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In the latest installment of Coffee With Friends, I’m chatting with Ariane Price, one of the funniest ladies I know whose one-woman show, There Will Be Blood, is TONIGHT at The Groundlings Theatre! As stated on the poster, she bills it: “From losing my mom to becoming a mom and all the heinous, awkward, coming of age hilarity in between.” I caught the premiere, and it was incredible – it made me cry from laughing and cry from feeling all the feelings. Ariane was sweet enough to chat with me in anticipation of tonight’s show, and share her experiences and advice on getting into comedy in Hollywood:

Before we get into your show, let’s back up. How did you get into comedy? And The Groundlings?

In high school our teacher taught us “improv,” where we would just go up on the stage and create characters and scenes from nothing, out of the blue. It always felt like magic to me. It was “my thing.” When I learned there was a place in Hollywood where you could do this “for a living” as an adult— I knew that was the place for me.  I put “for a living” in quotes because, much like being a professional mime, you don’t get paid for improv. Unless someone sees you at the theater and hires you for a TV or movie job. So it’s a passion, an art. Without sounding too cheesy.

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{Kristen Wiig + Ariane in one of their sketches at The Groundlings}

You look familiar. Have I seen you on my TV or movie screen?

You may have seen me on the final season of Parenthood. Or on Modern Family, or on the one season wonder Trophy Wife. I usually am cast as math teachers! I even played a math teacher on LOST.

Why did you decide to do a one-woman show? It’s a departure from what you typically see at Groundlings; you’re not playing characters in wigs, you’re up there as yourself.

I decided to do a one woman show because I came across this trunk of my mom’s. My mom died when I was 4 and people didn’t say much about her to me, because it made them so sad. I was told she was “feminine” and loved salads… Wow. I mean, you could say that about almost every woman I know… So, when I found this old trunk, it contained EVERYTHING I could ever have wanted to know about my mom and then some! Diaries, letters, etc. Such personal things like who she lost her virginity with!  I have always loved telling stories about my coming of age… Funny crazy ones, and I saw that I could now parallel MY stories to my mom’s stories.  Although there are a few sad moments, poignant moments, because of the subject matter, I was surprised that the show is 99% laughter. It’s just plain funny, these stories. And people could relate to them, even if they hadn’t lost their mom too.

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What was the writing process like? How long did it take, from starting the project to getting it onstage?

The writing process was HARD! I enlisted the help of a great coach named Kristin Hanggi. She taught me the method of writing down each story you want to tell on 3×5 cards, then piecing them together like a puzzle. She also told me I should and could do this. Sometimes you need to hear that. I also use a TON of photo slides and videos in my show. A picture really IS worth a thousand words. I have photos of the stripper at my bachelorette party (gotta come to the show to hear the story!) and photos of the guy my mom lost her virginity with. Or should I say the much older FOREIGN MAN! Hah Hah. Then it’s all written out with room for improvisation and natural story telling. I absolutely SUCK at memorizing lines. Perhaps that’s why I love improv so much. So, the hardest part of the show for me is remembering what comes next. Although I KNOW these stories, I tend to forget the connecting sentences that are necessary. It’s strange, I am so comfortable doing totally scriptless things on stage at the Groundlings, or anywhere, really. Recently I did an improvised Sondheim style musical show at the Groundlings and even though I had no preparation or no idea what was going to come out of my mouth, that was easier than my solo show. I’m terribly nervous actually! Just thinking about tonight makes my stomach lurch and my heart start to pound. AHHH!

The show is such a beautiful tribute to your mom. As is the fact that you’re such a great mom (for those of you who don’t know Ariane, check out her blog, Tales of a Real Hollywood Mom). Speaking of your blog, what is it like being a “real” working mom in Hollywood, surviving without the help of a nanny, personal trainer, personal chef or seven figure income (to quote your blog)?

What’s it like being a “Real” Hollywood mom? Ahhhh. Sometimes my son comes with me to auditions. When he was around 4, the babysitter didn’t show up and I had to bring him to a commercial audition. Right when we were parking he threw up all the apple juice he had been drinking in the car.  There were no clothing stores nearby, but for a children’s toy store where they sold a couple costumes. So we bought him a “chef” costume and I wiped off the vomit.  I did my audition and at the end he yelled, into the camera, “Ariane Price! You got the JOB!” My agent later called to say I had NOT gotten the part but was my son interested in being an actor because they really liked HIM. Last night I was preparing for two commercial auditions looking for “mom” wardrobe because they were both to play “moms.”  I don’t own or wear the kinds of twinset sweaters the moms wear in commercials even though I AM a mom, so that was a stretch. I was simultaneously working on slides for my solo show and trying to promote my show via social media, which is hard. Because you don’t want to push people to see your work. But you have to because you’re not a celebrity who has someone who does that for you! During all of this I was helping my son with his homework and encouraging him to eat greens while also telling him that it’s ok that he sometimes feels like he doesn’t fit in. And that not fitting in can sometimes be a good thing. I am a real full time hands on mom. If I were working more I’d definitely need a nanny. But I’m not. But perhaps I’m not working more BECAUSE so much of my time is (happily, by the way, I love it) being a hands on mom. I will say my son is VERY supportive of my “craft” and “career.” He came to my most recent Groundlings show because I felt at almost 9 he would enjoy it. And he loved it. The next morning he said, “NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ALWAYS SLEEP IN AFTER YOUR SHOWS! YOU DO A LOT!!!” I was glad he could see me at work. And that I can share that I love what I do. Because that’s inspiring for a child to see, their parents loving what they do. But they also have to see it’s also work and you are also tired.

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{Ariane + her son Roan}

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about being a woman in comedy?

The best piece of advice about being a woman in comedy is “CREATE YOUR OWN STUFF.” 100%. People are not going to just call you up and give you work. You must do it yourself. Create what you love. Then, if the public likes it and you can make a living out of it, great. If not, well you’re still an artist doing what you love. The other advice would be, be yourself. It’s so cliche but we see someone who is super successful and think “I have to be more like her.” But you can only excel when you are being 100% true to yourself!

What advice do you have for people who want to get into comedy?

Do this if you can’t live without doing it.
This is NOT an easy path. Do not do this because you want to be “Famous” or “Rich” because that rarely happens.
Do it if it is your life’s blood.
And… you have to have a VERY thick skin. Just because your great Aunt Ida thinks your jokes are funny around the dinner table does not mean everyone else will. Be prepared to have your ass handed to you on a platter every other day.

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Keep teaching us! What advice do you have for someone who would like to write their own one-person show? Where do you even begin? How do you focus it? And remember all those lines? And not barf when you realize you’re about to be alone on stage for 45-60 minutes?

First ask yourself why do I want to do my own one person show? For me it was like I was pregnant with an idea of a story and it had to be birthed. Again, corny. But it’s the truth. I couldn’t NOT share this story. I have heard from a lot of people “I have to write a book about this” or “I gotta do a show about this.” But the actual DOING it is a lot harder than the idea. So first ask yourself if you have a story that NEEDS to be birthed from you. Because it will be as painful as labor. As for the feeling like you will barf before you go on stage… my Lord, for my solo show I get so nervous I can barely function. I keep having to tell myself “This is FUN, you WANT TO DO THIS, this was a CHOICE! Have fun and go tell your story that is all it is.” Then pick a few
supportive friends in the audience and just do the show for them. I actually just told my friend how nervous I was for my show and she said, “I’ll be there and if anything happens I’ll come up there and support you!” That made e feel less alone.  It really is very scary. And just tonight another friend wrote me this:

“Ari – you’ve got this! Embrace the chaos and use it to fuel the learning and prepping. You will be amazing. This is your story – no one else can tell it, bravery comes from sharing this. There is 1% of people that would be brave enough to do it. 0.05% good enough to pull it off – YOU ARE IN THAT 0.05%!! Theatre takes enormous courage and commitment, people don’t realize how much time goes into it.”

I don’t think people realize how much does go into it. Instead I get asked, “Why aren’t you on a TV show?” That’s people’s litmus test for if you’re an actor or not. I may not be on TV every day but I am an actor to the core.

My show runs an hour and 20 minutes. And I do worry that I will have to go to the bathroom during it. But the adrenaline sort of helps with that. Haha.

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Say I’m your average Angeleno who isn’t already obsessed with you. Why should I see your show?

You should see my show because you will laugh your ass off. I can pretty much guarantee this. Like on and off for an hour straight.That’s not me saying I’m funny. It’s me saying that these awkward photos of me as a gawky teenager and the stories that go with them are embarrassing as HELL and funny. I mean, there’s a story about waxing my husband’s testicles. Come on. You will also get to see a real story teller in a real theater telling real life experiences. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies and TV and reality TV! But there’s something about that LIVE theater experience. It’s special.

It is special, and I loved the show. Congratulations and break legs tonight, Ariane!! Thanks so much for chatting with me. And for the rest of you – do yourself a favor and catch There Will Be Blood at The Groundlings Theatre tonight, Monday May 11 @ 8pm!