100 Dallas Creatives: No. 99 Comedy Queen Amanda Austin
Austin is the female half of Manick.
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
Amanda Austin had the crazy idea to bring long-form improv comedy to Dallas at a time when the city was going through a comedic dry spell. Five years later, she manages one of the busiest comedy clubs in the area, consistently presenting fresh, inventive acts and the city's only annual comedy festival attracting such familiar names as Keegan Michael Key, Chelsea Peretti and Rory Scovel. Recently, she and a number of comedians have started making short films, winning awards at the USA Film Festival and the 24-Hour Dallas Video Race.
The creativity bug that started working its way into her brain when she won the East Texas Daughter's of the American Revolution Essay Contest at age 10 has become a big, hairy arachnid with an unquenchable appetite. If you want to read her on the daily, you can follow her Wordpress blog. We interrupted her work day to get her talking about writing, giving us a few good reasons why craft stores should offer frequent customer cards.
What makes you want to be creative? I don't feel like a complete person when I'm not creating something. I just genuinely enjoy creating stuff whether it's on stage or writing something. I think I'd like to paint or play the piano. I'm not very good at either one of them. It's a way to express yourself besides just talking and because I talk a lot, I'm always looking for different ways to not talk so much. It's not in a bad way. It's just a different way to express yourself.
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I also feel very energized and motivated after I've done something like that. If I sit down and play the piano for 30 minutes or if I've done some writing, [it affects me] the way that working out energizes some people -- it really energizes my brain.
How does your creative process work? I do sit down and write every day. That would be the most disciplined thing that I do. Being a creative-brained person, I sometimes might be like sitting on a couch and decide that I need to sew an apron. So I'll just go to Joann's and buy some fabric and sew an apron. It sounds so dumb, and I can't believe I'm even telling you, but sometimes I just get moved to do something weird and crafty. I don't know. It's like, "I need a headboard right now. My life is not complete if I don't get a headboard right now," which is silly because, of course, I don't have to have a headboard. Those things just kind of come whenever. They're like weird, creative Tourette's things that happen to me. I don't know when they're going to happen to me. They're just going to happen.
If you weren't doing something that allows you be to creative, what would you be doing? I'd be pretty miserable. I don't know. There are a lot of things in the entertainment industry that I don't even do right now or would like to do more of. So I'd like to expand that breadth of knowledge ... but outside of the business entirely, I would either do real estate or I would like to work in advertising and not on the art direction side, like coming up with the copy and stuff. I thought about doing advertising a lot. I just really like the copy side of it and the editorial and writing funny, quick stuff for different companies and coming up with ideas and campaigns.
What's the next big thing for you? It's funny because whenever I think of the next big thing and then when I get to the next big thing, there's another next big thing. It never stops, but I really am enjoying being a little more involved in writing at the theater and doing some of these short films. We've already written a pilot, and we're going to shoot the actual pilot, so more of that kind of stuff for film and television. I feel like I'm a pretty quick learner and I can learn a lot of it, but I need to be taught it as well, so I need to devote some more time to that. That's something that creatively I really enjoy. They always say that what you do when you're procrastinating is what you should do for the rest of your life. So I write a lot when I'm procrastinating.
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