CJ Hunt is a writer and performer living in New Orleans who co-founded The New Movement, a local comedy theater (opening a shiny new space at 2706 St. Claude later this month). He travels the country performing sketch comedy with the group Stupid Time Machine and he is one half of Cookie Pig Productions, the studio behind the web series Sunken City and a brand new series debuting this fall. Hunt is also creator of the #CharacterADay Series, a project of solo comedy videos that, each depicting a different fictional character. Every Tuesday for the next month, we will feature a #CharacterADay video, as well as an accompanying guest blog from Hunt.
JUST START; TELL EVERYONE
In February of 2013, I took my iPhone, crammed into a messy closet and committed to filming myself perform one new character every day for a month, posting each online. I called this the #CharacterADay Project. I enjoyed it so much that I launched a second season of the project in August 2014.
I was motivated by a need to get better at performing comedic characters. Earlier that winter, at the request of a manager, I had been given the rare opportunity to submit an audition tape to Saturday Night Live. Having never imagined that my “shot” would come so early, I was unprepared for the three original characters and impressions the tape required. Ultimately, what I submitted wasn’t even good enough for the manager to pass on. And so, I was filled with a sense of urgency: be ready next time.
The hardest part of any project is starting. “I’ll wait until I feel more prepared,” you tell yourself. “This isn’t a good week to start.” But the truth is: there is no good week to start. You will never feel ready.
Today’s video, “Unimpressed Damien,” is the first video in my second season of #CharacterADay. I had been putting the project off for months. I had a list of things that I absolutely required in order to start the project — a fancy animated title sequence, a new website, a pretty backdrop, professional lighting, a camera that I knew how to use. The video I shot uses none of these assets. The shot is lit with two floor lamps and the video is out of focus because I hadn’t yet learned how to use my camera. Turns out, all I needed was myself and a camera.
There is a project, dear reader, that you have been putting off. Maybe it’s a screenplay or a podcast or a new workout routine. You have a list of things that you believe you need before you can get started. I say, SCREW THAT LIST! Screw it, I say! The number of things that you actually need is surprisingly small; everything else on your list is stuff added to make you feel less scared about failing. Get started today and be as public as you can about your project. Even if your project is a blog read only by your aunt and that girl you went to elementary school with. Even if your project is just uploading a post-workout picture of yourself on Facebook every day. There is something about making a promise to an online audience every day that makes you actually follow through.
Jonathan Mann, the man who inspired my project, is a musician who has created a song-a-day and posted them to YouTube for the past five years. This moving video he made commemorating his 2000th song ends with this simple reminder to creators: “Make something every day. Just start. I believe in you.” Unimpressed Damien, like the first character I ever filmed, is ok. Just ok. But that’s the point: you don’t have to be great yet. Just start.