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best of 2015

I do a lot in a year. I eat a lot of food, drink a lot of milkshakes, and generally find enjoyable ways to spend my  525,600 minutes. Here are the best of those moments. (See previous bestofs here.)

Best Achievement – Visiting 47 States

OK, technically this achievement was not on the goals list at the beginning of the year… but I think the fact that I visited (and spoke or performed in) 47 states is quite impressive. And when you add West Virginia, North Carolina, and Hawaii which I’ll get to by February 11, I’ll have hit all 50 states in a 12 month time period.

Runner-Up: 107 speaking / coaching / training engagements

Best Personal Development – Writing More Stories

A by-product of my nomadic travels (see below) has been that I’ve been more conscious of the stories happening in my life. By searching for “story worthy” moments, it’s helped me better appreciate the experiences I’ve had, whether they be the not-at-all kidnapping of Italy or a Walmart Parking Lot in Maine.

Runner-Up: Allowing myself to relax

Best Business Decision – Going to the National Speakers Association Conference

The NSA Conference in 2015 was a great event for me. Not only did I present to fellow speakers and find success, I also met with a bureau (thanks to an event I did at P&G) that has started to represent me. I also met some pretty awesome people.

Runner-Up: Going Nomadic

Best Personal Decision – Going Nomadic

Since March 1, 2015, I’ve been a corporate nomad. I’ve lived out of two bags and have traveled to 47 states and 7 countries. While I’ve certainly missed having a homebase, the experiences of traveling have far outweighed any challenges of being on the road. Having an awesome friends in so many places doesn’t hurt either.

Runner-Up: Staying in Touch

Best Speaking Engagement – AIN 2015

I spoke at a lot of events in 2015 and enjoyed every single one of them. However none were as enjoyable as presenting to my fellow applied improviser in the beautiful setting of the AIN Conference 2015. I did two sessions, and based on the feedback, they both went very well. You can also now see my talk in improvising conversations online.

Runners-Up: Procter & Gamble, OSU Young Alumni, General Assembly

Best Personal Performance – Throckmorton

Thanks to a great connection, I was able to perform in the 200+ seat Throckmorton Theater in the Bay Area. It was a great lineup of performers and I got to do a mix of stand-up and a cliche bit I’ve been working for over a year on. Based on the audience reaction, during and after, it was well received.

Runner-Up: ComedySportz in New York, San Antonio, Seattle, Richmond, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Quad Cities, Provo, Twin Cities, Detroit, Los Angeles, Portland, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Houston.

Best Travel – 17 State Road Trip 

A year of being a Nomad is likely to lead to some incredible journeys. From my awesome adventures in Norway to great moments in Ohio, I had a phenomenal year of travel. But my favorite part of the journey was the 17 State Road Trip I went on with my brother. It started with my ComedySportz family in Illinois and ended with my real family in Ohio, and I visited 17 states along the way.

Runners-Up: Norway, Grand Canyon, Multiple New York Trips

Best New Restaurant – Sandy’s Donuts

According to Foursquare, I checked into 830 places in 2015, a majority of them restaurants. I’ve had some interesting concoctions in some interesting locations, but the one I keep telling people about is the Smores donut I had from Sandy’s Donuts in Fargo, North Dakota.

Runner-Up: Dognvill Burger, Plan Check

Best New Food – Chicken Alfredo Burrito

Some might see Chicken Alfredo pasta wrapped in a burrito with added cheese and think “Why?” The folks at La Parilla think, “Why not?” So I tried it. And no it wasn’t the most amazing thing that I ate the entire year, it was definitely the most indulgent from an American standpoint. And it was delicious.

Runner-Up: Bunny Bites

Best Live Show – ComedySportz World Championship 2015

Can the best live show I saw be one that I was in? Well it is. The ComedySportz World Championship 2015 versus Quad Cities was such an incredibly fun match to play in, and it went down to the wire for the winning team (Quad Cities). It was great to participate in but even better to watch.

Runner-Up: Honey at SF Improv Festival

Best Movie (I Saw) – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Were there things that could be improved? Yes. Did it have some similarities to A New Hope? Yes. Was it the movie I was most excited to see and thoroughly entertained in the entire time? Yes.

Runner-Up: Straight Outta Compton

Best TV Show (I Watched) – Daredevil 

Since I didn’t really read much last year, I decided to add a type of media I did consume a lot: TV. And not in the traditional sense, but more in the Netflix and binge variety. For me, my favorite show of the year was Daredevil. It’s superhero meets grungy detective show which is a great combo for me.

Runner-Up: Archer

Best Tweet – Efficiency

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2015, here’s my favorite of the year:

Efficiency should be a one syllable word.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2015. See you next year!

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best of 2014

With approximately 8700 hours in a year to do things, I like checking back on how I spent some of those hours. Here are some of my favorites from 2014. You can also check out past years’ bestofs.

Best Achievement – 100 87 Speaking Engagements

For the second year, one of my primary goals for the year was to do 100 engagements for Humor That Works. I only hit 87, but I’m still happy with the results considering the engagements included some awesome events (see more below).

Runner-Up: 2 million pageviews.

Best Personal Development – Start Being More Mindful

One of my 5 daily habits this year was 5 minutes of “meditation” or just counting my breaths. I started noticing that, in an environment where you can always have external simulation of some sort (namely from a cellphone), I had lost the ability to just do nothing but think / take in the surroundings. While I’m still pretty bad at the habit, just trying it was a great start.

Runner-Up: Getting more honest in my tracking.

Best Business Decision – Apply to Facilitator Role

I received an email via LinkedIn about a group looking for an experienced facilitator. I decided to apply for the role since it was a limited time commitment and I ended up getting it, which ultimately led to me working with a great organization doing events in Seattle and Madrid.

Runner-Up: Perform 30 times in August.

Best Personal Decision – Go to the Philippines 

While technically I headed to Manila for a speaking engagement, it was very much a personal decision as well, particularly to stay for a week+ and with a friend. It was a great overall experience and my first time visiting Asia which led to a lot of learnings, fun, and only slightly embarrassing attempts at learning some of the language.

Runner-Up: Visit LA for Nate’s Birthday

Best Speaking Engagement – TEDxOhioStateUniversity 

There were a number of great events this past year, including some with ChangeLabs, a full day with Nationwide, PMI, and FunnyBizz. But the most important event for me was the TEDx talk I gave on humor at work. It was a blast to do, was well-received, and has now racked up 25,000+ views online.

Runners-Up: ChangeLabs, Nationwide, PMI, FunnyBizz

Best Personal Performance – Comedians Coming Home 

My very last show of the year was my favorite for a few different reasons: 1) It was in Cincinnati in front of some friends and family, 2) The material was well received, and 3) It ended with an interview with Rajiv that included a number of puns.

Runner-Up: The 30+ Shows in August

Best Travel – Madrid 

I took 36 trips in 2014, with 115 days on the road and 94 nights away from NYC. I saw: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Vincennes, Columbus, LA, Boston, Milwaukee, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Providence, DC, Spain, Philippines, Scotland, England, Copenhagen. I enjoyed all of these trips but Madrid was probably my favorite given the event I did, the food I ate, and the best Gin & Tonic I’ve ever had.

Runners-Up: LA, Manila, Copenhagen

Best New Restaurant – Good Stuff Eatery 

I enjoyed a number of great restaurants throughout the year but my favorite was Good Stuff Eatery in DC as it included my favorite combo of foods: burgers + fries + shakes.

Runner-Up: Mandy & Joe’s Delicatessen, Gray’s Ice Cream

Best New Food – Spanish G&T 

It’s not technically a food and it’s rather bizarre that I’d choose an alcoholic drink, but the Gin & Tonic I had in Madrid was the best I’ve ever had and led me to do a lot of research on the history of G&Ts.

Runner-Up: Cabinet (aka Milkshake)

Best Live Show – No Man’s Land 

I enjoyed watching my buddy Rajiv in his one man show about love / relationships. It made me laugh, smile, and want to do a one man show of my own…

Runner-Up: Violet

Best Movie (I Saw) – Guardians of the Galaxy 

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the Marvel movies. They have action, great lines, and superheroes. Guardians of the Galaxy with Chris Pratt was the most entertaining movie I saw all year with good performances, humorous writing, and a nice soundtrack.

Runner-Up: Dr. Strangelove

Best Book (I Read) – Fun Home 

An incredibly well done autobiography done in the style of a graphic novel. It was very honest and revealing, more so than any book I’ve read in recent years.

Runner-Up: Catch-22

Best Tweet – Math Perspective 

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2014, here’s my top pick:

Life is about perspective. They aren’t math problems, they are math opportunities.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2014. See you next year!

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best of 2013

365 days is a lot of time to do a lot of things. Here are some of my favorites from 2013.

Best Achievement – 100 73 Speaking Engagements

One of my biggest goals for the year was to do 100 engagements for Humor That Works. While I only hit 73, I still think it was my biggest accomplishment. More than 2500 people got to hear the things I train on and even if just a small percent of those people are better because of it, it was a good year.

Runner-Up: Publish an App.

Best Personal Development – OKRs

Although this is more recent, one of the best videos I watched on productivity this year was how Google sets goals. The idea of creating stretch goals and still being satisfied with .7 or .8 has helped me frame my thinking for both goal setting and success.

Runner-Up: Broccoli isn’t that disgusting.

Best Business Decision – Go to Norway

Early on in 2013 I had a chance to go to Norway for a speaking engagement plus some stand-up. Not only did I learn that what I teach about humor in the workplace is relevant in other countries, I learned that I can make people laugh even if English isn’t their first language.

Runners-Up: Publish an App, Present at GA.

Best Personal Decision – Go to Norway

The trip to Norway was both a professional and personal decision. Personally it reminded me of the wonders of international travel and how limited I am when I can’t use English. I also tried reindeer burger.

Runner-Up: Convince Pat to make Banana Pudding.

Best Speaking Engagement – CSz Talk

There were way too many engagements this year that I thoroughly enjoyed. It I had to pick one (and I do because I’m making me), I would choose my CSz Talk on Efficiency vs Effectiveness. It was my first TED-style talk and balanced humor and message.

Runners-Up: LSU, GA, OSU, WSJ, WNO, P&G, TGP

Best Personal Performance – Gilda Club Event

This was one of the hardest “bests” to choose as I had so much fun in the 100+ shows I did this past year. But the Gilda Club event takes the cake for a few reasons: 1) It was for a good cause. 2) It was in front of 1,200 people. 3) I performed with Rachel Dratch.

Runners-Up: Stand Up Bergen, Mint Condition Last Show

Best Travel – Norway

I was traveling for more than 100 days in 2013, with trips to: Baton Rouge, Norway, Cincinnati (x6), Napa, San Francisco, Columbus (x2), Tyrone (x3), Yulan, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Westhampton, Boston (x4), Norwalk (x2), and Epsom. But it should be no surprise (based on the Best Business and Best Personal Decisions) that my favorite was Norway. A very very close second was Westhampton, followed by all the other great places.

Runner-Up: All the other great trips.

Best New Restaurant – Amy Ruths

It was a good year for fried chicken as I tried both Amy Ruth’s and Pies N Thighs this year. Though both were amazing, it has to go to Amy Ruth’s because their chicken and waffles is incredible.

Runners-Up: Pies N Thighs, Gott’s Roadside, What’s Up Dog?

Best New Food – Pancake Snack

One of the best things about Norway was their midday snack of a fresh pancake and jam. I don’t know what they call it but I call it delicious.

Runner-Up: Banana Pudding, Max Brenner Hot Chocolate.

Best Live Show – Eddie Izzard Workshop

I didn’t see as many live shows this year as I did last year, but I hit quite a variety. While Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike was funny, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark was interesting, and Punderdome is exclusively puns, my favorite was seeing Eddie Izzard workshop material for his new tour.

Runners-Up: Punderdome, Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike, Big Dumb Music Festival.

Best Movie (I Saw) – The World’s End

Sadly I missed the Best Picture Movie Marathon so I was limited on what I saw, but I’d say The Worlds End was my favorite. Also a special shot out to Last of Us; it’s a videogame but the story is so good that if it were a movie, it would easily be the best I saw this year.

Runners-Up: Star Trek Into Darkness, Last of Us.

Best TV Series (I Saw)  Breaking Bad

I’ve watched some great series this year, including Sherlock and Archer (but they aren’t eligible for Best Series because they aren’t complete yet). I really enjoyed Luther but I think the last season of Breaking Bad makes it a great watch all the way through.

Runner-Up: Luther.

Best Book (I Read) – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I’m nowhere close to an avid reader, having only read Count of Monte CristoThe Sport of BusinessThe Challenger SaleLead with a StoryThe Sea-Gull, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Of all of those, Hitchhikers was my favorite because of it made me laugh out loud multiple times.

Runner-Up: Count of Monte Cristo.

Best Tweet – Good at PowerPoint?

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2013, here’s my top pick:

I thought I could sit on a bench. Some guy told me I couldn’t. I stood, corrected.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2013. See you next year!

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best of 2012

2012 was a great year. Here are the Best of the Best moments for me. (See previous Best Ofs years.)

Best Achievement – Focus on Humor That Works Full-time

Based on my goals, I had a pretty productive year, completing 8 of the 10 things I set out to do. But the number one achievement was something I had thought about for a few years. In 2012, I finally decided to leave my job at P&G to focus on Humor That Works full-time. It’s only been 6 months, but I love what I’m doing and am excited to take my business to new heights in 2013.

Runner-Up: Publish a(nother) Book

Best Personal Development – Create / Consume

Thanks to Matt Shafeek, I decided to try the create / consume challenge and started tracking how I was spending my time. The goal was to spend more time creating (writing, researching, performing) than consuming (playing games, watching TV, browsing the Internet). As a result, I’ve not only been able to amp up my productivity, I’ve also been able to see exactly “where” my time goes.

Runner-Up: How to enjoy eating baked potatoes with skin on them

Best Business Decision – Focus on Humor That Works Full-Time

I know it’s repetitive from above, but it really was the best business decision I made all year. Publishing my book on humor in the workplace was a very close second.

Runners-Up: Publish a book, Attend AATH, Humor Project, TEDxEast, AIN Conferences

Best Personal Decision – Visit Cincinnati

At the time, it was a no-brainer, but it was a decision to return to Cincinnati when my dad had a stroke. We’re incredibly fortunate that he’s been able to bounce back quite well, but it was important we were all home as a family as we were still learning what was going on and getting through those initial days.

Runner-Up: Play Halo 4 (yes this seems silly but it was important for a few reasons)

Best Speaking Engagement – AIN Conference 2012

I was fortunate to deliver a number of talks and trainings this past year to a wide variety of clients, covering some great topics, including Strategic Disengagement, Productivity, and Stand-Up Comedy. My favorite engagement was probably my 2 AIN talks as I enjoyed the subject matter (Improvising the 5 Steps of Problem Solving and Defining Improvisation) and loved the audience (fellow passionate applied improvisers).

Runner-Up: Presentations at the Humor Project Conference

Best Personal Performance – Corporate IT Stand-Up

With 133 performances this past year, I was fortunate to partake in some great shows (and some not so great ones). My favorite was a corporate stand-up show I did for a group of IT managers–not only was it just me on stage (which is always a little intimidating), but it was for IT geeks like myself where I can get away doing jokes about wireless adapters and math.

Runners-Up: A number of Mint Condition shows, All of Silver Fox’s July Shows, CSz Championship, 8th Floor Alumni Show

Best Travel – San Francisco / Chicago

I traveled quite a bit in 2012, including: Pensacola / Gulf Shores, Baton Rouge (2x), Quad Cities, Chicago (4x), Atlanta, Columbus (2x), Silver Bay (NY), Dallas, Louisville (OH), San Francisco, Richmond, and Cincinnati (5x). While I enjoyed all of those trips, I have to go with the extended trip of San Francisco (for AIN) and Chicago (for a radio interview and general hang-out) as my favorite.

Runner-Up: All the other great trips.

Best New Restaurant – Kumas

I went to a number of new restaurants this year, but my favorite was probably Kumas (in Chicago). They make a delicious burger with some solid fries. It’s a bit of trek to get to, but it’s certainly worth it once you’re there.

Runners-Up: Veselka, Stand4, Cincy Steak & Lemonade

Best New Food – Womlette

I had a few “new” foods for me this year, but the best was most recent with a “Womlette” which is a waffle covered by an omlette. It’s at the Comfort Diner (walking distance from my apartment) and I never knew it existed. I know it exists now and it is delicious.

Runner-Up: Rice-Kripsies-Treat-covered ice cream cone

Best Live Show – The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler

I saw a decent number of live shows in 2012, mostly improv and sketch, but also some theater and plays. While I enjoyed such shows as Ye Elizabeths, Jersey Boys, Madama Butterfly, and a good number of great improv/sketch shows including the hilarious One Nation Under 1%, the winner for me this year was EPBB’s The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. It was well-acted, well-written, and performed in an incredibly intimate setting.

Runner-Up: One Nation Under 1%

Best Movie (I Saw) – Django

I saw a decent number of movies in 2012 including new releases like The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Argo, Skyfall, and Jack Reacher; the Best Picture nominees of 2012 (The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Moneyball, War Horse, and The Tree of Life); and a few “new-to-me” films like The Big Lebowski, Footloose, and Rob Roy. The best film for me was also the most recent: Django. It’s not for the faint of heart (there’s violence, adult language, and more), but it is a great tale that mixes comedy, action, and drama together.

Runners-Up: Argo, Skyfall, The Avengers, Hugo

Best Book (I Read) – I Am America and So Can You

I didn’t read a ton this past year, but I did read some good books, including The $100 Startup, Ant Farm, Habibi, The Sales Bible, and Value Based Fees. But the best book I read was I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert. I’ve never laughed out loud while reading a book as often as I did with that one.

Runners-Up: The $100 Startup, Habibi

Best Tweet – Good at PowerPoint?

I know it’s a bit weird to have your own favorites of what you create, but that doesn’t stop me. Below is my favorite of all my tweets from 2012 (You can read 24 other favorites in my 2012 Review: 25 Best Tweets).

“How good are you with PowerPoint?”
“I Excel at it.”
“Was that a Microsoft Office pun?”
“Word.”

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2012. Here’s to a 2013 that’s able to top this list.

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best of 2010

Here it is, the much anticipated “Drew’s Best of 2010.”  If you’re super excited about my best of (or bored with everything else), you can check out previous best ofs.

Best Achievement – Perform Improv 53 Times

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, I gave myself 10 goals at the beginning of the year to accomplish.  2010 was no different.  This year, I successfully completed 6 of my 10 goals, which isn’t even a passing score, but is a lot better than if I didn’t set any goals.

My best achievement of the year was performing 77 times.  Not only did it greatly exceed my goal,  it also helped me grow a ton as a performer.  Thanks to a lot of great teachers and far too much analysis, I was able to blow past some of the barriers in my head and start performing more emotional, interesting and engaging characters.  Thanks to everyone who attended one or many of the 77 shows, hopefully you enjoyed it or them.

Personal Development – Daily 3 Challenge

Anyone who’s followed my goals in the past, or has had to share a hotel room with me, knows I love the snooze button.  I’ve tried a number of different things to break this cursed habit, but the only thing that has consistently kept me from hitting snooze was instituting a challenge with Pat.

Since Pat and I started the daily 3 challenge (not hit snooze, write for 1 hour and exercise) 73 days ago, I’ve only hit snooze 16 times.  Not perfect but far better than how I was doing for most of the year.

Best Business Decision – Go to LA for Speaking Conference

Humor That Works has seen quite a transformation this year and I’ve had a number of great opportunities to share the power of humor with some great groups.

However the decision that has had the biggest impact (if only mentally so far) was attending a speaking conference in LA. Not only did the trip give me 5 consecutive days to think about my business, it also helped me make some decisions on the direction I want to go.  And, perhaps most importantly, it gave me a sense of validation as to what I am doing and how it is something people are looking for.

Best Personal Decision – Move to Midtown East

Though I technically made the decision to move in 2009, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was moving to until 2010.  I first looked in Chelsea to be close to the improv theaters, but ultimately ended up in a great apartment in Midtown East (almost entirely thanks to Luke).

Though I’ve definitely had challenges in the apartment (no stove for the first month, bad windows for 3 months, a brief issue with heat), it’s proved to be a great place to stay.  It has a second bedroom for the vagrants that stay with me, has enough space for all of my crap plus some, affords me the opportunity to walk to work and is located such that I can almost always stop at home in between career #1 (work) and career #2 (comedy).

Best Travel – Geneva/Paris/Ediburgh/London

I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in 2010. I managed to spend some time back home in Cincinnati, in my second home of Columbus, had two trips to LA, a weekend in San Francisco that included some time in San Jose, five days in Las Vegas, three days in Mexico City, an overnight stay in Boston, a weekend wedding in Cape Cod, two trips to Chicago, and started the year in New Orleans / Baton Rouge. But of all the places I went, the most unique were the places I hit in Western Europe.

My first time in Europe (and incidentally the first of any of my immediate family members) started as a business trip in Geneva. I decided to make the most of the flight across the Atlantic and extended my stay long enough to see Paris (8 hours), Edinburgh (2 days) and London (1.5 days). I had the chance to see some historic landmarks, got to see a great friend and experience a traditional Scottish ceilidh, and learned a ton about myself (most notably my lack of appreciation for other languages and the wonder that is being in a foreign city completely by yourself).

I hope to make it back to Europe soon (specifically Tarvin, England and Italy), but I’ll never forget the first time there.

Best NYC Visit – Family for Christmas

I don’t think I had a single bad visit in 2010, but the most memorable was the recent visit from my mom, dad, brothers and one of my brother’s girlfriend. It was a jam-packed (including a trip to PB & Co) 4-days with great food, tons of walking, lots of pictures and non-stop time spent together.

Thanks to the fam for making the long trip and for keeping me fed during and after the visit (mmm leftovers).

Best New Restaurant – Peanut Butter & Co

I was able to try a number of great new (to me) restaurants in 2010 but my favorite was Peanut Butter & Co. Not only does it focus on one of the things I love, it has combinations I had never even thought of. My favorite: a peanut butter BLT (but sans tomato for me).

Sadly I discovered while thinking about this one that I ate at McDonald’s more than any other restaurant this year (actually it was probably 99 Cent pizza but I don’t have CC tracking for that).  To be fair, I did get a lot of the smoothies from there, but I definitely have to change that in 2011.

Best Improv Show – 2 Square

I couldn’t tell you how many shows I saw this year even if I wanted to (and I do want to). If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere in the 50 to 60 range. Many of them were awe-inspiring and hilarious, such as the many Gravid Water shows I saw, tons of shows at DCM (especially Improvised Shakespeare, Baby Wants Candy and Bash), and TJ & Dave.

But the winner for me was the final 2 Square show. Peter Grosz and John Lutz have continued to amaze me since the first time I saw them. But for their last show (at least in awhile), they managed to blow my mind with their commitment to and diversity of characters, connections between scenes, and an ending that couldn’t have been scripted better if the entire thing actually had been scripted.

Best Improv Performance – Level 5 Run

It’s hard to pick my own best performance for the year because there were so many good ones… and a lot of bad ones… and plenty that were just “eh.”  Also that whole subjectivity thing makes it tough since I didn’t get a chance to see me perform any of the shows.

So I won’t pick a single performance out of the 77, but rather a run of them; specifically the run of shows I had with my Level 5 class at the Magnet.  The class was full of incredibly talented people and every show was a blast to play in.  For me, characters from that memorable run included a drunk hotel patron, a Medieval Times employee looking for a date, and a man politically changed by a dream he had about bunnies.

Best Movie I Saw – Inception

I didn’t see a ton of movies in 2010 (only 6 of the Top 50 for 2010), but I did see some quality ones (Toy Story 3, Jackass 3-D).  The movie I enjoyed the most was Inception.  It had intrigued, action, solid acting, cool locations and an awesome plot that was engaging throughout.  I rarely like to watch movies multiple times, but I’d happily see this one again.

Best Book I Read – And Here’s the Kicker

I’ve read a decent number of books this year (including Predictably Irrational, Last Words, and Naked Pictures of Famous People), but the winner for me was And Here’s the Kicker.  The book is a collection of interviews with some of the top humor writers in the country and contains amazing insights, practical tips and lots of encouragement.

Best Tweet – Tux

I created a list of my 15 best tweets of 2010, but my favorite for the entire year was:

My tailor asked if I needed help trying on a tux. I said “No.” He said “fine, suit yourself.”

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best of 2009

I’ve started doing a “Best of” post for the past few years, so here it is for 2009. You can read the entirety of 53 weeks of posting in the pdf of Redefine-2009.

Best Monthly Focus – Improvise
My favorite monthly focus was back in July when I did something improv related every day of the month. It led to over 90 hours of improv, 23 shows seen, and 7 performances.  It was a blast.

Best Weekly Project – Solve a Rubik’s Cube
Ok, so maybe I’m a geek, but one of my favorite things from this year was learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube.  Why? Because it provides a mental challenge (and something I can do on conference calls at work), fills a childhood dream, and attracts the ladies… one of those might not be true.

Best Decision – Shoot from the Hip
It was a close call for the best decision of 2009; there was the AIN conference, the goal to improve my tastes, and of course having Chick Fil A for 3 times in one day.  But ultimately it was my decision to the do the Shoot from the Hip project that I think was the best.  Not only did I get a chance to learn more about film, play 2 major characters in a movie, and have an absolute blast, but I also decided to take Magnet Classes as a result where I’ve met some amazing people and really grown as an improviser.

Best Personal Development – Tasting More
I’ve had the same general tastes in food for my whole life.  The practice to try more foods and drinks has led to some interesting revelations, wider variety in food options, and a few gross faces.  Say what you want about my eating habits, but at least I’m trying, right?

Best Travel – Milwaukee
2009 was another year of fun travel.  I went to Cincinnati (no surprise), Philadelphia, DC, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland, and upstate New York.  Of all the trips, Milwaukee was my favorite as I was able to do non-stop improv at the ComedySportz tournament and meet some awesome, like-minded people.

Best Improv Show – BASH
I’ve seen a number of amazing shows this year, but the most impressive was definitely the one-man improvised musical starring Blaine Swen.  It was hilarious, heart-felt, and incredibly inspiring.

Best Improv Performance– Duo Show at The Creek
I was fortunate enough to perform a lot this past year.  Some shows went well, others not so much, but my favorite show I performed in this year was a duo show with Woodruff at The Creek.  I might have had funnier shows, but it was the most fun and showed I could rebound from one of my worst shows (which took place about an hour earlier).

Best Movie I Saw – Avatar
While it may not be the most original story, Avatar is a great example of original storytelling.  Fusing real life and CGI, the movie takes you to a new world that you feel apart of.  Definitely my favorite of 2009.

Best Book I Read – Story
I got through a number of good books this year (Outliers, In the Blink of an Eye, Sorrows of Young Werther to name a few), but my favorite was Story my Robert McKee.  It changed the way that I watch and understand movies and anything else with narrative structure.  It’s a fascinating perspective.

Solve a Rubiks Cube

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best of 2008

A lot can happen in an entire year, so here’s a list of  some of my “bests” of 2008. You can also read the original 2008 posts in their entirety, but it ain’t pretty.

Best Weekly Project – $100 Budget
By far the hardest and most impactful project of the year was living on a $100 Budget.  The revelations I had and experience was enough to change how I’ve behaved since then, and also reminded me of why I work as hard as I do, so that I don’t have to find myself in that situation every week.

Best Joke – Music Teacher
With 366 jokes, there are bound to be some good ones and some bad ones. Music Teacher was my favorite:

A leader of an orchestra was recently electrocuted, proving after all, he was a good conductor.

You can check out the best, worst, and everything in between in the Joke a Day.

Best Decision – Go with Rajiv to PanDesi
Many of the best decisions that affected me in 2008 were actually made in 2007: move to NYC, do a weekly project, have Thanksgiving in NYC. So my best decision that actually occurred in 2008 was to go with the Funny Indian to a taping of his show “Desi States of America.” Not only was seeing the behind-the-scenes process fun, but it led to a discussion with the CEO of the network, a submission of writing samples from me, and ultimately my writing gig for the show. Since then, I’ve written 19 sketches and 9 monologues.

Best Personal Development – Saying No
Perhaps my biggest development personally was learning the ability to say no, mostly to myself. Which is weird since my overarching philosophy learned from improv is “yes and.” But whereas “yes and” is my general attitude, saying no has helped me focus. There are so many things I want to do, but I have to be choiceful; I can’t do all of them. Time is our most precious resource, so it’s best to make the best of it by focusing on the most important things, not everything that may sound interesting.

Best Sketch – Don’t Vote
Throughout the year, I wrote a decent number of sketches, both personal and for PanDesi. My favorite sketch that I wrote in 2008 that was actually produced was “Don’t Vote” for the Desi States of America.

Best Travel – Trip to LA & Cruise to Mexico
Back in May, my mom, brother and I went to Los Angeles to visit the city and to take a cruise to Catalina . It was a great trip because it was my first time to LA, I got a chance to do the touristy stuff like see the Walk of Fame, take a tour of houses, and hit up Universal Studios, and I got a chance to see the “real LA” (thanks Rajiv). And that was all in just the first 2 days of the trip. Then we hopped on a cruise to Mexico where we were privy to an authentic Mexican meal and tour by one of David’s former host parents.

Best NYC Visit – The 8th Floor
Sorry for everyone else that came, I definitely enjoyed your stay, but nothing beats having 10 8th Floor members in the apartment and seeing over 20 hours of improv over the course of a weekend.

Best Improv Show – 2 Square
The shows I saw during the Del Close Marathon were amazing; 2 Square was better. A two person group from Chicago, Peter Grosz and John Lutz seamlessly built mutli-character scenes and hilarious dialogue.  If I one day became half as good as them, I’d be happy.

Best Life Hack – Drying off your razor after shaving
Lifehacker.com
is definitely one of my favorite websites and one of the only ones I consistently follow. Of all the tips I’ve found there, and some of my own, the best life hack was a simple change to my shaving regimen. By drying off my razor with a towel after shaving, I’ve been able to use the same razor for the entire year. Apparently it’s not the blades getting dull that makes razors unusable, but them getting rusty, thus the drying to extend their use.

Best Open Mic Stand-up Bit – College Degree
I’ve had the pleasure of watching some great comedians at the open mics I’ve attended, and some of them have told some amazing jokes. I think my favorite has to be from Nore Davis: “My mom told me, go to college, get a degree and you can get you a job making $60,000 a year. I got my degree, I do stand-up, and I owe the college $60,000. People ask, ‘what was your degree?’ Bankruptcy, that was my major.”

Best Movie I Saw – Forgetting Sarah Marshall
I didn’t really see all that many movies this year, but I did see some great ones such as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Tropic Thunder. Forgetting Sarah Marshall wins though because it was hilarious, a well-done comedy with perfectly absurd moments, and made me think: “I hope to one day write something that funny.”  An honorable mention goes to Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog. It’s not really a feature length movie, but it is incredible.

Best TV Show I Watched – The Daily Show
I also didn’t watch TV in 2008, but there was one show I made it a point to watch when I could – The Daily Show. Maybe it was because of the election, or their knack for pointing out the ridiculous, but The Daily Show was my source of entertainment on the small screen (well technically computer screen since I watched it on hulu.com). And shout out to Matt for getting me tickets to see the show live!

Best Book I Read – Improv Wisdom
I read quite a few good books this year, but the book I enjoyed most was Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up.  It covers some of the basic ways improv can be applied to business and life situations, and is very much along the lines of what I want to do with Humor That Works.

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