Gettin’ Schooled

This past weekend I did a set at a college regional booking event called the NACA Mid-Atlantic Convention in Lancaster, PA.

It was a hubbub times one jillion. See below! Lots of networking and handshaking and soulsearching and dealmaking and networthing and breathtaking!


  • Malcolm Jamal-Warner (people yelled out “Theo” when he came out onstage) recited his own poetry in one of the afternoon showcases. He is very soulful!
  • There was a spotlight on the stand up stage that followed you around like an attention-seeking shadow but the opposite of a shadow in fact.
  • Ben Kweller was in my showcase, strumming the gee-tar. Also soulful! Also really knows what he’s doing during sound check, even during other people’s sound checks (*cough* me *sneeze-snort*). Also his piano player was a kid I went to school with!
  • A complimentary brownie wedge that I had.
  • Some kid told me he wanted to be my best friend, and then I took a picture with him and his cohorts. But they all ended up throwing their arms over each other’s shoulders blasting full camaraderie and I just stood in front like a sassy extra appendage.
  • Everyone quoted jokes that they liked/remembered back to me. Usually this is slightly terrifying, but it meant people were listening (this still blows my mind sometimes)! Sometimes it feels like a test.
  • College kids are surprisingly at ease with themselves. But then again, not everybody is me. How quickly I forget! College was like second high school with more naps for me.
  • It was cold and rainy the whole time I was in Pennsylvania but definitely warmer and bloodier in my heart. All in all, a class-A Experience with a capital E (not the drug).

    P.S. This will come as a surprise to nobody especially the guy who wrote How to Win Friends & Influence People, but I still don’t know how to schmooze. I have perfected the art of flinching in the beam of direct eye contact.

    P.P.S. The rest of the weekend I was a lounge lizard, which might be a future freelance career move for me. Turns out that I am great at sitting around and flipping channels! And occasionally switching sides so my couch potato bod is fully marinated at room temperature.

    Bean There, Done That

    This past weekend I was in BosTOWN (not home of the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, though an easy mistake. But rather a very lovely New Englandian place where leaves are more supermodeli-fresh in the Fall compared to leaves in other places and the subway is called the (Mr.) T and some people are intellectuals and some of them have a distinctive accent) for the Boston Improv Festival.

    It was a smashing good time and not just because the ladies of Mythical Newsroom are some of the funnest jazzhands party people that I know.

    Here is a glamour shot of the lady team. For more of ’em, check out our full photo shoot which we forced on a well-intentioned bystander (ahem, boyfriend) around 2 A.M. at a party (where we often do our best work) one fortuitous night:

    From left: Honora, Jenny, Karin, Me.

    I. Arrival & Upheaval

    Anybeans, so. The trip. Everything started out pretty suspense film/action movie. I left for B-town on Friday morning. Weather? Rainy. Timing? Early. (Imagine this all being typed in the corner of the screen thriller-style).

    No flight delays! This was more shocking than if there had been flight delays. I took a cab to my hotel and the driver added secret fees (which I naively paid because I’m a sucker for secret fees in cities I’ve only been to twice before)!

    I got to the hotel WAY before the other ladies, way way before…they weren’t due for hours. I’m glad I got there earlier than them because there was an embarrassing incident during check-in (i.eeeee., they couldn’t find my reservation!!!) Several breathtaking moments later…

    So it turned out they had my name filed backwards! So they thought Aparna was my last name! So mortifying! If you’d believe it, this exact same thing happened at the last hotel I stayed at so I’m learning to live with it. Luckily, the concierge gave me a fresh warm chocolate chip cookie to call it even. Well, actually she did this for all check-in guests but I chose to interpret it as a gesture of apologetic feeding.

    When I got to my room, I got pretty excited as per the usual. So I made a small photo essay.





    SOFA BED!!! THIS TOOK ME ONE HOUR TO MAKE!!! (called Boyfie for customer support)

    I had so much time to spare, which meant mainly two things on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Neediness: NAP and SHOWER.

    II. It’s Showtime (Plus More Behind-the-Scenes Hoopla)

    Then I went downstairs to take the shuttle and there was the universe’s cutest and tiniest Puggle puppy being walked outside/aired out. This is important because the puppy was in that really hyper stage of life (in which after one rolls out of the womb and gets one’s bearings, one goes a little crazy with one’s newfound freedom). He was flipping and flopping and zooming and vrooming. The man who was walking him was actually the father of the owner (a mere boykid) so he was all, “Now JUST RELAX for a second, will ya?! You’re goin’ nuts!” as if the puppy responded to Baby Boomer verbiage.

    PLUS they were shooting an episode of What Not To Wear in the hotel so people with TV crew headsets were running around everywhere so overall I would rate the entertainment factor a 5 out of 5 whilst waiting for the complimentary shuttle.

    Also let me note that the complimentary shuttle dropped me off a 20 minute walk away from where I was actually supposed to be so I showed up later than all three other members of the group, one who had been suffering through a bus stuck in traffic and the other two who were caught all up in flight delays. And I slipped like three times. I feel like B-town needs to put up some yellow “Caution: Slippery” signs everywhere because yo, it was slick. Nothin’ smooth about me traversing those streets.

    Our show was real fun. It was also a bit surreal as our venue was a Public Access TV studio. There were other crazy things too like you had to use a key to go to the bathroom BUT THEN you had to buzz back in through this other door to get back to the “stage.” A real debacle for performers and audience alike, not that anyone is answering a ring-a-ling from Nature in the middle of a Mythical show, but just pretend.

    There were some partytimes at night. Involving the usual: texting, drinking, more texting, and shouting over noise. I got to hang out with my friend Nancy (who I haven’t seen in YEARSSSSSS) and her significant otro, which was absolutely more than I could ask for because they are both the best!!!

    III. A Hard Day’s Play

    The next day three out of four of us gals went to workshops. I was one of the three! One of the instructors, Joe Bill, a pretty biggie deal in the improv world thought I was somebody else that he had met before. That was exciting! To be confused with another female Indian improviser who is accomplished and attractive. I’ll take it.

    The morning workshop was good, and then Karin went back to the hotel, but Honora and I also had signed up for an afternoon workshop full of bounce and verve with esteemed teachers Jesse Parent and Joe Kyle Rogan. Honora was a shining star of improv, but I got intimidated and therefore wanted my Mommy and a nap.

    Meanwhile, back at the hotel room, Karin had nail painted herself into a corner. We literally had to rescue her using nail polish remover and a hotel card key, but she gave us Twizzlers as a reward. Then Karin and I watched Hoarders on A&E until I fell asleep out of fear/confusion and her eyes and ears continued intrepidly onward.

    That night, I had a stand up gig at a fun club called Tommy’s Comedy Lounge, where the crowd grew in size throughout the night and everyone was real nice and I didn’t shame D.C. so, all in all, fist pump! Then I rode the T (for the first time) back to join the other ladies.

    THEN MORE PARTYTIMES!!! Involving spontaneous dancing and eating two orders of nachos at a table, and not apologizing for it.

    This is a picture I sent Boyfie to show how much I missed him. There was a theme of sending sad pictures via text over the weekend so it totally makes sense and I am not codependent, but thanks for reading too much into that.

    IV. Funclusion

    Then, in the early morning, I jumped in a cab and went back to the voluminous and sleek h’airport. Welcome to the good life.

    New Yawk-ward State of Mind

    So I got to spend the past chunk of days in the City That Never Sleeps (But Mostly Sleep Eats)! You know, the place that grows on everyone like a Chia Pe(s)t, and really gets into your nooks and crannies. What I mean to say is it was hot and humid, and so all elbows and belly buttons were sweating pretty much anywhere you went, but especially in the subway where everyone is a short fingernail’s length away from you.

    Speaking of which, the mom of this baby that I made eyes at on a train started cutting the moppet’s finger- and toenails during the ride and just leaving them on the floor. Yay NYC! Always going out of its way to impress me.

    But it was still an amazing time, because I’m not sure if anybody else in the world has noticed this, but New York City has some yumtastic food and supercoolicious things to do and see. Just me? Fine. But you guys should really check it out, Google it at the very least.

    Anyhowser, I got to do some gee-whizbang shows, and recaps are draining these days what with the current shortages in jobs, water, sustainable resources, time, and breezes, depending on where you’re standing. But still. For the people, here are some random nibbles culled from the sieve that is my reverse-gentrifying (*once a stodgy Whole Foods, now a ghetto fabulous farmer’s market where you can pick n’ choose your own questionable tomatoes*) memory:

    **I got to perform in the 11th Annual Del Close Marathon, which is a sweaty, beery non-stop longform improv hullabaloo. It was similar to Washington’s own Improvapalooza except that it went on into the wee hours of the morning and beyond to the point where people’s eyeballs were fogging up from the sleep deprivation/dew point temperature (Don’t DO THE DEW point!!!).

    My group Jinx performed on Saturday afternoon and we had quite the good time despite a smallish afternooner crowd. We gave each other a lotto jackpot of fun. Here are some pictures of us standing outside the theater where we performed. Don’t worry; I know I don’t look cool in my sunglasses.

    Present Jinx outside of theater.

    Past and present Jinxies, and you can see the name of the theater. Alibi.
    Photos courtesy of Christina Bailey and Facebook.

    Jinx at dinner. I had ravioli!
    Photo courtesy of Amanda Hirsch and Facebook.

    A Sunday show that I subbed into was with a group of delightful ladies called The Shower. We even had a rehearsal on Saturday! No, our rehearsal was not in a shower, but hahah, 12-year-old boys who read this blog.

    It was actually at a cool above-ground park called the High Line. If you guys haven’t been to this flourishing NYC hotspot, then walk, don’t run there immediately!

    Downright gazable.

    I’d walk here.

    How quaint!

    What’s that? The panes of hued glass signify the different colors of water? How fascinating, pip pop!

    Ooh, the columns frame the street view! What will they think of next?

    The Shower poses.
    Photo courtesy of Amanda Hirsch and Facebook.

    The Shower onstage. You can see what theater we’re at again, ali-by the way.

    The Shower again. Double alibi!

    Photos courtesy of Stephanie Svec and Facebook.

    **I also got to do a bevy of stand up shows ranging from bars in Brooklyn to the basements of bars/restaurants/hookah lounges in the Lower East Side to Hell’s Kitchen and back to bars in Brooklyn! Basically, anywhere with a stage and a microphone and people who poured in at the last minute. I met lots of people, of the funny and nice varieties, got free drink tickets, and even didn’t get a coffee that I ordered twice. But it was in a busy restaurant where only one waitress was manning the bar and the floor.

    **One of the absolute thrills of the trip was performing on this late-night Monday show at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater called Whiplash hosted by the esteemed timeless joke-spinner Leo Allen. I didn’t even know this until right before the show but David Cross was also on the bill! *Twirl into an absolute faint that requires smelling salts AND peppers for revival* Not only that but I was right before him on the line-up! *GULP* The other performers were Sean Conroy (super accomplished improv AND stand up vet) and Ted Alexandro (just was on Letterman for the second time, not to mention a national headliner).

    I was so nervous that I spent a good deal of time wandering around the everything-and-then-some supermarket called Gristedes that is exactly adjacent to the UCB Theater. I walked up and down the aisles muttering nurturing phrases and self-laffirmations to myself. During my visit, I found a noise maker that specialized in 6 types of farts as well as some giant Koosh balls. Proof positive reinforcements below.

    Giant koosh balls!

    The store calls them “Massive Googly Balls.” I accept this revision as Gristedes is only “for New Yorkers who know best.”

    One Koosh Ball wandered away from the fold for a snack.

    Here is a delightful story from before the show. When Ted Alexandro showed up, a bunch of us comedic citizens were sitting backstage on some couches. And when Ted came to say howdy-hello to each of us, I said “Hi! I’m Aparna!” (seeing as how we’d never met before) and then David Cross, who was next in turn to introduce himself, said “Hi! I’m Aparna’s friend!” I definitely died for a few seconds.

    The crowd for that show was super-pumped and packed and stacked. They were extremely nice and wonderful and photos from that prestigious affair, taken by the lurvely Mindy Tucker who documents all kinds of comedy shows, can be viewed here. In fact, everyone was so very awesome and dreamy, I am still facially twitching (in a good way) from that show.


    Leo Allen!

    Sean Conroy!

    Aparna Something!

    Something Nancherla!

    David Cross!

    Ted Alexandro!
    Photos courtesy of Mindy Tucker.

    **Lastly, I had so much good food including homemade blueberry pancakes (thanks SIS), three-course Thai food, and the luxurious delights of Brooklyn’s The Chocolate Room. I was trying to save money to the best of my ability though so one day I had a beer for dinner, which sounds a lot better in theory than in execution.

    Here is a chocolate cup full of fruit that I saw somewhere and below that, some Froot Loops treats! This is just proof that I ogle food and own a cell phone with a camera.

    **I also learned to avoid cinema popcorn and soda. My friend Rashi and I got those two items in MEDIUM sizes and we felt like guinea pigs in some kind of a salt-sugar oversatiation laboratory experiment after watching The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, which is incidentally a movie about a used car dealership. If that combo of thematic grease, sodium, and sucrose doesn’t get your blood flow slowing, I don’t know what will.

    P.S. I ogled enough adorable dogs in the city (including my friend Sean’s new pit bull puppy, swoooonz) that my eyes are taking a cute stuff sabbatical for one week…err, day…ahem, hour. And we’re back!!!