Gosia: Stacey Smith, I’m so happy that you accepted my invitation, and that we can talk in Amsterdam. You’re my first guest on my podcast which is my new adventure.
Stacey: I’m happy to be the first!
Gosia: You’ve worked with local improvisers – do you think there are some differences in playing between, let’s say Europeans in general, and Americans?
Stacey: I think I expected there to be more Dutch improvisers in my classes. This is the first time that I’m teaching courses that are full 8 week courses for international improvisers, because usually I’ve only taught intensives for international improvisers – because of the festivals, because of the iO intensive – so I’ve always worked with people from Europe in a very intense short period of time. Which is why I love them so much – because I get to know them so quickly. But it’s really really interesting. I almost feel like they grow much faster than Americans. I think Americans ask less questions. One thing that I’ve noticed, is Americans are so used to failure, that it’s okay that we kind of look ridiculous and fail, and a lot of my students internationally want to make sure that they do it right. I felt like Boston was a much difference different experience than it was in all of the United States, because most of my students were from universities that were very prestigious, like Harvard, or MIT, so they were so intelligent that it was a little bit harder to let go. They were really curious about how to do it right, where the main thing that we teach is that there is no right or wrong. You just have to do it to figure it out.
I feel like every place I go, every country has something that’s really specific to them. When I went to Italy, the Italian improvisers were much more emotional and touchy, so physical. As you go to America and it’s two people looking at each other having this hilarious conversation, but there’s no movement whatsoever. And a play with two great improvisers from the UK… I thought Americans were fast, but they were even faster than us in terms of the rate of speech, they just speak so quickly.
I feel like my favorite thing about traveling the world is having to adapt to however, to everyone’s playing style, while still keeping your own thing.
Gosia: And when you were teaching in Italy, did you have a translator? Or was it in English?
Stacey: I did! It was the only country that I’ve ever had a translator. Even in Bulgaria where I think they spoke less English than in Italy, we did it an entire hour long musical in English, even though they were like, „we can’t speak English” and I was like, „yes, you can, there are songs in your heart”. In Italy it was actually very interesting because I had to change the pace of the way that I taught the workshop, as everything was translated. So I either got through less, because I had to do more explaining.
Gosia: First time I was teaching in Italy it was a kind of a shock for me – and it was so obvious for them, that there’s going to be a translator, they just didn’t tell me that in advance, and I came there and, they said – here’s your translator, and I asked – what for? I had to reconstruct the whole workshop, because of all the time that you need to spend on translating, and every question takes twice as much time.
Stacey: I wanted definitely to create workshops that are easy to understand. You can be so passionate about one subject that you’ve been doing for so long in the States and then you bring it internationally, and you’re like, oh, well, I can’t do this workshop, because if they don’t know this type of edit in general, they don’t know the history behind this specific improviser… it makes it a whole different ball game. So I think that’s really interesting. I feel like teaching internationally has made me a much better teacher, and a much better improviser. I’m improvising when I’m teaching just as much as they’re improvising when they’re improvising.
Gosia: I also learned something the other way, when the foreign teachers come to teach in Poland. American teacher was coaching a scene, and saying „just tell her you love her” – there was something with expressing love by saying it. Everyone was like „what?”. And the teacher was like „why don’t you just do that?” And then we were talking, that because it’s cultural. We just don’t say „I love you” to a friend.
Stacey: And in America you would say „I love you” to the person who is just giving me my coffee.
Gosia: And in English I say „I love you” to my friends! Just in Polish it doesn’t feel right.
Stacey: That’s so interesting. I find a lot of those tendencies of how things are culturally different. The very first time I taught in Europe was in Denmark, maybe three or four years ago, and someone said something that for me was so racially insensitive, but the whole class was like „Stacey, it doesn’t mean the same thing for us”. It was a really nice teaching moment, because I now try to make sure that I teach what is universally funny.
When the audience has a „me too!” moment, when can relate to the scene, or like a „poor you” moment, when you feel bad for someone, because it’s not an experience that you’ve had, or that you’re educated by a scene. So for me, those are the three things, I’ve been trying to focus on in the last year or two. Those three responses for the audience, because if not, why are we doing it? I always tell my students, especially if they do „a teaching scene”, or „transaction scene” – you can go to Starbucks and buy your coffee and have this scene. Why do we have to see this on stage? Let’s see something that is interesting, that the audience is paying to see. Let’s find out how we can make it about the two of us. So how is this Starbucks order about to change our lives? I want to see things that are fascinating and groundbreaking. We can absolutely just have a real conversation and that’s quite nice, but what I really like from watching improv is a variety, so one thing I’m trying to focus on in my musical improv teaching is, how can we have variety? Variety of Music, variety of length of songs, variety of lengths of scenes. So it feels like the audience is on a journey rather than just the same thing over and over. Sometimes if you do a musical montage, two person scene, they declare something, the piano comes in, because you’ve earned it, song, same thing, same thing. How could we see a solo song? How can we see a group number? Because when you go to see a musical, for example, it’s not a the same type of song over and over, there has to be some kind of variety. Otherwise, we wouldn’t watch it.
Gosia: Do you see a difference between the cultures in, I’d say, the freedom of singing? For example in Poland we don’t have that in culture, you sing happy birthday, Christmas carols, but it’s not like we usually go with friends to karaoke.
Stacey: We sing everywhere we go. At least all the people I’ve ever spent time with – it’s like „all right, everyone’s gone, let’s have a singing party”. In both the States and the UK they have examples of musicals all the time. When I went through the Music Conservatory at Second City, they reference musicals and you study musicals. If there’s a Harold team at a theater, it’s hard for them to really gain experience on the Harold unless they’re seeing Harolds. Without having the experience of seeing that form, playing can be quite difficult. So I think that Americans can grasp musicals really quickly because we see musicals everywhere. We see them on Broadway. It’s just like one of the greatest forms of art, and in the States and the UK, because London has such a great scene. I can’t remember what country it was but I was like, „you know, this is a song like in Dreamgirls” and they were like „what the hell is Dreamgirls” – but I eat, sleep and breathe musical, so it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone else does.
So it’s not as freeing for us because it’s ingrained in US. In Bulgaria, the first day people were like „we don’t want to do this, this is terrifying”. And I remember after their show that they did in English – their second language, how incredible it was, and the feedback they got, everyone was just in tears, and it was so powerful, because music, although maybe other cultures don’t sing as much, is the universal language.
Gosia: That reminds me one thing, that Fena Ortalli said – „music doesn’t ask our brain for permission”.
Stacey: That’s absolutely true. In Chicago we have so many musicians and musical directors. All of our Harolds are underscored. So every single show has a piano player at the base of it and it’s incredible how people react to the music without even thinking about it. I minored in music and I took a course called „Music in the motion picture” and it was so interesting, because we watched movies, studied how the music made us feel, or how we knew a character was coming back – because they had a theme, or how we knew that there was going to be a jump scare – because the music alluded to it and that’s so interesting. The music has so much power for us to just feel, to not think, we just feel right away. It’s the only scene partner that doesn’t put us in her head.
We need music for different moods. That’s why so many people have playlists, and it’s so popular because certain music makes you feel a certain way. Like holiday music. All I want is like good reggae music. Or like some salsa music that’s just gonna make me feel like I could just sink into my chair and sink away for a little bit. I do a lot of sketch comedy and we have certain songs that come in to pump up the audience. Songs that just make you feel good.
Gosia: I read your blog, and I saw a „Curriculum to empower young girls”.
Stacey: I run a class called „She” which stands for sisterhood humor empowerment and it’s teaching young girls. So usually we teach anywhere from 11 to 18 through comedy, how to make more confident choices, how to navigate different social situations, how to find your own voice. I’ve cried through everyone of them. It’s the most incredible thing. We have a section where we talk about body image and we do an exercise. For example where a person stands against a white board and draw around their head and we write their name and everyone writes compliments and things that they love about the person, and they’re able to turn around at the end and see it. It’s just like everything that I’ve always wanted. We did an entire two weeks summer camp and we made vision boards where we wrote all those things and cut out pictures from magazines and things that we are inspired to, do and they did a variety show. That was sketch comedy that was improvised. That was some girls singing covers of songs. It was whatever they wanted it to be. And although it was in a comedy theater. I mean most of it was hilarious, but they did have some nice tender moments in there and I’ll never forget one of these scenes. Two 15 year old girls did a scene. They were in a car and one of the girls was trying to, and this was true, that she was confused about her sexuality and she was telling the class that she wanted to come out. She was comfortable coming out to her mom, but she had to come up through the family and when she wrote a scene about her and her mom – which is another 15 years old girl. It was hilarious. She wanted to tell mom about coming out so she played different songs on the radio, to express the ways that she felt in lyrics to come out to her mom. And then they had a really nice tender moment at the end. 15 year olds were smarter and more beautiful than I’ll ever be. Oh God.
It’s incredible how many more female icons we have now. And it gets better with every workshop, because girls, with the power of the internet have so much more they know. So they just know so much information about the world and it’s just making sure that they are treating themselves right and treating others right. It’s really powerful and beautiful.
Gosia: Do you see a difference – also talking about women on stage – in the confidence when it comes to USA and Europe, or just like particular countries?
Stacey: I feel like I’ve been really lucky because I went through Chicago and that’s where all of the women were super confident, that I watched on stage. I came through at a point where „not so many women on stage and stuff” was not really a thing anymore. So I get to watch Susan Messing and Tara DeFrancisco and Katie Ridge and all these women crush on stage all the time. So I had all these great people that I could watch create examples of just being super powerful on stage. And then when I go to other countries, it kind of depends on the culture. Some cultures for example are not as emotional or they don’t speak as freely. And so I’ve definitely seen that, but because I teach so much musical, I have seen less of it that I think that if I were to teach just regular improv workshops, because they’re singing instead of speaking so much. So I feel like I haven’t seen a ton of it in terms of someone being afraid to speak, because it’s not ingrained in there. I feel like I’ve been really lucky. And at the international festivals, all the women I’ve seen have been such bad asses. Such bad asses! It’s incredible. I’ve seen so much good stuff.
Gosia: There was a panel about women in improv at Improdrom Festival in Bydgoszcz in Poland, and Billy Kissa from Greece, one of the organizers of Mt.Olymprov, said how there’s more men in the classes and that they had a problem with getting women to improv classes, which may be connected to Greece and other similar countries are still quite patriarchal. And Billy said that after the festival where we performed with Seven Women of Different Ages, all female group, where we just had fun, and we were doing whatever we wanted – after the show, girls came to her and said „we want that!”, and after that there were more girls signing up for classes, and some of them came back.
Stacey: I feel like if you’re not able to see yourself identified on stage, it’s hard to know that you want to do it, because someone that’s like you is not doing it. So I was lucky because all those women that I mentioned, I saw how powerful they were, and I wanted that. That’s why it’s so important for us to put so much diversity at our stages. I produce quite a bit and I’m always super mindful of that, because I’m not going to have people of color sign up for classes if they don’t see people of color on stage and it’s the same thing with women. In Boston I hired a guy who is much older than the rest of the team, and that wasn’t like a thing. No one really had hired any seniors and he’s a ballroom dancer, he’s amazing. I love him. Oh my God. He’s younger than all of us, but no one’s ever done it but I want a team that people can see, I want someone to come, that’s eighty years old and be like „I can do it!” I think that’s amazing and I’ve been a part of an all-female group for almost nine years. It’s the same thing. It’s a four woman musical improv team. We have to be mindful of the variety of appealing so many different types of audiences.
Gosia: What would make a good improv musica,l when people don’t really know how to sing?
Stacey: People say that to me all the time – they’re like, I want to take musical improv class, but I’m too afraid, because I can’t sing. You don’t have to be a good singer to make a good musical improv show. You have to react to the music, you have to feel okay. A lot of people are nervous to sing but once you get past that you can sing as character voices, which I try to make sure I do in my show, so that people can see it, and know that you don’t have to be good singer to do it. It’s just having fun, that’s the biggest thing that I have been teaching, especially while our world is slowly unraveling or at least in the United States. The shows that we talk about forever are either the shows that have the most incredible amount of heart and emotion in them, or the ones where people had most fun. I want to watch people love each other in any capacity, and any end of the spectrum.
Gosia: I loved your show in Tallinn. And I could see that you had a lot of fun when you were doing your solo Musical, and the characters were so silly! Why did you even start doing a solo musical?
Stacey: I was always afraid of it, but then I was teaching all my classes to do the things you’re afraid of, and I was never doing it. And so it actually happened. Totally by accident, I moved to Boston for a year to run the training center. I invited a bunch of people to do a musical set with me, and all of them called out. They were all sick or busy or had to get work done. And so I went, I had a musician already and I was like – cool – here we go. And the first show I did, was the saddest improv show I’ve ever done in my entire life. Every character was sad, every character was bullied. It was like the most emotional, sad and people were crying, and I thought, what am I doing? I want people to feel things. So the second time I had done total opposite end of the spectrum, could not have been more goofy. There wasn’t anything emotional. There was no stakes, just a bunch of people screaming at other people. After that second show I thought, I have to create something that has both of these shows in it. So I really try to, and that’s why I chose the Harold as my structure, because we can see crazy characters, but we can also see someone dealings with some real shit, which I think is really satisfying.
Gosia: How does it feel to play just with yourself?
Stacey: It’s the most freeing wonderful feeling in the world. It feels so selfish which doesn’t feel great. I am always preaching how I’m so lucky to be doing this group art form, and here I am doing it on my own, but I’m playing with the musician who’s just as important as me. I’m playing with the technical director who’s just as important to me, so when it comes down to it, I have the greatest scene partners in the entire world. But it’s interesting because I mean you go down a rabbit hole. It’s like whatever your brain and your heart are feeling that day. So it is like such a roller coaster and you have no one to quote-unquote bail you out. You have no one to react to, so you’re just reacting to the voices in your head. So it is truly bizarre. Damn it is possibly the most rewarding feeling in the entire world, because it’s like, „I just did all that”, even if it’s bad. But I did it. It’s a hard hole to dig yourself out of which is exciting and terrifying and it just feels like when you’re done with it, you’ve overcome this. Like obstacle course that you’ve had to go through and people got to watch it and that is thrilling. Yeah, I love doing it.
I don’t think you have time to be in your head, especially in the opening where you create three characters and follow those through lines – once that character opens their mouth – that’s what they are. There’s no going back. Improvisers that are constantly thinking, and in their head, I would suggest they do solo material. I think it’s the greatest way to get out of your head and into your heart.
Gosia: As I observed and also I read on your blog – the other post – it seems like you work a lot on yourself, and your mental health, self-care. So tell me HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
Stacey: I wish I had all the answers. It’s been such a long journey, and I think first thing is – I have to feel physically healthy, to feel mentally healthy and I struggled a lot with health issues over the years. [Oh my gosh, it’s hailing out right now. Look, just look outside. It’s hailing, it’s like little tiny. It’s like dandruff is flying from the sky. That’s terrifying. I’ve I never seen that I’m so distracted talking about mental health]. I feel like one thing that has helped me, and this probably sounds so ridiculous, but being a teacher who works internationally and works with so many different groups of people, and knowing that, and sounds like it’s coming from ego, but it’s not. It’s coming from experience – we all have people, as young improvisers that we look up to and, so I take that job very seriously, and I think it’s really important that I show everyone I teach, that I am just like them. I don’t ever want to feel like I have heigher status than anyone, I want everyone to feel like they can talk to me about anything. Tara DeFrancisco has taught me – she’s always just made me feel like I’m not alone, and that it’s okay to feel whatever way I feel. I think people are more aware of mental health. I’m super anxious person, and I had several panic attacks and I’ve always been very open about how I’m feeling. It’s important that students know that I’m not their therapist. I don’t have any of the answers for them about things and a lot of the times if I see a student I’m like it seems like right now you have tragedy but you can’t make comedy unless you have tragedy plus time, and you haven’t had the time away from this tragedy to make art, or to make humor, and that’s a really hard conversation to have, but I teach improv for anxiety and and there’s a wellness program at Second City where I teach. We have improv for veterans and ASD. But a lot of the classes have a clinical setting as well, where they could take our class and then talk about it with a professional – and I am not that professional, and it’s important that they know that. That’s why I always introduce myself when I’m teacher as their spirit guide rather than any instructor. I’m just going to guide you along your way. But I have found things that really helped me are being really honest with the way that I feel and that’s in my bullet journal for this year. I love bullet journaling, making lists and charts. I’m like the biggest list maker in the entire world.
Things that really helped me are like taking off and not apologizing for it for so long. I would write these three page emails, why I need to take off. I feel and haven’t been able to get over it for so long and I just realized that people can do an improv show without me. Someone can sub my class and that’s okay. Someone can get coffee with that person. Like it did it to you last night. I was like, I’m not going to show I need a night off and I feel that for so long that made me feel really guilty, and now I don’t feel guilty. And that has been like a huge journey and learning point for me, of people just need time out, especially as a freelancer. It can be really complicated because so many of the things that we do for work are to make ends meet. So I take off one gig and it would be like paying my rent and I’m like, „I can’t take this off” and I’m like „your mental health is more important”. So I put myself first most of the time, I still struggle with it. I definitely fall apart quite easily. But I get really anxious, and I know the things that make me anxious. I want to do a good job and I’m afraid of doing a bad job. I want to be known as someone that works hard and does good work. So when I don’t, I find that very hard for me. And so it’s mostly pressure that I put on myself. So I’ve been kind of navigating high-pressure situations. Little things that help, cleaning, love to clean. Love to reorganize my room. I put together an IKEA bed last night. It took me seven and a half hours. It was not pleasant. I was not a nice person to be around, but I had to get it done all in one night because that’s the kind of person I am. I made a beautiful dinner for my fiance, my roomie, we sat down for this beautiful meal. I got to watch old episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I took a bubble bath. Little things, just to remind yourself that you’re human because quite often I can feel like a comedy robot because I eat sleep and breathe improv, and here’s the thing – I love it. I’m never going to get sick of it. When students want to talk after shows about improv. I don’t go „improv again”. I go „more improv hooray”, but it’s little things like taking a longer shower, cooking myself a meal, doing laundry. It’s not like „man, I would love to get a massage, but I’m not made of money, man, I would love to go on a retreat for nine days and Thailand, but I don’t have the money.” So, how can I create my my own holiday where I am?
All of my friends are improv people. I know maybe three people that don’t improvise, is that so sad? My mom, my dad. I have three really close friends from college and then everyone else, because I’ve been improvising for most of my adult life. I feel like friendship can be really tough. So Facebook does a great job of that, reconnecting and just liking someone’s post, and I know so much about them. They’re my close friends, even though I have like spent no time with them, but I am trying to strengthen my relationships offstage and it’s really nice because at Boom Chicago, there’s only five of us on the cast and we do six shows a week together, and we spend every minute together during the week.
Gosia: I have non-improv friends, as I call them, mostly from high school. I just visited my friend in Utrecht. She’s doing her PhD in molecular toxicology. I don’t know what it is, that’s the point! I have no idea what she’s doing. When we go to the drugstore to get some cosmetics, and I’m looking at some like „oh, this is nice”, and she takes it away from me, and she just turns it back and reads the ingredient, and says „it doesn’t work. Take this one.” We became friends when we were, I don’t know, 13 and that’s why we’re still friends – I would never get to know a molecular toxicologists right now, because I meet only comedians and theater people. But as you say about Facebook, yesterday we performed as you know, as Seven Women of Different Ages [at IMPRO Amsterdam Festival], and we start our show with sharing one thought about what we realized recently about our lives, and my thing was that after the New Year’s A lot of people were doing like „oh the last year was this”, or they were doing like „last ten years were like that, and this happened” and I thought hey, I’m 32 now. So what happened? And I thought what what changed in the world in 30 years, oh my God, the communism ended during my life. And the internet happened and I just can’t imagine doing what we do without internet. I would not even ask you for a coffee because I would probably not even know you.
Stacey: That’s so interesting that you say that, and I don’t think I’ve even realize this until now. I’ve always known that my life is richer because of improv, but also knowing the different people around the world that. I feel like I am a better person, because I know more points of view than my own, and that I know more cultures than my own. Everything that you do in your life, you can use for this art form. Picking up a cup of coffee. You are now better at your object work of holding a cup of coffee.
Gosia: When I was in film school – when I get old, this will be one of the stories that I keep repeating – but what I was studying in film School, film directing there was a teacher like old director who came to teach a masterclass. And he he could go for lunch with the headmaster and other teachers but he was like – „No, I want to go with students. I want to get to know you because you will be the future directors. I want to know what you have to say”. There was only one, terrible bar with pierogi around, so he went there with us and he was very curious about who we are, what our interests are, and I told him about improv and I said „Yeah, I know before you say it, all the teachers here are saying that I have to decide if I want to be a director, or a COMEDIAN, and they were always just not letting me go to improv and that’s why I had almost a two years break from improv (and it was horrible) because as I said, I thought that the WORLD WILL END, and improv will go away and I will die. But he said „no, no, you have to keep doing this because this is your thing and maybe one day you will make a film about that”, and then he said that for him the most frustrating thing is, when he goes to the young filmmakers festival and he tries to talk about something, and they are talking only about making films, and then he tries to talk about life, and they are getting back to making films, and he said that film directing is a tool to tell stories, so what would you need that if you have nothing to say?
Stacey: We’ve all done this scenes about improv, but only we like them, audience is like „what’s going on?”. Yeah, I think that’s that’s so beautiful. And it’s so true. We have to do other things. Sometimes they can find that quite difficult, especially like when I lived on cruise ships and perform for Second City. So I would live, for four months, below sea level. Well, actually my room was right above sea level. I lived in this little room, like when you open the door and hit the bed. But it was doing 15 shows a week. And so well, sometimes it can be really tough. That’s why I talk to people so much after shows, and why I don’t go home. It’s not because I have a drinking problem, it’s because I want to hear about other people what they do, and like. That’s the most fascinating part of the job, because otherwise it is just the same thing over and over. When you have a job that is quite literally comedy or improv every single day, you have to really make an effort to do other things. While I love routine, because I’m Type A and I’m a Virgo and I am OCD and I want to know what I have to do every single day. It’s so funny and ironic that the thing I do for a living is all about spontaneity. And I struggled having spontaneity in my life. I have to make a conscious effort to do something other than the on stage every day. I mean, I don’t ever want to not be on stage every single day.
Gosia: I’m teaching people to let go, and to have fun, and yet I’m so stressed all the time. But it also connects to what you said before, about being a freelancer, and letting yourself to do other things, and do laundry and just human stuff. I have my own company. So I’m a freelancer but because of that. I’m My Own Boss. So I sleep with my boss. I actually shower with my boss. And when I procrastinate my boss sees that, which is hard because then I catch myself responding to emails at midnight.
Stacey: You don’t set boundaries. It has always been a struggle for me, because I want to be known as someone who responds efficiently, so people are amazed by how fast she wrote back. When I lived in Boston, I was running a training center, which we had 500 students every eight weeks, and I was working like 50 to 60 hours a week, and then doing comedy at night on top of it, and it was exhausting, and it was maybe the worst mental health year of my entire life. I was not making time for myself at all.
Gosia: My partner has a „normal job”, but he’s also an improviser. And sometimes during the day he asks „what are you doing?”, and the I start thinking „What am I doing? Really right now? What should I be doing? And then I’m like, come on, just relax just play a game now, then answer your emails, and then when it’s midnight just don’t answer your emails.
Stacey: Exactly. I’ve been getting good at that. We set the one thing that we started doing like a year and a half ago was mandatory date. One night a week, and it can’t be comedy related, so it forces to try a new restaurant, or to go on a walk, or whatever but like last night with every intention of going to see what your friends were doing, I looked and I had tears in my eyes and I was like – I’m staying home. Not getting out of these pajamas. I don’t want to see anyone. I want to be with myself. He was like, okay, I’m gonna go on a walk and be back in an hour. It’s just like thank goodness. But also because you have a partner that know is this world I think is really important. So many people have been telling me for years, „don’t shit where you eat” but my husband is an improviser and he’s brilliant and he understands everything. He also lives in the world, so it’s very easy for him to see it and understand which is great because you have to surround yourself with people that support you and understand what you do. Even my parents. I think that they know what I do for the most part, but they also sometimes asking „what’s a corporate? I don’t understand why you working 60 hours a week”, but they have seen it and they see how passionate I am.
Gosia: My parents were worried I spent so much time in theatre when I was in high school, but now that I teach at the university, it’s better because, you know, university sounds legit. They like what I do, and now I know they even tell their friends about us, I mean Bebe, my sister.
Stacey: I always forget she’s your sister! I love you both. Did you improvise improvise just the two of you?
Gosia: Not yet. We will. Charna [Halpern] said we should have a sister-duo. We were both in her workshop at Mt.Olymprov in Athens, and we both made her cry, and she said that „many people make her laugh, but not many people make her cry”, and that we should have a sister-prov.
Stacey: She’s wonderful. My brother has never seen improv, and is a brilliant musician, and my goal is to get him to play first damn show with me. That would be my dream. You have to do a sister-prov. The first thing I did when I met my fiancé I was like well, we were already at Comedy Sports together. So we were doing shows together. We have a duo, so we improvise and write, and do scripted shows together just the two of us and it’s like the greatest in the world. Wonderful. Oh my God performing with someone you love all the time. I’m gonna cry now.n And WE’re going to do art. When are we going to do our duo show? It’s coming, world!
Gosia: You mean… we? I would love to do that. I would love to do that. What would we play?
Stacey: We’re going to make our own new format, and then it’s going to spread like wildfire throughout the world, but it’s really just going to be a form that is already created that we call something else.
Gosia: Like most of the improv formats, ask the question differently and here you go.
Stacey: We’re doing it in 2020. Is there a country, where you’ve always seen great improv?
Gosia: I think I’m still discovering, and that’s also about the cultures, I have a master’s degree in cultural studies, so I’m very curious. And I never expected that I would travel because of improv, because when I was younger, I thought that it’s impossible to do it in English. And I discover all the cultures where I travel and these little differences. I fell in love it with Italy, like these little things, how Italians are obsessed with their food. We had a lunch break recently…
Stacey: You were in Rome, right? Love these guys.
Gosia: Yes, me too. Well, we went to Thai restaurant and they still order the pasta.
Stacey: That’s disgusting.
Gosia: I cut my tangled pasta with a knife, and they all froze, and they said if you cut your pasta with a knife one Italian grandmother dies. And then I just decided to kill them, and I said that one of the favorite kids’ food in Poland during summer is a pasta with cream and strawberries. They said that every time that you eat the pasta with cream and strawberries the whole house full of Italian grandmas die. They’re so obsessed that once I ordered a cappuccino. It was 1pm, so afternoon. And a pizza, and they almost got a heart attack. The waitress looked at me, looked at Italians, and she asked them in Italian, if I’m serious.
Stacey: I went to the same restaurant every single time. I was there around the corner from the venue of Welcome, because once I found a place that that sound like such a creature of habit, like I love to walk in and someone like knows me. That’s why I like to come here because I come here quite often. Okay, but we went to this place where I just there’s one waiter that I just loved. And I drink so much amaretto, which I never remember when I was drinking. It was amazing. I loved Italy, everyone kisses you twice.
Gosia: And strangers! You meet someone for the first time but there are friends of friends, and they kiss you on both cheeks and I’m like, „what are you doing, in Poland’s you kiss on one cheek, and when you’re friends!”.
Stacey: I think the thing that I love the most about Italy is when men kiss each other twice. That’s so lovely, because you just don’t see that in America. It’s still like I think quite weird like men hugging, because men are just afraid in America.
Gosia: So where would you like to play our show?
Stacey: Lisbon! I’ve never been to Portugal. I only know three improvisers from Lisbon and I’ve taught them all, and I love them and I don’t know anything about this, I would love to go to a place that we don’t know anything. Or in 2020 when we go both to teach at some festival, we say „well we also have a duo”.
Gosia: And what would be a one thing that we could tell people how to take care of themselves when they do improv?
Stacey: I always feel like with every class, with every show, with every workshop to leave that workshop or class, people better than the way you found it. So, how can you treat people so well, or work so hard, that you’re better after. Not even better improv. Just better, you learn to listen, to understand more, or you emotionally connect with people more. I think that’s nice. What would you say?
Gosia: I think that it’s important to remember to not only take care of your partner, but take care of yourself, because it’s like when you fly and they always say – if something happens, put the oxygen mask first, to be able to help others. I think that sometimes We may forget that and just give ourselves to others. But if we cannot handle ourselves, how can we help others.
Thank you very much. You were my first guest! Let’s go and take some time for us and take care of ourselves.
Stacey: Yay! Thank you everyone, I love you and I mean it!
Gosia: I love you too, and I can say that, because it’s in English, not Polish, so it’s ok!