Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Community Service Award

Cold Tofu just got a community service award from the Nisei Week Foundation. There was an awards dinner last night in Little Tokyo at the New Otani Hotel. (For the those of you outside of L.A., "New" is part of the hotel's name.) I went and had a great time with some other Cold Tofuers, most of whom are either a core member or in the lab class, which comes after level three.

I know it all seems like another bureaucracy, but it's really a combination of that and a meritocracy. There are people who have a serious desire to improve themselves through improv, but probably shouldn't be on stage in front of an audience. If powers of authority like you and you've gone through the Tofu system, you might be asked to be an associate. Which means you're being groomed for the core group.

I love the bureaucratic system. It's really an easy system to both enter and climb, as long as you play along with the rules. I wanted to be a DJ at one of my college's many radio stations. You would apply for a timeslot, but on the application form, it said that those who did volunteer work would be favored for a slot. This actually translates to: If you don't do the grunt work, you're not getting a slot.

The first time I applied, I didn't get a spot. The second time I applied, I had done some grunt work such as cleaning the studio, and got a prime Friday night spot from 10 pm to 2 am. ( On a side note, four hours is a long time to be playing music. Especially if you don't like most of the station's music selection. I had my friends send me tapes of good R&B, and I actually developed a following among my school's football players and some girls in the Hawaii club. In fact, they'd often call to request a song.)

It seems every theatre group has some sort of bureaucracy, and that drives a lot of my actor friends crazy. They don't want to do what they consider bullshit. But I think that's why they got into acting in the first place: They couldn't deal with office bullshit, which tends to be, yes, bureaucratic. Consequently, I see them always on the fringes of the acting community, but never having a sense of community or belonging.

The point of all this is that, yesterday, after 13 years in L.A., I've finally found a sense of community and belonging. It's a wonderful thing, and something I haven't felt since living in South Central where my neighbors actually cared if I was alive, or had eaten dinner.

But this also means that the wanderlust in me will probably strike again. And then I'll leave the nest, and find another home in the world. It's just something I tend to do. Lately, I've been thinking about France. Then again, it might just be the Groundlings.

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