I love improv

I loved improv when I first did it, but I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing. Improv. I just knew that it was fun and I made a lot of people laugh. When I started taking classes in improv, I got really into it. I’m not sure I loved it anymore as much as I really wanted to figure it out. I have a bit of a perfectionist thing and I wanted to get it “right” for a very long time. I tried everything. I used to do a lot of big moves that would occasionally freak out my team mates. I would do only “supportive” moves and not own anything for myself. I would do straight man to a point where my point of view was lost as a person/character. I’ve been kicked off of teams, kicked people off teams, started teams, ended teams, coached teams, you name it. I’ve been doing this improv thing for close to 9 years, and NOW I love it.

I have my UCB-LA Harold audition coming up and I am nervous about my nerves. I get really heavy and feel like it’s hard to move around. This was very problematic as a cheerleader and it leads to very base scene work. For some reason, even though I love doing 2-person scenes, I get nervous in these auditions when they’re being reviewed. I feel like getting to do a Harold is much more freeing and I have more of a chance to shine.

This week has been a bit of UCB cram week and it’s a little silly that I’m cramming, because I already do a lot of improv. I have been asked to join a lot of teams and am currently on more than 3 performance teams. Some rehearse, some don’t. I average about 10 shows a month with rehearsals 3-5 times a week. While this UCB cramming isn’t necessary, holy cats, it’s so much fun.

Sure, some of these audition-prep workshops can be heady and each teacher has been focusing on different things but, the laughs. I love doing a scene and feeling that I know I’ve got it. I’ve got the scene, the relationship, the grounding, but I’m not even thinking about any of that because it’s just FUN.

Confidence and freedom are irreplaceable gifts. I’m grateful that I am feeling comfortable in both.

My goal for this audition:
KILL IT

Jodi Skeris and team Continental Drift

Improv is a Sports-Rock album

First off, let me say THANK YOU UCB-LA for having us email in our Harold audition application!!!!! Holy cats. That’s way better than standing in line for 8 hours and maybe getting a slot.

See application here.

Yes, the UCB-LA Harold auditions are almost underway. The audition process, as I’ve experienced from the past, goes as such:
– You enter the room with 7 other auditioners
– The judges give you a suggestion
– One by one you do A-C pattern game
– You initiate/receive one scene, the judges edit
– You receive/initiate one scene, the judges edit
– You go home and wait for a callback

Last year, they asked for a headshot, resume, and a list of teams you’re currently on and have been on in the past. This year they asked for that (except they omitted former teams list) AND where you’ve performed AND who you’d like to audition with. This is all great, but it still comes down to how you do in the room. You need to stand out from the crowd.

This is where my theory of Improv is a Sports-Rock album comes in.
(yes. that’s my fancy artwork below.)

We talk about Longform Improv as a sport. “Good Game” is a commonly term used. Describing an improv scene is almost like describing a play from a basketball/football game. You root for the whole team, but still have your favorite players and love it when they make a great move.

The art of longform improv is a rock album. I heard a teacher say this once, and it absolutely, totally makes sense. If you look at your favorite improv show, it plays very much like a really good rock album. Remember how old school rock albums had songs in a particular order? The really good albums played much like an entire play. Each song is it’s own scene but is totally related to the next song in the album, and then it all comes together in the end.

Harold members of the Improv “Sports-Rock” are difficult to find. You need all different kinds of members to form each team. You can’t have 3 lead singers, no drummer, and 5 trumpet players or 4 quarterbacks, 3 nose tackles, and no running back. You have to find members that can play all different kinds of positions to make the team “sing” in it’s own.

That’s why I think these 1-off auditions are not great. The theaters know they’re not great. I think the theaters should have scouts. These scouts (and no one would know who is or isn’t a scout…at least not at first) would be given a list of members’ names to look out for and catch their shows. This way they can see players at their best and can see if they’re growing, what their weak spots are, and if they can shine in an upper-tier group. I would love it if they would pick their favorites and do all-star shows, where they cast members of a team, and then do 1-off shows. Maybe they would get one rehearsal? I dunno, but it would be fun if they put random teams together ever couple of weeks and see how certain folks work with one another.

This is my lil’ improv audition dream. Until then, I’ll keep having fun with the teams I’m on and will be set to “kill it” in my 1-off audition.

I do too much


I have high blood pressure. I was first made aware of this in 2006, and wrote it off as the fault of being in a car accident. Well, 6 years later and I still have high blood pressure. I probably have had it since my mid-20s and just never knew.

I recently posted on facebook asking if any folks had tips to lowering blood pressure. After some wonderful tips came the evident “You do too much” note. I get it. I’m a very active social media gal. I also am very cognisant of what I’m putting on my updates. I hardly, if ever, put anything negative up. I don’t complain. I don’t do politics (unless it’s an impersonation). I only post shows, bookings, fun auditions, things I’m working on, things I think are funny, things I like, and the occasional joke. I also post pretty regularly, so it does look like I’m doing a lot.

I did write out a list of everything I did and how many times a week/month I do it, but I took it down. Why? Because it’s none of your dang business. If you are a real friend and talk to me, you will know what kind of person I am and how I manage my time. You will know that if I do overload myself, I take a step back. You will know that if I get in a funk, I will know how to get out. You will know that I’m a very driven person and that I honestly and truly believe in me, no matter how many yeses or nos I get along the way.

I am not you and you are not me.

I must say that the concern for my health and stress is very sweet of my friends. I’m lucky to have people out there that care about my well-being. I will always accept support and embrace. A little check-up by my pals is a-ok by me.

Know Everything


This is my favorite note of improv ever because it really encompasses what improv really is. When you improvise you can be anything or anyone, but you have to be believable in order to make it work. Knowing everything moves the scene forward, makes room for more play, and is a built in “yes and” technique.

What some improvisers trip up on is “Well, I don’t really know everything so how can I know everything?” You’re improvising! Make it up fool! Own it!

If you’ve been gifted to play a NASA astronaut, know everything about the cosmos. No, I really don’t know that planet M32 in the 53rd sector of space has an asteroid that’s been circling their earth-like planet, but that sentence does sound pretty damn convincing, doesn’t it? Especially if it’s said as a focused, committed, grounded statement. Own what you say. Say it like you mean it. Don’t apologize for owning your intelligence.

Also, don’t invent. Add to whatever is already happening in the scene organically. If we’re talking about planets, talk about them. You don’t need to veer off and talk about radioactive puppies and be smart about that unless it’s truly, honestly called for.

Ugly

I was chatting with a pal the other day and he admitted to being really ugly as a child. I was filled with multiple responses:
– How would you know?
– Were you just teased a lot?
– Maybe the kids were jealous?
– Maybe you weren’t ugly?
– Did you see yourself as ugly or were you told you were ugly?
– You’re not at all ugly now, so it’s hard to believe you were ever ugly.

Then I started thinking about my own experience. I would say that I was ugly as a child too.

GRADE SCHOOL JODI
I was teased heavily in grade school. My mom insisted that I go to St. Paul Lutheran Parochial school and I hated that place. From grades 3 to 8, I spent most of the time in the bathroom, crying. Most of the kids had siblings and had parents that were married with big houses. I was an only child, my parents were divorced and were lower class. My clothes weren’t fancy, my hair was frizzy (I could not figure out how to style it no matter how hard I tried), and I had really bad acne over my face, neck, and back (Nope, no Accutane for me; which actually turned out to be a blessing.). I was bullied daily. Name calling included: “Jodi don’t scare us”, “Sheepdog”, and just plain ugly. I really wanted to hang out with the other kids but I was incredibly shy, which I’m sure came off as bitchy. I was so scared to talk to other kids. Being an only child with busy parents did not help my social skills. I didn’t try at school because I thought I was dumb and ugly and that I had no place in this life. At a young age, I was just waiting for it all to just end.

The only saving grace I had was my love for dance. My parents couldn’t afford dance classes, so my dad recorded music videos and I copied the dance sequences at home. I got really good at it and choreographed many of my own routines. Because of my dance skills, I was very good at cheerleading (we didn’t have a dance team at our grade school) and ended up being the captain of the teams. This was very confusing for my classmates. Cheerleaders were suppose to be pretty and fun, but here I was. Ugly and awkward, but they knew I was good. One kid actually said to me, “You’re a really good cheerleader, too bad you’re not pretty too.”

I was not funny as a kid, but I got a lot of laughs. Any given sentence I would say would cause the kids to double over in giggles. I had no idea why, and I hated it. I thought they were laughing at me. Turns out, they were laughing at how and what I said. Not who was saying it.

TODAY JODI
This still happens a lot to me. I get laughs from crowds that are sometimes unexpected, but I know why now. My own mannerisms are unique to others (just like yours are to someone else), and for some reason, mine have a tendency to be funny. I’m incredibly grateful for having found improv. It’s given me a place to grow into me and be comfortable with the way I am. I love making people laugh and now I know why they do (most of the time).

As far as my appearance, I’ve been told I’m attractive and sometimes I see it, but I’m more proud about being a woman than what I look like.

I’m pretty outgoing for the most part. I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like me. I like being nice and saying “hi”, and some people don’t like or trust that and those are just not my people. I still do get shy and quirky if I notice a man has taken interest in me or if I like him, this is something I’m still working on.

Also, I can still do Janet’s “Rhythm Nation.”

Here’s how I’d answer my own questions from the statement “I was ugly as a kid”:
– How would you know?
—- I was made fun of almost every day for 6 years, mainly focusing on the aspect of ugly.
– Were you just teased a lot?
—- Ah, yeah. 6 years.
– Maybe the kids were jealous?
—- Hell no. Jealous of what? My frizzy hair? The clothes we got at Goodwill that other kids recognized were their old clothes and then made fun of me for wearing them? My diseased looking acne?
– Maybe you weren’t ugly?
—- It doesn’t really matter, but I have looked at old pictures. I thought I looked kinda cute. I think I was probably made fun of more because I was shy.
– Did you see yourself as ugly or were you told you were ugly?
—- Yes, when I was a kid I thought I was ugly and the other kids said I was ugly.
– You’re not at all ugly now, so it’s hard to believe you were ever ugly.
—- Hey thanks! I truly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure some people think I’m attractive and others don’t. I’m happy with me and what I look like and that’s really all that matters anyway.

EDITED NOTE:
Let me be clear about this because I feel like I’ve pussyfooted around it: I do not think I’m ugly. I am proud of me. I am proud of my experiences and how I’ve handled myself. I can’t turn back time or linger on the past. It did suck that I felt so crummy about myself as a kid, yes. I no longer feel that way. I like me, I like my life, I own the choices I have made. Cool? Alrighty then.

Jodi on a horse

Why or How are you single?

I tend to get these questions:
Why or how are you single?
What/is something wrong with you?

These questions usually happen when a person knows me for a bit and are aware of my age. Nope, I’m not in my 20s. ***SHHHH!*** I will still play a college kid on 90210.

I’m a regular human being, I don’t believe there’s anything obviously wrong with me. I am looking for a specific kind of relationship:

A man who is as into me as much as I am into him.
Support.

That’s it.

I think everything else is complemented if there is balance of the weird. I gotta find the weirdo that matches my weirdo. The other big thing, he’s gotta ask me out. Otherwise, I won’t believe he’s that into me.

Jodi Skeris by Anya Garrett

Not yet, but close

Desmonia: Jodi Skeris and Ashley Novasad

I like to keep these posts as one-off opinion catchers, but so much has happened lately that this entry will be more of a journal-blog.

Improv can be a rollercoaster, you have a great show, then a bad class, then a bad rehearsal, then an amazing class, then a bad show, then a great show… I believe that it’s all about timing. I’ve been having a string of great shows and classes lately. There are a few not awesome things that have happened, but for the most part, I’ve been feeling really good about how I’m coming into improv.

I just recently had my audition for iO West and I did not get on a team. Yes, I know they say it can take multiple times to get on a team but I know 3 friends that it was their first time and they got on, so it’s not unheard of to get on a team with your first audition (and all those people desearve to be on a team, I think they’re great). I am disappointed that I didn’t get on a team, but I did audition with 100 degree fever and was trying not to fall down. What I hate about that is that it is an excuse. I have played sick before and done great, so being sick shouldn’t stop me. Now I know that sounds like I’m being hard on myself, and I am. I focused on 2 things in that audition: 1. stay grounded 2. be supportive. For me, I know I will get good scenes by doing that, but not amazing scenes. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve….I should’ve gone for committment. When I committ fully, game, relationship, justification all come very easy to me and I didn’t do that. I went for the soft landing. Had I reviewed my notes from both my iO west and UCB teachers, I would’ve reminded myself that is where my golden improv lies. But I didn’t. I was dizzy and sweaty and wanted to sleep, which lead to dizzy (but grounded!), sleepy scenes.

I told a friend of mine about this recent audition and she said “It wasn’t your time.” She’s totally right. All the times I never made a UCB team, I’m actually grateful for. I know that sounds crazy cheesy, but it’s true. If I had made a UCB team early on, I would’ve never gone to the Magnet Theater and studied with Armando, I maybe would not have pursued acting, I probably wouldn’t have ever left NY. I probably would’ve just stayed in NY and been on a team and that’s it. I maybe would’ve done the writing teams. Not making an iO West team is what it is, it’s not good or bad. The timing didn’t work out and I accept that.

4 days after iO West auditions/callbacks, I get a facebook message with a cryptic note. Moments later, the Del Close nominations are announced and I’m one of the nominees for “Student of the Year.” I’ve been doing improv for since 2004 and this is the first time I’ve been awarded for going to class. Amazing! I was just thinking before I got this nomination “What am I doing? If I don’t get improv now, will I ever get it?” The nomination to me means that my teachers recognize the work that I’m doing and that I’m getting good enough work to get props for it. I AM improving. I AM getting it. Acting, improv, stand-up are all crafts with primarily a 10 year over night success story At Best! Some people shoot for the stars overnight and can get them, but for most of us, it takes a while.

It really is about the journey, it really is about enjoying the stuff you do and the people that surround you. If you don’t like what you’re doing, stop. I you like doing what you’re doing but you’re frustrated, look at what is frustrating you and turn it around. There are so many facets to life and we get stuck on looking at the shitty part of it when there are so many other things going on. I just keep thinking…

My time will come. And it’ll be awesome.
In the meantime, I’m going to appreciate the current awesomeness that surrounds me.

How’s it get any better than this?