philosophical rabbit holes. I’m looking at Audible right now and they have TONS of philosophy books for you to listen to! You should check it out.   Audible is available for your iPhone, Android, or Kindle. Download your free audiobook today at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.  This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com.   Podcast Cadet is dedicated to helping you build your podcast. We will connect you to the resources you’ll need to get better and better with each and every episode.   Swing on by PodcastCadet.com to get help for all your podcasting needs! Let us know you heard about us from Yes But Why and you’ll get 20% off the workshop or service you buy!  This week on Yes But Why, I talk to Steven M. Saltsman, co-founder of Pronoia Theater in Houston, Texas.   In our chat, we talk about philosophical ideas of identity and what it’s like to produce small, independent theater. Support Steven and his theater community by checking out all the content available at pronoiatheater dot com.  I now present to you yes but why episode 232: Steven M. Saltsman explores improv, identity and good life choices.  Enjoy. I’m Amy Jordan. And this is Yes But Why Podcast. Yeah.


GUEST  02:20

I grew up in a very large family, entertaining ourselves and each other. Just love is like part of it, it was part and parcel to how we spent time. And so like getting my older siblings, I have three, there’s triplets in my family that are four and a half years older than me. They’re like if I could get to two or all three of them to laugh, like that was a thrill every time. And then, in second grade around age seven, maybe I was in a production of rare rabbit, I was given a non speaking role. And I was a very small child. I was an exceedingly small child. And I was this tiny little rabbit. And the school gave me a prop that was this carrier that admittedly I was a very small child, but it was like the size of my forearm and just had the longest green tassels. And yeah, the main thing I did is like somebody would somebody came out and they asked me where brear rabbit went. And I pointed, but I have such strangely clear memories of the performance night. I don’t I don’t know if anybody liked it. I don’t know if anybody enjoyed it. But in on stage, pointing having like the prop the costume, feeling like half silly, half cute, but taking it very seriously even as a very small child. And one of the oddest memories is the classroom was our green room for that production. And since we were there so late, the smell of the cleaning supplies is like deeply ingrained and tied to theater for me. This just I don’t know what the desk cleaner was. But every once in a while I’ll get a whiff of it. Just like walking around. And it’s almost transportation will just whisks me back to being in second grade where I’m like, Oh, yeah, well, this is this is a magic thing happening and I don’t understand it. But yeah, I think that that non speaking role in a second grade school production of brer rabbit is certainly the first time I felt like being on stage was something that needed to keep happening.



I like the idea that you were like I took it very seriously. And I appreciate that I was a serious kid too.


GUEST  04:52

Oh, I was also cut up.



Sure, sure. Absolutely. But that’s part of it. Right? Like if you have the world With all the do comedy as a young child, you have to be a little jaded. A little cynical. Like you have to be like a seven year old who’s like, Listen, I get it guys and then like the adults to, to laugh, right?


GUEST  05:15

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it helped that I did very well in school. So even when I was disruptive, it was like, come on, Steven. Like, I don’t want you to be in trouble. But I have no other choice.



Yeah, I hear that. I hear that. It’s a it’s a weird thing, too. Because I realized Personally, I also did well in school, but I wouldn’t consider myself the smartest of my friends by any stretch of the imagination. And so whenever people talk about like their kids, or like grades or whatever, I’m like, Guys, some people are good at taking those tests. And some people aren’t like, some people are good at smiling and the teacher gives them good grades. Like you’re not, you know, I wasn’t, I wasn’t studying all the time. I wasn’t applying myself. I have no like, serious study habits. You know how they’ll, they’ll bring those back up. Like, if you’re doing a writing thing. They’re like, think back to the study habits you had in school. I’m like, so do nothing and get everything fine. Like, that’s not that’s not a solution. Right? But yeah, I was also a comedy kid too. So I think they were a little like, I don’t know, let her do it. She’s still gonna make days though. Yeah.


GUEST  06:34

One of those creative types. You just gotta let them go.



Did you?



What did your family think about you doing theatrical stuff? Did you continue to do you mentioned earlier that you did choir? Was that after brer? rabbit was that the creative outlet and were your was your family very supportive of this?


GUEST  06:58

I actually started choir before I because I know doing choir in first grade. I don’t know if I did it in kindergarten. I don’t really remember childhood is a mess. Remember a ton of but Yeah, I know. I was doing it in first grade because I my first grade teacher lost her wedding ring, the night of our Christmas recital. And I found it in the snow. And she was very grateful. God, yeah.



Well, I guess screenplay.


GUEST  07:34

Especially because she been like, bought a bunch of my family didn’t have a ton of money. And I helped her find this diamond ring in the snow at night. And so I believe it was her she wound up buying, like Christmas presents for me and some of my siblings. And so on Christmas Day, like we came downstairs and there were more presence than were expected. But it was also like all pins and notebooks and like school supplies, which was still very sweet was still very nice. But I was like, Oh, these are not the things I expected.



I love this idea like clearly a teacher gift.


GUEST  08:13

Yeah. And it’s got to be the one who lost her diamond ring in the snow late at night. And her Itsy Bitsy tiny child student who was only six inches from the ground standing straight up was a find it oh



I had no idea you were a Lilliputian. That’s that’s how it


GUEST  08:33

is yes. Um Well, some people said I was a Lilliputian others said I was a gay Who?



Well, I’m sure you were adorable. And you were later in the in the birth order, right? Like you were like fourth or something.


GUEST  08:48

fit because there were the triplets and then one older than them.



Oh, yeah.


GUEST  08:52

Like I was gone. Like triplets. I can’t compete the amount of stress that creates even if I tried. Oh, absolutely.





GUEST  09:02

Yeah. identical twin girls and a triplet boy extremely rare. Wow. So I



continue for you your creativity clearly, you know, you’re winning your teachers are big fans of you because you can find small objects in the snow and and you know, you’re you’re doing pretty well. You’re doing pretty good grades wise. You’re number five so nobody noticed what you were doing at all. But But how did you develop creativity was your did your parents say like Yeah, get in there do your stuff or were they like, oh, were you not home and you were just going and doing what you wanted? Um,


GUEST  09:45

yeah, it was interesting. So I did like I said, I did choir up until eighth grade. And I dabbled in a tiny bit of required music instrument playing, but never actually learned an instrument kind of regret that now as an adult. I own a violin and several mizmor, which are an Iranian droning instrument that I had to learn how to play a little bit of in Arabian Nights.



You still have those actual instruments?


GUEST  10:16

Uh, no, I have I have some that I got at a later time. This the one that I used for the show, but I didn’t realize it, I had learned how to play with a cracked read. I was like, yeah, it’s just hard to get sound out of sometimes. And then I showed somebody who actually knew music. They were like, Steven, you shouldn’t be getting sound out of this at all. Like, you’ve been practicing with a broken instrument like, Well, I didn’t know how hard it was supposed to be, which is really a very common tale in my life is like, I didn’t know how hard it was supposed to be. So I just struggled through.



Oh, yeah. Yeah. Was that a common theme in your life? What are other? What’s another tale that has that as the lesson?


GUEST  11:00

Well, one of the things that makes me think of is romantic relationships, I grew up from just having a large family, it was not a very healthy family. It was there was violence at home. And when I grew up, there was violence with my partners, but it wasn’t as violent. And so it didn’t register as not okay. Or at least like not as like, completely unacceptable. And so like, that’s, that’s something and wanting to commit and be committed and like, stay with the same person but not realizing that, frankly, I was like in an abusive relationship.



I yes. Yes, that can happen.


GUEST  11:44

I didn’t start seeing a therapist until much later in life. And I was always amused that I joke that my first therapist, one of the most common things she would say was oh, wow, that’s like that marriage? Oh, wow. From a mental health professional. Good to know. It’s the only life I remember having is this one where I call myself Steven. Right? Anything else is just guesswork.



Sure. Yeah. I definitely am one of those people, though, that I feel like, maybe we have other lives. But you know, we’ll never connect to them truly, in this life. But maybe occasionally, here and there. When you feel something or like you feel connected to something and you’re like, there’s no reason for me to feel connected to this thing. Yeah. I feel like those are like tiny moments that are like connecting you to the other person. You’re,


GUEST  12:37

yeah, I that’s what Brandon Taylor in law is like, what do you think the afterlife is like? I’m like, oh, one, I don’t know. But I like the idea that it’s, we’re not even necessarily Rico incarnated as people but that there’s, for lack of a better term, an experienced machine. And they can be changed to have different parameters, what we consider the physical constants of the universe don’t have to be in the omniverse, so to speak, that there are realities beyond this one, potentially. And I’ve generally had times where I’m like, sitting around and like, I am a grand an ancient being, and I’m just here for a minute. And then almost always passes. But like, it’s a very curious sensation, like you were saying, feeling connected to something inexplicably, mine is often feeling connected to outside of life. If that makes sense.



It does. It definitely does. Especially if you’re like not telling if the beginning of the story isn’t like so I took these hallucinations. So like, if that’s not the case, but you’re still feeling connected? That’s, that’s pretty solid and spiritual. I’d say.


GUEST  13:46

I like it. Yeah. And no, it’s like sitting at work. I’ll be like, Huh, I am, like, I’m working to make people feel safer. But also, like, all of this is only for now. But somehow, there’s a part of me that is not. And it is from outside. And I often wonder, like, what is the connectivity between consciousness and matter? How does it attach itself? We don’t know how it’s made manifest. We don’t know how thinking becomes aware. We haven’t replicated it, certainly, other than through, you know, the standard. You know, the the biological methods?


HOST  14:25



GUEST  14:27

We, we haven’t been able to replicate it. So where does it come from? And people have had massive brain damage, and they’re still aware, and they’re still similar, though. Sometimes they change, you know, stripped and make the lives and all that. But it’s very curious. And I also think about the Ship of Theseus a lot, like a lot. Are you familiar with the Ship of Theseus?


HOST  14:47

Tell me about it.


GUEST  14:48

Yeah, it’s a it’s a philosophical mind experiment. And there’s a variety of variations on it. And the basic idea is that there’s this great king named Theseus, and he has a ship and this ship, we’ll say has 50 boards. And every year he finds the worst and oldest and most rotted board and he removes it and replaces it. Over the course of 50 years he has replaced every board on his entire ship. Is it still the Ship of Theseus? And there you know, you can answer yes or no, it is the same ship, it doesn’t the same ship. All of the parts changed, has its identity. And then one of the tins to it is the idea, like assume he has a twin brother who every year takes the board and places it exactly where it used to be on the old ships. So now after 50 years, Theseus has a ship. And his brother has a ship made of all of the old boards of the Ship of Theseus in exactly the same place as the old Ship of Theseus. And they both claim to have the Ship of Theseus, who actually has it. And you know, you you yourself, as an entity, your matter changes we consume so that we can replace our decaying parts, in part and also for energy. And the same for myself. And the same for everyone. And there are very small pockets of you that never really change inside of your What is it called the lens of your eye, the lens of your eye closes, and it doesn’t really change, like those cells don’t change properly, which is why they cloud with ages, they just, they don’t, they don’t really reproduce, you can’t grow it back if it gets damaged. and such. And most people’s corneas, I want to say is the term but yet inside their limbs, is a tiny pocket of fluid that just sits there and never really changes, there’s very little evidence, like there’s not really blood going to it or from it. So it can’t really be changed. And so some parts of you are constant, but the vast majority of you has changed innumerable times, in a physical way. And then how many times have you changed? As a person like as who you consider yourself? Would your child self recognize you personality to personality? Certainly, there’s going to be some overlap some like, Oh, yeah, I see where that came from. natures or playfulness or, or even like hurts things that like traumas or injuries as a child that have calcified into something as an adult or coping mechanisms, what have you, all of those can carry through, but how much of you has to survive in order to be the same person?



Yeah, it’s funny, I think about that all the time. And as you’re talking, I’m like, Man, you’re just walking me right into saying the same thing I say, in every episode. I have an 18 years theory that that we become different people, every 18 years. And so the journey from zero to 1818, to 3636 to 54, we are journeys of you becoming your new self, right now make sense, Sarah 18, you know, we’re growing up, we’re living into the constraints of our parents, blah, blah, blah, we’re given the experiences we have, because as children, you’re not really like choosing your experiences, you’re just sort of having them. And then when you get older, you either stick with that, or you break away from it. And then you become yourself. Like, you have to go through and change from 18 to 36, to become like an adult, and to figure out how to live in the world. Because your parents gave you what they knew, but they only knew their part. And now you have your new part. And then you get older. And usually when I bring this up, I’m bringing it up, because I think that we don’t give credit to the later stages in our adult lives. In that, like, we give all this Glory to the zero to 18. And then 36 is, is the demographic of everything. If you want somebody to sell you something, that’s who they’re trying to sell it to, right. And so every one over 36 is just like, Okay, good luck to you. And there’s so many years, and sometimes you get two or three cycles. And I really believe that you become new people and sometimes you’re in the same place you live in the same town. You have the same job. Sure. But you’re still different in the same way that your example about the about the ship, right? You’ve gone through new experiences you have you stuff has happened to you, you change the way you look at the world, right? It will happen whether you plan it or not. It’s happening, right? You’re going through it and in the same way that like I’ve talked to people of all different ages, right. And sometimes I can guess how old they are based on where There is, like, it’s like, because the pattern of angst is the same. Right. And also, I tried to do it as a Give yourself a break, which is to say, I’ll say things like, you’re not going to be mad at a five year old for not knowing what they’re going to college for. And you’re not. So you. So in the same way, a person who’s what 36 full size 4141 year olds kind of floundering doesn’t really know what they’re doing with their life, give them a break, they got you they got a while to figure out who middle age them is. Let them figure it out. They’ll do it. It’ll be alright. You know what I mean? Like this idea of letting the journey happen of being in the flow with it, of being come like being kind to yourself? Yeah, to have that journey. I’m a big proponent of that kind of thing. So when you brought that up, I was like, oh, man, I was, I always try not to bring it up. Because I literally talk about this podcast, you just be changed to Amy’s 18 year theory like that? Because your thoughts on it? Tell me?


GUEST  21:13

Yeah, so one, you mentioned that, like the you’re on the journey, it’s going to happen, one of the things that I tried to focus on and think, and I wind up thinking about a lot is like you are going to change kind of like what you’re saying it’s gonna happen. I think that one of our duties is to pay attention to how we’re changing. Because if you don’t take care about who you’re going to become, you may wind up being someone you never wanted to be. Not that you need to be stressed all the time. Part of this taking care of it is also relaxing. I, I was dating someone a while back and I he he was starting to go into grad school and he was teaching classes. And one of the things we talked about is like, nurturing people to when they’re making a choice. asking themselves Is this the pattern of behavior I want to reinforce. And that pattern of behavior doesn’t have to be a constant. You know, if I want to work, that is part of the pattern, if I want to take a break when I am stressed, that is part of the pattern, even though it may be the exception. You know, if I have five ones before zero, and then five ones, and then a zero, it’s still a pattern. And that zero is essential, right? Taking that break, taking that time.



I do like this idea of keeping in mind, like where you’re going on your path. And you know what it reminded me what I forgot about like, before we even started recording, we were talking about living a life of regrets that people are always talking to you about your regrets and what you should not do. And while I think that sometimes that can be detrimental to children, because like they don’t know what to regret, when you’re over 18, you know what to regret. So you keep your eyes out for that. Right? Like, don’t be doing these things, when you’re when you’re a kid and you’re doing all your first first, first that whatever, you can’t help it, don’t worry about that you’re gonna do bad stuff, you’re gonna try stuff, it’s, you know, do your best. It’s what you do with that after that can lead to regrets. Right? Yeah, it’s if you continue to stay in the pattern of you know, you start doing drugs at 16. If you’re still doing drugs regularly, all the time, that’s not great. You know what I mean? Like, you don’t want to continue in that pattern as you continue on. So you have to focus on what regrets you are cool with and what you’re not. Because the other thing is, you know, we don’t live in a world where you can really be perfect, you can’t know. So it’s gotta be you got to find your ways, your low corners to be to grow and also to like, give yourself a break. Like, I’m like, you know what, I’m pretty overweight, I could be mad about it. But I’m going to give myself a break about it. Like there’s plenty of other things that I’ve improved in my life. And maybe I’ll improve this at some point before I go. But I’m not gonna stress about this right now. Because it just, it’s not gonna help me to stress about it right now.


GUEST  24:18

Well, and I think that questioning what people tell you like that’s an essential part of one’s own pattern development. So for example, you mentioned abuse, like as like a you probably don’t want to establish this as a constant part of your pattern. How How many people do you know that drink coffee every day? They are caffeine constantly. Um, I was super straight edge for a while after college, and in college for that matter, but after college, I noticed I was getting headaches and I thought it might be caffeine withdrawals, and I thought to myself, like, I don’t drink. I’ve stopped taking like even ibuprofen or anything. I’m super careful about what I put into my body. But I’m drinking like three, four cups of coffee before lunch, without even thinking about it. And so I took two years without having any coffee at all. And for a while, wasn’t doing tea wasn’t doing cocoa wasn’t doing anything with a trace of caffeine in it. In part, because I was like, Why? Why do I assume? Why does my behavioral patterns say all of these drugs are off limits. And this one I’m just doing wildly, was in I was frankly abusing it. I was abusing caffeine. I had an unhealthy relationship with caffeine. We just don’t talk about it the way we deal with alcohol or pot or coke or what have you. And it’s a stimulant just like Coke, it’s addictive. But we don’t think about it. We don’t talk about it.



Oh, yeah. I think about that with sugar, too. I have a very unhealthy relationship with sugar.


GUEST  25:54

Yeah, I mean, it’s quite common. And we’re starting to talk more about the actual psychological effects of sugar and how it does have like not chemical dependency patterns, the way that like heroin does, or anything like that. But the psychological dependency. And like, I think that’s part of why people enjoy sugar in their coffee as well is the coffee acts as the caffeine acts as a stimulant. And the sugar gives you a quick burst of rapidly burnable energy. And the like milk, if you put milk in it is heavy in fats, and it’s going to give you a slower burst of energy. And a lot of it is kind of resource management of taking in this stuff, it’s going to stimulate me it’s going to accelerate my heart rate, it’s going to make me want to move a little faster. And while I’m at it, I’m going to have this infusion of energy. I think there’s a reason why our bodies pair those. And similarly with soda, right? soda has a lot of sugar in it, it comes not only with the caffeine that comes with the fuel to burn. Admittedly a lot of more high fructose corn syrup, which I’ve done, I’ve developed. But it’s still there, the pairing is still there, you still burn it, it’s still fuel at the end of the day. The fruit chose burns as readily as it doesn’t an apple as or a peach or banana. Yeah.



Yeah. So I, I think that it is fascinating. This discussion, we got into kind of with reference to how we’re choosing to live our lives. We started talking about this with this idea of like, you know, I was trying to figure out how to live and it led me down, you know, how should I do this? So to bring it back to sort of creative ideas? How, how have you worked your creative interest into your life? Like when you got older, you mentioned you’re in college, you know, you’re doing your straight edge. I don’t know if that affects you’re hanging out with the theater crowd, I am hard to tell my theater experience was just closed cigarettes all the time, but you


GUEST  28:30

would drink alcohol, like after I was 20. I wasn’t that straight. But I was not wheeling and dealing or wild by most measures. I was actually, like, if there was any deviance, it was less chemical and more like vagabonding. At one time, I had five different friends who kept a toothbrush at their house. Because like you just never know where Stephens gonna sleep. I just like I would wind up anywhere like, this is where I am tonight. Especially I didn’t have a car and I hated the bus system. So people would invite me over. I’m like, okay, but like, Can you drive me back to campus in the morning? Like, yeah, yeah, that’s fine. So I would keep one in my backpack. And then I had five different friends who kept a toothbrush at their place. Even though I had my own, like apartment, not my own. I had roommates, but like I had a place to stay. But I went vagabonding about I stayed all over. It was a running joke. from one of my roommates. It was my roommate for like four years. I was there for six. That like the best way to avoid me was to sign a lease with my name on it. Because it’s the one place you knew I wasn’t gonna spend a lot of time was home.



Oh man, I really want to like delve deeper in that but I feel like that’ll lead us down a terrible rabbit hole. Maybe we don’t want to go down. So I’m going to say, but what were you doing? Like? How were you bouncing from house to house? Were you guys all involved in like, did you do theater in college? And so we’re like hanging out doing cast party stuff. Because I know with like theater people, the everybody sleeps in the living room on a pile of pillows happens a lot, you know? Yeah.


GUEST  30:24

So there were a couple of things. I didn’t do theater. I was a double major in chemical engineering and theater with an acting focus.


HOST  30:32

Yeah. Where did you go what college allowed that?


GUEST  30:36

Purdue University in Indiana. As I understand it, it was an unprecedented double major. Ah, yeah. Though I did it. I had a friend who majored in physics and theatre, which was also as I understand it, and unprecedented double major. But yeah, I did both of those. And just wild hours, like credit hours, I had a couple 23 credit hour semesters and took summer classes just to get done in six years, because there’s not as much overlap between those two degree programs as one might hope.



Oh, yeah. Oh, that’s very surprising. I did not have any idea that there wouldn’t be, you know, potentially a very serious, you know, Langston Hughes play about chemical engineering that you could, you know, combo back


HOST  31:34

is a chemical engineer, if I remember correctly. Sure. Sure.


GUEST  31:38

Yeah, no. He high school, I was very heavily involved in theater. I did a musical in eighth grade. ninth grade, I didn’t do theater, or music or choir. And then in high school I did. I started getting involved with theater. Going into my senior year, I was the only person in my class who had done a single play, which was very interesting to me. Because no other class before after me was like that. They all had like, clusters of 510 however many I was the only one going in. To my senior year. Huh? Yeah. How did



they How did they do a program if you were the only one?


GUEST  32:28

Um, that’s impossible. Grades like the the kids older than me. The kids younger than me. Just no one my grade? Did it.



Wait, theater? Yeah. There was no one at Purdue University in theater class High School. Oh, I was like, Are you kidding me? I know that is impossible for a department of a college to have no one. Right? No, get me wrong. I went to a small college. There were six people in my graduating theater class. So I get small classes, but six was enough. Yeah.


GUEST  33:04

No, I yeah. In high school, there was going into senior year of high school, I was the only person who had done a play from the graduating class of



Oh 600. So then when you got into college, though, they were certainly the people that you met doing theater in college were like, yeah, I’ve done plays before. It was just sort of unusual for your town.


GUEST  33:28

And again, mostly for my grade, the kids younger than me, they’d have five or 10 people in their class of 150, who would do theater, but kids older than me, they’d have five or 10. My class it was just me going into my, with two other people did a play my senior year. So all of us. But it was there in high school, I I got admitted for chemical engineering, I had decided I want to do chemical engineering and seventh grade. And then got into Purdue, for that or for their engineering program. And I was talking to my theater teacher, and I was like, Yeah, I mean, I love theater, but like, that’s not really what are you gonna do with it? You know, I’d like to eat. And my favorite teacher was like, Steven, like you, I’m not gonna promise you’re gonna be great, but you could eat. You’re good enough that you could eat. I was like, Oh, very exciting. So my freshman year I applied to the theater program and started it my my sophomore year, or my second year, it’s hard to say soft, freshman, sophomore, junior senior, when I didn’t six years and too hard to line them up. Yeah, I took two sophomore years into Junior years though, so that I only had one senior year.



Sure. Yeah, sure. You just have that one final year. That year, though. Must have been a weird year. Did you like finish one before the other in the six years or like was your senior year just like super insane doing like all these engineering projects and like theatrical performances at the same time.


GUEST  35:02

It was that one. Yeah, the latter of the two, just my, my counselor could not help me. They were not prepared to navigate. Because the counselors were specific to college, like each college at the University had their own counselors. So neither of them was prepared to help me schedule. But yeah, so I kind of sat down every year and I looked at the books, and I had to plot it out well in advance. But yeah, college was when I got into the theater degree. It’s also when I started performing improvisation seriously. My senior year of high school, we saw a group called the ship of fools at Purdue. And my best friend and I were already set to matriculate there. And he was like, hey, when we get to Purdue, I want to do this. And I was like, Yeah, all right, was short form, game based, very Whose Line style, but they were like, they were really good. I really enjoyed watching them. And so when I matriculated, we went to the college and I got involved there. And that really that probably even more than having my theater degree kicked off. Not even probably that really kicked off what it meant to be an adult performer for me.



Oh, yeah, were there a lot of like, adult performers of improv that you had in your, that you like saw


GUEST  36:25

out of Purdue. Um, there were some like over the river, a producer in West Lafayette, West Lafayette is on the other side of the river. There was a group called one size fits all and they performed there. And then one summer, I took classes at comedy sports in Indianapolis. And so there were people not associated with the university, naturally, everybody at Purdue, or at least, you know, the vast majority are technically adults. They’re still in college, but they’re all adults. And the performing branch, the ship of fools ran the Purdue improv club. And the improv club, and it was a great way to meet people outside of at least chemical engineering. Still, a lot of engineers and surprisingly large number of engineers, and a shockingly small number of actors, actors didn’t like doing improv.



Now, they don’t



know, I have a theory on I fell down.



Tell me why.


GUEST  37:23

Um, I think that there’s with actors, and certainly myself, while I’m acting, there is a level of comfort. I established in how much blame can be placed on me. Um, with with acting, I can be like, that director, the script, my, like, the my scene partner, like bad day, something, there’s a couple extra levels of protection on a bad performance. Whereas with improvisation, if it’s a bad performance, like I can blame it on the audience. But like, people start getting wives pretty quickly. For like, men, every audience is just bad. Like, maybe that’s not the case. And I can blame the partner, but then nobody’s gonna want to play with me. So I’m constantly like, you messed up our scene. And so ultimately, more of the blame, or more of the the pressure, even if it doesn’t go wrong, more of the pressure feels like it’s on the improviser. Because they have to come up with the words they have to come up with the emotions, they have to come up with everything about it, and they have to do it very quickly. And I had a couple people confirm like, Yeah, no, that sounds horrifying. Like, I’ll gladly get on stage and hit my mark on, you know, the little acts of glow in the dark tape. But to improvise is just, it’s too naked. And there is a great deal of figurative nudity in performance, and there’s a great deal of figurative nudity, especially in improvisation.



It’s funny because in my mind, I think of it almost exactly the opposite. And I think that’s probably why in my life I, I tended toward improv though I didn’t know improv was a thing in high school or college like you did. I didn’t find out it was a thing until I was 30. And I was like, in New York, when you see B was like starting and I had no idea, right? But anyway, um, I was like, Oh, boy, but I really I wonder if it’s like, for me personally, I get more nervous about having to honor somebody else’s words, somebody else’s idea and don’t get me wrong. I love sketch comedy. And I also am super open to the idea that sketch comedy has a tendency to become a little improv II. Like if you’re not if you write sketch comedy, and you’re not like mostly cool with them getting the words mostly wrong, then you can’t do this. Like you cannot you cannot be a sketch comedy writer. You know what I mean? If you’re like, you’ve got to say my exact words exactly the way like Shakespeare, no, this is not where you need to be, go write a play, get involved with that crowd, right? But like, like, so in that in that similar idea, it’s like, for me, the scary part is not learning the lines. memorization isn’t the problem, but it’s like, connecting with these words that this other person has chosen to use, and like figuring out how to act it not based on what I think, but based on what this other third party person is telling me to think, like, Okay, guys, we’re gonna do this scene This way, you know? And so, as I’m speaking, I’m realizing this is probably more my own control issues.


GUEST  40:48

Whereas mine, it’s the approval issues. Like if there’s an issue I have with doing work, it’s that often I wouldn’t get any notes. So I had no idea how I did.





GUEST  40:58

that was so anxiety inducing. I don’t know people who get in into theater because they want to be ignored. Like, that’s not a thing. But it’s just like, yeah, to do a show or to do a rehearsal, and then, like, have no notes at all. It’s just like, Okay, um, I was there though, like, I didn’t. Uh,


HOST  41:21

yeah, yeah, I hear that.



Yeah, because it’s such a weird thing like each director, because Okay, so I before I found improv, I personally did a lot of plays. But I didn’t act in them. I was a stage manager for a long time. So most of my like, learning how everything works was sitting there and taking notes and watching everybody else do it. Which is fine.


GUEST  41:49

I’m sure. If I may interject, are you saying that you were a stage manager just made me imagine you’ve been you’ve mentioned that you have a child. And so I just imagine you telling them like, they need to take five and your kid barking back, thank you five



things that I need to do that.



I need to totally train my child to do back


GUEST  42:12

in when great. Most people in public wouldn’t get it. But the people who did would be thrilled. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I was just so tickled at the idea of like, imagining me at six years old precocious looking for rings in the snow. Uh, like, Thank you five. Yeah, right.



I mean, well, what’s funny is I don’t live, I was like, I don’t live my life that theatrically, I don’t think but then I look at but then I don’t know how the rest of the world lives. So maybe I do. You know, and also stage manager, it sounds to me, it’s almost surprising to me that you didn’t get into stage management. Because it sounds to me like organization is been key to most of your life. And navigating, being, you know, having your creative pursuit to being an actor doing improv, taking all these classes to get involved with that kind of thing. And also maintaining and getting a degree and now working in chemical engineering. Like that’s a career that you built on that side. And then you built another career on the other side. And like you mentioned, when it came to coming up with classes, that requires a little effort of putting that together. So I mean, I think of my stage management night, when I think of stage management, I think of what you had to do what you do on a regular basis, putting together shows, and doing your regular work earlier telling me about these business meetings you’re hosting. And I’m like, didn’t we also talk about you, hosting shows like this. So like the fact that you’re doing all of these things? Clearly, you are very organized and you’re like, are just on it?


GUEST  43:54

I’m glad you feel like it because I do not feel like I am and a lot of biology in high school. I only took one class because they required me to keep like a very facilities notebook. And it hadn’t be like all in order. And it’s like, this is terrible, and I hate organizing things is something I got good at. But it was not something I enjoyed needing to be good at. If that makes



sure. Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. A lot of people don’t love the skill they’re the best at which is so sad. But it’s true.


GUEST  44:30




And, you know, brings me back to what we were talking about earlier. It brings me back to what we were talking about earlier, before we were recording, which was the idea of like honoring the mistakes that we make. And like just now when I was like I bet you people don’t. Like they’re the thing that they’re the best at they don’t even love I feel like it’s that. You know what I mean? Like you probably are baller at a organization because you have to be right like, you could To live your life without it.


GUEST  45:03

Yeah, that may well be accurate.



But it’s not something that you like are into or you’re like not going and seeking out books to read were like, how could I be a better organizer? You know, you’re not like Marie Kondo. Let’s have a chat. Like it’s not, you know, not that. But


GUEST  45:22

still, do. I have four note five notebooks within reach one that is an old dream journal, one that is my bullet notebook, and three of them that are lists for different areas of my life and the projects I need to execute on them within six inches of arm’s reach. You do have all of those, as well as a little altar to handwrite her to to handwriting letters, but that’s downstairs. It’s like it.



Oh, my God, same, same, same all the details, every detail,


HOST  45:57

like on



the podcast, I’m gonna send you a picture of the desk I’m sitting at right now. And it’s just like, just a file and notebooks. And they all are for different specific things. Like I know you mean, but I mean, like, how do you Okay, so but you’re a legit like, it’s not like you got a chemical engineering degree and just didn’t do it. And it’s not like you did improv, and then just were like, that was some fun Z’s. As a kid, you’ve maintained both of these things. How, how, how do you maintain both of these things?


GUEST  46:36

by refusing to drop either of them? Is the long and short of it. Like



don’t quit?


GUEST  46:43

Yeah, kind of like I nearly dropped out of engineering, because I did not like engineers. They were really competitive. They were and I don’t like competing who feels bad. I don’t like winning. I don’t like losing so.






Makes sense, while you like long form improv versus short form improv now as well.


GUEST  47:07

Well, actually, my college group one, I’d like both, but my college group did short form. But no, we didn’t do it like comedy sports style. There wasn’t ahead. There were like tiny little moments. But the vast majority of it was cooperative. We were known as a ship of fools. We call it a like, we refer to each other as fools or the crew. And like we wrote little mythologies about each other. It was an extremely cooperative group. And so yeah, well, there were things like do run, or do wrap the head like elements of competition. So many of them like guessing games, for example. That’s pure cooperation. And reading, you know, your standard improv scenes, most of those are actually have a lot of philosophy about this. In too many improv scenes are about interpersonal conflict performed standing four feet apart, just far enough away that if you like, wave your hand in front of you, you can’t hit the other person. not close enough to come into contact by accident not far enough away for it to be like pointed and awkward. It’s a very natural standing conversational place, though, especially between people who are a little uncomfortable with each other like coworkers. Either. It’s the either side of the watercooler distance.



Yeah, this


GUEST  48:36

Yeah, right. And there’s just so many scenes that happen there. And it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with an interpersonal conflict scene. There’s nothing wrong with sanding four feet apart. But we talked about patterns earlier. At a certain point. If you’re not doing anything else, it’s not even a pattern anymore. It’s just a constant. And so when I started teaching, teaching, the seven types of conflict was a major part of level three. The level three I designed, I want to say, might have been level two, I don’t remember. I taught the last level, I taught level five, which was development of group and individual voice, which didn’t have a curriculum. It was I sat with a group and I created a curriculum tailored to them every time for their graduate for their final level for the graduating class. So the other ones, I get a little mucky on what happens where it’s okay.



But yeah, we don’t need the syllabus right now. Tell me about the Tell me about the seven types of conflict improv class, like how did you come up with that and how did it serve your students?


GUEST  49:54

Well, I came up with it because I was bored. It’s the long and short of it is I kept seeing Like I said, these interpersonal conflicts these like, I’m mad at you because you stole my gummy bears? Uh, yeah, well, I love gummy bears, so whatever. And I was like, Oh, this is like, it’s fine. But I want more. And ultimately, part of what I did as a teacher was one tried to pass on the skills I have, but also related to shape the community in a direction that I thought was worth going in which to some degree means I had to shape it to my taste. I also taught people to do stuff I didn’t enjoy watching. Yeah, the seven types of conflict class, we would list them essentially, which are person versus person, person versus self, which is my favorite, person versus God, person versus nature person versus the supernatural, which is debatably, different from God. And God can also be time. Person versus machine and person versus society. Right, those are your seven. And we would do a couple different things with it, one of my favorite exercises we would do in the class is I would have somebody do a line and motion initiation of a scene. So you would take a step, sit down, say one line, something like that, and we would choreograph it so that they could deliver it the same every time, every time they started the scene, it was the exact same. And I would list my seven types of conflict on the board. And I would have seven people leave the room and the rest of the class would just watch. And each person who walked in would be given the choreographed scene initiation. And then they would respond, and they would play out a scene. And I’d ask the class, what was the type of conflict and we’d scratch it out. And we would keep going until the same initiation had been run through all seven types of conflict, in part because I think it’s really important to a lot of people tell you not to think in improv. But also, that’s a facade like you can’t not think that’s not a, that’s death, that that’s being dead. But you can change the way you think you can change. And I think of it as splitting my mind, right? Like, I will make choices that are still in character, but are being guided by a director, if that makes sense. And teaching someone to live more than one life at a time on stage is fun. And it gives them It gives them more power, and it gives them the power to break their habits, right. And habits haven’t breaking is a huge part of what I wanted to teach is like, yes, you are naturally inclined to some things. But like one of the great things about improv is how exploratory it can be. Both in terms of the type of media you’re making, but also like Personally, I’ve joked around that one of my favorite things about improv is I get to make bad life choices. Like a one show I had is called like minded people. And we would bring a stranger on the stage. And the way we took a suggestion is we would make sustained silent eye contact. And we would take in, I don’t know if this happens with everybody. Some people will hear this and they’ll be like, Yeah, that makes sense. Some people it won’t make sense. But you just stare silently into somebody’s eyes. And whenever I do that, there’s a part of my brain that’s like, Hey, this is this is really going on for a while. Do we? Do we love this person? Is that what this is? Like? Are we in love right now? And the premise for me was to say yes, and I would look in somebody’s eyes and I would explore all of the potential of what it would be like not even necessarily to romantically love the person. But like, who would we be? What is our relationship? Is it romantic? Is it non romantic? watching their body shift in the periphery? Are they comfortable with me? What are our struggles moving forward, to have a friendship or romance, a marriage, a parent, teacher, relationship, whatever it is something long and sustained. What would I in this person be and just kind of explore all of that. And the show because of the way the suggestion was taken, often involved. Often wound up being a mano scene, even though it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be a single scene for 25 minutes. It happened a lot. And it was often either very old friends or romantic partners. And so my my dual partner would say something and like I’d make real snippy cuts in jabs and like say things that if we were actually a couple would be hurtful and why like, just not appropriate. But I don’t, I certainly don’t feel comfortable doing that in my real life. There’s super big repercussions for hurting people or for flying off the handle. And I know I mentioned my childhood a bit earlier. My relationship to my own anger is not one of indulgence, by any means just because I’ve seen where anger goes when it is indulged. And so like being able to express dissatisfaction in a relationship, even on stage, and doing it in ways that, like I know are not the best ways to do them in real life. Like there’s a lot of catharsis there. And I think ultimately, the goal of theater is catharsis. And I think it’s both for the actor and for the audience. We’re providing catharsis, catharsis. I think a lot of people don’t think the point of comedy is catharsis. And I think there



are you kidding me? laughter is literally catharsis. Like, it’s the physical embodiment of catharsis.


GUEST  56:08

I tend, I think I agree at least one form of it. Um, also, I don’t know about you, how many shows have you had, like, it was mostly really funny. And then there was like, one serious kind of sad scene. And afterward, like you had a surprising number of audience members be like, wow, that one real sad scene. That was real sad. Like, it’s the one that they pick, the one that they hold on to. I often refer to catharsis as the heartworm pill. And we wrap it in comedy to make it appealing the audience comes, they’re like, yeah, I’m gonna laugh. It’s gonna be real funny. But what we as humans need out of those moments is not just laughter otherwise, they’d stay home and tickle each other is something right laughter is not enough. It’s not enough just to laugh. Uh, what I think we ache for, but don’t always have the ability to say or the either we don’t have the words for it. We don’t recognize it. Or we’re too scared to ask for it sometimes is catharsis. And that by framing theatre, in comedy, we make it palatable. Right? Not everybody wants to go see Women of Troy and watch just trauma on stage. But you deal a little bit with trauma in a comedy you deal with hardship and loss in a comedy. And another thing and we’re a lot more open to it. I’ve also referred to comedy or humor as oven mitts. Right? It allows us to handle things that aren’t safe to touch directly. Mmm hmm. One of my first introductions have to to dark humor, admittedly, but some of my earliest humorous memories dealt with one of my sisters passed when I was nine. And a lot of other people were uncomfortable with my family making jokes. But it was also essential. Like it was essential. What is the name of that song? Whether I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral, like, laugh at funerals, or at least like afterward, right? Ideally, at a funeral at some point, you start reminiscing and you remember a good time and you share a laugh about the person who’s gone. I wouldn’t want to go to a funeral or a morning service with someone that I was close to where like, we couldn’t find a moment to laugh. That would be a different kind of heartbreaking, right? That’s that. And I’m not saying everybody has to laugh at funerals. I’m thinking healthy. I like Yeah, not ubiquitous, but there’s nothing wrong with it. And we have these taboos about it. enough that said it gets called out in pop culture is like oh, laughter the funeral Yeah, whether at the funeral or like grabbing a drink with people afterward or whatever it is. Laughter like you said it is the manifestation of catharsis of it is a good part of the grieving process and a good part of processing all manner of emotions, not just happiness, silliness.



Yeah, totally. How many times and why? funerals are funny, and usually the go to, like, if you’re, if you’re starting, when I teach sketch comedy, it’s it’s a location immediately. Like, first sketch. It’s always a funeral. Right? But it’s just because, you know, for me, when I teach comedy, it’s all about the contrast. I’m like, what will be a weird place for this conversation to happen? And they’re like, it would be so Weird for it to happen at a funeral.


HOST  1:00:02

Yeah, what? Yeah, that would.



It’s not cool to have this conversation there. And we’re all aware of that. It’s not cool, right? Because we’re aware it’s not cool. We can establish we can put this here. And we are all acknowledging together. We get it. Yeah. shouldn’t happen, but we’re doing it.


GUEST  1:00:22

Yeah, you’re making those bad life choices. Yeah, this is not the right place, but it is where it’s going to happen. Making the wrong choices, I think, a very good way to improvise. He’s like, nope, this is not the right choice. This is the the, it’s the wrong one. This is a bad choice. Let’s do it. Yeah. Dave, you’re safe to do it. They’re like,



again, also argue that comedy characters are terrible people. Like they’re not gonna learn a lesson. They’re not coming out of this. So better. They’re gonna continue to slip on that banana peel over and over and no one at no point. Are they going to be like, you know what, I should probably look down and pick this banana peel. They’re not going to do it. And if they did, boo, ruins comedy. Right? Like, no, yeah. So bad life choices is essentially what comedy is.


GUEST  1:01:19

Yeah. And low repercussions. Right? Yeah. In in a tragedy, you pay your debts. A comedy, you can borrow money, go out on town be wild. And we’re not going to see you actually have to pay your debt. or certainly we’re not going to see the long term repercussions of it. Right? Maybe you go to like debtors prison, right as the lights fade. But we’re going to see you suffering, trying to remember why you thought it was a good idea to spend a small fortune over the course of a weekend. Probably even



like in plays, even like in a Shakespeare play where somebody is like borrowing too much money. Somehow there’s a person near the end where they’re like, turns out, the governor decided to give him a pardon. And you’re like, What? But like so many movies, you know what I mean? It’s like you were the comedy? Yeah. Like this guy drove a car through 16. You know, businesses, but we’re fine with it. It’s cool. Yeah. Right. It’s like, No, not really. But in comedy in, in these fun stories that we’re creating. So speaking of fun stories that we’re creating, tell me about the performances, the shows that you’re working on right now, I know we talked a little bit offline about about one of the shows that you’re doing. But like, tell me, what’s your jam right now? Like, what are you working on? What’s your What are you putting out the trickly?


GUEST  1:02:47

Uh, yeah, very gladly, we’ll share about that. Um, so this is my second Theatre Company. I’m working with paranoia theater. And we’re, we’re actually being super aggressive about coming up with new ideas. It’s a little annoying as we’re doing shows right now, every Thursday, and we’re full up, and our rotation doesn’t allow for us to do all of the things that we’ve done. We’re like, Oh, we got to do more of that. There’s just not room. We can’t. But yeah, so every Thursday we’re doing a show. two out of four Thursdays is our podcast that we call public production meeting. It’s also a webcast, we do it live video, and then cut it down for the audio feed. But it’s about what it’s like to produce small independent theater on a shoestring budget, basically. Like you said, This The purpose of this in part is to let people know that how many different paths there are, there aren’t a lot of resources out there for people wanting to produce small independent theater. Especially if it’s like not a nonprofit, we don’t get any money from anybody other than donations. And so we talk about what our process is like, how do we write a sketch? How do we train improvisers? How do we one of our major projects right now we do once a month and it’s about an hour 15 minute episode of a show that we’re calling space train, which is a piece that takes place in space on a intergalactic train and follows seven different characters. And so, you know, we talk about how do we go from we started with just two characters originally, Boris, the mild mannered nuclear engineer who runs the space train and Professor rascal who is my character and he’s a an easily mad scientist. And this is all we really started out with was the namespace strain of Boris who, like I said, very mild mannered. Just just uh, you know, you downhome blue collar nuclear engineer, very unassuming character and then Professor scow, who is this melodramatic would be villain thinks he’s very scary. This is where we started. And now we’re doing like I said an hour or more of content a month. So how do we go from those characters develop the other ones go from very rough idea to an outline for a script to writing a script to editing that script, casting etc. We’ve covered a bunch of that stuff. And it’s really interesting to me. ambitious project I think I’ve done certainly work in terms of writing the most ambitious project I’ve done.



Now, that’s like a zoom show, right?


GUEST  1:05:49

Yeah, yeah. We live streaming on our website, paranoia, theater, comm slash live as well as our Facebook page. Once a month. Wow. That’s so cool. Yeah, I really enjoyed that. And then I know, what is it next week, we were going to be doing magical lining hour, which is another one of our major shows, that’s been our flagship show since our flagship improvised show since before quarantine. And that is a show in which we take an actor and we have them memorize half of a script. If folks are familiar with actor’s nightmare as a short form game, this is similar to that. Except we do 12 to 15 minute scenes, I’ve done a 30 plus minute scene once. But that is quite uncommon. But the actor memorizes the script and then you introduce an improviser who knows nothing about the script and knows nothing about what’s going to be going on and they improvise and negotiate space, and the narrative with the scripted party. The scripted party is required to deliver all of the words in order. That’s basically the one rule they really have. They can change inflection, they can change punctuation, they can split lines up, they can combine lines, but all of the words are supposed to be an order. Yeah, and that’s it. We’re going to be doing that with folks from the nursery Theatre in London. They invited us for a show. We had them on for a Saturday morning show a while back. And they reached out to have us perform with a bunch of their improvisers. So we’ll be providing American actors to British improvisers here soon. And yeah, that’s our other really major one. In terms of like, that’s it. Michael Lang our is, as far as I know, Houston’s most traveled improv show. That’s Yeah, it’s a ton of fun. My my co producer does just in what feels like an insurmountable amount of work. I get to be the improviser. And he does all of the cuttings and I don’t get to know what any of the scripts are. Because I don’t know what I’m going to be improvising against. So he. For these online shows, for example, we’ve been doing five different scenes of about 12 minutes each, and he’s reading dozens of plays, cutting them down to scenes that can be run for 12 minutes, most of them could probably be run for half an hour. But we stopped before the end of the script. And, you know, casting it, rehearsing the actors rehearsing the improvisers, all manner of stuff. It’s, it’s pretty neat. We aren’t doing memorized while we’re on zoom, though, which allows us to do it more frequently. And also lowers the the commitment from the actor, right? memorizing a script to to work with someone who’s improvising once is a lot to ask of a an actor. We definitely want to respect their time very thoroughly.



Yeah, totally adalet. When you say that it’s uses most travel the improv show. Do you mean like people across the world have seen it because it’s on zoom?



No, no.


GUEST  1:09:06

I mean, that due to festivals and such. I believe we have performed in more either cities or minimally more. What is the term he uses? Like television locales, those sections I forget how he’s tracked it. But my co producer, my business partner, my dear, dear friend, Aaron. Gary is the one who was tracking that. We started. Yeah, Aaron Garrett and I are the CO owners of pronoia theater and we do all of our productions together. We started working together. 2015 I want to say he was originally a student of mine, who then graduated and like we really respected each other’s work and then it grew into a fighting each other to work on different projects and then eventually forming our own theater in a more overt faction, a legal entity beyond ourselves. How long



have you been doing pronoia theater?


GUEST  1:10:11

legally? I think about two years. He had different names. But I’ve been working with him since, like I said about 2015. But the term brunoise, out two years old. He and I have been partners for roughly that long. I’m very bad at tracking time in history. I think it’s one of the things that helps me improvisers. I just have no awareness of the past. beyond what’s going on.



It’s helpful. So thank you so much for chatting with me. I am on the podcast. One final question I wanted to ask you is, if you had any advice for people who somebody wants to follow a similar path to you, maybe they want to work in engineering and do theater? Or maybe they want to do small independent theater what, based on your life experience? What advice do you have for people hoping to do what you’re doing?


GUEST  1:11:20

Other people can only tell you how to be like them, I think would be kind of the nugget of it. Like you can ask me for advice if you want to be like me. And I can, like by all means I mentioned like just refused to do less. Don’t force other people to make you choose. Because you don’t have to, you’re allowed to be as passionate and thorough about your hobby or second career as you want to be. But also make sure you develop your voice. What is it that you want to be doing? Even if you like what I do, or if you think what I’m doing is neat. Eventually, you’re going to have to assert your own voice, because mine will always be mine. Yeah, yeah, finding your own space, finding your way of doing it, even borrowing things from people. Absolutely. But in the end, it has to be yours.



There’s something empowering about that and frightening at the same time. I know people you know, as they’re starting, you know, it’s when they when the big advice is like, just be yourself. Find your own voice and finding your own voice is super, super hard. But But I think you’re right that you know, at the end of the day, you make a decision on what you think is important. And you know, no matter what your mentors, say, or your theater teachers or whatever person who’s advising you, you have to make your own decision. And that’s that’s your, your way of living in the world.


GUEST  1:12:46

Yeah. And by all means, listen to your teachers, listen to everyone. Listen to anyone and weigh how much you value their advice. And also how much you weigh your own thoughts. How much you weigh your confidence in the decision you want to make. Because you’re allowed to disagree with everyone.



Oh, man, Stephen, thank you so much for being on the podcast with me. Thank you for sharing stories. And, boy, we went down some sweet philosophical rabbit holes, which I really enjoy.



I think we may have solved the universe happened.


GUEST  1:13:23

Nice. I look forward to the next one.



The next universe? Yeah.



Oh man, you’re funny. Oh, well, thanks for doing it and thanks for being part of the whole experience.


GUEST  1:13:44

Very gladly Thank you for having me on.



Yeah, funny.


HOST  1:13:55

Thanks for listening to Yes But Why Podcast. Check out all our episodes on YesButWhyPodcast.com or check out all the content on our network HC Universal at HCUniversalNetwork.com


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