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Meet Chrissy Bruzek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chrissy Bruzek.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Third grade. A class play. Something called, “The Family Road Trip” or a similar generic title. I was cast as the mom of the family at eight years old. OKAY??! I refused to learn my lines so I faked a stomach ache that got me out of rehearsal. The night before the performance, I recorded my lines on a tape recorder, put my headphones on, and fell asleep listening to my lines thinking I’d magically remember them all when I woke up in the morning. And guess what?? That’s right! I did not remember them!! The play was a disaster. My teacher fed me lines from the side of the stage. I was so embarrassed that I never wanted anything to do with acting ever again.
Fast forward through years of being a comedy nerd, memorizing the Spartan cheerleader cheers from SNL, taping stand up specials on TV from Comedy Central, liking comedians/comedy that most of my friends hated (yeah, I’ve been called a hipster and I AM FINE WITH IT), I stumbled upon a drop-in improv class at Second City Chicago in 2010 where EVERYTHING FUCKING CHANGED. I immediately signed up for improv classes and was hooked. I found my people. I found my home. I found what I hadn’t known I’d been missing; a place to be weird. A place for my energy and perspective on the world to thrive. An outlet for all the weird thoughts, sounds, and words that come out of my brain/mouth/butt!!!! And then, sometimes people like it?? Or might even laugh?? I’m fortunate that I had an incredibly encouraging Mom, (Hi, Ma! I love you, Donna!!! Lots of times I call my mom by her first name, Donna!!) who supported my two brothers and I in all our decisions, encouraged us to try everything and that if you didn’t like it, you could try something else. My favorite thing in the world is making my mom laugh. Not just a chuckle, but it’s the laugh where we’re both doubled down with laughter until we can’t breathe. It’s usually because I said something so dumb or ridiculous and we can no longer formulate words. I always loved making people smile and laugh but my mom is definitely my target audience. Donna desperately tried to get me to do musicals and theatre as a kid but as a stubborn, independent gal who marched to the beat of her own cannoli, I had to wait until I decided when the time was right. So, 20-some years after that fateful third-grade play, the time was finally right.
After graduating from the Second City Chicago improv and music conservatories, completing the iO Chicago improv program, performing at The Annoyance and every single bar/venue in Chicago, countless indie improv teams, sketch comedy teams, musical improv teams, musical comedy teams, and doing the damn thang, I was like, OKAY BYE, I’M GOING TO LOS ANGELES. This was a huge crazy scary decision because I grew up in the Chicago suburbs; my whole family was there, my friends, my network, my roots, my home. But I felt like I had reached a plateau in my comedy and my career and was ready for the next step.
When I visited Los Angeles in spring 2017, I cried on the balcony of my Airbnb because I hadn’t experienced something that felt so right in so long, NOT EVEN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS, YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, JON HAMM, I WAS NEVER IN LOVE WITH YOU. Oh, and also, I had a full time 9-5 corporate job in advertising for seven and a half years at the same time all this comedy stuff was going on. I worked on really tiny, small clients like McDonald’s, Samsung, Marshalls, you know, stuff you’ve never heard of. I would work a full day as a producer, then go to rehearsal, show, class, etc. and still try to do laundry and have a social life and see my family and friends and I didn’t sleep for a million years!
KA-BLAMMO!!! I moved to Los Angeles, California. It’s in Summer 2017. I was still working at an advertising agency working on Acura, Patron, and California Avocados but doing a lot of shows with my musical comedy songs, which I got really into in Chicago, then meeting people, networking, writing more comedy songs, singing with my guitar, etc. I took sketch writing classes at the Pack Theater in Hollywood because I heard good things. I found another group of people who I vibed with and felt like I tapped into another part of my brain that I could fucking GET after. I love learning. I’ve always been a good student and absorb everything, so while I’m a creative through and through, I’m also hyper-organized, thrive on structure, a people pleaser, perfectionist, etc. But those sketch classes, and subsequently getting on a house sketch comedy team at The Pack, has been a fruitful way to constantly churn out ideas and try out material with the support of the people at the theater. The Pack is also great because lots of shows are open submission, meaning anyone inside and outside the theater can submit, so you’re not restricted to being on a house team to get your stuff seen or get stage time.
Wow, then what did I do? Surprise! After a year and a half producing at the L.A. advertising agency, I left a stable corporate job with benefits, insurance, and a salary so I could focus on comedy. What does ‘focusing on comedy’ mean?? For me, it means being able to go on auditions, do shoots during the day, have more time in my day that doesn’t involve staying late at a job or being stuck in traffic for three days trying to get home, having more time to do the creative things I moved to Los Angeles to pursue. I have no money but I’m so much happier. I have different kinds of stressors than at a full-time job but I would rather be stressed about something I care about.
I’m grateful for being in advertising for eight years because it was a path that helped me get to Los Angeles. I still produce comedy shorts/videos for friends and I freelance produce but don’t think I could ever go back to a full-time staff job in advertising. I didn’t quit because I’m on a sitcom on NBC or got some big feature film gig; I want to get there. It’s hard not to want everything to happen right away and then beat yourself up over it. I quit because I knew if I didn’t, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I wanted to at least give this thing a shot. I constantly question every single thing I’m doing but ultimately have an optimistic outlook on life. I know that if something doesn’t work out, I’m allowed to be sad about it but then have to move on and something great will come along to replace it. I want to surround myself with people who have similar outlooks and be inspired by those around me.
There’s a quote I see online sometimes that goes like, “You didn’t expect to be here a year ago.” I think about that a lot. I never imagined I’d actually move to LA. Never thought I’d quit my full-time job out here. Never thought I’d get to do a bunch of fun shoots and voiceover spots and see a bunch of my comedy idols let alone SPEAK to them. But all this shit is COOL and I’m happy to be here, going after something I love and ultimately, petting and befriending as many dogs as I can.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My brain gets in the way of everything. I am my biggest enemy. I can talk myself out of doing something so quickly it’s like I never even had the thought in the first place. I’ve learned over the past few years, especially after moving to LA, that if I’m not the one creating something or writing that song or writing that sketch, that no one else will. It’s so difficult to tell myself that every day, and most days, I don’t. I don’t build myself up. I don’t even give myself the chance and think someone else has already done it and done it better. I’ve had anxiety since junior high/high school, and depression and OCD, and lots of people probably don’t know about it because it’s not something I broadcast. I’m from the Midwest, where we’re taught to reallllly push that shit down deep. So it’s taken me a while to get comfortable talking about it. But it’s comforting to connect with people who go through something similar and we can hold each other up. Believe me, I’ve wanted to quit everything so many times and move away and live on a farm or something and have eight dogs, but I know I would not be fulfilled the way I wanted. I also struggle with lots of MEN trying to keep me down or treat me like I’m less than them, you know, general patriarchal bullshit, and I’ve been fighting against that my entire fucking life. I’ve always felt like I need to prove myself and as I’ve gotten older, while I’m still fighting the good fight, I realize that my talent and outlook will rise above a lot of the assholes out there, I MEAN, HOPEFULLY!!! IN AN IDEAL WORLD!!

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from the competition?
As a comedian, I’m constantly writing, performing, and ideating. I write and perform sketch comedy, my own musical comedy songs, and shoot and edit videos. I’ve also been writing personalized songs for my friends using GarageBand. Each one-minute song is written specifically about one person and their personality inspires what musical genre I use for their song. It’s been super fun and a way to challenge myself with songwriting while also giving something really special to a friend.
This past June I was a camp counselor and band coach for the Rock ‘n Roll Girls Camp LA and it was life changing. This camp is a “social justice non-profit dedicated to empowering girls through music” (their mission statement!). It’s a safe space where girls can be themselves in a world that doesn’t always lift them up. Girls ages 8-18 form a band, write an original song, and perform it at a showcase at the end of the week. It’s about learning your instrument but also about empowerment, lifting each other up, letting yourself be happy, letting yourself be sad, and learning how to work as a group. The people who run that camp are literal angels of rock and it really helped kick start a lot of my current projects. I watched shy girls transform into rock and roll badasses in only ONE WEEK. The confidence we instilled in the kids transferred onto me and WOW ISN’T IT CRAZY HOW THAT WORKS?? Definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in LA so far.
I’m also proud knowing there’s one thing in my life that I’m sure of; comedy. I’m unsure of so many other aspects of life and the unknown and ALSO ISN’T OUTER SPACE SCARY?!?!?! But making people laugh is the most comforting thing in the world to me. Also I make myself laugh at lot and don’t take myself too seriously so I think that helps. Comedy is where I feel most like myself and like I can try anything, be anything and anyone, and if I fail, I can always always always try again.
I think my overall positivity, optimism, and work ethic sets me apart from a lot of people. If you’re not working hard towards something you care about and trying, then what’s the point? Don’t get me wrong, I have a thousand projects I haven’t followed through on but whatever project/sketch/song I’m working on is not going to be half-assed. You put your whole self into something and people notice.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I struggled answering this question, started and stopped at least four times, because I realize I discount my achievements a lot. I downplay them because I don’t want to look like I’m bragging or full of myself. But that’s dumb!! I should be proud of all that I’m doing and working on and achieving. It’s hard to continually tell myself that because I constantly compare myself to other people or get down on myself for not being where I want to be in my career, and it’s hard not to with the way social media is. It’s definitely something I’m working on; to be appreciative of where I am in my life, because nobody’s perfect, except Beyonce.
I don’t think there’s one singular moment that I look back on in triumph because there are so many things in my career that led me to where I am now; I’m grateful for each one, good or bad. The moments that matter to me the most are the friendships I’ve made over the years. If I bond with someone, I’m yours for life, basically like a golden retriever. Surrounding yourself with people you trust, who make you snort laugh, who you can bounce ideas off, who you can turn to when you’re down or when you want to do impromptu karaoke on a Tuesday night at 11PM; those are the people I am most fond of. Oh, and also almost running over Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek) with my car in Silver Lake as he was crossing the street. Sorry, Dan!!!!!

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Image Credit:
Jasper Sams, Jon Wes, Deidhra Fahey, Mike Rose, Suzee Dunn

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