The Artists & Works That Inspired Me the Most in 2016

Normally I would post some kind of year-end favorite movies or theatre list (the movies one will come later), but I went through a lot of artistic growth in 2016. I also found several works that inspired me on a personal level, and I hope that through sharing them others will find inspiration as well. These are the works that drove me to be better:
  1. Louis C.K., Horace & Pete (series, louisck.net)
    Most of you probably haven't watched this yet, but the entire season is well worth the money. I've never seen a show like this: an experimental hybrid of a dramatic play and a sitcom with no laugh track, with excellent character development and genuine moments. This made me realize that if I want to keep writing, I have to up my game.
  2. Mike Birbiglia, Don't Think Twice (film)
    If you're a performer, or any other kind of artist, this movie is great on a life-changing level. I walked in with a bunch of anxieties about my life and career and walked out feeling like a weight had been lifted. But not because it's a "feel-good" movie; in fact, it almost hits a little too close to home. But I felt like I could connect to every single character, in both their high and low points. It lifted my spirits because it felt like, for once, somebody gets it.
  3. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton (Broadway)
    WARNING: Do not see this show or listen to the album if you're lazy, or it will kick you back into action. Don't see it if you're skeptical about musical theatre, or it will remind you of why you love it. Don't see it if you glorify the Founding Fathers, or it will remind you that our politics haven't changed at all. Don't see it if you haven't thought about your legacy or time on earth, because now you will. At least, that's what it did for me.
  4. Stephen Karam, The Humans (Broadway)
    Not much happens in this play. In fact, hardly anything. Nothing absurdist or fantastical; just a family getting together for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet these people, their problems, and their worldviews feel so real that by the end you feel like you've been through so much with them. Karam creates characters and addresses themes that achieve a balance of being specific, yet universal.
  5. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth (album)
    I'm a country music skeptic. I feel like the genre's mainstream output has become so dumbed down that I haven't listened to it in a long, long time. But this album isn't just good country: it's a transcendental experience. Simpson has been in the indie world for a little while now, but I've only discovered his genius this year. And you can bet I'll keep listening for years to come
  6. Chris Gethard, Career Suicide (off-Broadway)
    I saw this the day after the election. Yes, on the most hopeless day of the year, I saw a one man show about depression. But Gethard is a hilarious comedian, and he expertly walked that tightrope of pouring out his soul and keeping the laughs coming. That level of honest vulnerability is something I hope to achieve in my own work...and more so in my life in general.
  7. Nassim Soulimanpour [& James Roday], White Rabbit Red Rabbit (off-Broadway)
    Let me be clear: I'm still not 100% sure how "good" this show is. It has a degree of self-importance that can be a little hard to get past. What inspired me was it's presentation: a new actor performing each week (Roday the night I saw it), without rehearsal or even laying eyes on the script. It's kind of an ingenious gimmick by Soulimanpour in its unpredictability, and watching Roday perform it reminded me of one of the most important aspects of my job and life...making choices in the moment.