Photo of Christine all wet with large sunglasses and a wide mouth in a carwash wearing yellow gloves and a black v neck outfit. Jennifer Joy Walker Photography

Photo by: Jennifer Joy Walker Photography

Christine Alexander

Laugh to Feel Good - Christine Alexander
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Get to Know Christine Alexander

Sarasota's Laughter Facilitator through this Suncoast Culture Club Podcast

Transcript

Amanda Schlachter: I am thrilled to introduce our guests today. I have the joy of interviewing the amazing, the talented, the extraordinary. Christine Alexander, one of the area's finest improv artists, and one of our most amazing local celebrities. Christine is one of the founding members of the Florida Studio Theater Improv Troupe, and she now runs her own company called Laugh to Feel Good. Welcome Christine. So Christina is one of my dearest friends that I've known now going on 20 years. Which seems crazy to me.

Christine Alexander: We look the same as we did when we met.

Amanda Schlachter: We absolutely do. Actually. I think we even look a little better.

Christine Alexander: I think so, too. You do. You certainly do.

Amanda Schlachter: We both do. We're aging, beautifully it's wisdom. I say wisdom is really attractive. At least that's what I tell myself. So we've worked on lots of projects together that we'll talk about a little bit later in the podcast, but I kind of want to just start because I think. Pretty much everyone in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice knows you, but there may be a few people, like maybe 10% that don't know your background or your history. So I kind of want to start before you became an improv artist and actor and local personality and talk a little bit, like, what were you like as a kid? Were you funny tell us a little bit about your background.

Christine Alexander: Absolutely. When I was a young child, I had a lot of energy and I remember my grandparents saying like, where did this energy come from? And then when I got to high school, I remember people saying, oh, you're so funny. You should be an actress. And I literally. Okay. I auditioned for a couple plays at my school and the one play that made me go, okay. This is definitely what I want to do was the Gift of the Magi. I went to a Christian school in Oneco. It has one red light. But the Gift of the Magi, I was a religious play and I asked the director if I could play my part as a kleptomaniac. And when I came into the door steal, the scarf that's on the door. But now, you know, next to me and shove it in my purse. And she was like, yeah, that sounds great. I know what a crazy thing. Right. I shoved it in my purse and the girl that's acting in front of me. She's a downstage for me. Well, when she looks upstage, I barely got the scarf in the purse and did the pose of like, nothing's going on here. Audience erupted. And I realized that was, yeah, I need more of this. And so then I went to college at Bob Jones University, where they told me, no, you don't want to be an actor. You want to be a public speaker. And I was like, I don't, I maybe an actor, but then I didn't last there for more than a semester. And I came home, worked at Blockbuster and all these things until finally one girl said to me, stop talking about being an actress, go find an acting class. And that's where I found Florida Studio Theater.

Amanda Schlachter: Wow. So you always, from that time in high school, wanted to be an actor and perform

Christine Alexander: yeah.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Christine Alexander: And so when I became an improviser, I told myself that I am an actor now. And whether it was real or not, I believed it.

Amanda Schlachter: Yes.

Christine Alexander: And so now I am.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, absolutely. So someone says, stop talking about it, go take a class. And so you go to Florida Studio Theater,

Christine Alexander: They had an advertisement in the newspaper and it says no scripts required. And I was like, well, that sounds exactly like something I want to do. I don't want to have to memorize. I don't work that hard.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Christine Alexander: And then when I went and took my very first class at Florida Studio Theater, and it happened to be the very first class that they offered. So I, and they were starting on the same day and I remember for those two hours, all of the talking in my brain that was telling me I wasn't good enough and anything like that, it was just quiet. call it my judgment voice. I even named her Ursula. I'm sorry for anybody whose name is Ursula?

Amanda Schlachter: Well,

Christine Alexander: And I say, if, you're wondering which voice is she talking about? It's the voice that just asked you what your voice is she talking about? It's that voice? So she was quiet for like two hours. I mean, of course after the class was over, she came rushing back and told me everything I did wrong, but for those two hours, it was like in the moment. And I was with all these adults who were like wanting to play and be silly. And I was like, this is my house. And I never left. In fact, finally they had to build a whole theater for improv and we have a huge successful program over there.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. So, tell us about that process. So you're in the first class, you're taking classes at Florida Studio Theater. It's their first improv class, which all of our listeners, if you don't know that, now it's huge, I mean they have improv festivals, they have multiple classes, they have multiple troops, even that perform,

Christine Alexander: they have a full-time director of improv. So he is incredible and he's worldwide. Well, I did take this class and I'm remembering my best friend who I met there, who just passed away. So I'm sorry. We weren't going to cry. We said we

Amanda Schlachter: were going to cry later, but you can start it now

Christine Alexander: through the whole thing. Okay. Funny cry. And we'll talk about that too. So yeah, I think after one year or maybe a year and a half, The director, Rebecca Hopkins said to me and Tim, you guys are good enough, you can start teaching now. And we're like, we don't know what we're doing. She's like, no, no, no, you're fine. You can teach it. Let's hear it. These are the things that she gave us a outline of what we needed to teach. And so, because of her generosity, I became an improv teacher and then like 10 years down the line, I think it was 2010, eight, something like this. We all decided that. Performing only on Saturday nights was not enough for us. We needed to form our own troop and perform more often. So we made a few groups. One was Becky's Rejects, which we were a musical group and we performed down at the Back Lot, which is where you and I performed in Gigi. That was so super successful. They improvised music, the songs, it's still blows my mind. And then we created Lazy Fairy Improv where we played once a month at the Player's Theater in the lobby to sold out audiences. And we just had so much fun until one day. Assunta Swier came over to me and Joey and said, Hey, we need to go make my friend over at her office happy because they just had to fire a whole bunch of people and they need to be entertained, can you go over there at lunchtime? So Joey and I, during lunch break into this office where like four people are sitting around a lunch table in their thing and we're like, Hey, we're here to do improv for you. And they're like, half eating a sandwich like, oh, why are you here? But it turned out to be the most cool thing. Like they were so into it. We were so into it. We get into the car and we named it Laughing Lunches. And then from there is where my corporate training went and now I've worked. Tropicana for Westfield Mall for so many huge companies going in and using improv as the tool to learn how to respect each other, support each other, communicate better, all these things in a fun way. And so if you come to me and ask me to teach you how to like corporate dialogue words, I'm not that person. What I am. I'm here to provide levity. And also put in a little hidden gems of, being a good human. We say the traits of a good improviser are we respect each other. We support each other. We're not afraid of failure. We agree. Support each other. I said that, yes, we support really support. A lot of told you how supportive we are. Like I, right now I'm holding you up. No. Okay. And then there's other things and all those also make a good human.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Christine Alexander: So by the end of the class everybody is super happy. I'll tell you this one. The story. I did a three hour corporate training for a bunch of management people. And the one guy comes over to me and he goes, what is this? That was like, it's corporate training we're going to do this. And he's like, well, I'm in landscaping. Usually I'm outside. I don't want to be here. I hate these things. I'm never going to have any fun. Oh, okay. It's nice to meet you. Yeah. And then through the three hours, he came running over to me and he was like, this is the most fun I've had at work ever. I'm sorry. I said that to the top and I had so much fun. I don't want it to end. And those moments I'm like, okay, Yeah, let's keep going.

Amanda Schlachter: Well, it's incredible. I think too, I know one time, I think you had me assist, you did like Sarasota Leadership. I believe it was. And I remember meeting police officers that were there to do improv and I was just. You were leading it, but I remember being like, oh, I wonder how this is going to go. And you get everybody in a circle and you start doing theater games and really that too, you were talking about being a good person. I think about one of the major concepts, this yes. And which we hear, but, if you could talk a little bit about that concept because I use it. In so many things. I use it, my teaching a lot because then my students feel heard. I really do. Yes. And them, even if I have to go a little bit in a different direction, I still hear the offer.

Christine Alexander: Mm I'm glad you said that. I'm going to hold my thumb up here to remind us that I want to talk about a game. That's also listening after I talk about the yes/and. So here's

Amanda Schlachter: okay. I'm watching Christine's don't forget

Christine Alexander: about that. Okay. Yes, and is incredible. It's agreeing and adding inspiration. So I agree, whatever you say, when we go out on stage, if

Amanda Schlachter: the sky is blue,

Christine Alexander: right. I agree that the sky is blue and why don't we go steal that helicopter and get into it? You know, I want to add further information. I don't want to come out and say the sky is not blue. It's gray. Okay. The audience might laugh and go, ha ha. She got it wrong. But what happened to the scene was. Uh, Now we have to start all over again. Cause we don't agree on this imaginary thing that we just created. And so improv is incredible that way, because you have to give in and I don't know if I am the best example of giving in. Honestly, I think I'm going to go back and look at my improv and be like, this is what not to do, you know?

Amanda Schlachter: Give us the thumb. Yeah.

Christine Alexander: I'm going to give you a game for when you really need to listen carefully. Like if you just have to listen, you want to make sure you listen to all the words. So it's called last letter, first letter. So you're going to wait till the end of my sentence and listen for the very last letter of my last word and use that last letter as your first letter to your sentence.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. I'm ready.

Christine Alexander: All right. Here's my sentence. There was a bear in the forest.

Amanda Schlachter: The bear is looking really sad.

Christine Alexander: Don't, you know, he ran out of Charmain toilet paper.

Amanda Schlachter: Reggie is coming down to give him some toilet paper or he's such a good guy.

Christine Alexander: See what you did. You didn't want to end it on paper. Give me "R" cause you just had "R", so you see your brain was like, oh, I got to keep going and give her another letter. This that's how trained and. That's

Amanda Schlachter: I got to keep going.

Christine Alexander: Amanda Schlachter everybody.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I want to go back a little bit so with Florida studio theater, and then you branched off and you created these other companies as well. So really you're doing three different troupes of performing plus you also have Laugh to Feel Good, which we're going to talk about in a second. But I also know in those years you mentioned the Back Lot which was such a joyous time for any of our listeners out there if you were in Sarasota at the time, Sarasota Bradenton area, Mark Marvel had this huge warehouse over off 301. And part of it was any artist could come in and create their own work. And it was a performance venue and it was everything from concerts to fundraisers, to plays, to improv to, I think they did wrestling there. If I remember, or fighting, they put in a boxing or some sort of fighting, and basically you would just negotiate either. You take a certain percentage of the money that we make or we'll rent it for X amount of money. Unfortunately, it didn't stay because. It didn't make enough to be able to stay alive, but it was like our off-Broadway here in the Suncoast and so many people utilized it to do original work. I remember they did a Laramie Project there. We were a part of the Gigi Monologues with Amy Knapp there Kaleidoscope with Asolo Rep. We did a huge fundraiser. The Day I Opened My Eyes was Source Productions was there. And then we also had you also start. Rejects is there Becky's Rejects was there. Yeah. And then Sarasota, does actors workshop SAW with something that you were part of the founding group? Correct?

Christine Alexander: I think I was

Amanda Schlachter: with Rick Hughes. Yeah.

Christine Alexander: It was really Rick's idea. And he named it Sarasota Actors Workshop and I just happened to be a part of it. And that's where, when we created anything arts, which was like the first arts newsletter. It was before email had newsletters and we were like, we think were so cool.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, you were, you absolutely were. So tell us about Sarasota Actor's Workshop cause I know I was a part of it and I directed, along with Gigi Monologues. That was also one of the projects that I got to work on with you as. And I don't want to differentiate between improv and actor because obviously I think they are intertwined and so on and so forth. But you had scripted material at that. We rehearsed and

Christine Alexander: that's a good way to say scripted material, which is difficult for me. I remember we had that play where my husband died and before that I had to sing All That Jazz,

Amanda Schlachter: all that jazz you had to sing in that 10 minute play. We did.

Christine Alexander: I was very uncomfortable with that. And you're like, honey, just be yourself. Like, I don't know what that means. I know what it means now, but back then, I had no idea what you meant by that. The thing that you, I talk about all the time as my director. You're like my very, I'd say the first director that got me to like, do this kind of work. You came in behind me. And like I said, my husband, you know, died in the show. I think he committed suicide for me.

Amanda Schlachter: This was in the show, everybody, this is not in real life

Christine Alexander: in the show. Yeah.

Amanda Schlachter: This was in the show.

Christine Alexander: And you said, I'm just gonna follow you while you're doing your lines and I'm just going to drop in. I was like, well, that sounds. Fine. And then I said like three words and Amanda did her dropping in and I literally started sobbing because it was so good. I was like, girl, you just got something. I mean, like, I felt like an actor in that moment for the first time, like that was, you know, the laugh was something, but then this was like, I didn't know. You could do that. Like what, and I didn't go to acting school

Amanda Schlachter: and for anyone out there, it really is just going behind an actor and gently sort of adding subtext to the lines that they're saying. So they can sort of fully realize the weight of the moment. And I don't recommend just doing this with anyone. I recommend if you have training and you have comfort and safety with an actor and a director. Yeah. Just put that out there because

Christine Alexander: I, for sure had safety with you.

Amanda Schlachter: Cause you're kind of, they're not a little devil on their shoulder, but you're just creating the bigger picture for them. You're helping them to see it and it can be very emotional.

Christine Alexander: Yeah.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Christine Alexander: And then we did Gigi Monologues and that was super fun too. I hated wearing heels, but you know,

Amanda Schlachter: sure.

Christine Alexander: I got to do it for the craft

Amanda Schlachter: You did. Yeah, we did. And I think we did three different shows of that. And we did a fundraiser at McCurdy's. Comedy Club

Christine Alexander: are we finally got on the wall with all the celebrity?

Amanda Schlachter: I know, I wonder where we are. Les?

Christine Alexander: I don't think he does it anymore. Oh yeah. He's got to put it away. I mean, like we didn't perform in the new building.

Amanda Schlachter: Right.

Christine Alexander: So we had to still do that.

Amanda Schlachter: That's true. So what's the difference for you between a rehearsed scripted piece? Because I know you also do voiceover work. You've done film work. I know you've been on the Suncoast View a lot, which again is a little different, but versus straight up improv. What's the difference? Obviously, I think you lean more towards improv, but could you tell us a little bit about that?

Christine Alexander: I'd say the preparation, you know the improv preparation is you're hanging out with your friends and you're having a lot of fun period. Okay. That's that? And then with scripted stuff, you have to prepare and like give it respect. And those are two things that I have a hard time doing because I'm alone over here. When somebody asks me to be in something or, something just comes up. I, try to give it that respect, but what I find is is that I procrastinate until I'm hurting myself and then I'm angry at myself because it didn't and so it's just a lot of self hatred I try to stay away from that is quite honestly. And then I did take two comedy stand-up classes at McCurdy's

Amanda Schlachter: that's right. You did stand up and so did your husband, cause I think I saw both of you.

Christine Alexander: Can I tell you this story? My high school sweetheart came to my show and then he came to my husband's show. And after my husband's show, he came over to me and said, Christopher's funnier. And I was like, I know, I totally can tell. I mean, like that guy, he wrote his stuff. He listened to what Les McCurdy said. Made it work. He practice, practice, practice, practice. And when he got up there, he killed it. He's so funny. Chris Alexander McCurdy's Comedy Sarasota, look it up. He's bald. He has blue shirt on. He was great. But when I did it, so what I would do is like I've been living in Sarasota since University Parkway was dirt road. Exactly. Les, Les is like, and the punchline is I'm like that the two dirt road, I don't know why it doesn't translate to, but it's like, you have to think of the joke. You have to write the joke. You have to repeat the joke. And for me, I just rather like create it up. in the moment with my friends, I can't, well, I can do it by myself. I did it by myself, somebody Annie Morrison,

Amanda Schlachter: right?

Christine Alexander: Broadway star, Annie Morrison comes to me and says, I'm doing Sarah Solo. Would you be interested in doing a solo improv show? And I said, no way, oh my God, that sounds horrible. I want my friends. And she's like, no, I think I could direct you through it. So then she said, let's name it On the Brink of the Next. And then we talked about it and I fricking did a one woman show and I blew my mind, blew my mind.

Amanda Schlachter: How terrifying was it to do a one woman show?

Christine Alexander: 20 minutes in? I was like, I don't got anything else. I got to go for another 25 minutes. What is this? And I realized that I had asked my stage manager to get suggestions from the audience prior, and they were sitting in a little basket over here. So I just went over there and grabbed as I, and I had set something up in the beginning of the show that, when it came to the very end of the show, I like opened the door and that stuff could have been still there. And I like said, Hey, you can take all this. And the audience. And I, both, all of us were like, I can't believe I did it year. Like you've never listened to yourself harder than when you're doing an improvised one woman show. I have to remember it all. I was like, this is not. And then I did it two more times, so I don't know.

Amanda Schlachter: I remember, cause I think I was in grad school. And I remember talking to you on the phone I was so impressed that you were, I mean, you've really in this area run the gamut and then you do appearances on the Suncoast View and Joey Panek. I just want to say, we've mentioned a lot of great people and you're all welcome to come and be interviewed with me. I think Joey already has. But I'm just saying when there's a lot of great people, you mentioned Will from FST. Who's magnificent. So just putting that out there as a side note. But yeah, but you've also been on the Suncoast, right?

Christine Alexander: Yes. Luckily my best friend, Joey Panek is one of the anchors. And so I was able to guest host quite a few times. And that was lovely. I mean, well, it was funny as sometimes they'd make me read the prompter and you don't get a second chance. It's go. It's go and I'm like, . So then after a while they stopped making me read the prompter. I'm better at improvising.

Amanda Schlachter: I love that you've done all these things. You've pushed out of your comfort zone. And I think so much of when, as an artist and as we evolve, we do that. And then. We continue to always do those challenges, but then also we kind of find, oh, this is really where my heart thrives. This is really where my soul feels free. Doesn't mean you still won't continue to do those things that are up. That's the comfort zone. And now I'm out of it because it's important to do that. But for our day to day, it also is great to sort of find our. Sole purpose, if you will, which really leads me to your company now Laugh to Feel Good.

Christine Alexander: Yes.

Amanda Schlachter: Which is another, I feel very grateful that I've gotten to work on some projects with you. One of our favorite projects that we've worked on, we started with the Parkinson's Cafe and then worked with neuro challenge, which I've know you've continued when I went back to school. So we've loved working with both of those companies. So tell us a little bit about the umbrella of Laugh to Feel Good cause there's a lot of different pieces in terms of what you do do with it.

Christine Alexander: I read the quote, if it feels good to laugh, then laugh to feel good. And I thought, well, okay. Yeah, I want that. And just as a side note, 2020 was a realization that if it feels good to cry, then cry to feel good.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Christine Alexander: And then as I came into the theater, I saw that the masks, the theater masks,

Amanda Schlachter: comedy tragedy masks.

Christine Alexander: So here we are in, but Laugh to Feel Good started because one of my clients asked me if I would be interested in leading a workshop for cancer patients at the Center for Building Hope. Lakewood Ranch. And I said, absolutely sounds awesome. And the first class that I did, I'm just going to mention Nancy she was there and she's been with me through the whole time. And I just loved that chick that anyway, she tells everybody to come. She's really the reason why it's so successful. Cause she tells everybody to come. But that first class a lady came up to me afterwards and said for that hour, I didn't think about cancer at all. And for me, I was like well then I have to only do this, I can't do anything else. I only have to focus on this. It was just like my experience. And, you know, all of the stuff was gone for an hour for the two hours that you're doing improv. You're completely in the moment. And so that really made me go, okay, I need to do this often. Stay with her. I think we did it once a month. And then we moved to the Jewish Family and Children's Services where I did it there for once a month. And then that program moved over to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital where I did it there for once a month, but then COVID happened and I really miss these ladies and I thought, well, I should get them all together And so since COVID happened, we've been meeting every Friday at 1:00 and then we put another date in Wednesday at 1:00. So a lot of them go both days, because it's so fun. I have a core group that are basically always checking on each other. It's like we created our own little family, you know, we care about each other so much, and we make each other laugh so hard. So we go for an hour and now we've added like an extra half an hour, so we can all talk and just catch up because we just love each other so much. And so that, program is, growing and I'm, getting new improvisers to come in and do whatever they want to teach when they want to teach so that these participants can come. So my goal is to always keep it free for the participants. Yeah.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. So Laugh to Feel Good is always, so then you're working with like corporate America, like Tropicana. So is that under a different company or is that all the same?

Christine Alexander: Basically the same. Yeah. It's a Laughing Lunch, but it's under Laugh to Feel Good.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Yeah. So it's all under him, right? So. You have that, and then you have the corporate, which you can be flown in to do. And so tell me kind of the difference, like how do you work on something with like a big corporation, like Tropicana, is it exactly the same, the way you do your other groups? Is it a little more structured? It is a little more goal oriented.

Christine Alexander: Yeah, I'd say it's more goal oriented for the corporate ones where they have maybe a communication problem or, really like, they just want to have fun. The stuff that I've done for zoom, I've had to, reconfigure our game. So that it works on zoom because now we're sitting facing each other on this camera, whereas normally we're standing in a circle and we're jumping around and we're being silly. So all those games kind of shift did a little bit. But the games are similar in both. Spaces. I just might be a little bit different. Might be towards the business, or it might be towards the, you know, just living a nice life,

Amanda Schlachter: yeah.

Christine Alexander: But overall, you know, improv and the training that it provides just makes you a better human.

Amanda Schlachter: Well, it's not a thing you can't do improv. Without connecting. You have to get connected, I think in a weird way, that's sometimes what's so terrifying if you're sort of living in your world bubble and you stay and you get that improv circle, you start that game, and then you're like, oh, and then the sort of walls come down and then it's like, oh wait, this is, I really need this. It's just proof how much we need that. And I will say last summer, being shut down. I was really grateful to be a part of those groups. And it gave me so much to do that. I mean, when we were staying home all the time, that was, just such an outlet, twice a week to get to connect in that way.

Christine Alexander: So it gives you it gives me at least a kind of grounding. You know, sometimes I don't feel like going and teaching because I'm having a horrible COVID day, you know, whatever the whole thing is going on. And I remember that we're all going through horrible things right now, and we just all just need to show up. And so it's really been a good thing for me to remember, to show up, cause I need them just as much as they need me. Immediately afterwards that class I'm super happy. And if I hadn't gone to class, I'd still be in the rut of, of,

Amanda Schlachter: of whatever. Yeah. Yeah.

Christine Alexander: So that's been lovely for me.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. That's terrific. Yeah. One of the things with Christine, like I said, we've had a friendship over, over 20 years. We've worked on multiple projects together and taught together and Christine is like my. She helps me to be light. So that's kind of our yin and yang when we teach, but it actually works really well because I tend to be very, let's slow down, let's breathe. And then she helps me to laugh and so it's, just such a nice compliment

Christine Alexander: and you know, that is so true. I think our, friends over at Neuro Challenge are missing you a lot because you do bring like the breathing and the grounding. Softness of the beauty and I'm like, go, you know, it's like, God, I'm so loud. So you're right. Like our combination is just beautiful.

Amanda Schlachter: a little bit of both. Yeah. We all need, we all need the balance. So, we have some. Interesting news to share with our listeners out there. And some people out there may already know, and some people who know Christine, this may be surprising. So do you want to go ahead and share the news?

Christine Alexander: I'm giving away a million dollars to everyone? No, I'm moving to New York. Yay. I'm very excited about it. My husband got a job up there at the Girls and Boys Club and I. Expanding my business, two states, there's like really great incentives to expand your business. And there's a lot of opportunities up there. Amanda. I'm so super excited. In fact, I can't wait to call you to be like, I need you up here.

Amanda Schlachter: Yes. Yes. I'm ready to travel to New York.

Christine Alexander: On summers

Amanda Schlachter: on summers. Yes. Because I'll be at SCF during the year. Yeah. So Christine is leaving the area, but her company is not leaving. So I think, yeah, that's important to know. And you have improv teaching artists here in the area.

Christine Alexander: That's right. So one of my teaching artsts teaches on Wednesdays and I teach on Friday and then we mix up some times. And so, yeah, she'll be staying in Florida and we're expanding.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. And so what's the future of Laugh to Feel Good? What do you see happening when you leave?

Christine Alexander: My absolute dream would be to have a camp, a camp where I could do summer camps, corporate camps, you know building stuff, learning, and also kind of a perspective change. Okay. Cause that's what improv does. And I would love it if like we had such a big property. That part of it was like a forest, a hiking situation where at first you started off where you're a giant and everything is little, little, little. And then as you walk through it, somehow it shifts until , your, the tiniest little thing. I like you to be anything on the earth. And then you remember that a tiny and a thing. And somehow like, it's going to be like just a. It's a surprise, you know, like you think you're gonna come to laugh, but you're going to come to get a perspective shift, you know?

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Christine Alexander: And there's going to be yoga and dance and all sorts of Dance to Feel Good, Yoga to Feel Good, Camp to Feel Good, you know, all these things.

Amanda Schlachter: right.

Christine Alexander: But Disney World of Feel Good,

Amanda Schlachter: like a healing camp workshop through the arts and

Christine Alexander: Therapy to Feel Good, Writing to Feel Good. Yes. Through the arts. In a location,

Amanda Schlachter: most likely in upstate New York where you're headed

Christine Alexander: Or Vermont.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah,

Christine Alexander: one of those two.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Christine Alexander: So that's what I'm going to start doing when I get there is like looking for property and sponsors. Sponsors.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. So anyone who finds that, this sounds like an exciting idea, Laugh to Feel Good is looking for support.

Christine Alexander: Yeah.

Amanda Schlachter: Well, that's an incredible vision now. Will you start groups up there as well and corporate training and start to, do you think you'll find an improv troupe up there?

Christine Alexander: Yeah. You know, Steve Terese's up there and he's already said let's start a troupe. So yeah, we're probably going to start something I'll be playing up there. I also have kind of an idea of making it like. Like a Mary Kay or an Avon in the sense of, you know, if you're an improvisor and you want to do corporate training, well, I'll teach you how to do corporate training for cancer and Parkinson's patients or whomever, caregivers, care receivers. And then in learning that. You'll get to learn the corporate stuff and then we'll get corporate gigs and that'll be your business and you can have your own Laugh to Feel Good business. So I'd love it. If there was like one improvisor in every state, that's like the first goal that participants always get to come for free.

Amanda Schlachter: Fabulous. Fabulous. I love that one. Well, let's go ahead and take a minute. We do here at the Suncoast Culture Club, we do a rapid fire slash sort of stimulating questions, because this is also a way for people that are visiting the Suncoast to get to know the Suncoast to open up new ideas. So first of all, what's your favorite restaurant in the area?

Christine Alexander: I have two. Okay. If you eat meat, then you want to go to Reyna's a Mexican restaurant on Bahia Vista it's like 12th and

Amanda Schlachter: oh yeah,

Christine Alexander: right? Yeah. It's so delicious. And if you are vegan, then you want to go to Leaf and Lentil at the end of Martin Luther King and 41. So delicious.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Christine Alexander: I don't think it's open Monday, Tuesday, so don't try.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Okay.

Christine Alexander: So delicious.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. What about a favorite coffee or tea spot?

Christine Alexander: Sunnyside Cafe, which is just a restaurant and they're Hungarian, but they have this delicious little coffee that I love.

Amanda Schlachter: That's terrific, actually, because we've been talking about, we just want to go there to have breakfast and we love the coffee.

Christine Alexander: Delicious. The food is delicious.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Okay.

Christine Alexander: So good. And they have vegan and vegetarian. And meat.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Okay, great. So since you are getting ready to leave the area, when you go back with Christopher, can you give us sort of favorite date night, maybe separate of improv since that's what you do. What would be like a terrific date night?

Christine Alexander: We'd like to go over the Ringling Bridge. We take a walk and underneath the Ringling Bridge is a little park. That's just delightful. It's just a tiny little thing. It's just a little, we also like to go out, buy Mote Marine and pass Mote Marine. Thompson park. And inside there, if you go, if you like figure out where the mangroves are, you can find the the walkway inside the mangroves, which just so relaxing, especially with the sun beating down. It's so nice and cool in there. So those are, two places that we'd like to go. Walk and hold hands and kissy kiss

Amanda Schlachter: and be sweet. Perfect. Yeah, I know. I just did the kayaking through the mangroves over this past week and went parasailing. So I'm feeling very savvy. The Sarasota tourists and I was a concierge for multiple years. So these are all things I wanted to do. And so I'm, feeling pretty good. I know what's up. So yeah, so the mangroves are incredible.

Christine Alexander: I'd also, lastly, say if you have an opportunity to go to Florida Studio Theater, you absolutely should. It's one of the best theaters in Florida. And like, honestly, it's the best. They have four theaters and improv. Awesome. Great.

Amanda Schlachter: I mean, that's one thing that's so terrific about Florida Studio Theater is really depending on your taste that night, because they have cabaret because they have darker theater because they have fun light comedies. They have the improv really, depending on what, they might be offering it all at that same venue, which is tremendous

Christine Alexander: It's gorgeous there.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Christine Alexander: Like you said earlier there Improv Festival is typically in July and it is 100% the best improv. Talent wise, they bring in the best talent from around the world. And it's incredible,

Amanda Schlachter: Do you happen to know if they're doing it this summer or is it back?

Christine Alexander: They are doing it this summer. I have heard, I think there's online things. I'm not sure if it's in person too much, so I don't know too many details.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Christine Alexander: Sarasota Improv Festival.com. I think.

Amanda Schlachter: Perfect. Okay. All right. So a couple of quick questions for you. The flip flops or sneakers

Christine Alexander: sneakers,

Amanda Schlachter: roundabout or stoplights

Christine Alexander: roundabout.

Amanda Schlachter: Oh, I can't, I can't, I don't even know if I can be your friend anymore. I that's really a long form improv or short form.

Christine Alexander: Short form.

Amanda Schlachter: Plays or musicals

Christine Alexander: plays

Amanda Schlachter: bridesmaids, the movie or animal house

Christine Alexander: Bridesmaids I mean, when she's like, don't look at me. I can't sorry. Sorry if

I ruined it for anyone. Well,

Amanda Schlachter: what, which part?

Christine Alexander: Melissa McCarthy is a hell of a sink dog. Look at man. So it's the best.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. If you haven't seen bridesmaid

Christine Alexander: must.

Amanda Schlachter: Oh, it's probably one of my most favorite comedies. It's brilliant. I know. I know. So Christine's is start to close out our time together. And this is my last question into sort of an offering. What do you think? And I don't know if you can really put it into a sentence. You don't, it could be a paragraph. What do you think you're gonna miss most about Sarasota. Bradenton Venice, the Suncoast. And is there anything you wanna say to anybody out there?

Christine Alexander: I honestly, I feel like I'm in denial because my husband's already there and I'm still here in Florida. I'm. I'm so grateful to Sarasota for like loving Florida Studio Theater and going there and watching us, like we've had sold out shows for 20 years. I mean, like, it's been an incredible run. And so I'm grateful for Rebecca Hopkins for giving me that space and, oh, geez. You're going to make me cry. Because with. That class, I don't know what I'd be doing. I probably be working it like Blockbuster still at the only store that's open. So I'm really grateful to Rebecca for, knowing improv, bringing it's Sarasota and then having it expand in the way it is. I'm super grateful to Will Luera he's the director there and he is so kind and he's so giving. Yeah. Everything he'll do anything for everybody. And I'm so lucky to be a friend of his and to be directed by his, you are one of my top friends and, you know, confidence and directors, and I feel so safe with you. I think. I'll miss. Sarasota because it feels like I'm in high school here, you know, like I, know a lot of people, so if I'm hanging out with somebody from out of town, I'm, I'm super cool because people are like, Hey Christina, I'm like, Hey, I mean, I am so cool when people rang her name, you know, I mean, it's not really how it is, but in my head, it is

Amanda Schlachter: it's a little like that.

Christine Alexander: Don't tell anybody that I'm hiring my own paparazzi. Just don't say that. But I think that I'll miss just the ease of friendship here, you know, knowing that there's so many people who are lovely here and all the contacts, but like I said to you before, I don't feel like I'll. Missing out on these people at all. They're still in my phone and I will be calling you, you know, I feel like I've not been a phone person in the past, and now I'm about to be a phone person, and that's okay. I've had 20 years off. So. I'm hoping oh actually Rebecca is offered to throw me a party in October a goodbye party. So I don't know what that means or who's invited, but in October there'll be a final show and I'll probably be in that show in October at some time. So thank you for letting me have that opportunity and. Everybody like every single person that I know in Sarasota, my family I'll miss everybody. But I, I don't think it be too far, you know, Amtrak is only $89, so you can put your car on it. Oh, you're gonna have to pay for your car too. But I'm driving to Orlando 17 hours on the Amtrak and then six hours to Albany. I'm like, yeah. Okay. I never want to drive. That's when I get famous, the first thing I might get is a driver because I don't like driving.

Amanda Schlachter: It's perfect. It's perfect. That's a great goal. Great goal to have. Yeah. Well, I will say for myself and behalf of the Suncoast that we have felt so blessed to know you, Christine, I mean, you are truly one of my dearest friends. I always say you're one of my friends that I don't have to sensor at all. I can put that sensor completely away and totally be myself. And I feel so blessed to have learned from you and taught with you and done shows with you and done benefits with you. You've been such a huge part. Yeah. My professional growth and my personal growth. And I'm glad that your company will still be here. So that gives us reason to bring you back. So I just liked the idea that you're shooting back and forth. Okay. I like that idea. I'm going to keep it, not that you're leaving that you're just now becoming, you've got a, you know, yeah. You're just a snowbird, so I'm going to think of it like that. But it's just such a joy and on a different note. Thank you. Cause you're now a part of this Suncoast Culture Club,

Christine Alexander: I love audience applause!. Yeah, that's what's missing on zoom, man.

Amanda Schlachter: I think I should just, I should like

Christine Alexander: give that to me for sure.

Amanda Schlachter: If anybody out there wants to find a gift for Christine, and if you could just get this, that she could just hit it whenever she needs.

Christine Alexander: That's a true story.

Amanda Schlachter: That would be perfect for you. I might do that. I might be like Robyn, how do I get the cheer button and just send it to Christine?

Christine Alexander: Yes, I need it.

Amanda Schlachter: Yes. Well, I love you

Christine Alexander: I love you too.

Amanda Schlachter: So thank you everybody for being here. Again, this is Amanda Schlachter with Christine Alexander. And thank you for joining us at the Suncoast Culture Club. And we'll see you next time.

Visit Suncoast Culture Club for more.

Humor is often one of the first things to go when you are in a doctoral program.


In this episode of Expand Your Happy with Dr. Heather Frederick, you will exercise your funny bone and learn games you can play (with or without your friends and family) that will get you laughing. Bonus: These same games actually make you a better human being!


Christine Alexander is a founding member of Florida Studio Theaters Improv Troupe, FST Improv, and her TV appearances include SNN News, Channel 10, and she's a frequent co-host for the Suncoast View on ABC 7. She's also appeared in numerous publications like the Herald Tribune, Scene Magazine and Style Magazine to name just a few. Christine has harnessed the power of laughter through two decades of professional improvisational stage comedy, corporate team building, and comedy wellness programs that she's now delivering all over the world. She lives by the motto "If it feels good to laugh, then laugh, to feel good".


Why Laugh? Laughter benefits you both physically, mentally, and emotionally (just google Norman Cousins and laughter yoga). Laughter is an excellent stress reducer. You do not have to be funny to exercise your funny bone! Humor is a great way to calm that Monkey Mind so you can be more present. Humor practices help you TRUST yourself and be less judgmental (who couldn’t use more of that these days?) If nothing seems funny - just laugh anyway (your body won't know the difference)


Games:

1. Last Word, First Word: Listen and wait until the last word and use it as the first word in your sentence.

2. Last Letter, First Letter: Listen and wait until the last word, look at the last letter of that last word and use it as your first letter in my sentence. I think. I really enjoyed watching you go through that. Get stuck? Start making the shape of the letter and let whatever comes – come!

3. Questions Only - only ask each other questions.

4. Restricted Word Game - Each person gets a number under 20. Example: The first person gets three, the next person gets five, and maybe the third person gets 12. Each time you speak, you only have three words or you only have five words or you only have 12 words and you have to get everything out in those three, five or 12 words.

5. Red Ball - Say “red ball” to someone; you can’t throw the ball until they say “red ball” back.

6. 1 to 50 - A group of people all close their eyes and count together to 50. Each taking a turn to say the next number. And if two say the next number at the same time, then you have to start all over.


“If it feels good to laugh, then laugh to feel good. And if it feels good to cry, then cry to feel good.” Christine Alexander

Photo  of Christine Alexander clasping her hands in front of her blue shirt with a large smile

Christine Alexander

Proven Five-Star Track Record: Empowering individuals through Improv Teaching, fostering well-being in Cancer Wellness, and driving success in Business Facilitation

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