Episode 306 – Meri Amber

Meri Amber is an Accountant & Musician

Meri Amber returns from episode 77 to talk about her move to being a musical comedian full-time, some of the awesome comic conventions she has performed at, and how she has continued to perform through the pandemic! She also talks about how you should never ignore a hobby or passion you may have!

Episode Highlights

• Performing on Twitch
• Some of her favorite events she has performed at
• How her passion as a musician and comedienne helps others
• Live songwriting sessions
• Embracing your hobby or passion

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    Welcome to Episode 306 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in September. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. Or sign up for my exclusive list, and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.

    Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Meri Amber. She’s a musical comedian, singer, songwriter, do-it-all awesome person out of Sydney, Australia who also happens to have an Accounting degree, and now she’s with me here today. Meri, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Meri: Thank you so very much for having me.

    John: This is going to be awesome. It’s always fun catching up with you. This time we get to hit record, so this will be super fun.

    Meri: Woo!

    John: Exactly, exactly.

    Meri: I love buttons.

    John: Right. So I have rapid-fire questions. These are ones I’ve never asked you before, probably should have, the first time, but I didn’t. Here we go, here we go. First one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.

    Meri: Harry Potter. I haven’t watched Game of Thrones. How can I choose it?

    John: I haven’t watched it either, so, yeah. Here we go, heels or flats.

    Meri: I wear flats almost exclusively. I do love the look of heels, but these, those things are torture devices for the feet.

    John: Right.

    Meri: If you can avoid them, just get some nice-looking boots or something.

    John: The risk-averse accountant in you is still there. I could tell. It’s still there.

    Meri: I do love them. I love them. Don’t get me wrong. For my wedding, I wore these heels that were so freaking huge. I looked like a gerbil. I had people commenting. They’re like, “You’re wearing stilts.” I’m like, “It’s my wedding day. I wanted to make sure I’m taller than everyone.”

    John: Exactly.

    Meri: Serious ankle-twisting risk going on.

    John: That’s very cool. All right, here’s one, brownie or ice cream.

    Meri: Ice cream.

    John: Okay, all right. When you’re flying on an airplane, window seat or aisle seat.

    Meri: Well, to be honest with you, I would prefer the window seat, theoretically, but because I have this amazing insight into the world of planes, I’ve realized they serve endless drinks, but there are not endless toilets. So, the aisle seat is usually more convenient.

    John: That’s very funny. That’s funny. Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Meri: Oh, in terms of weather, hot, definitely, definitely. The whole rumor about you can just put more layers on, that’s a rumor. It’s not true. You know what it does? It makes it heavier. It doesn’t make you warm up. There is no warmth involved. I don’t even understand. It’s a lie.

    John: That’s so funny, and it’s middle of winter there in Australia right now, so it’s especially bitter. Two more. A favorite Disney character.

    Meri: Any of the evil doom lords are pretty good, definitely the evil ones. I’m thinking of the evil witch in Snow White, and I’m like, yeah, it’s pretty good. I like the — what’s the name of the evil one in Little Mermaid? I’m dying here, Little Mermaid. Ursula, she’s fantastic. I love her.

    John: Yeah, that’s hilarious. I didn’t know you could be that mean under the ocean. It seems like a happy place.

    Meri: Under the sea.

    John: Right, right. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under.

    Meri: Oh, jeez, I don’t pay much attention to it. I know my husband’s very picky about it because I’ve accidentally put it on the wrong way, according to him. It’s just like, it’s there. It’s functional. What’s the point? He’s like, “We talked about it, like this.” I’m like, “Okay, sorry.” For me, that’s indifferent.

    John: Indifferent, that’s totally acceptable. Yeah, so, Episode 77, a couple of years ago, and since then, it seems like you’ve been blowing up in a good way. On your social media, I keep seeing cool things happening. What are some things you’ve been up to in the last couple of years?

    Meri: Oh, jeepers, it’s been a crazy few years actually. It’s been nuts, which is fantastic. Last we talked, I wasn’t married. I’d never been to the US before. Now, I have traveled around more. I am married. I did a whole bunch of Comic Conventions which are my main stomping ground in terms of live arts. I got started doing shows on Twitch which has been particularly good now with the pandemic and lockdown because all the Comic Convention shows I had coming up got, obviously, canceled or postponed.

    John: Right.

    Meri: So, now, I can still continue performing, I just do it online. Community on there is so wonderful. I feel so lucky, so lucky.

    John: Very cool. In some of the Comic-Con shows that you had, you were headlining. It’s not like you had a hat out in front of the actual convention and playing as people came in. You were the event. You were on the main stage. That’s so cool.

    Meri: It was very, very cool. There was a couple of really, really cool shows that I don’t think I’m ever going to forget for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget doing the Doctor Who show where they put me between Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie and John Barrowman, to do a show. That was very difficult.

    John: That’s incredible.

    Meri: Very difficult audience, possibly the hardest audience I’ve ever had to work with ever, but it was amazing, obviously, because to be able to say that I did that and to be backstage and see these people of significance, because I’m a massive Doctor Who fan, so having to withhold my inner fan girl which is in a state of constant explosion at that point.

    John: And you have songs, Doctor Who songs, which I’m sure you were playing, but that’s awesome. That’s so cool.

    Meri: I was dressed as a TARDIS playing on my guiTARDIS.

    John: That’s awesome. Was there another show that you were like, was a huge…

    Meri: So many of these shows are just wonderful. I tell people, sometimes it’s not even bigger show. Sometimes the smaller shows are so beautiful. I remember one of my first shows in Perth. No one knows who I am in Perth. I did a show, and it was just maybe 20 people. It was this really small crowd, but it was so intimate. I was just like, I’m just going to sit on the side of the stage. I don’t need the microphone. We could just talk and stuff. At the end, we were in a big group huddle, and it was really, really nice. I remember performing in Canberra and having people dancing around my Lego song, all these people dressed as superheroes. That memory is never going to leave me.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Meri: Who can say I have sung a song about Lego and a huge pool of people dressed as superheroes were dancing around to it? It’s amazing life experiences, and I feel so lucky.

    John: Yeah, but the joy that you’re bringing to people is something not to forget about. Your creative side and that art and your music is certainly making people’s lives more joyous. So, the fact that they’re able to share that back with you is really important. Because if you just played in your studio and then put it out there, you wouldn’t even know. By studio, I mean, spare bedroom, I don’t know, but either way.

    Meri: I’m going to say, I’ve been doing these shows online recently. I’ve been essentially just performing for my studio, but it’s been just as phenomenal. There’s all these moments from that that are just as amazing. We raised a whole lot of money for charity a number of times. Each time, after it finishes, the next day, I just spin in this euphoric state of we have helped all these people, this community that I don’t even feel like I built it, or I lead it. I just feel like I’m part of it, if that makes sense, and we helped all these people. It’s amazing.

    John: Yeah.

    Meri: I spent three hours flailing in a mankini as a reward for reaching a donation goal at one point. Things like that are also pretty memorable. That’s something I’m proud to say I’ve done.

    John: Right, or probably will do ever again, but, hey.

    Meri: Yeah, it’s done now.

    John: It’s done now. Right, exactly.

    Meri: It’s on the internet. There’s no going back.

    John: That’s awesome. Yeah, but in the Twitch shows, it’s basically performing online, for people that don’t really know, it’s like a live YouTube video, sort of, or a Zoom call, if you will, in the world of corporate speak, but just somebody is able to see you perform, and then you’re able to interact with them from them typing back and forth, I guess, pretty much.

    Meri: Yeah. Well, it’s a lot more interactive than people think because, obviously, there is the text chat, but there are ways to interact with the stream in general. For example, almost all the songs I sing for one of my three shows a week are requested by viewers, but even more directly, once a week, I do live songwriting where I literally write a song live on the internet, taken from chat, and we’ve written over 100 songs now. It’s crazy.

    John: Wow.

    Meri: It’s like live performance art. It’s coming together. That’s pretty interactive.

    John: That’s got to be pretty hard because it’s not a pretty process. It’s not like, hey, I’m coming with a song I’ve been practicing for the last two weeks. It’s, no, no, we’re making this up right now. I don’t know how it’s going to go. This is going to be maybe not so pretty, the process itself, but then in the end, look what we did.

    Meri: Well, some weeks are definitely better than others. We’ve had some pretty good weeks recently. We wrote a song that was The Apology You Asked For. That was recently written, and that was a passive-aggressive apology song where it’s like: I’m sorry you decided to cry. I’m sorry you tripped my foot and decided to fall. It hurt my foot, and you should watch where you walk. Things like that, it was a big passive-aggressive apology song.

    John: That sounds hilarious.

    Meri: Super fun to write, super fun.

    John: Also, just what the general public is throwing out there and what they’re coming up with, and it’s like, wow, I would not have thought of that, but let’s weave that in, sure, sort of a thing.

    Meri: Some people are really skilled. Some people have crazy skills. I don’t think they realize how skilled they are.

    John: So, I guess, in general, I know that in your past — now, you’re doing this full-time, which is fantastic — I know that you did spend time in the corporate world. Do you have any words of encouragement for people that maybe have a hobby, maybe they’re a musician or a songwriter or something else, but they feel like it has nothing to do with their job?

    Meri: Well, I think that, in general, humans are pretty multifaceted. To be properly happy within yourself, you can’t really deny yourself, if that makes sense. You have a love and a passion for something. I was once told that it’s both a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because obviously it means you can do this thing, and you can do it potentially better than others or with a unique twist. It’s also a curse because if you don’t do it, your mind will be clouded with guilt. You’ll constantly feel the pull and the urge to do it.

    It is possible to do more than one thing at a time. Obviously, you’re going to have your main focus, but it’s more than possible to do more than one thing at a time. So, if you want your main focus to be your creative output, you can do that, while at the same time, studying, or you’re working part time. Or you could make your main focus your primary job, for example, an office job, while at the same time, working creatively. You’re doing your other passions beside it. I don’t think it’s possible to deny aspects of yourself and be fully happy and fulfilled within yourself.

    John: Yeah, I love how you said that. It’s so true. Because even in the book that’ll be out in just a couple of weeks is, where it’s not an or, it’s an and. What’s your “and”? It’s not one or the other or the other. You don’t have to choose. You can be all of these things. You can’t untangle one part of yourself even if you’re in a different setting. You’re still that person with different dimensions to you. It’s just one that happens to be taking the lead.

    Meri: Why would you want to?

    John: Exactly.

    Meri: It’s one of the things that makes you, you, is that there are so many different parts to you, so many things that you enjoy that come together to create you.

    John: That’s so fantastic. So, it’s only fair, since I started out the episode, peppering you with questions which, what podcast have you ever been on where the host rudely fires away at you like that? So, now, it’s the Meri Amber Show, and I feel like this should be on Twitch, just for the sake of it. It’s the Meri Amber Show. You can now ask me questions, and I’m in the hot seat.

    Meri: Okay. Prepare yourself, prepare yourself. The first question is, what season, if you had to live in one, would you live in? It’s the only season. There are no other seasons, all year round. Which season would it be?

    John: I’m going to go fall or autumn. I’m a huge college football fan. That happens then. The leaves are changing, so it’s pretty, and it’s kind of a moderate temperature most of the time. Yeah, I’m going to go fall.

    Meri: To watch the trees all year long, just…

    John: Right? Well, no, instead of being green, they would just be red and yellow and orange and whatever, just before they turn brown and gross. Yeah.

    Meri: Okay. Now, you mentioned college football, so this next question, I have a feeling this one’s going to get to you. I said, if there was only one season all year, what if there was only one sport in the entire world that you could choose, only one.

    John: College football, hands down, and if this doesn’t happen this fall because of everything, I might lose my mind. Yeah, college football, that’s my thing. I’ll watch as much as I can with still being a functional human.

    Meri: All right, all right. That wasn’t as hard as I thought. All right, so we were talking about various things you could do beside work, and one of the things, I think, I brought up was studying. If you were to study a degree, starting right now, so right now, you had to enroll in something, what would it be?

    John: I don’t know. I guess I’m just curious on sales and marketing because I feel like when I did Accounting, that’s a really great base degree to have because at the end of the day, it all comes down to dollars, no matter what it is, but I feel like that secondary level of sales and marketing is certainly a big piece that I don’t naturally do well. Then again, I’d probably fail out, and it would be like ten years to get the degree but whatever.

    Meri: Okay, now we’ve got an ordering question. I want you to order these: Cats, dogs, birds or fish. What order would you put those in?

    John: Okay, so dogs are number one. Probably cats that act like dogs would be number two. A dog fish would be number three. Birds, birds are just weird. Birds make me nervous ‘cause they could fly, and I cannot — birds and snakes, it’s like, what are you doing? I don’t get it. You’re way too weird for me. Out in nature, I’m not scared of birds, but birds in homes, yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just jealous. Maybe that’s what it is. I’m just jealous. I see those eagles, and I’m like, argh.

    Meri: What about flying dogs?

    John: Yeah, they’d probably weird me out. Yeah, that would be weird. So, yeah, that didn’t go as planned, I’m sure, but whatever.

    Meri: That’s not the order I expected, dogs, cats that act like dogs, dog fish and then birds.

    John: You wait ‘til they jump into your Twitch stream. That song is going to be so messed up.

    Meri: Oh, dear. All right, last question, and this one’s relevant to the times right now. Obviously a lot of the world is in lockdown. I’m not sure if you’re in lockdown right now or not.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Meri: Yes, you’re in lockdown. Okay, right now, what has been your coping mechanism of choice?

    John: I guess wine, wine and ice cream, and way too much of it. Yeah, I’m nervous that my suit pants aren’t going to fit anymore because they’re not elastic. I’m sort of like, that next conference that’s in real life is going to be, we’ll see. I might have to do some laps around the neighborhood. So, yeah, probably that, I guess, and then, of course, finishing the book and getting that all ready to go.

    Meri: That book looks amazing, by the way. For those who are listening, I have had a preview, and it looks really, really cool.

    John: Awesome. Well, thanks, Meri. Yeah, and actually, pre-sales start mid-August, so, actually, very shortly. Meri, thanks so much for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? This was super fun.

    Meri: Yay! Thank you so very, very much for having me on, massively, massively appreciated.

    John: Absolutely, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Meri in action or listen to her music or connect with her on social media or get the link to her Twitch channel, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything will be there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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