My Worst Moment in Improv.

Happiness, hardship, Life Lessons, Silly, Uncategorized

My friends Sam and Donald have an outstanding podcast, SDI, in which they interview novice to professional improvisors. Almost a year ago, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by them and they asked me one of their signature questions – What was your worst moment in improv?

I dodged their question and opted for a moment that I learned the most from. Because the truth is… I was too scared to talk about my worst moment in improv.

Two years after my worst moment in improv, I still get really emotional thinking about what happened. I get angry, sad and frustrated. While I’m extremely open to talk about my successes and failures, I’ve only told a handful of people about my worst moment in improv because I just hate talking about it. But keeping it a secret doesn’t help anyone, so here it is.

About a year into taking improv classes, I was in a class where we were doing an onion peel. For those who don’t know what an onion peel is, it’s a game where a scene starts with one person, then a second person walks on and starts a new scene, then a third and so on and so on until everyone is onstage in a large group scene. Then you reverse the process – each person finds a reason to exit in the reverse order that they came in and you go back to the scenes that you did previously until you’re left with the original improvisor finishing up their original scene.

Still with me?

They can be very chaotic for beginner improvisors but are a great way to teach them how to listen and work with a group. In this particular scene, we were in the army and therefore I was crawling on the floor, because honestly when I started improvising, I had no control over my body and was almost always throwing myself across the stage. Someone walked onstage and started a new scene where we were all at a party. To justify being on the floor, I acted wasted (ok, not the smartest choice but I was very new to this so give me a break.)

That’s when my worst moment onstage happened.

A classmate of mine crawled over to me and put his arm around me. Another classmate pretended to roofie me while another stroked my face. It evolved into what I can only describe as a date rape gang bang scene that I couldn’t find a way out of because I was so in shock by the man who decided to start humping my leg. I tried to push everyone away for what seemed like an hour but was probably about thirty seconds.  I had never been so relieved for someone to walk onto a scene than I was that day.

No one spoke up to stop the scene.

In the moment, I wanted nothing more than for someone to stop the scene midpoint and yell at all of us for letting this happen. Even yell at me if you think it would help! Tell me I’m allowed to speak up for myself! Tell me to fight against sexism! Teach me how to take the power back in the scene in case it happens again! I felt powerless against these men and my instinct was to just roll up into a ball and wait for it to be over. The day, the class, the term. I just wanted to go home.

I didn’t talk to anyone about it because I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be a bad teammate. I didn’t want to be the one who tore the group apart. I thought I would just get over it, but the truth is that two years later I still don’t like talking about it.

In my entire improv career, which has been five years long, I’ve only had two female teachers and two female coaches. This is a huge problem. There’s no reason why that number should be so off. Having female teachers and coaches gives female improvisors a person to go to when they feel like they’ve been harassed, assaulted, or the victim of sexism. There are definitely male teachers who are feminists that fight for us but it’s hard to go to them because no matter how much they can sympathize, they don’t understand what it’s like.

It is so frustrating that we even have to think about this. But here’s a few examples of things I’ve had to deal with that I don’t think my male improv friends have ever had to think about.

I’ve had to leave multiple graduation shows of mine because my drunk male friend keeps on hitting on me.

I’ve had to yell at the same person multiple times because he keeps on grabbing my ass and can’t understand why I don’t think it’s funny.

I’ve been sold as a prostitute in a scene.

I’ve been in interviews where half of it was focused on why I hate being called a strong female comedian, and I’ve been asked more times than I can count whether or not women are funny (in which I now use the Katie Rich method of answering.)

I’ve been in auditions where I was called a bitch onstage and was told to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich. When I spoke out against this within my scene, I was left with silence and awkwardness then had to work through the rest of the audition just hoping it would be over soon.

I’ve been told to lose weight, change my voice, and to change my name from Annie, which I’ve always gone by, to Anna, which is only used legally, so that it sounds less like a little girl’s name.

I’ve been told, multiple times by strangers,  that the reason I got cast into a show was to fulfill a female quota. I’ve been told, by strangers, that the reason I got a job coaching was because I was a woman. I’ve been told, by strangers, that the reason I got a slot at a theater was because the owner and I “had a thing”. All by people who have no authority or clue as to how hard I worked or how talented I may be. (I’ve learned that people really love to use your gender to justify your success and their inability to achieve said success.)

Every time I look for a new director, I have to consider whether or not they’re safe enough to be vulnerable around.

My Twitter, published articles and blog posts are a feeding ground for trolls who call me fat, ugly, idiotic & untalented – and those are just the tame trolls.

The reason I haven’t spoken about this in five years is because I’m afraid of be labeled as “difficult to work with” or “oversensitive.”

Half a year ago, I made the shift from performing constantly to coaching and directing more than I perform. I made a vow that I would never cast a show that had less women than men, and that I would never cast an ensemble that didn’t have multiple POC (if you want to know what it’s like to be an improvisor of color, read this.) I promised myself, and continue to remind myself, to speak up when someone is being sexist and racist instead of letting it slide. Everyone who has worked with me knows that I lead with a lesson that I took from the book of Dana Quercioli… before we even warmup, I lay out the types of jokes I won’t tolerate because they’re crutches, and they’re offensive. Any jokes about gender, race, sexual orientation, weight or things that come out of your body won’t fly. Not only are they offensive, but they’re already used up- we can find something better.

So why the post? I’m frustrated and sick of not being spoken up for, but to be honest… I’m not doing a great job for sticking up for myself. I’m more concerned about being liked than being treated with respect. That’s not right. So I’m going to start speaking up. I hope you do too.

If I get murdered…


Last night a friend of mine told me that he’d give me a ride home but he’d have to murder me when I got there. It was freezing last night so I figured there were some sacrifices I’d have to make. I took the ride. As I was cruising into my inevitable death, I realized that there were some things that would definitely need explaining if I got murdered, so I wrote my own obituary:

Hi all. My name is Anna Rose Taylor but you may know me as Annie, Abbott Tech Annie, or lxlhunnipiezlxl (on Xanga). First of all, sorry mom that you had to clean my room. You’re probably wondering why there are so many take out containers. Good question. My life is pretty busy and most days I have to decide between either eating or blow-drying my hair. I’m great at multitasking and lived in constant fear of being late (self-diagnosed time anxiety). I lived a simple life… when I was little, I had this colonial woman outfit that I was really attached to. I also loved my baby doll with a Bud Light can taped to it, skirt made out of Justin Bieber pictures, and shirt that says, “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wives”… you’ll find all of this when you go through my closet, so I just want you to be prepared. I was a member of two hit bands, one being “The Lion King Band” where I was backup singer at the age of 5. After a successful family picnic and 5th grade lunchtime run, we broke apart and formed “Annie and the Angels” where I wrote my hit song, “Boogie Time”. While I lived a life of few regrets, my biggest was that I never redeemed the 7 guest passes to my gym that I’ve been hoarding on my account… and that this guy named Eric from Cyprus that I met at Friar Tuck’s never got to take me to Nacional 27 then Miami for a week like he promised before I fell asleep at the bar. I’m also pretty upset that I’ll never know who won Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (Team Gianna). No one be sad – keep in mind that I chose to die in return for a ride home. I lived a good life… my favorite thing in the world to do was take naps, so I’m probably pretty happy right now. I loved Dance Moms, good beer, hip hop dancing and found men over the age of 70 captivating. My coworkers lived in constant fear of my eating and sleeping habits… as I considered lunchables worthy of an adult lunch and slept for 4 hours at night, worked for 8 then took a 2 hour nap before improv. My life was a marathon, not a race, and my strange sleeping habits proved that. At 13, I taught myself how to sing Ashanti’s “Foolish” in sign language just because I could. My dream in life was to be a Mexican abuela who has the best tamale recipe this would has ever known. The best advice I can give DePaul students can be taken from my old Twitter, in which I write, “the best way to procrastinate from writing a Political Science paper is to read #lilwaynedeeptweets… going on an hour. Best. Thing. Ever.” I lived in constant fear of falling asleep early – the best thoughts and most meaningful chats always happened at 2am. I’m convinced the Pink and I are best friends and that Jennifer Lawrence would be really happy to meet her soul mate (me) one day. In the last days of my life, I figured out how to open a beer bottle with a table, stuck a straw up John Sant’s nose, stood on the corner of North & Wells for a good 8 hours, and cried while watching Glee. I’m sure that I’m now in the afterlife with my invisible dog, stalking Gilda Radner and haunting the shit out of my roommates. Kristen – expect many more centipedes in your room. Oh, and here’s a picture to remember me by…


Let it serve as a warning. Chapped lips happen.

Stop what you’re doing and listen to these Pink songs


I know, I know… you get it by now… Pink is my girl crush. It’s for a good reason though – I mean, have you seen her? My mom and I started getting really into Pink in 2006 when she released her fourth album, “I’m Not Dead”. Since then, her lyrics have comforted me, empowered me and made sure I had a good night out. With that being said, here are my Top 10 Pink songs from her past three albums, along with the best YouTube videos I could find. Please notice that she’s doing all this crazy shit and singing live. Now there’s absolutely no valid excuse for other artists lip syncing. Drop everything you’re doing and watch these:

10. So What

Best song lyrics: So, so what? I’m still a rock star, I got my rock moves and I don’t need you

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Who cares if people come or go? You’re still a rock star, girl! 

9. Conversations With My 13-Year Old Self (there was no live video, so excuse the cheesiness of this one)


Best song lyrics: Oh don’t lose your passion or the fighter that’s inside of you. You’re the girl I used to be, the pissed off complicated thirteen year old me.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: It’s hard to be thirteen. We all wish we could go back and tell ourselves that life gets so much better.

8. Just Give Me A Reason, feat. Nate Ruess

Best song lyrics: No, nothing is as bad as it seems … We’re not broken just bent

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Usually the problem is just in your head and just because you’re having a rough time doesn’t mean you should give up. 

7. Try

Best song lyrics: When you’re out there doing what you’re doing, are you just getting by? Tell me are you just getting by.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Don’t just breeze through life… get up, work hard and actually try.

6. The Great Escape 

Best song lyrics: The passion and the pain are gonna keep you alive someday.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Okay, I cheated on this one because I watched an interview about this song. Basically, don’t run away from your bad feelings… don’t numb yourself. Those are the kinds of emotions that will keep you alive – you’re not really living without them. 

5. I’m Not Dead

Best song lyrics: I’m not dead just floating, I’m not scared just changing.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Honestly, this is just a really cool artsy song to rock out to… but I also like the concept that change doesn’t necessarily mean fear. 

4. Beam Me Up (I apologize for the crappy quality… it’s the only live recording available)

Best song lyrics: Could you beam me up? Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it… I’d probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face. Beam me up, let me be lighter – I’m tired of being a fighter. I think a minute’s enough… just beam me up.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Damn… what would we do for just one minute with someone we lost? Personally, I wouldn’t even know anything to say… I’d probably just soak up being in their presence. My girl Pink has many songs that make you realize she must have lost someone – she nailed it here.

3. Walk of Shame

Best song lyrics: I’m wearing last night’s dress and I look like a hot ass mess. Although my hair looks good ’cause I haven’t slept yet. Make the elevator come a little faster, I’m pushing all the buttons but nothing’s happening. Please, God, don’t let anybody see me. Please, God, I’ll do anything you ask me. I promise no more walks of shame

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Sorry mom but this is the anthem of a 20-something. Also, please look at how adorable she is in concert… love it.

2. Glitter in the Air (duh, this performance revolutionized her as an artist)

Best song lyrics: Have you ever wished for an endless night? Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight. Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight?

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: Just soak it in peeps. Recognize when times are tough, recognize when times are good. So many feelings.

1. Crystal Ball (start at 1:33)

Best song lyrics: a witness, and a little forgiveness, and a halo of patience, and a less sporadic pace and I’m learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes. Oh I’ve felt that fire and I’ve been burned but I wouldn’t trade the pain for what I’ve learned, I wouldn’t trade the pain for what I’ve learned.

Ms. Moore’s life lesson: This is my favorite song. Oh, man. Learn to be brave in the mistakes you make through life. Own up from them and grow… pray for patience, forgiveness and for things to slow down. There are invaluable lessons that come out of every painful minute you live. Don’t wish that away.

Have a happy day, bros. 

BONUS VIDEO! – Not only is this Pink’s best cover… but right up there with Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” as best cover song of the 2000s. 

I wanted to learn how to be funny. I got a life lesson instead.

Happiness, Life Lessons, Silly

We all knew this post was coming. Wasn’t sure when, but then I had this “moment” last night. During my Second City class, I ducked out to use the bathroom at a time where most classes, including mine, weren’t on break. On the way to the bathroom, I just heard so much joy coming from so many different rooms – laughter, applause, compliments… just ringing through the hall. I thought, damn… I’m lucky to be here. So it’s time to write a list of the many life lessons I have learned through improvisation.

Absorb every single moment life gives you

There is always the potential to learn if you pay attention to the lessons being handed to you. Absorb them like a sponge. I have learned so much about myself, the world I live in and the person I want to be through improv. I enjoy watching my teammates just as much as playing. There’s so much potential in everyone and it’s incredible to watch their growth. Lessons can be found anywhere. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to audition… regardless of whether or not I get cast. In an audition, you’re able to see people in their best light and learn from those who are killing it. There are very few places that I’m able to learn from peers as much as in an audition.

Absorb moments too. There’s this moment every now and again when I’m on the L headed to class when I realize that I’m exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I need to do. Notice that. Give yourself time to reflect on where you are and the hard work you put in to get there.

It’s okay to be scared shitless

I’ve never been more terrified in my [performance] life than a couple weeks ago. I was cast onto a team at a different theater where I knew no one… which is usually okay for me. While I was proud of this accomplishment, I soon realized that not only did I not know anyone, but everyone had much more experience than I did… and they were good. Really good. I never struggled much with confidence but I found myself desperately searching for an inch of ego to pull me through. It was an unfamiliar feeling and it scared me shitless. I realized that the only way to get through would be to open up about my insecurity and ask for help. One of my improv teachers sent me this:, which really spoke to me. I’m definitely still working on my confidence, but I realized that it’s okay to be scared shitless. It’s healthy. The only way you can grow as a person is to be challenged. To have someone see something in yourself that you aren’t sure existed… and to not have the option to quit.

Be your own biggest fan

Along the lines of “It’s okay to be scared shitless”, be your own biggest fan. Believe in yourself more than anyone else. I struggle with this. It’s not that I don’t think I’m good… it’s that I was raised to be really humble, to be a team player. It’s hard to balance believing in yourself and your dreams while trying to make your teammates shine. When I was in high school, my choreographer/guru read Marianne Williamson’s quote before every show. It goes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. Yeah.

Take a break

I found the magic world of improv at 16 and dove in headfirst. I did everything I could to learn, perform and even teach this wonderful art form. I was dead set on moving to Chicago to study improv so I found the only way possible to convince my mom to let me go – enrolled at DePaul University. I was finally living in Chicago & ready to pursue my dream. Then what did I do? I forgot all about comedy. I double majored, worked retail, was the treasurer of my sorority and helped start a 24-hr dance marathon. I even made fun of myself for moving here for comedy because I was so far removed from it. I took a 5 year break and lived. Then what happened? I found myself unhappy with my 9-5 life and thought a comedy class would cheer me up. Fast forward 7 months and I’m now on three teams and loving every second of it. If you really love something, it’ll eventually come back. It’s not going anywhere. Let yourself sit back and enjoy the seasons of your life. When I came back to improv, I was ready and willing to learn in a way that I wasn’t before. Let things go – they will naturally come back when you’re ready for them.

Connect with others

Pay attention to everyone around you. Check in with them – how are they feeling? What’s their story? Did something happen that made them upset today? My current teacher is big on looking at your scene partner and making a connection at the beginning of each scene. Bring that into life. Connect with everyone around you. My favorite moments came out of midnight chats just standing in Second City’s lobby finding out about my new friends. Just talking. It’s an incredible experience to connect.

A bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life

I had one of those days last week where I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t sleep much the night before and had a really busy day. By the time I got to my rehearsal at 10:30pm, I was done. I had no energy and it showed. When I got home around midnight, I was tired, embarrassed, cranky and disappointed in myself. Then I had this realization… it has been seven months since I started studying improv and this was the first time I had a bad rehearsal or class. I was knocked off my pedestal and realized that I’m not perfect and it made me uncomfortable. But as we learn in improv – there are no failures. I’ll have my days… hell, I’ll have plenty of them. It’s okay. It’s human. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change what happened in that moment. Just let it go.

Be the party that people want to go to

This idea comes from the podcast I posted before. Be that person in the world that others want to be around. Be kind, fun, considerate, thoughtful, interesting, genuine, unique and intelligent. Shit, just be you. Think of the people in life you enjoy being around. Why do you like them? What makes them fun? Try to take on some of those traits. People will want to be a part of it.

Be yourself, not a replica of someone else

It’s great to have idols, mentors and role models. They will help you become the best version of yourself possible… let them do that. However, don’t wish to be them… strive to be you. The best mentors will see traits in your personality that are unique and work to nourish them. In the above podcast, they mentioned that “there comes a time where you can say, wait… I don’t have to be Bill Murray, I can be me.” Be you.

Some of the greatest people you’ll ever know you haven’t met yet

I’ve met some pretty great people in life. Hell, I was fortunate to be born into an incredible family. I didn’t sign up for class to make friends because I honestly didn’t need to. I have plenty of great friends. Little did I know, I was about to meet life changing people. My Thursday night class is filled with beautifully unique individuals. People who have goals and struggles. Individuals who want the best for you. Teammates who believe in you more than you believe in yourself and root for your success as much as their root for their own. They’re not jealous, they’re not vindictive and they’re sure as hell not selfish. Most of all, we love each other. The person I am today is not the person I was when I first stepped foot in Second City, and I thank them for that. You see it in the hallway before and after class. People who only went days without seeing each other are reuniting like it has been years. There are hugs, fist pumps, hallway chats and therapy sessions. Last night my class bumped into our old teacher on the escalator and started giving out high fives. He missed one person’s hand and literally ran down the upward escalator to make sure he didn’t leave him hanging. How often do you get that excited to see someone?

“Be great. Be memorable”

If I had to choose my favorite piece of advice, it’s this: “Be great. Be memorable.” My improv teacher gave us this advice on the night of our first show and I resort back to it all the time. It’s so simple, yet so true. Life is short and your ability to make a difference is fleeting. Don’t waste your time being ordinary. Every day there’s a chance to do something incredible, every day there’s a chance to change a life and every day you have no excuse to be anything less than great.

My first improv teacher told us that if everyone in the world were forced to take an improv class, it would be a better place. I couldn’t agree more.

Now go out in the world and be nice to each other.