Amy Jordan Wants to Help You

September 8, 2018

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin


In the movie flashback of a theatre performer’s story, the camera will often cut to a backyard or basement scene, and cue the gel lens. On the stage, the budding artist, backed by homemade sets, and in the sold out audience, an array of stuffed animals on the edges of their seats, cheering her on in spirit if not audibly.

When the camera pans out and back, revealing Amy Jordan, it’s not a cloying plot device, it’s a true life event from her younger years in Dedham, Massachusetts. Call it foreshadowing, call it fate, Jordan was bitten early by the bug that would eventually lead her to Austin, teaching sketch and improv at Fallout Theater and Georgetown Palace Theater.

It wasn’t a direct journey by any means. Though Jordan continued to seek out performance opportunities, starring in her first musical at the local all-boys high school; her all-girls school didn’t have the same opportunity, or, of course, the boys. Either way, it led to Jordan’s first performance in Oklahoma!.

The stage was scratching the right itches, but Jordan still hadn’t landed on theater as a career. She arrived at University of Dallas, packed and ready to embark on a genetics major, when fate, as it is wont to do, intervened and the realization hit her that the theater was where she truly wanted to be.

This is where we’d break the 4th wall in the movie, and reveal that Jordan is not only in front of the camera but behind it as well. She found as much enjoyment in the craft of stage management as she did performing, and worked her way into an internship doing just that.

Jordan still performed, but bound by the Shakespearean material available to her in her studies, a far cry from the boundless field that she’d eventually explore with improv. As time passed, she tried her hand at stand-up, after seeing a show (and meeting a future ex-boyfriend) she was brought to in order to cheer her up. There’s often a bit of a dividing line between the improv and stand-up fields, a difference in how the stories are crafted and curated. For Jordan, though, she didn’t see standup as a performance. She tells Valerie Lopez that she felt standup was “a conversation with friends” that just happened to be the audience.

Exit the aforementioned relationship, accompanied by some solid lessons on how to deal with an apartment lease in such a situation. Austin provided a destination for Jordan at a time when she needed a change of scene (honestly, no pun intended), both geographically and bolstering her pivot from managing the stage to gracing it. And when she arrived she deployed her standard M.O.: find the performance scene, soak it in, learn it inside and out. "I'm like, super into, 'yes AND'ing the world, when things go crazy," Jordan says. She worked her way through improv classes, then sketch, at Fallout Theatre (formerly New Movement), and quickly became a founding member of her first sketch troupe, The Neighborhood.

"I'm super into 'yes AND'ing the world, like when things go crazy." -- Amy Jordan
8 years later, The Neighborhood is still a part of her life, but has joined a cadre of other projects, like the Yes But Why podcast Jordan hosts, and her recent new role of parent. She’s a major promoter of Austin and its creative scene, balancing her roster of roles (wife, mother, teacher, performer, podcast host) to ensure she can give back to the community as much as she can. Jordan is passionate about teaching, whether it’s working with seasoned improv students, or fashioning an approachable Mad Libs style class for kids. Yes But Why is a direct outgrowth of that passion, digging into the background of performers, and the decisions--momentous or trivial--that shape their lives and careers.

Before we roll the credits (something Jordan thrills over examining, silently giving props in the theater to all the people that make movies happen), there has to be a denouement. In this story, it’s that The Neighborhood is actually drawing to a close. In November, they’re celebrating their 8th anniversary, and also marking the beginning of their last run of shows.

The experience has given so much to Jordan, and she hopes it’s given just as much back to Austin and the community. It’s just time to move on to the next chapter, or sequel, if you will, and she’s already soaking in the books, opportunities, and options, for her next incarnation.

“Austin’s a big place, and...there’s plenty of places I can go try to empower women and other people.”Amy Jordan

One thing she knows for certain: it will be about bringing positivity and encouragement to as many people as she can. “Austin’s a big place, and...there’s plenty of places I can go try to empower women and other people,” Jordan tells Valerie. We agree, and, somewhat unlike that early basement audience, we’re standing and loudly applauding her mission.

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