Friday, May 22, 2015

Springtime Update!

It's been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened in that time! Notably, the snow has melted and the trees have leaves again. I'm also pretty close to having my second book finished and preparing for its release this fall. My life has been a balancing act between the very solitary act of drawing at a desk and the ultra social aspects of performing improv and attending comic festivals. I've also got a pretty steady routine (which I enjoy very much and miss when I'm traveling,) that consists of teaching a weekly improv class and taking aerial silks and contortion classes 2-3 times a week at a circus studio in my neighbourhood. I've been running a lot as well and I'm training for a 10km race at the end of June.

Aerial silks and my improv students back in February.
 In April I went with Conundrum Press to NYC for MoCCA (the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Arts Festival.) It was great to see some American pals there, and make new friends. I bought a ton of books, though not as many as usual because the exchange rate was super bad. Still, I had some good reading material for the train ride back to Montreal. 

MoCCA Day 1 at the Conundrum Press table, photo by Publisher's Weekly.
MoCCA Day 2 at the Conundrum Press table.
While there I stayed with my friend from the photobooth community, David Greg Harth in Brooklyn. My trip to NYC was very brief but Harth made sure I still used a chemical photobooth during my visit. He and I used this booth together, it's in a restaurant, The Smith, in the basement in the middle of the washroom. Our presence may have unsettled some bathroom-goers.

Almost two weeks ago now was, of course, TCAF (the Toronto Comics Arts Festival!) I knew this TCAF would feel different for me because I didn't have a debuting book but I did still feel that I had a good reason to be there because Photobooth: A Biography was nominated for a Doug Wright Spotlight Award. The real highlight for me this year was the number of new friends I made. I got to know some folks whose work I've admired for a while and got to connect again with friends from afar.  I feel super lucky to be part of this very supportive and friendly community.

TCAF Day 1 at the Conundrum Press table.
TCAF Day 2 after a panel on History Comics, photo by Jody Culkin from Publisher's Weekly.

Publisher, Andy Brown and I, photo by Christy Ann Conlin.
To my delight and amazement, I won the Doug Wright Spotlight Award, also known as "The Nipper." The award recognizes a work deserving of wider recognition and usually goes to an artist for their first or second book. The best about getting the award was probably all the silly and kind things that Seth (the cartoonist) whispered to me as we awkwardly arranged the physical award on stage. He's one of my art idols and it's surreal to me that he even read my book. On my way back to my seat, the legendary Lynda Barry squeezed my arm and congratulated me. (That woman just radiates joy.) All the nominees in the category were entirely deserving of the award and at the end of the day it comes down to the preference of the three-person jury (which changes every year.) I'm most happy that this means the book will reach a greater audience and more people will learn the story of the photobooth!

This week I'm off to perform in the Combustion Improv Festival in Toronto! I took a three and a half year hiatus from improv, and though I've been performing regularly for the last 16 months, I haven't played with these old friends. I've got butterflies in my tummy about it, good butterflies.

I've got a summer filled with more comics and more improv. Boy oh boy, I'm excited!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

February Funny Times

Copyright Nathan Boone 2014
Back in August I did a photoshoot with my friend and filmmaker Nathan Boone. He snapped some test shots while he adjusted the lighting. I had just bought us some cinnamon buns and couldn't help myself from acting a tad stupid in front of the camera. So, we didn't plan on taking comedic headshots but that was sorta the result. Thanks Nathan!

And speaking of comedy, I've got a handful of really exciting, very different improv shows lined up for February. If you're in Montreal, you should come out and get yourself some belly laughs.

Here’s the scoop:

> Sunday February 1st- MILF II (stands for Montreal Improv Lady Force.) Brought back by popular demand, this will be a high energy evening with a selection of Montreal Improv’s finest female performers. Ticket and show info here.

> Sunday February 8th- Memoir: An Improvised Autobiography. I feel very honoured to be the guest for this show, where the story of my life will be enacted by a talented team of improvisers and a director. You will laugh, you will cry, you will learn my deep, dark secrets. Ticket and show info here. 

> Sunday February 15th- 50/50 is an artful improv experiment. Half the cast will be well-prepared actors, the other half will be totally-in-the-dark improvisers. The two groups will be paired up on stage into two person scenes, the actors will stick to their scripts, the improvisers will, ah, well, improvise. Ticket and show info here

> Thursday February 19th- Photographic Memory. This is my very own duo with Vinny Francois. I hold it close to my heart. Together we weave improvised monologues into an over arching, satisfying story. An event page with all the details will be up this coming week.

> Friday February 20th- Threepio is a three-way competition of long-form improv. My troupe, Quest of the Dragon King has won our first two matches. We make up silly but sincere fantasy quests and botch a bunch of British accents in the process. An event page will be up soon!
I'll also probably performing in a Smackdown or two, which are Montreal Improv's flagship show- every Friday at 8pm.

And lastly, I'll be teaching a Level 1, Introduction to Improv class starting on Saturday February 7th. It's four weeks long, spread the word if you know someone who could use more play-time in their lives. Registration is here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Studio Space!

In October I moved into a great new apartment, I pretty much won the lottery. It's in my favourite neighbourhood in Montreal, on a quiet street, just a few steps away from the base of the mountain. I'm also only a 10-15 minute walk from all of the places I regularly hang out; Montreal Improv Theatre, the metro station, my sister's apartment, an independent cinema and a cat cafe.

The apartment is also stellar because it's got a huge, sunny room with a balcony that I've made into my studio. When I moved in, the space had been pretty neglected and was in serious need of a scrub. The old plaster walls in particular were in really poor condition.

I spent most of October traveling so I hardly had time to unpack before hitting the road. In mid-November I got help from a super team of friends and we gave the place a much needed paint job. Thanks to Susan, Justin, Eryn, Joni, Monica and Fred who spent many hours filling, sanding, scraping and painting.

Slowly but surely I've been decorating and fine-tuning the space. Friend and photographer, Jess Fildes took the following photos of the studio in early December. It's still a work in progress though, I've got some shelves to hang, more fun cushions to sew and some antiques that I picked up while in Edmonton to incorporate.

Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes
Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes
Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes
Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes

Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes
Copyright 2014 Jessica Fildes
The rest of the apartment is coming along too, I've finished decorating my bedroom, and I'm about halfway finished with the living room and kitchen. As fun as it has been to get settled into a new place, I've been using it way too much as an excuse to procrastinate. Now that my space is functional, I'm going to put it to use! Which means, I'll have to put the rest of the decorating on the back burner until I've completed my next few big projects.