A lot of my good friends are either on UCB Harold teams or auditioned this year. Many of them got callbacks.
Tomorrow, many people will be getting emails saying they did not make it. And they will be disappointed.
Some people will get amazing phone calls that their dream has come true and they are the newest member of a house team.
Some will breath a sigh of relief to find out that their team is remaining intact, or at the very least, that they have been reassigned to a new team and will continue to perform.
And then, there are the few, the unlucky few, who will be cut entirely.
That call feels like a punch in the fucking gut. I should know. I received it a year ago.
Even though callbacks are still going on and nobody knows what the new Harold line-up will look like, the fact remains that tomorrow, a handful of amazingly talented and wonderful people, some who may be some of my best friends, will get that call. And it breaks my heart.
So, as someone who has been lucky enough to be added to the Harold machine, then unlucky enough to be replaced for newer, shinier parts, I have one thing to say.
For one, congratulations on making a Harold team and getting to do this amazing thing you love for a full year. That committee’s decision this weekend is not a reflection of you as a performer. It is a reflection of a group of people who have a job to do. And not an enviable job. The hard work you put into getting on a team. The hard work you put into becoming a better improvisor while being on a team. The audience cheering you on as you made funny choices, bold moves, and crazy characters. The incredible bond that has formed between you and seven other hilarious people. That’s the reflection of you. And not being on a team anymore does NOT take that away.
And two, congratulations on all that extra time you have now! What’s that? Like 6 hours a week? Great! Use it. Create something. Lemons into lemonade and all that. When Scandal! got dismantled, I told myself I was going to make the following year really matter. I was going to make getting cut the BEST thing that ever happened to me by working harder, faster, and stronger at my career. And I did. (Well, not at first. At first I dwelled and cried and holed up in my room refusing to talk to most people because all I wanted to do was complain and let out these completely legitimate emotions but couldn’t because what if I came across as bitter?! But eventually, I did). I wrote a pilot. I made videos. I got a manager. I got an agent. I’m auditioning and submitting for more stuff than ever before. So yes. Congratulations, because if you so choose, getting taken off Harold night could be a great, great thing for you. Even if it doesn’t seem that way now.
And of course it doesn’t seem that way now. Right now it just. Plain. Sucks. So first things first, get through this initial shock and disappointment using whatever coping mechanism works best for you. Cry. Call your mom. Write in your journal. Fill a kettle with boiling water and throw it at the stray cats in your driveway. Let it out. You’re allowed to be disappointed and you’re allowed to be upset. Just don’t make any long ranty Facebook posts about how UCB sucks because you KNOW the community gets a real boner out of reading those to each other. And if you need to take a minute to breath, step away from the scene, go for it. We all understand. And we’ll be so excited to greet you when you return.
What I value about the improv community is that it’s a community. It’s certainly competitive. Everybody is ambitious and wants to get ahead and succeed, but the nature of the scene is predicated on not singular exceptionalism but ensemble. I feel that ethos is what makes the improv world a very collaborative world.
It’s no mistake that I get a lot more jobs now that my friends are in positions to run their own shows. Everybody in our world is always looking out for each other. There are certainly those people for whom it’s all about them, but those are few and far between in the improv world. It’s more about teams, whether it’s a sketch group or an improv team, everything is based on the ensemble. That began then and continues now.