We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Schlissel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, how do you define success?
I try to define success as getting better each and every time. If a project is better than the last one, stronger in some way, then I feel like I am succeeding. For instance, if I am putting on an improv festival than I am trying to make it bigger, better, stronger, and more exciting than the previous year. And if it is, even if say the attendance isn’t as high, then I still feel like a success. Same deal with writing a script or performing an improv show. If I feel deep down that I am doing my best and pushing myself to make a project better, then the external stuff doesn’t matter as much. I find that focusing on growth and improvement, rather than external stuff, helps me focus on getting better and having a healthy idea of success. It just feels better too. I am able to keep my head up high and move on to the next project.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think what I am most proud of is the fact that I didn’t give in to the fear. I didn’t give in to the doubt. There were many times where I felt like I wasn’t going to be a successful Screenwriter and I am so glad that I didn’t listen to those feelings of doubt because now I am starting to see real movement in my career. There were many times where I thought the idea of an improv festival would be seen as stupid or people wouldn’t be interested and I am so glad that I didn’t listen to those feelings of the doubt either. I’ve had so much fun putting on comedy festivals and I am certain that I will continue to do so. I would say the greatest challenge to any career, especially one in the arts, is dealing with nonstop, everpresent, overpowering Doubt. We must break through doubt. Crush it and grind it into a fine dust. It’s the only way to go forward. It’s tough but totally doable. If the world must know anything about me it’s that I love my two fat kitties. Also, that my main goal in anything is to get the audience excited. And sometimes I am in the dark about how to do that but I have found that if you keep pushing forward, past the doubt, you can usually end up creating something really exciting.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most of my favorite spots are food spots and I have no shame about it. I love taking out-of-towners to some great LA spots. First and foremost, there is Rutts Hawaiin Cafe in Culver City — a great spot for breakfast. I would show them all the typical hotspots like Venice for the beach and beach tacos, Downtown for the cool bars and restaurants, Amoeba for some great records (RIP), Westside Comedy Theater and Second City Hollywood for a live show, I wish I could say I would take them to Swingers for some great flapjacks but that is another RIP, and then I would end up at a Hookah bar somewhere. There’s a bunch in the valley. LA is dope.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I owe a lot to the great improv community of Los Angeles. It’s filled with wonderful comedy goofballs. They have shown me, time and time again, that there is a great hunger for live comedy. I especially am thankful to great comedy venues like Westside Comedy Theater, ACME Comedy Theater, and Second City Hollywood. They helped me make those essential connections, experience a fun community, and taught me that you can really do anything you want if you just push for it and say Yes.
Other: Animal Style Improv Festival: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalStyleImprov/?view_public_for=1423518874459526 My Screenwriting Site: https://www.schlissscreenwriting.com/
Photography: Zach Arch