Monday, September 17, 2018

Bad Advice

Last week, I saw an old friend who had just divorced her husband. To put it bluntly, he was a dick. I never met someone who was more inconsiderate in my life. He was disrespectful to his wife, his kids. His family bullied her. I wanted to know why the hell she was so sad that he left her for another woman. Now he was making someone else miserable and screwing up their life.

Breakups are never easy. I know leaving a person who isn't good for us still hurts. But sometimes you are truly better off.

I was trying to explain this to my friend when a woman, who must be from a different dimension entitled Dumb Ass, interrupted me to say, "What you need to do is grieve the end of this relationship. You had a long history. 16 years. 2 kids."

I wanted to give this idiot a gun to blow her damn brains out. Not only was this the most useless advice I have ever heard, but it was from a moron who should have DOOR MAT tattooed on her forehead.

That is the situation that inspired this here meme.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Towel Juggling

DING DONG!” You're just getting out of the shower and you have unexpected company. Is it the pizza that you ordered more than an hour ago, which you know darn well is now free? Maybe it’s the acceptance letter from the school of your dreams. Or perhaps it’s Publisher’s Clearinghouse with that big check. As you sprint to the door, there’s only one problem: Your towel. As you Kramer-slide to the door, you fear the worst as the towel starts to slide towards the floor. Reaching for the door knob, nightmares flash through your mind. You're about to bare your soul and so much more to the ex-con pizza delivery guy. The mailman might want to deliver more than just a letter. And Publisher’s Clearinghouse will have a camera crew; good luck explaining that to mom. Fear not! Actress and comedienne April Brucker has the perfect solution that will save your brass, butt and bosom all at the same time: The Art of Towel Juggling! Give it a try and post your towel juggling video (Tag: Towel Juggling). Who knows? Towel juggling contests just might replace Spring break wet t-shirt contests! For more on April Brucker, visit her official website: http://AprilBrucker.TV.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar)

Whenever I see a picture of Rosie the Riveter I think of my Mema Ralph. During World War II when the men were away the women worked in the factories. Mema Ralph worked in the mill. It wasn't a matter of gender or the patriarchy. It was Amazon feminism. The men were away at war and the job needed to be done. It was just that simple.

Years later, she found herself a widow with seven kids. Life hands you shit, and it's your job to just deal with it. Maybe that's why she was so cantankerous and ornery at times. She had handled it all and more, what else could you throw her way. Mema Ralph was a fighter. I always gave her that.

I am hardly Rosie the Riveter. Ask me to build something it will fall down. Duct tape is my solution to fixing most things. I am surprised I am still alive most days because my decisions have not killed me. I have tried to open the subway gate with my hands full of luggage and in my weakness a male cop has helped me and gotten a good laugh. I am a total feminist until I have to kill a spider. Yet somehow, I have always managed to do things on my own.

What has been different about this new decade of my life is I don't feel the need to rely on people. While help is at my disposal because my friends are manna from heaven, I know that if I forge ahead I will be alright.

I was always told God never gives you more than you can handle. God must think I am Rosie the Riveter.

My plate has been full these past few months. I am in a master's program for writing, and am in my second project period. Once a week for the past several weeks I have translated several pieces in several different languages. Currently I am in rehearsal for a 9/11 based movement piece, and am also rehearsing my one woman show. I just wrapped an acting class. I am also working on some new videos, new routines, and getting my work published. And I still have a few day jobs on  top of all of this.

And I have a family member having a baby and I am a huge part of planning the shower and events for this little one coming.

To say I have felt overwhelmed is an understatement. Yet people have been looking at me as a leader as of late. I don't get it.

Sunday saw me basically crumble. I don't want to go into it but I have felt like I was walking through darkness. Some of it is I have some intense haters in my life unfortunately. Other darkness is my choice to live as I do and the people who disregard me or treat me as invisible. And third are those who seem never to be pleased. Fourth was fucking broken technology and stubbing my toe.

Sunday saw me crying on the sidewalk of New York. A practice paper redraft hanging over my head. My brain mush from my reading. My muscles weak from constantly being in rehearsal. My arms tired from carrying my heavy luggage of puppets. My head pounding from the goddamn New York subway and the noise. And a green screen that was taunting me because the fucking poles like the goddamn Walls of Jericho came a tumblin down!

Did I mention it's an inferno in NYC and I have no air conditioning?

I googled Rosie the Riveter for inspiration. A related entry was Amelia Earhart. Smiling she was ready for flight. I know under those goggles and behind those takeoffs she loved the sky because it helped her escape a world that was so frustrating, so asinine, and so limiting. Her bullshit was ten fold compared to mine.

I also remembered she crashed her plane in the Pacific. These days there are women pilots. Amelia Earhart didn't fly and crash so they could give up, and she didn't die so women could give up on themselves either.

Rosie the Riveter and Amelia Earhart reminded me I was going to be alright. Sometimes I am stressed and the darkness seems never to end. Just like Amelia Earhart and Rosie the Riveter, I look to my strength. If I give up, I will be giving a lot of people what they want.

And just like my Mema Ralph, life seems daunting. But I am putting one foot in front of the other and just doing it.

There's no other way, right?

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breaking Up With Gel

Last summer I fell in love.

My life had hit the skids. I was on round who knows of a never ending breakup with my former partner, who's mentally ill. My mom and I were fighting a ton. And I was having money problems. So I needed to make myself feel better. That's when I got a gel manicure for the first time.

I instantly became addicted as my nails lasted for upwards of three weeks to a month. They didn't crack. I looked cute. So it was a pleasure to shill out the dough for the powder.

When the gel nails came, it felt like I had come to life in a whole new way. I got off my ass and applied and got into to a grad program I had wanted to attend for years, and found a way to pay for it myself. I began to rehearse and revise my one woman show in a way I never had, and entered The Lady and President Tramp in festivals. I released April Unwrapped, and much to my mother's chagrin began to post sexy pictures. I renewed my health insurance. I began to officially call myself a headlining comedian. I pitched my book to an agent who's shopping it. I returned to legit acting and acting class. I recorded a voiceover demo and am a regular cast member of a radio drama. I became head editor of a genre for my school's lit magazine, the number one student lit magazine in the nation. I became involved in ACT UP and other activism. I mastered full body puppetry. I took my ventriloquism to the next level.

I became more truthful about my labels in my life, too. I began to put up serious boundaries with my mentally ill ex, and told people willing to give me an update on him that none was necessary. I began to cut toxic people out of my life. I began to be a decent friend, sister, and daughter.

I thought these gel nails gave me this super power to be the April I had always wanted to be: tough, powerful, and determined.


The gel made me feel pretty. Yet my nails were starting to look raggedy as heck. The gel would come lose and particles and dirt got trapped underneath. The gel would crack and it would hurt. The gel would make my fingers feel suffocated and begin to itch and burn. My nails became brittle and frail. All because of my obsession with the feeling this gel gave me.

Overtime the manicures started to work less and less. The nails started to pop off after a week and a half. I went to one lady and she was having a break up with her man and nearly sheered my cuticle off with her machine of death. Then I could never decide on a color. And when I did machine of death lady told me how wrong I was. This was after she scraped my gel off with a metro card and I started to cry because the gel bonded to my nail.

As of this week, gel and I are saying bye for a minute. They are staying on less and costing me more. They crack and it's a freaking medical emergency when they do. They are making my nails brittle. They aren't worth it.

I use I and they like we are two opposing forces.

Really, what made me move forward was myself. It wasn't a stupid manicure but me all along. I know that sounds nuts, but damn it's true.

In stepping away from gel, it makes me realize how much my ex, my health issues, hair loss and other things fucked with my psyche. The nails were the pick me up when I needed them, but I don't need them any more. I thought I was over that bullshit only to pick up more bullshit. I suppose it's the addict or the masochist in me. Hell if I know.

Right now I am back to regular polish. I feel dressed down, humbled, and a little like a crack ho. But I also know this is where I need to be right now with my neuroses, first world entitlement and other nonsense.

I can still move forward and be myself. My vanity just needs to take a rest. I will probably do gel in another few months. But right now, the nails need a break. I need to give myself a break too.

Gel or not, I am good enough gosh darnit!

April Brucker

Monday, August 20, 2018

Time (Culture Club)

It’s insane how time passes. Seems like only yesterday I was starting my journey going to class through those red doors at the Strasberg Institute. Seems like only yesterday I was going to open mics, had never headlined, had never been on TV, and took every bomb to heart. Seems like only yesterday I was doing something stupid. Wait, what was last week…….
Everyone has their different markers in knowing they are getting “old.” For the rest of the world it’s when their friends get married, and news of an arriving child is greeting with a congratulations, not a shotgun visit from good old dad. I still remember my sister Skipper trying on her wedding dress. Suddenly tears streamed down her eyes. She wept, “I look like an adult woman that has a mortgage and pays her own cellphone bill!”
I said, “Look on the bright side. At least Boomer has a job. You are doing better than several women in our family currently.”
In show business you know you are getting old when people you know depart the business. It’s not just one or two but rather a mass exodus of sorts. The other day a buddy of mine and I were talking about a vapid creature known as Starfucker. A beautiful almond haired would be starlette, Starfucker bragged ad nauseum about her celebrity friends she had. These included but were not limited to Mischa Barton, Spencer Pratt, and Paris Hilton. Starfucker, through her friends, even had some high powered agent.
I had seen her act and wasn’t impressed. Sure she was beautiful but not much else going on. Once, I forget where we were, but she was distressed. Screaming, panicked, she said, “My butt is vibrating!”
It was a crisis. Starfucker screamed as she once again said, “MY BUTT IS VIBRATING!”
Then she realized it was her phone. As my friend and I recounted the phone incident, we remembered Starfucker’s on again/off again love Tom. He had a band of some sort and actually seemed like a dufus but a nice one. Tom was always being beaten down by Starfucker and her Lucy Ricardo need for fame and fortune. He actually had talent, he just had a girlfriend who was shortening his life span.
Starfucker announced she was moving to Beverly Hills to be near her friends and fell off the map. My friend and I had wondered what happened to her. So we looked her up. She’s no longer in Beverly Hills but back on Long Island where she is from. She’s married with two kids and sells real estate. Starfucker had that same vacant look in her eyes. We had a laugh. So much for her high powered friends. Maybe she’s smart enough to keep her phone somewhere that it doesn’t make her life embarrassing.
The memory of Starfucker got me thinking of all the people I have known over the years who have come and gone from the entertainment world. Some were cool. Some not so much. Was it an easy decision to give this all up for Starfucker and those like her? Was it not?
Who knows.
This past year I decided to get my MFA in writing. It’s a program that allows me to see LA on my own terms, network, live life, still tour, and be married to my career. It’s what I have chosen instead of a “normal life.”

In pursuing my writing for real, it’s brought a fresh perspective to my acting. I am legit acting more than I have in sometime. Part of the reason acting fell to the wayside was because of the opportunities with my puppets. But the more I brush up on my acting, the stronger I get with my puppets and live comedy.
Honestly though, the truth is, I wish I could take a time machine and speak to my younger self. Help her out a tad.
“Listen to your voice teacher about that breathing. He’s not an idiot. Don’t make him a prophet before his time!”
“Stop fucking breaking the rules stupid ass. You are a rebel without a hall pass. Some of the rules are pretty good. You will figure this out when you play a large crowd!”
“Cigarettes do not relieve anxiety attacks!”
“Alcohol won’t relieve your anxiety attack!”
“Getting drunk and making an ass out of yourself will not impress him! And he’s worthless anyway!”
Yesterday I went to a rehearsal and we talked about internal life. An old acting teacher of mine that I loved made a post about internal life. His post also reconnected me with an old friend. We ended up talking. It was amazing actually.
It also made me realize we don’t get people forever. Time slips by and before we know it, time is gone. It was only yesterday Starfucker was being herself. It was only yesterday she and Tom were the free theater minus the overdone plot. Now they are both adults. He scores films which is awesome, and he has a fiancĂ© who doesn’t seem like she screams at him in public.
Sure, there are days that I beat myself up for not being where I want to be. There are days where it feels like I am climbing rocks and am about to be thrown off. But in those days I realize I am still following my dreams, fighting the good fight. As I completed my weekly checkin for my master’s program, I knew the other women in my group were fighting that same fight with me. Just like the students each term in my section in college. We were running towards our dreams, and hopefully we would run together forever…..
It also made me think of the acting class I took each week that just wrapped, and about how one student burst into the student lounge eager to share that he had found his beats in his scene. His enthusiasm made me think of going to class through those red doors. And it made me realize how much I love my graduate school teachers, and how much I miss some of the wonderful teachers I had in college too.
It made me hunger for a different time, when it was about beats and scene and technique, not about casting directors, producers, writing packets, pitching, auditioning, who was booking what and the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit that goes with having a career. It also made me wonder if the fact that it became about the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit was why I had seen so many of my peers depart.
Sure, there is the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit, but there is love for it and maybe I can marry the two. And maybe I should give myself credit for not throwing in the towel.

With this thought in my mind I decided to write my old acting teacher a note saying hello after reading his post. Time teaches us that we don’t have people forever and they might be taken at any moment.
As I crafted my letter once more I laughed as a memory of Starfucker yelling at the unfortunate Tom raced through my mind. I shook my head. Those were the days. The other part of me now saw that I had been judgmental towards Starfucker even in the nickname. She wasn’t vicious or plotting, just shallow. More comic relief if anything.
As I sent the note off to my teacher I put a thought out to the universe. Time makes you less judgmental because you realize life is indeed short. Instead of condemning Starfucker, I started to hope she was happy in her life in Long Island. After all, people change, and maybe marriage and motherhood have given her more dimensions.
And maybe I should stop calling her Starfucker.

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Politics and Other Things

I recently got approached to do a show at a well known New York Club. My relationship with comedy has been a tad weird as of late. I headline and am starting to do so comfortably. I am also getting a master's in writing. I am back in acting class for the first time in years, and am onstage acting. I also do improv jams.

But I am also a political activist. My comedy is in just when I mock the president, but it's clear where I stand. Let's just say that. I want to be known for my work, but I can't help but have my opinions. I got derided in several writing packets by my program mentor for lambasting some wasteful imbecile a family member of mine either dated or married. I got lambasted by my acting teacher for playing opinion. I don't hide my feelings. I am easy to read.

The producer told me I would be seen by the booker and the possibility for regular paid spots was on the table. For years I have wandered New York without a true artistic home. Part of the reason I became a nomad was because I have been back and forth between here and the West Coast. So I was eager to hear him out.

He said he could put me up if I brought three people on a Monday night. Well, I have produced. I believe in paying one's dues. But I am also someone who headlines, appears on television, and has published books. I should be the act that's promoted, not someone who's relegated to bringing. It sounds egotistical, but it's a due I have paid. If I am going to bring, I am going to produce my own one person show and kill myself promoting it because I am the star of the evening. It's how I get the most bang for my buck.

Plus I paid the due of bringing. I barked. I have been there and done that. I think it's important for folks new to comedy to get the stage time. I feel it's important for them to pay that due and we can laugh about it. I also get this producer has a room minimum and I too have done shitty things to fill my room. I get that. So I was already leaning towards no.

I wanted to say no as nicely as possible. After all, I have produced. I know the pressure of packing my room. I have papered my room, too. I have had those I was papering my room back out and I lost money that way. It's a heart ache. No matter what you do you might get a sparse turnout or a cancelled show. This is why a lot of folks burn out on standup in New York.

So then the producer threw in another wrench. He asked what act I was going to do and I said the ventriloquism. Then he asked if it was Donald J. Tramp. Mind you last time I did a spot at this club I did both May Wilson and Donald J. Tramp. The producer said, "Rodney Dangerfield had two rules, no religion and no politics. I don't know what your political positions are, but the booker is old school."

I was being both degraded and censored out of the gate. This opportunity wasn't for me. Sure, I could have brought May Wilson, but even she's a commentary on women in society. The activist is a part of my fabric. It's a part of who I am.

Years ago I would have tried to change things to appease someone. But now, not so much. I have met comedians afraid to get political because they will lose bookings. They are right they will. Yet they are not afraid to be ordinary and have an act that's unforgettable because they are afraid of risks and failure. In playing it safe and not shattering the boundaries they will always be where they are.

My climb to headliner status has been a rocky one. I have been called "an angry woman" by male bookers because I tell the truth. I have been discouraged to talk about politics because I might offend. Comedy is jokes, someone will be offended by a knock knock joke. If you lead your artistic life that way, quit now. You will always feel stifled and stuck.

I would have been the nice girl years ago, but cervical cancer changed everything. My former partner had to go away because he had untreated PTSD and was using drugs again, and I was losing my home. My landlord tried to burn my apartment down. Even as I was wading through shit, I didn't think I would be told I tested positive for cervical cancer.

It taught me to take better care of my body, and to stop taking shit from people and things that didn't matter. It taught me to be honest, because life is short. Yes, I am missing out on being seen by a club booker. But I am taking those energies to create my own work in my own way with my own voice which is finding it's own audience. Then those club bookers will look for me.

And the question will in turn be, am I available?

Is this the harder way to go? Yes. But being an artist is being dangerous. It's dark. I just want to mention I have been dubbed "The Bad Girl of Ventriloquism." I hardly think I am "bad." I just think I am honest and take my risks. And if saying no to something that isn't right for me is a risk, I am okay with it.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Recommitting Myself

Since getting back from the West Coast, I have been diving back into studying my craft. My master's program in writing has left me inspired. The theatre company I work with has motivated me not only to create and perform more of my own work, but to collaborate with other artists. As I find my voice on the page I am taking that same discovery to the stage.

Summer lulls in the Big Apple, and in between literary translation, a practice paper, and dreading my 5 page practice paper, I have decided to sign up for a film acting intensive. This is different from the classes I have taken at The Actor's Fund and the acting class I took each week where I ended up bringing in work I created. I am in front of the camera with no puppets. Just me learning how to cold read.

It's very humanizing. I am getting the same notes in my writing and in my acting. My mentor in my writing program congratulated me on getting my packet in early. However, she said I was judgmental in my writing pieces. Last night's class the note I got was I played attitude. The first writing packet I forgot to double space. First week of class I foolishly copied my sides and my scene partner had an interesting time. Both my mentor and my teacher were good about it.

I feel hungrier than ever for craft. I am reading Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir. I am reading Lee Strasberg's A Dream of Passion. It's my first time reading Stephen King. I haven't read Mr. Strasberg since college. I read one in the morning and one before bed at night. Both often say the same thing. It's tell the truth.

I go to The Drama Bookstore and if I spend any more time in there I run the danger of maxing out every credit card I have. But I have overeaten, over drank, smoked, and dated people who were bad for me because they felt damn good. I have made worse decisions.

But recommitting myself, it's been a good one in some ways. My mentor in my program is great, but when I get a writing packet back there is always a tinge of doubt. Sure, I am more mature as an actor, but Tuesday night I was talking to someone and the old bullshit came up. I am never the best one in the acting class but the most unique. If it's a place where I write and create my own work with my puppets I rock it. That's my zone. I haven't identified as a dramatic, legit actor for years. I mean I guess I still am, but the time, energy, and passion has gone to being a puppeteer.

Suffice to say this class has me a tad out of my comfort zone at times. I thought about bringing an original piece to perform, but that's not the assignment. If I get a big film role, it won't be my work at this point. And besides I am a writer, it would be nice if I respected the words of others, right?

A casting director I once did a class with said it best, "Growth is sometimes painful."

She was right.

The good news is, by participating in an MFA in writing program, I have the opportunity to learn screenwriting. By taking this class, I have the opportunity to get better on camera. By respecting someone else's words and work, I bring good kharma to my own.

I just want to be perfect all the time. I try so hard to be liked. Everything is personal. It's just the way I am made up. A friend told me to take some time off my reading. I told her I needed to go to the bookstore. She said, "April, if you go you will read. Read tomorrow."

So here I am writing. Not reading. Processing. It's easy to read but hard to live. Growth is sometimes painful indeed. But the growth and process are worth it. Because each step, no matter how arduous, gets us closer to the truth.

t's not monstrous that this player here,
But in fiction, in a dream of passion
Could force his soul to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his own function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And for nothing!
For Hecuba!