Goodbye, 2015. How a year of being open changed my life.

December isn’t normally the end for me. As I look back at the years, they kind of blend together. I don’t remember whether or not 2008 was better than 2011, because both years were filled with highs and lows that eventually just became part of my life. But this year was different. I’ll remember 2015 as one of the best years of my life, because 2015 was the year I learned to be more open to the world.

New Year’s 2015

Let’s start exactly one year ago. This was the first year that I’d spend my New Year’s away from home. That being the case, I had no idea what to do. How do people celebrate New Year’s? Do I just walk to Times Square? I live in LA, so that’s unreasonable, right? I did what anyone else would do and I messaged my friend Matt Kiel on Facebook. We weren’t really that close yet and we’d just made some Frosty the Snowman video together. I asked him what he was doing and he didn’t know. So I said, “Maybe Nicole will have something to do?” At this point, I think we’d hung out like, twice before? The three of us knew each other from the Nerdist School, but that was it. We weren’t close. Not yet.

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Nicole said she might be going to some thing, so we went to that thing. New Year’s Party. And it was fun! It was very fun! We were happy to be hanging out together! I stood by an hors d’oeurves table and tasted everything several times, reporting back to Nicole’s cousin, Qristina, on how everything was. We stood around a barbecue fire and roasted marshmallows. I said that we barely knew each other a while ago and then Nicole joked that we were now BEST FRIENDS! Minutes before the countdown, Matt and I discovered that we could dance by pretending to be playing different sports. Not long after midnight, we all left. And that was my first day of the year. Because of that New Year’s Party, we had a group chat on Facebook. And we talked in that chat. A lot. That chat would eventually become Blonde Slumber Party.

My Maude Audition

Maude auditions were coming up. For those of you who don’t know, Maude teams are the sketch teams at UCB. People record character reels of themselves and upload them to YouTube as unlisted videos, though lots of people end up either making them public or accidentally sharing them to Google+. I made one too. As a joke. I made it in December and left it as a private video on my channel for a while, but a bunch of people started posting in the then-UCB Underground Comedy Network, asking for instructions or something, so I thought the time was right to share the video.

Some people thought it was funny, and some people thought it was dumb (which it is), and then one person was racist and called me Indian or something. I don’t remember, because he’s unimportant and will never be famous. What was really important was that one of the people who loved it was this cute red-haired girl who commented on it, told me to add her as a friend, and we began talking. January 4, 2015. That’s the first day that Amber Jene and I talked.

I rushed to my group chat with Matt and Nicole. I asked Nicole if Amber was flirting with me. Nicole said that since Amber had said, “You seem fun,” she was definitely flirting. It was very exciting. Flirting! We talked a bunch on Facebook and eventually, we went on a first date. I asked Amber if she wanted to choose between mini golf in Sherman Oaks or hanging out at the Target. On Friday, January 9, 2015, we’d go on our first date to the Target. On January 10, 2015, we went on our second date to the Burbank mall. On January 11, 2015, I went to Nick and Denisse’s joint birthday party in Atwater and Amber was my date. Not long after that, on January 24, 2015, Amber and I were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. And now, on December 31, 2015, we live together in a little house.

That dumb fucking video is why my love life is so magical today.

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Blonde Slumber Party

Let’s rewind just a little bit. On January 8, 2015, Matt, Nicole and I released our very first vlog. I don’t remember when we recorded it, I really don’t. I just know that I was at home, trying to record a vlog series about helping people set and achieve their goals. It was very hard to do. It didn’t feel natural. I didn’t really like it. So I messaged Matt. He was interning at Meltdown, down the street. I asked if he wanted to come and record something with me. He said sure. We messaged Nicole and asked if she wanted to come too. She also said sure. This all happened at 2 AM. These two dummies came over to my house at 2 AM to record “whatever” with me.

At first, we tried to record our vlog as a series of pitches to Ptolemy Slocum for shows that we should get to put up at the Nerdist School. It didn’t really work and we didn’t really like it, so we just decided to use this as an experiment. We would record our friendship to see how it progressed over the next year. This was our first episode:

It wasn’t great, but we liked it. It was fun. And the real crazy part? It worked! It worked so much better than we’d ever expected it to work. Doing the vlog together not only forced us to be more open when we recorded, but it also made us more open with each other in our Facebook Chat. And it made us best friends.

At first, it was a little tough, but the more we stopped censoring ourselves and started feeling comfortable trusting each other, the more our friendship grew. I would make myself tell them things I wouldn’t normally tell other people. And so these two people whom I’d met maybe a month or two ago have become my best friends. Plus, it’s had the added bonus of making me more open in my other relationships. Amber and I have a strong romantic relationship, and Greg Smith, my creative comedy partner, and I have a very strong creative relationship!

We’ve been constantly surprised at where the vlog has taken us, but we came a long way since that first episode.

BuzzFeed vs Acting

Rewind again! A lot of stuff happened to me in January. On January 13, 2015, I started working at BuzzFeed. I made a video a while back that was featured on the Huffington Post called “WTF Is Ello?!” and that was the thing I submitted to BuzzFeed to get my interview. It was neat. It seemed like a perfect fit! I would be making creative content for money for the first time! While I was there, I made awesome friends, I got to produce 3 videos (4 if you count that never-published one), and I enjoyed myself for the most part.

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Here’s the thing though. Sometimes things aren’t exactly what they seem. It is definitely not my belief that BuzzFeed is a bad place to work, because I’ve got lots of friends there who are very fulfilled by the work they’re doing. However, it was not an ideal situation for me.

I want to be an actor. That’s one of my creative goals out here. As an actor in LA, you go to lots of casting director workshops, hoping that you’ll be remembered, etc. I was going to one at Act Now at night after work and the casting director asked me who my rep was. When I told her I didn’t have any, she told me that she thought that was ridiculous and told me to email Eileen O’Farrell. I did, and when I talked to her, Eileen asked me if my job had a flexible schedule so that I could go audition. I asked my supervisor about it. They didn’t. I was very surprised. I didn’t understand why a place with a bunch of creative people in LA, the city where movies and television are made, would want to prevent other creative people from auditioning for things outside of just BuzzFeed videos.

And so here’s a video about why I really quit BuzzFeed that I’ve hesitated to show anyone outside of Matt & Nicole for this whole year:

Now, before recording the video, I’d chosen to stay at BuzzFeed, but it’s clear that it would’ve broken my heart had I stayed. I met with Eileen and we decided that I’d start with her after pilot season was over and after I’d finished at BuzzFeed. Eileen is amazing, wonderfully kind and supportive, and has sent me out on lots of auditions that I’ve loved every second of. It became a big juncture for me in the year, and I am so happy that I made the decision that I made.

Hey Sailor! The Sailor Moon Podcast

In 2014, Ben Manoochehri and I started a podcast about Sailor Moon called Hey Sailor!  Towards the end of the year and the beginning of the year, it became increasingly difficult for Ben to continue editing the podcast and to meet to record episodes, which saddened me a great deal. I didn’t want it to fall apart, but I did want to continue recording. With Ben’s blessing, I went to Omar Najam, a previous guest of ours, to see if he wanted to take over co-hosting duties. Since then, we’ve traveled through the stars, stopped on major planets we never thought we’d reach, and explored our solar system. Scheduling will never be easy, but we always have fun sitting around and talking on our spaceship, and my friendship with Omar has grown as a result of it! All of my creative projects seem to have facilitated my friendships, but they continue to thrive outside of our creative endeavors as well.

The Dam(n) Breaks 

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The entire saga of the Dam(n) Breaks can be read here, but I couldn’t write about my 2015 without mentioning how much this improv experience meant to me. I learned so much about fighting through adversity with the 4 other members of the team. Jen Curran basically single-handedly saved us by getting us to talk to each other and really dive in to how we felt, not just about the team, but about life in general. When we got up for our final show, we spoke honestly. We spoke truthfully. And we achieved everything that improv is supposed to be for the most 25 magical minutes of my life.

Meeting MyLlama

MyLlama is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Amber’s brother, Nicholas, was visiting us for 4th of July weekend, and the three of us went to Anime Expo. As we walked the hall, I spotted cute little stuffed alpacas everywhere I went. I turned to Amber, saying that I wanted one! She kept telling me that we didn’t have anywhere to put him at home. Sadly, I continued on with my day. Then, an announcement came over the PA system, letting us know that there were only 15 more minutes left until the floor closed. I looked at Amber and said, “I’m getting him!” I bolted, losing Amber and Nicholas in the crowd.

“How much is this llama?” I asked some guy working some booth somewhere. “$20,” he said. “Which one did you want?” “This one,” I replied. He smiled at me. “That’s a good one.”

Amber and Nicholas found me eventually, and I held MyLlama triumphantly above my head. “What’s his name?” “MyLlama,” I proudly replied. Since that day, MyLlama has smiled his way into the hearts of all of my friends.

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Amber & I Moved In To A House

Amber told me that she wanted our next place to not be part of an apartment complex. She told me that it was out there, but that we had to just keep looking. And she was right. We found our home, but that’s not all she was right about. We spend so much of our time looking for stuff we’ve seen that we don’t even realize that what we really want is out there. We just have to look for it. This kept happening to me as the year began to wrap up.

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I Got Hired To Work From Home

I always feel so stressed out whenever I get hired because I get worried that I won’t have time to audition, or that I’ll have to sneak around and lie to audition. I didn’t think that I’d ever find a job that would fit my schedule, but there was. Now, I work for a company called Shmoop, making and animating test prep videos.

I Got Paid To Be A Puppeteer

2015 saw my first two paid puppet gigs, and both have been a blast! I got to work a pre-school fair in Sherman Oaks, playing a fun sock puppet as well as a fun character named Yahooty! Then, I got the chance to be one of the main puppeteers for a sizzle reel along with my friend Keith Saltojanes. It was great getting to work with him closely for a creative project, as we’d known each other for a long time at this point, but had never really talked deeply. We got the chance to do that a little bit, and as a result, we’ll go in to the new year with one shared resolution: golf cart.

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Mudville Comedy Gets A Show

In the meantime, my best friend, Greg Smith, and I had continued chugging along with new Mudville stuff. We’d quietly begun releasing one new video every week, plus, we put up two versions of our Spank show at UCB. 2016 will see the beginning of our official run at the theatre, which is big for us! Plus, we made a handful of appearances on the Geek & Sundry twitch, gaining new fans! And Geek & Sundry is a whole other thing. The community that Zac Eubank managed to build out of nothing is absolutely incredible. I’m so grateful to him for letting us come on there and sing dumb songs for a bunch of other nerds.

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The levels of openness I reached with Matt and Nicole translated directly to Mudville, as Greg and I began to talk more deeply about our fears and our goals. Writing songs will always be hard, but it’s a little easier to do it when we’re not afraid to admit to each other that it’ll be kind of a struggle. We were able to accomplish incredible things that I don’t know we’d ever have attempted before.

We released 12 songs for Christmas. One each day leading up to the 25th. I was immensely proud of every one, but none more so than Video Game Christmas.

We wrote it a whole year ago and lots of people came together to make it happen. Plus, a year passing needed to happen for it to turn out the way it did. I made friends with Jenny, who even though I only worked with at BuzzFeed for about a month, has felt like she’s been friends with me for forever! I got to work with Nicole as a DP more throughout the year, and we felt like we were clicking together on set. Joe Heinen made the legit, amazing chiptune track for us. Amber and I had the house to serve as our setting. Seeing it done just felt very triumphant for me, personally.

So, on to 2016

2015 is coming to a close. But that doesn’t mean it’s all just over. It was a great year, for sure, but nothing’s just wrapped up in a clean bow. Blonde Slumber Party hasn’t put out a video in 2 months now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t in 2016. I haven’t booked a TV credit yet, but that doesn’t mean that my auditions didn’t matter and that I won’t keep trying in 2016.

My goal is to carry on with everything I’ve learned in the past year. My goal is to continue being open and letting my friendships grow. I know that I value the openness that has gotten me to where I am today, and that the next year will bring even greater things.

2015 was a new start, and it hasn’t found its end yet. On to 2016, and on to all the rest.

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where they were open enough to hire someone off of a Facebook bit post. Keep up with him on his YouTube channel here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

7 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For Dad

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Okay, it’s Christmas Eve and it’s time to get that last-minute gift for dad. But what does he even like? Does he even like stuff? Why is it so hard to shop for him?! Here are 6 last-minute Christmas gift ideas for Dad!

1. Okay, you can do this. A tie I guess?

Yeah, a tie will be perfect! Dads love ties. Stores sell ties. Go buy him a tie! Oh shit, but what will I get him for Father’s Day? Or his birthday, for that matter?! I’m absolutely sure he likes ties, but I don’t know if I can get him the same one 3 times. Ah, I might also get the same one again. Scratch ties off the list.

2. Um. A razor?

They’re right here in the “for him” section. It makes sense. But this one looks kind of crappy. And doesn’t his razor still work? What is this even doing other than reinforcing the fact that he’s a man who needs to shave? It’s really less of a gift and more of admittance that I gave up. Okay, this isn’t working. Next.

3. Like a sandwich or something?

Okay, clearly I’m reaching here. Obviously he’d enjoy a sandwich, but probably not as a Christmas gift. There’s gotta be something he enjoys getting.

4. New pajamas?

Dad loves being comfortable! So he’d probably love some new warm pajamas! Oh no! This sounds like something Mom would get him. Mom’s probably getting this for him. Goddamnit. I’m sure there’s something that will work.

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5. Power tools?

No, I’m just generalizing dads at this point.

6. This top half of a barrel I think?

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I mean, who’s supposed to buy this? This could be a dad gift. I don’t even know what he likes to do.

7. I’ve got it! It’s so obvious! The 30th Anniversary Box Set of Back to the Future!

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I’m so stupid! My dad loves Back to the Future! I love Back to the Future! We used to watch it together! This is a gift that’s both meaningful and awesome! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier. The perfect gift for Dad is a new Back to the Future box set! Of course, this only applies to this year. It’d be great if they could release a new edition every single year until the machines take over in 2029.

 

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where everyone else got their dad a screener of The Good Dinosaur. Keep up with him on his YouTube channel here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

6 Solutions To the Gun Problem That Will Actually Work

Guns are everywhere. They’re in our video games and they’re in our movies. I get it. They seem cool. We love them. But people are getting shot and killed every day now and that’s something that needs to stop. So how do we solve this gun problem? Here are a few solutions that should do the trick.

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1. Invent Guns That Can Only Shoot Other Guns

One of our main problems with guns is not the guns themselves, but with where the bullets are going. A lot of people put their bullets into people and other people want to stop those bullets. Of course, since the people holding guns are such big targets, it’s easier to put bullets into them rather than shooting the small gun-shaped target that they should be aiming for! With guns that can only shoot other guns, bullets won’t go into people anymore and shootouts will be a frantic game of picking up your dropped gun. Now that’s putting the “fun” back in “gun.”

2. Include a “History of All Guns” Pamphlet with Super Soakers

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A big reason that people don’t want guns to just go away is because they don’t want their kids to be confused of what the toy they’re holding is a derivative of. With an included pamphlet detailing exactly what guns are, children will be fully educated on where guns came from, what they are, and why their new toy is shaped the way it is. This will surely quell the fears of the gun history buffs and pave the way to remove actual guns from society and replace it instead with the rich history of guns.

3. Invent Ray Guns With Only A “Stun,” Not “Kill” Setting

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Like I mentioned before, guns are super duper cool, so people don’t want to give them up. What better way to convince people to give up their guns by making something cooler? People rush to throw out their old iPhones the second a new, cooler model is released, and I think we can all agree that Ray Guns are 1000 times cooler than regular guns. Nobody will be mad that they’re non lethal because they shoot cool rays instead of bullets!

4. Replace the Word “Shoot” with “Jizz” in the English Language

I’ve gone into detail about this before with my friends, but people love watching basketball because it’s a cool sport and they love when people “shoot” the ball. Since basketball is hard to get good at, people try “shooting” the next best way they know how: with a gun. Imagine now if basketball players were “jizzing” the ball. In that world, when people can’t improve at basketball, they can feel cool, like basketball players, by going into their bedrooms and “jizzing” all over the place.

5. Stop Making And Widely Distributing Inventions Designed Specifically For Killing

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This one seems like a no-brainer, but is low on the list simply because I’d hoped that someone might have built a ray stun-gun before I got to this item. People won’t be able to point things at people and make decisions they can’t ever undo if they don’t have access to machines made for the purpose of killing. Try paintballing or something.

6. Produce More Hit Hollywood Movies Where A Zombie Apocalypse Is Realistically Stopped With Words Instead Of With Guns

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Like, 70% of gun owners probably got freaked out by zombie movies and want to prepare for an outbreak. That’s understandable! It could happen at any moment and when we see shows like the Walking Dead, it’s the tough people who know how to survive. That’s why all the Alexandrians keep dying and why Rick and the gang are still okay. We so easily forget stories like Warm Bodies and Marvel Zombies in which the mindless creatures could think and speak. If we see more movies where zombies are eventually able to be stopped with reason rather than with weaponry, maybe those of us will learn to talk to each other instead of shooting each other.

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where nobody brings guns to work. Keep up with him on his YouTube channel here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might even bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

6 Simple Steps to Shedding Those Extra Thanksgiving Pounds

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Thanksgiving weekend has come to a close and if you’re anything like me, you’re filled with both satisfaction and shame regarding the massive amounts of food you’ve been ingesting for the past 4 days. That tummy of yours might be feeling a little bloated, but fear not, because I’ve got an easy 6-step guide to help you shed those extra pounds.

1. Identify and set your goal weight. It’s easier to aim at a concrete number than it is to have a vague idea of what you want. How much did you weigh before you ate Thanksgiving dinner? Start from there.

2. Recall exactly what you ate for Thanksgiving dinner. Though you may write down what you recall in a journal, it will be absolutely necessary that you memorize these items as will not be able to hold non-organic materials with you in the next step.

3. Strip naked and enter the time chamber. Don’t worry about what your body looks like. Just remember that non-organic matter such as clothing, money, or notebook paper will be torn to shreds and hinder the time travel process.

4. Determine the exact date of your arrival and remember what exactly you were doing at that time. You will need to find your past-self quickly, before Thanksgiving dinner starts.

5. Once you find the past version of yourself, you must convince them that you are from the future. Try telling them something only both of you would know, like a secret crush, or that you have access to time travel technology. They will argue that you got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and that they should be able to as well, but this would cause a causality loop. If this does happen, an additional step will be needed.

6. Tie your past self up in your closet and return to your original time. Your past self will not have eaten and you will return a few pounds lighter, and tied up in your closet.

Congratulations!

You’ve shed those extra pounds and are prepared to enjoy another weekend full of gluttony as Christmas approaches! Stay tuned for my next guide on how to escape from your closet!

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where his leftovers are VERY CLEARLY labeled with his name. Keep up with him on his YouTube channel here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might even bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

 

10 Signs That Your Whole Childhood Was Video Games

Fallout 4’s recent launch has proven just how much video games have grown in both ambition and scope. The immersive worlds that have been created over the past two decades are an incredible feat that should be applauded. Even so, there’s no replacing the good ol’ classic platformers. This was a simpler time, when characters couldn’t speak out loud and when controllers had three buttons that did the same thing. Here are the most surefire signs that you grew up playing video games.

1. You Remember What It’s Like To Not Be Able To Save 

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2. You’re Afraid of Being Crushed By Walls

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3. You’ve Drowned On Several Occasions

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4. You Drop All Your Rings Whenever You Touch Spikes

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5. You Used To Look More Pixelated 

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6. All Your Friends Are Robots

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7. You Murder Things By Jumping On Them, But It’s Okay Because It’s Your Friends As Robots

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8. Your Every Action Is Controlled By An Outside Force That You Are Powerless To Resist

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9. You Recently Escaped The Digital World And Began Interacting With Humans

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10. You Are Not Real 

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Was your childhood a video game? Did I leave any signs out? Let me know in the comments below! If the person playing your game lets you, I mean.

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, the studio not responsible for Wreck It Ralph. Keep up with him on his YouTube channels here and here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might even bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

A Thank You To The Nerdist School Community, The Dam(n) Breaks, and All the Emolos

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We’d always joked that “Culver City” would be our final show as a team, but we never expected to actually be performing it this soon.

The Dam(n) Breaks has been my Nerdist School improv team for a little bit over a year. The name came out of our Level 3 class when Ptolemy had us make up a form and we edited scenes by having a big dam break and sweep us away. From that form on, every time he asked us for a team name, we’d give him “The Damn Breaks” as a name. It became one of our favorite running jokes in the class, along with one other very important one.

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That class was tight. We loved each other. We loved playing together. I’d never seen a friggin’ CLASS care so much about one another. Ptolemy took us through a bunch of new forms from a theme form, which we nailed the structure of the first time and then proceeded to fuck up every time following that, to the Mosaic, which we were also somehow amazing at, to La Rondes, Cacophonies, Mobiuses, and lots of pureforms. We were encouraged to find new things and to try and actively change the way we do improv through organic discovery and emotional play. Ptolemy asked us to play through scenes by changing our emotional locations, which he then shortened to “Emolo,” his catchphrase, and then for some reason started furiously denying that he’d ever said anything like that. It was a little bit like how my friend and teammate Darrel denies ever having spilled a salad.

Our class drove him mad with that one and at our graduation show, we all showed up on stage wearing shirts we’d ordered that read, “Emolo. -Ptolemy Slocum” There’s a video of him reacting somewhere, where he shoves the camera out of Mario’s face. Funny story, the shirts took a week longer to get in than we thought, so we told Ptolemy we weren’t available for the original graduation show date, so he used that week to bring the first, second, and third level 3 classes to the theater to mess around and jam and drink and that may have semi-birthed the way that auditions for teams were done at the school.

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After we graduated, Ptolemy gave me a call and let me know that I was being put on a house team called The Dam(n) Breaks and that Darrel was one of my teammates. I believe he told us this because he knew we were the two who would be most excited that the name had carried through.

We had 8 people at the time, half from my level 3 class and half from the level 3 class before me. We were this hodgepodge of people who played kind of weird, but it seemed to work. We wanted to achieve what we thought improv at the Nerdist School was supposed to achieve. We were 8 individual voices who were free to play as ourselves, reaching an odd and unexpected harmony. We did not get to meet for a practice before our first show, but we were asked to get a location and then go from there. Del Taco was what we got and we just went.

I don’t remember much of the show, but I remember it being fun. I remember thinking, “this team is gonna be a blast.” And it was. We got a location for the next few shows and after getting “Constantinople,” we were all like, “maybe a non-geographic location?” And here’s where Culver City came from. I don’t remember EXACTLY how this came about, but I know that Sam lived there at the time and so we joked about getting a specific location like CULVER CITY. We’d do bits about it every week before the show. Even Nicole, at that time not part of the Dam(n) Breaks, but our house manager, was in on that bit.

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We stopped getting locations though, and after a while, we started getting lyrics from songs to inspire movie trailers as an opening. The form worked a couple of times, and it missed more often than that, and from there, things got kinda dysfunctional. On the team, we were all friends who liked and respected each other, but the meshing that had happened early on stopped really working and we didn’t know why. The more we worked on the form itself, the more freedom we lost. There was less play and too much “getting it right.” At least, that’s how I started to feel. I was scared of “getting it wrong,” and it hurt us.

Were shows bad? No, not really. They just weren’t as inspired as they could’ve been. And that was happening because we had differing goals about what we wanted to gain from improv. Strangely enough, even though we’d been playing for months, we’d never really talked openly about what we wanted to achieve as a team. And so Jen Curran had us talk about talking. We became more open with each other and we felt a burden lifted as we began moving back towards our freer style of play. Stuff was looking up!

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And then we had people quit. Four people total, three at the same time. The people left were myself, Nikki Ghisel, Nicole Villela, Sam Christopher and Darrel Haynes. At the time, this felt like a real big gut punch. It felt like every sign was pointing away from us being a team. Ptolemy told us that the teachers had talked and that The Dam(n) Breaks was to be taken off the schedule for the next month and that we’d just re-audition after that.

We should’ve given up. That’s what most people would do, right? This was just roadblock after roadblock and everything felt sort of hopeless. But we set up a meeting with Ptolemy. We talked about what we wanted, which was for our team to continue. He didn’t know how much we wanted it because that wasn’t what he’d been hearing. He hadn’t heard from us, so he didn’t know. Even though no one person can speak for the whole team, that’s what it can feel like is happening.

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He was proud of our dedication. He admired it. He saw the spark that Neutrino had in New York when they left Harold Night and started doing their own shit. And so after our month of remaining shows, we got to continue on House Team Night in a rotating slot with KAREN, who was also down to 5 people for the summer. (KAREN was the other team that came out of my level 3. According to Mario, they’re totally jealous that they weren’t named The Dam Brakes)

Our shows were fun, our practices were fun, and the team was doing great, all because we had agreed to be open about how we felt about everything. We were on the same page about what we wanted to achieve and this team felt different because it was no longer a team that was given to us, but it was a team that we had fought for. We were the only team on the night with just 5 people, and it felt great because it was ours. We got the chance to try to achieve freedom in every show.

Did we get there?

I dunno. We had fun. We had flashes of it. We said what we were thinking.

And then auditions happened.

Auditions

The audition process at the Nerdist School was the best improv audition process I’ve ever been lucky to have been a part of. It’s always been strange to me that the way improv auditions are normally done are in a room with people watching you to see how good you are at a thing that relies on your reactions to the energy of an audience. Ptolemy’s idea when creating Nerdist School auditions felt like a direct reaction to the weird competitiveness he’d seen fostered by an audition process in this entirely noncompetitive art form and it worked so incredibly well.

Every current house team member was required to audition. Everyone who wanted to audition got to audition. We split it into two halves and put people’s names in a bowl on some cool wood chips or something. Three people were called up at a time, including faculty members, for quick 60 second warm up scenes. Then, 7-8 people got called up to do a set. THEN, people who had never been on teams before got called up a second time to do a short 6 minute set. The night was all about support and there was a packed house of people laughing and cheering for every set. We had a mini-pizza party in between the two halves of the audition and then the night continued on.

Nobody was better than anyone else. Current house team members, faculty members, graduating students, and current students are all the same. We’re all different people, but we’re all the same. We just want to play together, be loved, and feel like we have somewhere we can call home and the Nerdist School, with AN AUDITION, showed how community is our number one goal, not making ourselves feel important with titles and awards. There was nothing but love in that theater that night. There was nothing but joy. It felt truly amazing.

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Then began the roller coaster of a week. With auditions brings cuts, and we didn’t expect to get cut, but we did. The Dam(n) Breaks was being taken off of house team night and its members were redistributed on to new teams. We were very sad. Obviously. Why did we get cut? We’d fought so hard for this team. We’d fought so hard for each other. We’d gone through a crisis together and grown closer than we ever thought we would.

U.N. Jefferson, Streets, and The Dam(n) Breaks would be having their final shows on October 18, which, if you’re reading this on October 19, was last night (if you’re reading on October 20, two nights ago. October 21, three nights ago, etc.).

It was time to do the Culver City show.

We met at Cheebo across the street before House Team Night started and we hung out. We talked about our feelings and we talked about the future of the team and Darrel wouldn’t shut up about how much he loves Soju. Then we got a cake with a candle in it and celebrated the birthday of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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                                               Happy birthday, Nintendo!

We didn’t have a plan for Culver City. We just knew that Sam was going to come out and ask for it.

They called us out on stage and SAM WAS IN THE GODDAMN BATHROOM!

So we stalled. We sang Vitamin C’s “Graduation.”

When Sam finally finished peeing, she stepped out to ask for a suggestion of a neighborhood in LA.

Jen knew about our Culver City inside joke, but we hadn’t told her that we were actually doing it, so I was delighted to hear her laugh (she calls it a cackle, but it’s a normal laugh) really loudly at Sam asking. And by the way, Sam had a lot more specifics to add in. South of the 10, east of the 405, west of Crenshaw, and north of Inglewood? Any neighborhood at all.

But Max Crandall was in the audience and he knew what we wanted. He shouted “Culver City!”

We were so very excited. And then we had to do the show.

And we did it.

We achieved freedom.

We spoke honestly in every moment.

We played together. We played with each other. We played for each other.

We told the audience how much we meant to each other and how much they meant to us.

We told the Nerdist School/Culver City how thankful we were for giving us a chance.

We showed everyone that what makes improv captivating is not the thought that goes into the material, but that it is the work and the dedication that goes into loving your teammates and into loving the human beings that surround you.

Thank you so much to everyone who was there. That moment that we all shared was just for the people in that room. Thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you for letting us be free. Thank you for supporting us.

As Nikki read her final letter, “Dear Culver CIty, We’re going to take a bow now, because we deserve it,” I was overcome with emotion. The audience stood up for us and chanted. They chanted FOR US. Five people who are just their friends, or strangers, or people they’ve just seen around. And I teared up. Because I will always remember it. Because that’s what it means to play with your Emolos (TM Ptolemy Slocum).

We went to the green room and some of us cried. We were all thankful for each other. We were all sad that we were done at house team night. We were all happy that we’d given them a finale to think about and that we’d given ourselves a finale to remember.

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                                                            Entirely different show.

We were given this team. And they gave us the option of having it taken off of our hands. But we fought for it and we fought for each other. Improv is about more than your time on stage. It’s about figuring out how to care about the people around you. It’s about learning to love the people you GET to work with. Derek Miller keeps reminding us that we GET to do what we do. These opportunities are given to us, and we can not take them for granted. We GET to fight for them, because then they feel like they’re ours. We GET to fight for them because we care about them. And we don’t stop fighting.

We’ve had our finale at House Team Night, but we’re not done. The Dam(n) Breaks cannot be stopped.

It is not the job of the school to make sure we continue to grow. That’s our job. And we’re ready to step up and make that happen.

So again, thank you to everyone. Thanks to all the other teams who have played on Sundays, thanks to every student who’s started the program, thanks to everyone who’s come to see a show, thanks to every person who volunteered to do tech or house manage or run the social media, thanks to Monika Smith, Rebekka Johnson, Derek Miller, Mike Rock, Jen Curran and Ptolemy Slocum. We’re doing it! We’re all building something amazing together and I can’t wait to see it keep on growing.

Oh and also, as we move forward, let’s welcome Matt Kiel as the newest member of The Dam(n) Breaks! =)

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Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where they were all like, “We can’t make a movie about an improv team.” Keep up with him on his YouTube channels here and here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  It might even bring a little chuckle to your day! =) 

7 Warning Signs That Your Halloween Costume Is Racist

Cartman Costume

Ghosts and pumpkins are showing up around town and that can only mean one thing: It’s time to start getting those Halloween costumes ready! But before you start cutting up those curtains or saran-wrapping toilet paper to your body, you’ll want to make sure that your Halloween costume doesn’t end up being racist! Here are 8 big red flags that will let you know not to wear your costume out on Halloween!

  1. Your costume uses the n-bomb very liberally as long as no black people are around. 
  2. When you ask what your costume wants to eat, it routinely mumbles that “all this chink food is the same anyway.” 
  3. Your costume likes to secretly sneak off while you’re asleep to build the Donald Trump wall at the border 
  4. Your costume keeps referring to itself as the “Superior Costume.” 
  5. Whenever your costume sees a minority, it flies off of you and floats on the other side of the street, leaving you naked. 
  6. Your costume picks up Mexican day laborers at Home Depot and drops them off in Mexico
  7. Your costume likes to reminisce about those “good ol’ days” when everyone owned one of those “Jew ovens.” 

Just make sure to steer clear of any costumes that exhibit any of these traits and you should be perfectly fine this Halloween!

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, where everyone’ s costume this year is based on a character from Dreamworks’ “Puss in Boots.” Keep up with him on his YouTube channels here and here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  Do one of those things RIGHT NOW and you’ll be much happier that you did!

This Puppet Reviewed The First Episode of The Muppets on ABC And He Could’ve Done Better

Well, we should’ve probably expected puppets to be watching the Muppets’ premiere on ABC last week. Scrappy, the puppet who lives with me, certainly was! And he also took my camera and lighting equipment when I wasn’t looking and reviewed the episode himself. He knew I was gonna find out at some point, because he has no idea how to use Premiere Pro and made me edit it for him. I admire him for trying, but he could’ve done a little bit better. There are flashes of charm in the way Scrappy hosts his new review show, but it will remain to be seen how he handles it in the future!

Good work, Scrappy! You’ve got room to grow and I believe you will reach your full potential soon!

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, a company has never made a movie about puppets. Keep up with him on his YouTube channels here and here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  Do one of those things RIGHT NOW and you’ll be much happier that you did!

This Actor’s God-Awful Attempts At A British Accent Will Make You Cringe!

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who can pull off a British accent and those who can’t. But that didn’t seem to stop this guy from trying! Hey guy! Try to recognize when you can’t do something and don’t torture us with your God-awful attempts at British accents!

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger in “”Black Mass”

Seriously? Who is this guy? It doesn’t even sound like he’s trying to do it right! This sounds more like a guy from the colony of Massachusetts than it does a guy from Great Britain! Maybe take an acting lesson or two before stepping in front of the camera with your sad excuse for a British accent!

Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Come on, Willy Wonka. This has got to be one of the fakest British accents I’ve ever heard in my life. We can tell that you’re from America, so why even attempt to hide it? Hey casting! Try and see if your actors are capable of stretching past their limitations before paying them to “act” British.

Tonto in “The Lone Ranger”

Jerry Bruckheimer was so desperate to convince us that this guy could be British that he told this guy to be completely silent. Sorry, Jerry! This audience member could hear the non-British silence from a mile away! Sometimes the worst attempt at a British accent is to not attempt one at all.

Rango in “Rango”

Who is this guy and has he never heard a British accent in his life? Isn’t that something they should ask during the audition process? Come on! Anyone can tell that this chameleon is absolutely NOT from Britain!

Some advice for this dude

I don’t like to think that anyone is beyond the point of help, so what this guy needs to do is watch some of the great British accents of our time and try to work towards that. It won’t happen overnight, but here is an actor whose work you can study to try and get better.

Now THAT’s an actor who can pull off a British accent!

Minhdzuy Khorami is an employee of Pixar-Animation Studios, a company that features notoriously good British accents. Keep up with him on his YouTube channels here and here. You can even subscribe to this blog for more helpful information!  Do one of those things RIGHT NOW and you’ll be much happier that you did!