YBY ep 220: You ain’t seen nothing yet from actor VJ Delos-Reyes!
This week on Yes But Why, I talk to Canadian improviser and film actor, VJ Delos-Reyes.
VJ Delos-Reyes is an improviser and comedy teacher from Vancouver. Up until recently, VJ was performing at Vancouver Theater Sports, coaching improv troupes, and acting in films and television.
In our conversation, VJ talks about all the different jobs in improv comedy that he has had throughout his life. From performing improv all over Vancouver to coaching a high school improv troupe to win the Canadian Improv Games, VJ’s love for improv has kept him steady making theater for the past 25 years.
VJ is a positive and kindhearted soul. He was really nice to talk to. We had a lot in common. We talk about balancing family life with performing and teaching and having a day job.
We talk about VJ’s recent announcement to his improv community that he’s decided to retire from Vancouver Theater Sports. Like many of us, the Covid shutdown has given him the opportunity to refocus on his home life.
Still, VJ is a creative soul. We talk about how he has been investigating new and different styles of theater and performance. VJ talks about being inspired by Dan O’Connor to do dramatic improv. He tells me how he watched Middleditch & Schwartz on Netflix and learned how to do better audience interaction.
This is not the last we’ve heard from VJ Delos-Reyes. But he is on hiatus. BRB. I’m glad I got to talk to him before he went underground.
Support VJ Delos-Reyes by sharing this video of him dancing. Everyone in your whole family needs to see it right now. Oh yeah and also, did you see this amazing stop motion video he made? WOW.
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(production notes: recorded Zoom meeting with Rodecaster at the home studio on 6/8/2020)
TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan. Welcome to episode 220 with improviser, VJ Delos-Reyes. 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. Guys, I don’t know about you but I’m not getting out of the house as much as I used to. And with a tiny tyrant at home, I need a break. So I leave the kiddo at home with Chris and I take LONG drives. Just to get a breathe you know. And Audible is my new sidekick. I Bluetooth it into my car and then it just reads me stories and distracts me from the world. It’s my new form of self care. Let it be yours too. 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 Canadian improviser and film actor, VJ Delos-Reyes. VJ is a positive and kindhearted soul. He was great to talk to. We talk about balancing family life with performing and teaching and having a day job. We talk about VJ’s recent announcement to his improv community that he’s decided to retire. Still, I don’t think this is the last we’re going to hear from VJ Delos-Reyes. I now present to you: Yes But Why ep 220 You ain’t seen nothing yet from actor VJ Delos-Reyes!
I’m Amy Jordan, and this is Yes But why? podcast? Yeah.
My first introduction to I guess the creative side or improv would have been back in high school, my first scene that I was in, it was me and two friends of mine who eventually we end up forming a group together after high school.
For some, I really don’t remember the details of it. It was about I remember there was a pig involved and I played the pig for some strange reason. And I loved every single moment the fact that they get to ride my back and I can be just as crazy, more hog type pig. And to me, I thought that was being creepy. I thought I was being creative, and then eventually just led into more of what I liked about not just improv but acting itself like I could just be a complete idiot and have fun with it and show you no emotions. And different types of emotions and, you know, but then when I got to my professional career
where you acted as a pig, I need to know I need to know more about this. You were, did you guys write a scene and like and you like no wrote about, let’s say you were like, here’s a pig and you’re like, I’ll play
it was, it was an exercise where we had to, if I remember really remember it was I failed grade nine, where my teacher was introducing us how to emulate characters of an animal like traits. So you’re still human, but you have the character traits of a pig or a giraffe. Right? And so that would help us get into character, but I don’t think I don’t think I read it right or whatever. And it was all improvised. So I went out there as a pig and start talking like I was a pig but then afterwards, my my teacher Like, you do know the exercises about human human characters, human actors playing characteristics of an animal, you chose a pig, and you became a pig. No. I was like, Okay, and so it just know that that person is still stuck with me. It still stuck with me. And I was like, okay, that’s not what I’m going with. But eventually, we did it again. And we did a few more improv scenes and eventually become like, part of a play. I don’t know what the play was called. But it was part of a play that I never actually played the character of the pig again. But somehow that character, I guess, inspired my director to write something based on default of a, of an actor, not doing things properly. It was weird. It was like weird, but then I just started learning how to become the gangster with my body more was weird. It was like a weird grade nine moment of my life. Can you
imagine for a second this teacher like they’re like, yeah, listen, if whatever you Want to do in that theater class is fine. If you want to, like do improv exercises to make a play, that would totally be cool. She’s like, Great, awesome. I’m going to do this now. I’m writing Lord of the Flies, but it’s instead it’s going to be created by weird improv exercises that like 14 year olds are doing for me.
And that was the thing to my drama teacher was remarkable. Like, his name is Michael Reid. And he was such a great facilitator to my whole acting time in high school, he introduced me to improv and he told me about companies out in Vancouver that do things like this and are they Okay, and so you get a school field trip, which was weird. It was like, at night at like, 738 o’clock on a Wednesday night and we’re going on a school field trip to watch improv and, and I was I was just, I was hooked from there. And then I realized, oh, man, you can do almost anything in the world of improv and so I sort of bounced a little bit both but the pig thing was something that really scarred me for a long time. bad memories. Also, the person
who told you know was not Michael Reid, right? This was a like no teacher previous.
No, it was it was like a student aid. And because I think the student he was graduating he has, he felt like he had this sort of like hierarchy to Moore’s lower grade students. And he wasn’t mean about it. I don’t know if I remember he wasn’t mean about it. He was just being like, all No, that’s not what he was supposed to go like. He was Florida. He was supportive, but also like, a little belittling plaid. It was kind of funny at the same time that he was like, I love that But no, that’s not how it’s supposed to go.
Unknown Speaker 6:44
Oh, man. I hate that man. No, no.
Yeah, like I thought I was doing good.
Yeah, right. You were you were doing great. Doesn’t matter what you did. You did something and that’s amazing.
Yeah, man, man.
Unknown Speaker 7:00
hopes of high school theater. They’re ridiculous.
I think grade nine, where your hopes were your dream. He didn’t care. You’re just being ridiculous and trying to be funny for your friends. And I was. I was, I was trying to be approved. I was trying to get approval from my classmates and they liked it. So I think I think that it revolutionized how I was gonna start doing shows. Based on that audience reaction, really, I was like, I’m gonna perform for myself, because this is fun. Yeah. So you
said you started a group with your friends? Did you guys start doing improv on your own time outside of the theater classes you had with mystery?
Well, so what had happened was in my grade 12 year, I was not really part of an improv troupe until after high school and but what had happened I had a group of friends, probably five of them who were probably a year or two older than me. They had an improv troupe with called and get this their name was 43 pounds of wasted space. That was the name of their improv troupe. And so me and two of my friends, we were in grade 12. And there was a TV show a local TV show here in Vancouver called sports cast. And it was basically like high school, high school drama teams, primarily improv would battling each other out or, you know, improv supremacy, or whatever, in Vancouver. And I was on the winning team that won the whole thing. And because the five friends were older than us, while they were gonna go on a Europe trip, but they had a manager at the time too, but they, we can’t you guys can’t lose this momentum. So you guys need to find replacements for you guys. So when you guys come back, the company the troops are still going and so They asked us to join. And I think probably one or other person that came over, but they asked us to join. And so we did random shows, shows for like high summer camps for handicapped students and, and it was great. It was fantastic. And it was something that because then by then I was graduating, I already graduate from high school and I was like, Okay, this is what I’m doing for a bit. Go have a day job. I’ll do this on the side, too. And so we got to do so many shows. And then the one big moment was meaning like a Canadian hockey legend Gordie Howe doing an improv show him? I don’t know how hammered he was, but he seemed to enjoy it. But then eventually, when those five gentlemen, five Jomon came back from their trip to Europe, they heard so many great things from the manager that they said, Well, why don’t you guys join us? So we ended up becoming a group of eight, and then another person joined in a year after us. And so we were like, We were like all all male troop. And I was the only person of color, but it never really mattered to me because I was like, Oh, you guys accept me for doing my skill stuff and whatever. So, and we did shows left and right for like New Year’s Eve shows in Vancouver. And, you know, it was sort of like it was kind of cool because we were sort of felt like rock stars in a way and given that it was improv, and we just went all over. Like, I think in one year we did probably like 150 shows. And for people who are people who did just graduate from high school, man, you can, you can get that that was it was a it was awesome, like doing shows in front of people who didn’t even know us, and we do shows in front of friends, but then they blew up blossom into a bigger venue for us and doing shows. Like a weekly thing at a local theater, and it just became, like so much fun that we inspired another group of high school students that was within our living proximities. in Vancouver, they formed their own troupe called the backward zone. And so in the north and the mountain in North Vancouver areas, which is a district in Vancouver, it was to, to improv companies that well not companies to improv troupes performing on the same area and then we had Vancouver theatresports League that was doing their own thing obviously, we all both groups all fell in love with Vancouver theatresports League and what they brought to improv and how inspired us and yeah, and and then unfortunately it started tapering down for for all of us, some of us got married, some of us want to do other things, and I was the only one that really kept on going within that was like, man, I think by now I think it was like 9697 when when we officially sort of shut down that that troop and I was the only one that could kept on going with another troop that I helped form. To this day, we’re actually still friends with all with my second group too.
So, did you ready yours? Did you do 43 pounds?
Ah, so I graduated in 92. I think we did it for, I want to say five years, five years. And then at that time, near the tail end of that time, I thought, you know what, maybe I can help other students form their own improv troupe and I could be swear their manager and whatnot. And so I started going around the high schools and whatever and just like sort of like scouting, I was like a scout. But it was kind of weird because I was like talking to students and then they would have to talk to their parents and they would ask me questions, so I was like, Okay, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I’m gonna go to the school that I know what By old high school and as students there because they know me. And then we’ve just formed the group and we held auditions. And that group ended up the debt. And that group that I end up forming myself was, they were known as the right side prodigy. And then that company that troops sort of fizzled out after a year or two. And, and then at the same time, the backward zone, the other troop in North Vancouver, started phasing out but then me and a friend of mine collaborate together, why don’t we both collaborate together and forming a troop, like a commie troop that does sketch comedy and improv and everything else? And we could have some musical entanglements in there too. And so we ended up forming a company called sketch, which is, which was an improv slash sketch comedy group and, you know, that company phased out after five, seven years of performing with each other, but what still, to this day still close friends we all whenever we all meet up, we still laugh at those times. And we I’m actually still really good friends with one of them too. So
was that just a troop and you went to different venues? Or did you have a brick and mortar as well?
We went to different venues like, we just we went, we went as far to the point where one of our one of our gentlemen, one of our guys, he had a contact with an animator who was doing it was writing shows for kids shows for a show and for India and Singapore. And so that guy, the writer knew of us as a Hey, why don’t you guys come on down and start laying down voice work for us. And so we were thrilled and then obviously we brought more people in to help us out but it was like, I guess we did a lot of shows. And then we did a lot of shows with that group and then at the same time I was part of another group which was to three Filipino guys we were known as fob no Fresh Off the Boat and we started doing improv musical sketch comedy competitions just us three while the sketch group started phasing out which was like a good like a five maybe six year term of running with those guys that the fob started picking up a lot more steam we want me into my buddies we ended up winning like two back to back to back sketch comedy competitions. Because I was with theatresports at that point then another gentleman was also the Peter sports so we had this comedy background fix that we wherever we never really went anywhere with it though. That was the only thing we couldn’t. We couldn’t complete we’ll be wanting to do and that was to go back to the Philippines and showcase Canadian Filipinos doing improv improv. homeland people. I think that was the one regret that we can do. Because one of us got married. One of us was started doing their own show and I was doing shows with theater sports so it sort of came a disheartening dream but I think somewhere down the road, we’ll still do it, but we’re all busy right now.
Yeah, but you guys you’re still friends with those guys. You know, cuz it’s not like gone forever, you
know? No, like, I’m fact actually, one of the guys His name is Chris Gosselin. He’s with theatresports as well as I am. And so him and I will see we still see each other and this other gentleman Dave dimopoulos him and I still keep a close second. So we’re still all in close contact. I we haven’t done a show for like, almost like as three of us almost for like, four years as a troop. Because we’ve all gotten lives all of a sudden, like my friend Dave had got married and have two kids. myself I got married. I have a single kid and Chris Gosselin is constantly touring the world under the blanket of this company. This, this comedy group called the comic strippers, where it’s like, five or six guys dressed up as Chippendales. All they’re all known as chip. And they’re all they’re doing improv scenes and somehow musical news, music kicks in and they start playing to the audience, which predominantly are all women. And they start, you know, becoming like, really like Chippendale dancers and then they want to go back into the skin again. So he’s
Yeah, and they had they traveled all over the world.
His highest sell improv,
that is how you do it. Good.
They’ve gone they don’t play that I give them all props them because I like not to take any way from them. The good on them. So they’re their bodies are not the greatest. So when they, when they do shows, they’re always wearing just purple bow tie and purple spandex. I love it shirtless. That’s the band. And so
that’s what I hope that’s all I want.
And they also added a female who obviously is not gonna be naked, they they, she covers herself up and she calls herself chip as well, too. She’s got a fake mustache fake to pay, and she does the same thing. But without me with the shirt on.
So, but yeah, that’s what I mean.
Yeah, you know, so as
I wanted to ask you, a lot of the stuff that you’ve mentioned is a lot of what people refer to as like indie troops, like not troops associated with a particular theater or a group or community, but like you created a lot of stuff on your own like How did you how did you like? No Was it because of the troop that you were in with the manager and stuff that you like, sort of knew the framework of what you needed to build to do these shows? Because like, I didn’t know what to do until I got taught by somebody, you know what I mean? Like, but you’re creating out of nothing. How’s that?
I think cuz. So my first group was 43 pounds, there was nine guy or eight or nine guys and me, because I was so fresh and new into the world of doing improv, I guess professionally, was I didn’t really say much, because I needed to know I’m doing this right and everyone else the, the guys who performed it before I did, honestly, obviously had a lot to say. And so there was one gentleman he really took the reins on, what the, what their next show would be or an idea we all followed suit. And so I would sort of be attached to the hip on it. Because I wanted to see like, what promotional ideas he had and how to get us all involved into really selling our shows, and he did a lot of legwork. He was more of the contact from us to our manager, and vice versa. So he was, he was the hub. And so, but for booking venues and whatnot, I had to learn the hard way. Like I would have to say, Hey, can we do show? You guys could take the full profits. And at the end of the night, we’d like we got nothing out of that show. Okay, well, thank you for the venue, those type of that like those type of things, and I didn’t I To this day, I still have a tough time trying to bargain if there was a venue opening like how to how to get some profit out of that to benefit us but it was, it was trial and error. Like I think I I think we did about 15 shows completely free under my guidance and none of the players are asking It they weren’t asking for money it is they were just happy, happy to do shows that that they wanted to do even after high school.
Dude, that’s awesome i love that you like, you know figured it out and and that you’re, you know, propelling forward what you wanted to make you know, now it’s just really like Not a lot of people do that you know I’ve definitely I’ve definitely encountered a lot of people who need somebody else to take them along the way so it’s really awesome that you know, you’re you met people that like taught you cool and interesting things and then it like just propelled you forward to make it happen. Even the even though when you said that you helped that other group like not everybody is trying to like make other people famous or like help them right. You could have been like, I’m the best let me go show you how I’m great. Instead, you’re like, let me help other people have a great experience. Like I did like that.
Yeah. I think you know, It’s funny too, because I think within that time of 40 pounds sort of phasing out right side projects sort of phasing out and then sketch and this, I think, pressure off of both sort of came later on. But between that time, my friend who can I talked about forming a group together, he wanted to put on a high school improv tournament, because he remembered me doing shows. For this, again, this TV show called sports cast. So he wanted to sort of bring something back like that for local high school students to do improv and whatnot. So I gave me the opportunity to go into the schools doing improv workshops and whatnot that that actually became silver rewarding for me that there was one school I remember, there’s a there’s a national competition here in Canada called the Canadian improv games. And what it is, is that it’s basically like schools all across Canada. A team of eight students would form would do scenes do improv schemes based on certain themes or story arcs or whatever. And they would get scored and the top team in each province would represent that province and then fly over to the Capitol, which is Ottawa and then they would battle out each other. And then if you won, you’re the top top improv team in Canada. And so what happened I actually feel sorry for this one school that I ended up becoming their coach. For Wow, I think that was 1999 9899 where I started coaching this one team, and they always finished dead last in the competition. And the one year I asked to my friends to help me coach them because I didn’t know anything about playing pro games format. They helped me and from dead last the year before they finished first place and then got me more than Got me more interested into coffee coaching. And that was where really the coaching bugs sort of took off for me like I started coaching the same school. And they became not that that not that they were disrespected or didn’t look at it was like, for me it was like, I want to help these kids know that improv is fun. And whenever these guys were doing improv before I showed up, they were sort of disheartened and they could see could see in their eyes that they wanted to be like the other teams or justice, just so good and whatnot. So I thought I’d sort of give them back but that became that became a 10 year journey of the coaching one school leaving that school, going to another school and then going back to the same school. It was 10 years of doing that. And by 2010 I I sort of stopped the biggest reward out of all that was in 2010. One of the parents He asked me if I could organize a group of students that I have had access or had coached or whatever. And if they could be part of the 2010 Olympics, and so I had them I had students roaming or roving around as aliens, keyboard, kids, while delegates from like, Ukraine, Japan, Jamaica coming on down. Our, our booth was right next to the top athletes of their particular sport. It was so surreal. So when the Olympics happen, we we relished it. And that was that was probably when I last coached improv team
did they perform in the Olympics?
Well, they they did roving, they didn’t really perform. So they wrote.
But like they did character work at the convention.
Yeah, yeah, they would walk around. They would walk around and obviously had to sort of retrain them. Because at that point it was, it was they, at that time, they were just done with improv. Because there was like six months, like when I was coaching teams, I would coach for like, probably four or five months. And it was like three rehearsals every week for like four hours, just getting ready for a competition. And, and by the time their competition season was over, they were just mentally drained. And that was the last thing they want to do is do more improv. And so really, I told them like if you guys have a choice, you don’t have to do it. But think about it. If Olympics how often you get to do that and like wear colored spandex over your face and body and just roam around like you’re just alien alien character and just taking pictures with them and whatever and I was like, you guys, let’s do it. Why not? Me love it. I love it. Yeah, I loved it. And we we met so many athletes, one of them. One of my, one of my students at the time, sat next to a lady who eventually later on, I think in that week, won the gold medal for skateboarding. Like it was that’s it was so surreal and she’s from Canada to I’m being from from Vancouver. And so it was like, we were rubbing shoulders with athletes that obviously we never really paid attention to the sport but yet here we are. It was it was a great time. But that was my whole that was my whole improv thing. Like I was all about coaching and teaching. Yeah,
teaching. You’re really such a teacher. I feel like you’re like, your vibe of teaching has been there since the beginning, though. You’ve been like supportive and getting helping people try to help them get organized. I mean, that’s pretty great. Yeah. Did you always want to be a teacher or?
No, no, I think because my drama teacher did a huge impression on me, because he loved the craft of drama, like the art of acting. He taught us to respect it. He told us, he told he told us and taught us that you could do what you want to do, but you have to respect that stage. And I will help you with that. And if you go out of line if you happen to say, you know, the Mac be where the Shakespearean Mac B word, I will tell you, and I don’t have to explain it to you, because you know that it’s kind of bad. And so it was stuff like that I had a great mentor, my drama teacher who taught us and that’s funny thing is actually my first group. My first group 43 pounds with space, we all graduated from the same high school. We were probably a year or two apart from each other, but we were all taught by the same teacher. And that’s where we all knew each other and got comfortable knowing each other and that was all Mr. dramma teacher was actually the first one to set up the first gig for those five. Like he set up the first outside gig for the the first five guys that started started in Prague. So he he left a big impression of how to really respect the stage and respect the theatre. And, you know, like, most most schools nowadays don’t have the proper drama atmosphere. And so they’ll treat it with such disrespect, I, I take that to heart. And so I thought that I would trace into these students, because I was I went into these schools as a volunteer coach, I could have easily just picked up and left and not come back. But I meant so much to me to have these kids succeed and have them appreciate what I truly love. And what I really love giving back to this kids, and they actually I would even when the improv season was done at their local high schools, I would actually do like probably once, maybe twice a week, until the end of the school year of doing lunch hour shows. I would actually have like, like a website build and say, Hey, you know what, go on to this website. And you’ll see who’s cast for the show for now an hour. And that was I sort of tried trade treated like it was like a professional company. That was what’s so weird. It’s like I’m living the life of theatresports and I’m actually replicating that at Grambling local high school. I actually bought like a website and and the domain name so students of their high school could actually look it up oscilloscopes playing Okay, I’ll come to you lunch Our show is pretty neat. And I went on strong for like, for four years I went on pretty strong green bad. And then I just got tired. got tired doing it,
volunteering sure not also like super hard to be doing when you’re you know, not really getting as much from it though, though. You know, I’m sure you’re getting plenty of like, you know, soul work out of it really great. The work that you’re doing the, for those kids. I mean, and and thank goodness for Mr. Reid for inspiring you because, like, you know, you were there for those kids. They needed a theatre person to show them that it was cool and how to like, do the business part. You know, think of all that learned from you. They’re probably right now or like putting on their own shows because you showed them how to do it. Like, that’s really great.
Yeah. I think what’s fascinating too, because I, obviously my time with theatresports. I haven’t really seen those students and they graduated back in 2014. Maybe earlier than that, then there was probably, maybe a couple of years ago. One of them, maybe two of them came back to do training at theatresports. And I was like, what, like, yeah, sort of missed this. We want to get back into it again. But she didn’t ever continue on. But the fact that they had thought about doing it again, I was like, oh, that meant a lot. I was like, well, that’s great. Maybe we could maybe eventually could probably move up into you. And I could do certain doing shows professionally, but alas, they didn’t do it. And they didn’t continue but the fact that they they really loved doing they loved it. And I was rewarded with a lot of good friendships and all of that because eventually they became my friends and I have them on Facebook. So anytime at times. I keep checking what they’re And how they’re all doing. God. So yeah, it was something for me is like I, I always wanted to give something back. Because my teacher gave me something that I always loved in. And sketch comedy was one part that was one half of what I really loved and I rarely will sketch comedy. And so I thought I’d try it with my, my friends were called sketch and, you know, and not to say we were successful in it, but it gave me a sense of like, okay, so we do improv, and let’s see if we can try to replicate that onto page of paper and start writing. And I think we were okay with that. We didn’t do a lot of writing courses we didn’t. One of my closest friends was like an amazing writer. He’s writing grants for a lot of things. So he was and he was also in the arts and writing scripts for replays and whatnot. So I tapped into his sort of knowledge and has asked him for his help and see how we get into sketch comedy stuff and, you know, but more So my background has always always been improv. And I’ve always done that. And then it helped me doing like a lot of film and TV stuff too.
Hmm. So we You said you were working in with the high schools for about 10 years until 2010. Now, during the time that you’re working with the high schools, are you? You also mentioned there was an overlap with Vancouver? theatresports? Did you like go over there and start working with them? And you were doing your own stuff and working within the institution? or How did you and your path
so what had happened? So between that overlap, before 2010, I had a day job, I was selling shoes, and then the odd I was part time. So on the side, I would actually if I wasn’t working at my day job. I would be at the school teaching. And then if I wasn’t teaching, if I had to work the next day, I would be working the next day, but when we’re theatresports really came into play for me was 2007. But prior to that I was still in my training process of theater sports. So my schedule to them for a few sports was only on Saturday afternoons doing training, workshops, whatever. So I balanced it out, but then come 22,007, early 2007, that’s when it became a little bit of a balancing juggling act, because then I had my day job I had to, I was so committed to coaching these teams. But then at night, I had to do shows at the theater sports. And so it would be it would be by accumulate the volunteer hours with the high schools and shows I think, on average, I was thinking about doing, I think, yeah, I think I was doing on average about 50 hours a week of like, both my day job, my day job, theater, sports shows, coaching, and all that and then rinse and repeat Over and over again every week.
Honestly, if you’re low balling, I legitimately think it’s way more than that. 50 hours. There’s no way if you’re only putting 10 hours a week into your coaching, and your show out of Vancouver, there’s Vancouver theatresports, there’s no way and
that was all.
And also, that was the that was the year actually 2007 was the year. So this is where really rewarded me with the coaching. So we did a nice show at the local high school for the kids to final finish off the year and I I produced a show for these kids to say thank you for the crowd. Thank you to the audience for supporting them during this whole improv season. And in there, one of the mothers of one of the kids I was working with came up to me He’s like, Hey, listen, I want to someone wants to meet you right now. The time and I was a casting director for a TV show. I was like, Sure. So I talked to her. I was like, Hey, listen, do you have an agent? I’m like, No, I don’t actually I haven’t even thought about having an agent for almost 1015 years. It was never on my mind. like, Okay, how about this? Don’t worry about that. I want you to read for me. Like, three days for a TV show called this Canadian show called intelligence. It’s an audition. I’m like, Sure. Okay. And so, three days later, I go to, I go into the elevator and I go to go into the casting room. And before that I was in the elevator with this gentleman who’s like this. scraggly old guy white plain beard bald and he just looked like he shouldn’t be there. And I get out and he’s getting up on the same floor at me and I also I look around, and then now thinking mind me like it’s been almost maybe 10 years since I last audition that maybe when I was in high school. When I was auditioning, and I had an audition at that point for quite some time, so it was kind of surreal going back into an auditioning scenario where I see all these other people who sort of look like me. And I was like, oh, weird, okay. And so I went in there. And lo and behold, the gentleman that was with me in the elevator, was the creator of the show. and creator of the show, and the creator of the show was a huge advocate of people of color, especially on his Canadian show. So not that i thought that i thought about that as a reason that I would probably get cast or whatever I was like, This is crazy. I’m actually auditioning, and I eventually got a hole. So the next day, I got a call from this gentleman who happened to be my agent, then are now at that point, as like, hey, let’s talk and so we were talking. And while we were talking, he gets a call from the casting directors like, hey, that guy. So so he told me booked the role, like, Sure. So we, during the interview with this casting director, or this agent is like, hey, so congratulations, you booked the role. You want to you want me to sign you now. And that’s how it all happen. Like, I got a, I got a casting director who saw me host High School improv show. And then it led me to doing an audition and booked my first ever TV role. It was a very small role for that, but it was like, I didn’t know what I was doing. And then later, yeah, and then later on that year, probably a month later, the executive director of theatresports called me into his office is like, Hey, listen, I know you’re done with your two year training. We want to move you up to mainstage. And so I was just like, everything was happening all at once. Like all of a sudden I got a booking a role. But a TV show for Kane local TV show, all of a sudden I’m getting moved up from my training to mainstage roster of theater sports. And it was just like, what’s going on and then that summer became even more of a whirlwind where I was booking TV shows left and right while doing while working my day job and and then like school by then was already summer season, so I had no coaching. But then I was like, have my day job theatresports doing doing the acting on film and TV, I was like, Whoa, this is crazy. And and then the following year was the big one for me, and it’s still paying off. He was looking my first movie, my first feature movie, and it was kind of surreal seeing like the guy who directed Macaulay Culkin and all the Harry Potter movies. He was the one directing me I’m like, why am I doing this? How is this possible? And I think I was just in the right time. right time.
What was the movie?
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I played a one to five jet. I was played one of five janitors it turned into a five minute dragon or a Hydra. And yeah, it was great. It was a great experience. And, you know, I, I was on set for nine days. And during that time I’m I met probably some of the coolest guys who were my co stars. That one to this day actually two of them I still keep in close contact. But yeah, it was one of these things where I’m sitting there in my trailer, having a smoke all of a sudden Pierce Brosnan walks by with Thurman’s walking right behind them. I’m like, What is going on? in the span of a year. Things just turned around for the better for me it was great, but I honestly had to pinch myself because then when was cool went back in again. I went back into my old routine. day job coaching the odd time doing theater sports show. But that was I fell in love with film and TV more so and then I kept on pushing for it and then then it just sort of faded out of me. I sort of lost the love of film and TV and I want to do something else might not.
Were you like doing stuff, and then it kind of like, fizzled away, like there wasn’t as much going on, or did you do like a role and it just left a bad taste in your mouth? And you don’t have to give details? Oh,
no, no, yeah, no, I was doing roles. I was booking small roles. And I think it was because at that time, I had a day job. And then the fact that I had an audition during a day at times, that would take me away from part of my work and then do the audition and go back to work. So it was the prep. It was my own preparation, that of reading sides. I was I guess I was more committed to my day job that I couldn’t really put into time and effort the night before for my sides when it came to auditioning, because when I whenever when I went to the audition room after you know, after doing a part of my job my day job, I was stressed out I was I was like kind of stressing out because I didn’t know my lines or I may forget it. And then I was walking there with like sweating buckets. But it was because I was running from one place to another, and whatnot. But I mean, alas, I mean, my my all time favorite role that I ever did was playing a janitor, like, say it but it was playing a gender like I played. I was typecast in a way because I played a gender in the movie, but then I did. I was a janitor and a TV show called the killing. And that role was kind of an eerie it was an eerie character. I was like, I was a janitor, pedophile janitor. It was creepy and
now I’m gonna re watch it.
Yeah. To watch Yeah, it’s it’s episode three season one called El Diablo. But yeah, it was it was one of those roles that that really took me to a very dark place in regards to preparation. And I this day I still feel dirty and creepy about it. But the whole idea with the word casting director was getting me at was to get to the darkest and ugliest place like now I can’t do this. I’ll just pretend I’ll just pretend and sure enough, I mean, I booked the role, but it was the way God it was kind of creepy. I didn’t like it. It was one. It was one of my favorite roles. Don’t get me wrong, but it was like it was kind of creepy of how I got it. I didn’t like that feeling. So I guess I guess from there, it was like, maybe I probably booked more, probably two or three more shows and whatever. And then my wife and I at that point we we just got engaged and The following year we are going to get married. And so it was a lot of preparation for that. And then the same that same year we got married later on that year 2017 my daughter was born. So we had a lot of things that to me, I had to put on on the back end for now. And focus on the wedding and then and stuff. But at the same time, I still maintain a day job as well as theatresports.
Yeah, I mean, it’s hard. And I totally feel you were in the same position of like, I want to be super creative, and I want to do all these things. But like, right now in the world, I like my mission right now is to take care of this kid, like, that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been doing theater for a long time. I feel the same way about like, you know, once I got once we prepared to get married, and then we, you know, my husband and I were married for five years before we had kids. Because like I said, we were like Wait, what? Oh, we’re But, but at the same time, like one now that he’s here, like, it’s, you know, I keep thinking about people like, Oh, are you you know, you’re not around the theater as much as like a problem and I’m like, No, it’s just, this is my life now like, I’m hanging out with him. He’s a great dude. Like, I want to be with my, my boy for as long as I can, and he’ll go to school soon, you know, eventually, a year or so and then I can do whatever you know, then I can be doing different things and figuring stuff out on an activity I’ll have an activity but for right now,
yeah, and you know, and that was the thing too, like, it was hard to because I was living we were living with my in laws for a bit there too, while my little girl was born, so obviously doing like late hours with theatresports and having a day job, it took me away, and I felt like I couldn’t do much and help. And so my in laws would be my in laws would be there to help and thankfully I was there. They But there was there was a lot of guilt on my side like, man, I gotta be there more often I got to be at home to help with, with the baby and whatnot because obviously, of course, my post mortem is it was a real thing. And I was so I felt so guilty that eventually like, you know, during the shutdown, the lockdown recently gave me a moment of pause, I’m like, Oh great, I get to hang out with a kid. My wife could still do some work and I’m gonna love every moment of this because I felt like I lost a lot that, you know, this is gonna be news to you, Amy. But yesterday, I actually retired from theater sports and the improv community yesterday, because it was just too It was just too much for me to lose, and I wanted to be with my family more so and so you call me on the morning I have my my time doing improv because I was there for 14 years and I have nothing great memories and great people. You know, it was so much fun. But time was at an essence for me with my kid. And I was like, You know what? I want to be with my family now. And maybe this. This 10 demick probably was a benefit to me because it gave me the opportunity to be with my family. So, yeah, so you got new mean?
Right. This is one of those news podcasts, some revealing amazing news. And I mean, that’s an important part of your journey for sure. You know, and I mean, I feel Yeah, I haven’t. I was after I had the baby. I didn’t do anything at the theater for two years. We’re only two years after that. I even kind of felt like I could come back.
But like, I mean, the way that it works,
are you though, I mean, you say you retire, but like, plausibly in five years. If you want to go do stuff, you can go back right or is it like You had an earned spot in a group. And now you’re leaving that group. So like somebody else will fill in and come in a different way. I don’t know how but
yeah, I’m turning 46 this year and I mean, I feel like I do have a little bit left. But really, it’s, I mean, I’ve done a lot of shows for theater sports in the past and they gave me so much opportunity, learning the craft of improv, I mean, the highlights of my moment with your sports is sharing the stage as a host for calling mockery, like this Canadian legend and Whose Line is it Anyway star, and I did it twice in my lifetime. And also the best part with theater sports, I wasn’t just a performer I was also a tech improviser, too. So I would do sound I would do lighting for shows. I was the most versatile. I was the most versatile player in the company, because I could be either on stage, but if a technician was sick, I can hopped up in the booth, and someone else would fill in my spot on stage for that night. So I was pretty versatile in that. And then also, I was doing local shows as well, too, for friends of mine who had their own little small groups called the fictional and then another group would, you know, would do shows called the radicals. And so I would, I would space myself out to the point where, you know, I think I I was doing too much. I felt like I was doing too much to the point where I needed I needed. I needed a baby on top that Well, yeah, I was doing too much, especially with a newborn and, you know, it was taking me I felt a lot of there was so much guilt still. That ultimately I was I was content. I was doing so much like what I did theater, sports and the other improv companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with the last few years or so, that I mean, I we recently had an improv conference was international Improv Theater sports conference at our theater and it was Sort of like the Olympics or sort of like the UN coming to our theater, and you can see all these performers are doing they’re, they’re doing their take on what improv is like and Dan O’Connor from LA doing his genre piece and it was like, so amazing was such amazing work that I happen to tech, one of Dan O’Connor improviser and in LA, he came up and he directed like, local actor local improvisers from our company and other people like Patty styles, and whatnot. And at the end of it, Amy, I had never seen it ever in my life. But they got a standing ovation. It was so I was so happy to be witnessing that and the fact that I tech that gave me such a high of like, I came up, I went up to my my colleagues who I do shows with the optimistic dies that was I bow to you guys because you guys got that And I, I support that because that was amazing. And then went to Dan and I was like, Man, it’s it was it was such a great feeling, seeing another variation of what could be. And, and it was it was it was challenging times up in Vancouver trying to learn new staying, I try to bring new things because here it’s always about comedy. It’s always about, you know, theater sports, and it’s all about fast pace, quick wit stuff. And what Dan brought to introduce me was slow pace improv doing dramatic style. Complete one act play, no lather. Yeah, you’ll get the last but being honest and true and whatnot and then left a huge impression on me that to me, I eventually started bringing that to myself on stage bring the realism bringing, you know, the idea of what true emotions could be I actually am. I think I did a scene one time where it was supposed to be like, you know, robbing a bank and I said They’re being held up. And I actually started crying on stage. Like, as if I was the person being held up. And one of my colleagues came up to me afterwards like, are you okay? I’m like, Yeah, why? Like, I didn’t know how to react to that, because you actually start crying on stage like, Oh, no, that’s my character. I was just like, I didn’t want to be shot. That was what I was thinking in my head. I didn’t want to get shot because I have a family to worry about. And then all of a sudden, it was like, all this realism in my head sort of popping in. I’m like, Okay, this is too real to me. Not that I ever got held up ever in my life. But that back the idea that sort of came into my true emotions, like, and that came from Dan O’Connor, like it was just like, he really was, I was awesome. It was such a great feeling. And so that whole conference itself was such a great exposure to what improv could be and what it should be. And that’s just community and love for each other. It was It was great. I love that a lot
to do you got to go to Europe and Asia now. Okay, I know that you just said that. You weren’t good. doing improv anymore, but certainly won’t do that improv. Europe and Asia is all about the dramatic stuff. They think. Don rank the comedy stuff is go. Like I’ve talked to people. Oh, yeah, we know you guys do the comedy stuff. Sure. Yeah. It’s like, what is it not cool. We’re not cool. And I always accept that as an American. I’m not cool. And I’m fine with that. You know, but many people you’d love it. Oh my god.
Yeah. You know, it’s funny. I’ve I’ve met a couple of people from Austin, who came up here for our improv training and Roy and I think Casey beeler. Yeah. And, you know, they’re, they’re a company that, that does genre pieces, genre piece type improv, and that’s something that was introduced to me earlier last last year. I was like, I never knew anything about that. And then we had a company come out from Hawaii. Garrick and whatnot. They introduced us to what they do quite often was a lot of genre pieces. And one of them was Kabuki, Kabuki improv. Oh, and it was like a herald style but Kabuki honest Kabuki characters not mocking it or whatever it was like, true form and then I went on their website and they’re all about the genre, genre pieces of improv like doing a Harry Potter version but with doing with true honest, Harry Potter, they actually I think they got like, dialect coaches to help them with their British accent so they’re not be submerging. It was like, Wow, you guys went all out on that like, That’s crazy. And and then the bonus is that because they’re tapping into something like Harry Potter or whatever, they get hired to do roving characters for Fanuc like cosplay shows. Right? And so that was like, that’s a side job, as a side job from what they are. Do already so that was like the bonus.
cosplaying. You want to like, figure out a way to make make money with it, go to a genre based improv school and learn. You’re right. That’s exactly how you do that. You want to be the Yeah, you know, you’ve always wanted to be, you know, Cinderella at Disney World, but they said no to you last time Take one class, you go back to like, Oh my god, it’s like she’s in front of me. Like it’s Yeah, they really get it. You know what I mean? I can’t believe they get into those. Those genres so quickly, like, don’t get me wrong. I know. There’s a lot of work on a lot of shows. I’ve watched them come out of rehearsal. And it’s like, Whoa, they look tired. But at the same time, wow.
Yeah. And that’s what was so fascinating with like, this improv group from Hawaii and then also, Casey, people from watching those guys do it. I was like, that’s something that we in Vancouver. Don’t do a lot of like, obviously it’s theater school. space. So, you know, like Whose Line is anyway type style, but not really that stuff. But this, the handles of that. And it was like, yeah, you know, you could do those who do seem to always so many times, it’ll still be fine if you make it fun but having finding new new ways of doing improv and watching improv and whatnot, it’s hard to really cultivate that here in North Vancouver because our audience is so used to watching the whose lines in any way with the colon mockeries and whatnot. So introducing them to a long form, for example, like a 20 minute long form to 25 minute long form. They’ll get it but not this slide. I want to say that we’re the our audience are dumb, but we have to downplay it. So they understand what’s going on in a sense of like playing doing a herald or
to get the audience to improv when you’re doing a montage or something like that. And it’s like a bunch of girls connected Seems like what are they involved in at? All right?
I’m connecting. Whenever I teach loved one improv and it’s mostly just montage improv that I’m teaching at that point. It’s like you when you do your improv when you do your recital at the end of this level one class, like the people who are having the fun, are you not that we’re not enjoying and deeply supportive of you, but you’re the one who’s having fun. You can’t possibly learn how to do it and make people like it in one level, like, sorry, you have to know how to do it first and then then you can work on making people like it, you know? Oh, you’re sure before you can get the audience in on it. And then they’re like, Oh, yeah, happening. Okay. Yeah,
yeah. And it’s funny like I mean, during this whole time, you know, he talked about you’re watching something on Tiger King, you’re talking about fire. And, and then prior to that, I mean, probably locked on. I heard nothing about this show called Middle middle ditching done sports, delicious sports. And so say okay there I don’t know much about these guys are watching then I started reading a bit more information other improv do okay let’s see how see how they could pull this off because who’s lying I’m surprised they really pull it off doing improv as a TV platform. It’s, you know, without looking like it’s fabricated and whatnot. So for them to do it for these two to do it. I was like, Wow, you guys are killing it. Like I was just so amazed what mental distress Schwartz did. I was like, that’s so inspiring. And they only have three episodes, but if you guys have a chance to watch it, my gosh, they’re such a fun duo. Like,
I love they did three episodes. You know what I mean? I thought they were just one, you know, like a standup. Yeah. But instead they were like, no, here’s three different shows. And I knew that they were doing it because they actually toured the country and came to a couple of times. So like they worked on doing this live show. For a long time, I think I think they were doing the live show just to do the live show at first in major improv cities around around the country. But then they were like, hey, let’s maybe Netflix or somebody came to them and was like, hey, let’s film this, I believe, if I understand correctly, because I listened to interviews with them on other podcasts like this. They were like, really, you want to film it? It’s not great film. And they were like, No, no, we want to make comedy special. And they’re like, again, you know, we’re doing improv, right? Like,
this is different. Yeah. And I think, you know, there’s a lot of and there’s a lot of things you could take away from there, as, you know, as a performer or even a student, not what the what the how their character or transitions, whatever. It’s actually one one thing I find very fascinating that not a lot of improvisers could do properly is interview an audience and get suggestions from their life and just walk them through and not be submerging them or whatever and having it was like So, okay, you’re from this place. Oh, interesting. Okay, can you tell us a little bit of that? Not a lot of improvisers have a proper skill of doing that I find it’s such a I find it’s like a unique thing it’s like hosting a show It’s its own beast It’s its own entity compared to actually performing a show. And so watching both of them just talk to an audience member about how what they want for as an inspiration for their scenes. I find that very fascinating how they actually interview an audience member because it was with with such care with such with such honesty of how they really feel about the the suggestions or what they’re getting and you know, when they hear something like oh, this person was my best man. I didn’t know I was the best man like, Whoa, okay, hold up. Let’s back up a little bit. And they took their time with it. There was no rush to it. Maybe for TV reasons. I didn’t have any data at the Russia I think they were just killing airtime but it This is really fascinating watching how they just really set up their show, like just so and it was also making sure that the entire audience knew what was going to happen because they were setting up the audience like what we do as improvisers setting up your partner to be successful. They made that they made their audience look so successful. And, and loved by that crowd. It was it was it was quite fascinating. I mean, and then overall, the show itself was just fantastic to watch. But I thought that was the one thing that really gravitated to was like no one, even including myself, I have a tough time talking to an audience member about a day in their life. Because it’s, you don’t want to get too personal. But you also don’t want to be too cheeky about it, but you also want to be you want to honor what they’re giving you and not look down at them. If it’s like something you didn’t like, it’s kind of fascinating.
Man, that’s so great. I love that, you know, there’s more improv and sketch comedy available for us to be watching just at home while we’re on quarantine. And with the breadth of you know, using zoom across the world you can be involved in, you know, like improv jams or watching shows all across the country. Not even in the country in the world. You can watch improv all across the world. And I think it’s a great thing that you’re so smart to mention. It’s not don’t just watch this show to be like, Oh, are they cute? Aren’t they fun? They’re haha. It’s like, what could you learn from them and I love that you pulled that detail out of it. And that’s why I’m gonna say that despite the fact that you’ve used the phrase retirement I don’t believe he’s the last show that you’re ever going to do. You have been a self starter from the beginning, creating shows helping other people create shows, putting things out there trying to find ways to get yourself and other people on stage you are meant to do that kind of thing. And you know what? Now you have time, you’re not involved with the theater sports as much anymore. So now, you and your friends, you’re gonna go to the Philippines, I can feel it, you’re gonna make it happen, it’s gonna be great and you’re gonna do really serious dramatic improv. And it’s gonna be so awesome. You’re just like the energy of what you have put out and not only just telling you the story, but like the energy of helping the other people and doing and working on, you know, different communities and helping them embrace the you know, theater that they love and get to play with improv. That’s part of who you are. And you’re just gonna keep doing more stuff like that right now, you and me, we got to hang out with some toddlers for a little bit. But pretty soon we’re back out making shows making everybody laugh or cry whenever we want to do. It’s great.
Huh? Well, to me like and I you know, I always looked at it like, for me and this is just my own personal belief like Whenever I’m doing a show, not to sound mean, or whatever to my colleagues, I’ve done shows before, but I know I rarely my colleagues, or entertain them. As much as that’s an added bonus. It’s always the crowd. And if the crowds loving everything you’re doing and you’re there, you’re giving them an opinion about you. That’s what it’s worth. And I am an actor. Yes, I’m an actor. I love the limelight. But it’s always been about the crowd. And as great as it is to learn from my fellow colleagues, which I do always, I always love. I think it’s because my upbringing of theater of my heart, my drama teacher, is to respect the stage. And I think that’s what I try to do is respect that stage and respect the audience for watching me on that stage. Totally.
So great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Thank you so much. Thank you stories. It has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you.
Thank you very much, Amy. And thank you for the opportunity to tell you that I’m retiring or am I
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai