My favorite musical only lasted a few months on Broadway… and I found it by chance.
The summer before I went to college, my mom told me that seeing the opening night of a new show on Broadway was on her bucket list. A few weeks later, I was walking in Times Square on Tony Awards weekend when I saw that a new show called [title of show] was coming to Lyceum Theatre. Not knowing (or caring) what it was about, I bought tickets to opening night.
[title of show], in a nutshell, follows four people as they create a musical. The unique, and incredible, part of being the audience on opening night is that you are watching the musical happen in real time. You’re able to see their dreams & hard work (what the entire musical was about) unfold right there and then. I’ll never forget being at the stage door when they walked out and realized that all these people were there for them.
I remember sitting in the audience and falling in love with Susan Blackwell. She was incredibly funny, fearless and unapologetic. She was the first character in a Broadway show that I looked at and thought, “Oh, I could play her.” Most females characters in musicals were beautiful powerhouses who sang ballads effortlessly. I could appreciate and wish that I could play their roles… but the truth was that I was always the funny person who had a decent voice… but I wasn’t about to tackle a Babs song. Susan was arguably the funniest person in the cast… watching her gave me all the confidence I needed in my last few weeks on the East Coast before leaving for Chicago to pursue comedy.
I wrote Susan after the show. I told her all about how much she inspired be and my concerns on being a female in comedy. I thought it’d be outstanding if she just read it. Not only did she read it, but she wrote this note back:
Thank you so much for your glorious letter. WOW! Im blown away!!!!
Listen to me when I say this to you: I know there are a lot of funny dudes–some of them are nice, some of them are destructive douchebags. I know that I can stand toe to toe with any of them. Apparently, so can you. Gender or appearance have nothing to do with it. Don’t put that on yourself, and don’t let anyone put that on you.
Go live the life you want to live, lady. Seriously.
Your email rocked me. Let us agree that we rocked each other.
Til next we meet… Sb
Here I am six years later… and I’ve been thinking about Susan’s advice, and this show in general, a lot lately. As I’m on the verge of writing my first sketch show with my friend, and trying to muster up the courage to do so, I can’t help but think about [tos]. It terrifies me to think of putting my own material out there. It’s easy when I’m performing someone else’s work… but my own? So many things run through my head – Will people think it’s funny? Do I really have enough time to do this? How do I even write a two person show? What if no one comes? What if it’s not good enough?
At some point, you have to tell yourself to shut the hell up. The only person standing between you and what you want to do is your own self doubt. Write what you think is entertaining… what you’re passionate about… and it’ll come through. The end result doesn’t matter. So what if no one cares about something you put your all into? Writing the show in itself is enough of an accomplishment. Anything else is a bonus.
Six years ago, I was weeks away from moving to Chicago and I was terrified. Susan was the first person to make me feel like I could do really do this. “Go live the life you want to live, lady. Seriously.”
The other night, I performed in my 25th improv show. Today, I’m in the process of writing my very first show. I’m pretty sure that I’m living the life I wanted to live.
Geeking out over Susan before moving to Chicago. When I told her that I was scared of how I’d fit into the comedy world, she told me that if anyone gave me any trouble, I could tell them to suck her dick.