Born To Be Mild: Early Retirement

Born To Be Mild
by Liz Black

I am not an adventurous person. I was never one for all night parties, sex without regret, and experimentation of anything illegal, mind-altering, or past it’s expiration date. All my life, I thought it was shameful to be so tame, but I’ve finally learned to embrace it. It’s who I am. So here I am. Liz Black, born to be mild.

Back in the day I was a performer in New York City, before my mildness got the better of me. I did improv from 2001-2005 and after that I wrote sketch comedy with my fellow G.L.O.C., GLENNIS MCMURRAY. We wrote some funny shit, feel free to watch a five year old sketch of ours here.

I guess I stopped performing for a bunch of reasons, the main one being that I just didn’t want it enough. Or at least, I didn’t want it as much as my competition. My heart just wasn’t in it enough to cut it on the business end of things. Another reason I stopped is because mama needs her sleep. When you’re performing a few nights a week, dealing with midnight tech rehearsals, drinking after class and getting home at 1 a.m. all while holding down a day job, at a certain point it’s just not fun anymore. I would think to myself, God, even if I made it and was living the dream of being a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, I could never hack a job that doesn’t even begin until 11:30pm and then requires you to attend after party upon after party until it’s time to go to church. That’s when I realized just how specific my brand of mildness is. The very idea of going to theoretical SNL after-parties became too tedious and exhausting for me to handle.

(There’s more mildness after the jump…)

Another reason the performer in me fell to the wayside is that even though I consume pop culture like it’s my job (hey, it IS my job now), I’m still weirdly modest. Not a great trait to have in a business that thrives on sex tapes and Charlie Sheen. I don’t really use the F-word liberally (although of COURSE “fuck” would be my favorite curse word, were James Lipton ever to ask), I get squeamish if I really need to discuss sex, even with my doctor, and God forbid I show some cleavage ever. So it was totally out of character for me when I signed up for The Real Real World improv class at the UCB and ended up playing the house slut.

The show, I’m sure you could figure out, was an improvised version of MTV’s The Real World. And the class was probably one of the more impressive classes to come out of the UCB now that I think of it. Broadway’s JEFF HILLER, literature’s JULIE KLAUSNER, and TV’s BEN SCHWARTZ were all in the show, as was Glennis. Not bad, right? And we had some hilarious character choices emerge — a Nazi (God bless SUE GALLOWAY and her mastery of the German accent), a wheelchair-bound lesbian (Kluasner FTW), George W. Bush and a bubble boy. And me, the slut. And just how did I dress slutty or show my skankitude? Why, I wore pigtails and an Old Navy tank top and stuffed my bra with socks, of course.

Yes, this is the outfit I wore to show I was a slut. And yes, that bra was gently stuffed. And man I was thinner then than I am now. Meanwhile, Hiller was an Amazonian sorority sister with gams up to there and a skirt that was so short it showed off enough for the two of us. This, friends. This is why I couldn’t cut it. I’m not embarrassed by my modesty, if anything I’d be more embarrassed if I was showing off more skin. I just realize now that a better character choice for me would have been Diane Keaton. I have more than enough turtlenecks and gloves to pull that off.


About lizblack

Liz Black is an entertainment writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. She has improvised and written several sketch comedy shows which she performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and most recently directed the sketch group Gentleman Caller. She has a blog,, and she really enjoys NY1 and burritos.
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