The Secret To Success, Create It Yourself

Many non-paid actors are always eager to know the secret to success. As if success is some sort of hidden ingredient in a recipe. We spend the little money we have, on workshops where casting directors and talent agents tell us that what we are attempting to achieve is virtually impossible. And the only reason us wannabes are even able to sit in the same room as them is because they are being paid to share their professional industry knowledge. We listen intently and take notes hoping these professionals reveal the map for success. 

If given the chance, I would ask them “What did you do before becoming an agent or casting director?” Nine times out of ten they would answer with a hint of bitterness regarding how they once dreamt of being an actor but was smart enough to discern that they were better suited in the role of deciding who gets to be apart of the team that they themselves were incapable of joining. 

When I moved to New York, I discovered three kinds of actors. The first group of actors know the right people, have the right connections, and are able to bypass the system. The second group are those that scour the internet for auditions, spend loads of money mailing off headshots to perspective agents, and attend lectures given by “industry” people in hopes of being noticed. They enroll in every acting course that exists and never put their gained tools to use. But eventually they will book a gig or they give up. The third group belongs to a community such as the one I fell into at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. 

The performers at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre are a breed of actors who take matters into their own hands, so to speak. They form a bond and collaborate with their classmates. They create their own content and promote the shit out of it. They rush from work to a dingy humid theater on the basement level to perform indie shows, open mics, or jump into an improv jam session. Even those with talent agents who audition during the day, still work at creating their own material at night. 

Improv groups transform into writing groups, writing groups produced live shows, live shows became a web series. And every now and then, shows such as Broad City become a hit sitcom on Comedy Central. Or these performers are hired on shows like Saturday Night Live, Key and Peele, The Daily Show, and Parks and Recreation.

There at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City, I discovered the secret to success. And the secret is to create the shows that you want to be in. Never stop creating. And support those around you who are doing the same.  

Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.
— Bruce Lee

What is so unique about the comedians who come out of The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, is that those who have found success, still come back to the theater. They have not stopped creating, collaborating, and performing. They all possess this humility that can only be gained through performing for several years on a stage that is underneath a grocery store and has water leaking from the pipes down on to the floor, audience, and sound/light board.

Comedian Amy Poehler is one of the founders of The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I would imagine that she is super busy and yet I can not even count on my hands, the amount of times I have walked into her in the training center or watched her perform in the theater.  She always has this sort of SoCal ‘Sup, dude!’ swag. 

Over the past few years I have gotten to witness the evolution of several of my favorite comics and fellow classmates at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. It is invigorating and inspiring to always be surrounded by so many talented people. 

I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life.
— Miles Davis

There are a number of comedians who I’ve wondered why someone at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has not placed them on a house team to perform weekly or monthly shows. Eliza Kingsbury is one of those folks. 

Eliza is an incredibly funny character actor and I think this largely has with her remarkable writing skills. She keeps herself busy and seems to always be working on something new. 

If you enjoy a good laugh, check out the latest project Eliza is working on and show some support if you can:

Dom & Tamantha

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
— George Bernard Shaw