Jason Specland: Consultant, Comedian

Making it up as I go along. Always.

POSTPONED – Upcoming Workshop at the Armory

This workshop has been postponed. I will update here when a new date has been chosen.

I’ll be doing my “Listening and Reacting with Emotion” workshop on Sunday, May 27th, from 1-4 PM at Simple Studios. The workshop is associated with the Armory, and not the PIT who is my usual employer. But just the same, any old person can join in for the usual price of $20. (Armory Performers only pay $12! So if you’re an Armory performer, and have been waiting to take one of my workshops, this would be a super-great chance!)

Sign Up Here!

Upcoming Classes!

I’ll be teaching the following PIT Drop-In Classes. All classes are at Simple Studios, 134 W 29th St, 2nd Floor, and cost $20.

Please note that the times of Saturday and Sunday Drop-In Classes have changed. They now run from 6-9 PM.

Objects Have Power Friday, May 11, 7-10 PM
Invest, Don’t Invent Friday, May 18, 7-10 PM
Listening and Reacting with Emotion Sunday, May 20, 6-9 PM

See you there!

Upcoming Shows!

SECRET INFINITY CRISIS OF CHAMPIONS, Thursday, May 3, 9:30, The PIT
Some of Earth’s mightiest heroes (and many of the not-quite-so-mightiest heroes) have been transported from their home worlds by the evil Mojo, and will be forced to face mankind’s greatest fear: performing improv. I will be playing the role of Mojo, the producer and extra-dimensional puppet master.
Purchase Tickets

THE AUSTEN FAMILY PLAYERS, Wednesday, May 9, 8:00, The PIT LOFT
A troupe of English improvisers has been transported from the year 1813, and they are most delighted to be making their debut performance on Yankee soil. They will dazzle you with a montage of such characters and scenes as are certain to divert you famously, and your evening will be well spent in gazing upon their fine countenances as they engage in charades for your express entertainment. I will most likely be portraying a rakish bachelor of considerable wealth who is most desirous to marry a proper lady equal to my station.
Purchase Tickets

Upcoming Drop-In Classes at the PIT

I’ll be teaching some drop-in classes at the PIT in March:

Listening and Reacting with Emotion: Sunday, March 18, 2018, 3-6 PM
Objects Have Power: Friday, March 23, 2018, 7-10 PM

Only $20 for 3 hours!

Check out the PIT website for more info.

GEORGE/MARTHA at The Tank in February

GEORGE/MARTHA is moving from the PIT to The Tank!

Come join Liz and Dick for our premiere performance at The Tank.

Tuesday, February 6th, at 7:00 PM.
Tickets are only $10. Get ’em now!

GEORGE/MARTHA Extends Run at the Peoples Improv Theater

GEORGE/MARTHA has extended its run for three more shows at the Peoples Improv Theater.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 7 P.M. [Purchase Tickets]
This show will be at the PIT Underground, at 123 E. 24th St., between Park and Lex.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 9 P.M. [Purchase Tickets]
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 9 P.M. [Purchase Tickets]
These shows will be at the PIT LOFT, at 154 W. 29th St., between 6th & 7th Avenues.

Upcoming Performances and Classes

Thursday, August 17, 11 PM, The PIT Underground: I perform… ALL BY MYSELF! At the Solo Improv Showcase hosted by Solo Improv guru Mike Brown. $7.

Saturday, August 19, 3-6 PM, Simple Studios: Drop on in to my Drop-In Class! Get some improv reps! Have some improv fun! $30, or $20 if you have a current PIT student ID.

Saturday, August 26, 5PM, Henry Heymann Theater, Pittsburgh, PA: The Austen Family Improv Players at the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival. Super-excited about this one! I get to go back to my old college town to lay down some Regency-Era manners. I just hope my order of ‘O’ Fries doesn’t drip ketchup on my cravat. $10

What a Week of Improv!

If you had an itchin’ to see me perform improv, this is your lucky week! Just about every group I perform with is playing this week.

BUCKET OF FUN: Sunday, March 19th (today!), 7:00 PM at the PIT LOFT (154 W. 29th St., betw. 6th and 7th Ave.). My house team REGINA goes up against Latinx in a game show that pits improv teams against one another in a fun competition.

REGINA: Monday, March 20th (tomorrow!), 8:00 PM at the PIT Underground (123 E. 24th St.). My house team REGINA performs its weekly house team show, with our friends Poor Melissa.

REGINA (at the NYC Improv Festival): Wednesday, March 22nd (the day after the day after tomorrow!), 9PM at the PIT Striker Theater (123 E. 24th St.) with The Studio System.

THE HUMANE CENTIPEDE (at the NYC Improv Festival): Thursday, March 23rd (the day after the day after the day after tomorrow!), 11 PM at the PIT LOFT (154 W. 29th St., betw. 6th and 7th Ave.). It’s the WORLD PREMIERE of the improv and sketch group featuring some of my most talented bestest best friends, Adrian Sexton and Rory Scholl.

GEORGE/MARTHA (at the NYC Improv Festival): Saturday, March 25th (the day after the… oh forget it… a week from today), at 4 PM at the PIT LOFT (154 W. 29th St., betw. 6th and 7th Ave.). I play Richard Burton playing George, and Adrian Sexton plays Elizabeth Taylor playing Martha, as we improvise a brand new “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” There will be much drinking and anger, especially if the estate of Edward Albee hears about it…

THE AUSTEN FAMILY IMPROV PLAYERS (at the NYC Improv Festival): Saturday, March 25th (the same day as the last one!), at 9 PM at the PIT LOFT (don’t you know where it is by now?). We are an improvisational theatrical troupe from 1813, performing in the style of Miss Jane Austen. With a little luck and some providence, we may all be profitably married by the end of the show!

Whew! Hopefully I’ll still be alive at the end of all this…

2016 Year in Review

The year 2016 is nearly over and has been legendarily awful. But the things that were awful were big things. Things over which I had little control. When examining the things over which I had more substantial control in 2016, the year takes on a significantly rosier hue.

Things That Remained Awesome in 2016

My wife, son, and I remain in good health, and my wife and son continue to be amazing people.

My friends are not only amazing human beings, but are uniquely funny and talented. Sometimes I take for granted what an amazing creative group I’ve surrounded myself with. I forget what rarified air I’m privileged to walk in.

I continue to have an excellent job with an excellent company that is intellectually challenging and pays enough for me to comfortably raise a family.

Things That Became Newly Awesome in 2016

I went to England for the first time and spent two weeks with my wife’s wonderful family. I’m fortunate to have an exceptionally good relationship with my in-laws. And England is pretty awesome all by itself.

My talented wife was cast by the Harlem Repertory Theater, so she was in a bunch of incredible shows and got paid for it. It’s about time that the world recognized how gosh darn talented Paula is.

Paula and I finally got a hold on our finances this year. We weren’t doing badly, but we were living slightly beyond our means. In 2016 we made significant progress in our finances, and we’re on track to be debt-free in 2017.

I ended my PIT house team exile, and was recast on a team. I strongly believe that I was recast, not because I became significantly better at improv, but because I turned around a self-defeating attitude, so being recast represented a significant personal victory. But, I wasn’t just cast on any ordinary team. I was cast on “Regina,” one of the greatest groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a member of. I’ve been cast with plenty of funny people before, but never before have I been with a group of funny people who work so well together and share a common artistic vision.

Speaking of talented people I get to work with, Adrian Sexton and I finally put up our “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” improv show we’d been talking about for years, and it was a rousing success. Rory Scholl and I got to do a killer set at a two-prov tournament in front of Armando Diaz, my very first longform improv teacher. The three of us are going to create some killer comedy in the new year.

I coached a group for much of the year, and it’s been a delight watching them become stronger and more confident in their performances. As is often the case, the teacher is also the student, and coaching this group has finally given me enough confidence to pursue my dream of teaching improv.

I got to perform my first two out-of-town gigs and my first out-of-town festival with the Austen Family Improv Players.

At work I was promoted to Architect. (software architect, not building architect) There were some difficult projects in 2016, but they are now behind me and the future looks exciting and challenging. I didn’t get to do as much conference speaking as I’d like, but the one talk that I did give went extremely well.

Things (beside the obvious) that Sucked in 2016

My dad has cancer. He’s not out of the woods yet, but thank God his treatment is going well.

I had several bouts of deep depression. I had terrible anxiety attacks, one of which prevented me from enjoying the company of some friends I hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t see a therapist even once, even though I clearly should.

I spent way too much time on unproductive pursuits, consuming an abundance of media that was ultimately unhealthy.

What About 2017?

So it’s looking like the big things — the things over which I have little to no control — will be pretty terrible in 2017. But on a personal level, things look like they’re going to be pretty okay. I’ve recommitted myself to accomplishing concrete goals. (But hey, doesn’t everyone do that this time of year?)

I just pray that the truly big, historical forces aren’t so terrible that they collide with my personal sphere.

Project Estimation for SharePoint: A Parable

EXT. OUTSIDE THE JUNGLE, DAY

An intrepid treasure hunter and his local guide stand trepidatiously outside of a dark, mysterious, wild jungle.

Treasure Hunter: How long will it take for us to get through the jungle?
Guide: It’s hard to say. The jungle is filled with dangerous traps and difficult terrain.
Treasure Hunter: Okay, how long will it take to get two miles through the jungle?
Guide: Seriously, it’s hard to say. I don’t know what we’re going to encounter…
Treasure Hunter: Just ballpark it for me.
Guide: Okay, well I’m really not certain, so I’m going to have to assume the worst… Three days?
Treasure Hunter: Three days!? To go two miles!? What are you, incompetent or something?
Guide: Okay, if everything goes absolutely perfectly… A day, maybe? But don’t hold me to that…

CUT TO: Two days later…

EXT. INSIDE A PIT TRAP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE, DAY

Treasure Hunter: We’re a day over budget. I’m not paying you for this, you know.

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