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You know how songs sometimes live in a specific time in your brain? I was just driving in my car with the radio on and had a memory of being 16 years old and driving to rehearsal. When I was young, growing up in Victoria, I would audition for anything and everything and used to drive out to the suburbs to be in plays in what is known as the Western Communities. Growing up, that always sounded to me like a place to escape from but, now that I’m older, it sounds like a wonderful place to live.

My first car was an old four-door Chevy Nova in sort of an avocado green with a tape deck that often ate my cassettes. It was a bit of a drive out to the Western Communities, but I loved listening to music, driving on the highway with the windows down in the sunshine. One particular play I was in — I don’t remember the name of it but it was some kind of British mystery / farce, surprise, surprise — is always associated with David Bowie in my head. I would listen to him on my tape deck on that drive and sing along, belting out lyrics into the wind and feeling a kind of happy I don’t know anymore.

I loved being in those plays and felt like they were a stepping stone to bigger plays and movies and TV shows and Broadway! Looking back it gives me a bit of a catch in my throat to think of how much promise I felt how sure of my life and it’s happy outcome I was. So it’s a tiny bit bittersweet to think of those drives. But mostly it just makes me smile and sing along, remembering what it felt like to be that carefree, to love what I was doing so much, to revel in a time when music meant so much and acting was the most fun thing in the world.

It also makes me smile because I remember that, at rehearsal one time, this older dude in the play was wearing these short beige Bermuda shorts and, while sitting in a circle doing a readthrough, one of his testicles slipped out the leg of his shorts. His wife drew his attention to it and made him put it back. But she hadn’t noticed right away so it was sitting there like a weird, skin-wrapped poached egg for quite some time. I had noticed but wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it. I was only a teenager, after all. I know teens today know a lot more than we did back then but I would venture to say they still don’t know how to deal with a cast member’s testicle roaming about when you’re trying to do a convincing British accent in a play about jewelry going missing at a family dinner, or whatever the plot of that play was.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’d know how to deal with it today, at the age of 48. And I’ve dealt with some stuff, people. I guess, at the end of the day, testicles slip out, life gets harder, dreams die, and we look for community in ways that may surprise us. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.

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Conflict Resolution

It’s almost 10pm. I just tried to diffuse a fight between two of my neighbours. My senior neighbour was on her balcony in a (long) t-shirt and no pants, yelling at the young guy across the street for parking in front of her house. From what I gathered, she was less than pleasant before I got there. I hollered at her to “Go put some pants on, you saucy minx!” and told the young man not to be concerned about “the strange woman in her underpants” but I think the damage had been done. He was a bit salty.


She tried to argue with me for a bit about what the “residents only” signs mean, what “this block” means, etc. and I regaled her with tales of my 15 years in the West End, spending an average of 40 minutes per day looking for parking. It’s hard for me to get worked up about parking here in South Van. Although, if I come home and there are people parked in front of my house and I have to drive ALL THE WAY AROUND THE BLOCK to park in MY OWN DRIVEWAY off the back lane, I will confess, I get a bit salty. Anyhow, the point is, my neighbour had no pants on, then her husband came out without a shirt on to back her up, and I think this is the reason the young dude moved his car. Remember this strategy, people. Use it sparingly, please.


Raccoon in a Tree

There is a raccoon up the tree across the street. I wouldn’t have known except for the incessant screaming of the crow perched up higher in the tree. That dude was mad about that raccoon. I couldn’t tell if it was a baby raccoon or just, you know, raccoons are small, but I considered his situation while I watered the garden and the crow continued to scream. I wondered if he had been doing something wrong or if he was lost or if he was injured. I wondered if he would wait until dark to climb down and away. I wondered if that damn crow would ever stop screeching. We get it, crow! There’s a raccoon in the tree! But, as with anything one ponders too long, I ended up creating an elaborate backstory for this raccoon. I had been worried that he had been left there by his family when the crows started hollering. But then I figured his Mama Raccoon had probably told him a million times to stick by her and not go climbing trees after crows nests because those fuckers are not to be messed with. But did he listen? Oh no, he did not. And so now, natural consequences, buddy. Mama Raccoon was like, “I have to get to Superstore before it closes” and he was like, “They’re open late! Wait!” But she wasn’t having it and savoured the time alone on her way to Superstore, worried thoughts of him creeping in, in spite of her steely tough love, distracting her from the clearance rack and the Joe Fresh pyjama bottoms she probably didn’t need but they were on sale. But she’d warned him and she’d tried to protect him and now she had to let him spend the day in a tree being screamed at by crows and maybe even all night too but, damn it, that’s how some people need to learn, isn’t it?

I may be projecting.

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Is Roseanne My Louis CK?

I feel kind of like Roseanne is my Louis CK. Or my Bill Cosby. Or my Woody Allen. Although, Woody Allen was already my Woody Allen. But I digress. (Digressing in the very first paragraph? Get it together, Brayton! Sorry.) Roseanne was so influential for me in terms of both comedy writing and being a producer. She was groundbreaking. She was hilarious. From her first stand-up tape, “Thank God for gay men. Otherwise us fat girls would have nobody to dance with” is still one of my favourite jokes ever. She inspired me to write comedy that was truthful, that I wanted to see, not what I thought people wanted to see. She was unapologetically pro-woman in a male dominated field (more than one field, actually) and she also held other women to her very high standards. This is one of my favourite Roseanne stories from a Vanity Fair interview I read in 1994. I’ve never forgotten it and think of it often.

“That’s what bugs me about TV. We don’t hear any alternative point of view politically or any people-of-color ideas. It’s all the same old shit. . . . I used to have all these women writers, and I’d say, ‘Why are you writing shit like this—you’re women! Why are you writing shit that men wouldn’t even write no more?’ They don’t get it. They can’t help theirselves. I took this one aside. I thought, Well, I can talk to her. I said, ‘You’re a mother. You have a life. Write about that!’ But they think they have to write for ‘television,’ and they have it in their heads what ‘television’ is. This is one of the all-time great stories for me: I told this woman, ‘You know, I am so fed up with you. You’re worse than the men. You’re full of bullshit. You’re putting women in places you know you would never go. You can’t write for me. You can’t write for women.’ So she stood up and grabbed her breasts and said, ‘Are these not the breasts of a woman?’ Then she grabbed her hair. ‘Is this not the hair of a woman?’ This whole Shakespearean thing! I was roaring! So I go, ‘Man, you are so fuckin’ fired, you crazy bitch!’ . . . It’s all about fear. That same fear that gays have about coming out is the fear that women have about being feminists or being pro-women. It’s the same fear that Jews have about being too Jewish. And it’s the same exact fear that black writers have about being too ethnic. They all aspire to this. . . shit. They’re afraid that they’ll never work again if they don’t do it.”

“Man, you are so fucking fired you crazy bitch” is a mantra I use in my own head to keep myself on track when I’m not stepping up.

I read her books and interviews with her and I went to see her movies. But more than anything, I strove to emulate her as a woman in comedy who felt entitled to a place at the table.

So when she went bonkers — and I say this, not facetiously, and with no disrespect to people with mental health issues because she actually is obviously mentally unwell — I felt disappointed. I wanted to still believe in her. But she made that extremely difficult. And then came the Roseanne reboot.

It was only by chance that I watched it. I rarely watch cable tv, shows in their original time slot. But there I was on the couch and it came on so I watched. The first episode intrigued me, but the second episode blew me away. I laughed out loud. I cried. I loved how they portrayed complicated family dynamics when not everyone is on the same political page. I felt like they were giving America a much needed roadmap for loving each other across political lines. I applauded how they, in true “Roseanne” fashion, didn’t shy away from the complicated or polish up problematic attitudes (in this case, around transgender issues) but humanized them and addressed them through the also complicated bonds of family love. I loved the reboot.

I didn’t watch it outside of context, however. I knew it was complicated to enjoy the show based on Roseanne’s racist, transphobic, Trump-supporting stupidity and that many people were critical of those of us who watched it, equating our viewing with support of Roseanne’s politics. I respected that but I felt able to embrace that contradiction. I acknowledged my privilege in being able to do so. But, for me, the accomplishment that was the reboot was worth it.

I won’t go into that whole discussion again here as it has already happened plenty, I’ve had it plenty, and, to be honest, I don’t know that I have anything new to add or that I even know where I stand on it anymore. I confess, I didn’t watch any episodes past the second. It wasn’t a boycott on my part, I just couldn’t really be bothered, especially when my feelings were so ambivalent. I did question my own complicity and continue to think about and discuss the question, but I would tell anyone who asked my opinion that I thought the first two episodes were beautiful, important, and hilarious.

Then today it was announced that the Roseanne reboot was cancelled by ABC after Roseanne tweeted something egregiously racist. And I felt so sad and disappointed. Not about the show, because I hadn’t even continued to watch it. Not for the cast and crew who lost their jobs because of her stupidity. Frankly, I’m not losing a lot of sleep over those people’s lost jobs. It’s a business where things disappear in the blink of an eye all the time, often for no apparent reason or at the whim of the network. It’s sad, sure, but no one is guaranteed a job in this business and if you hitch your wagon to someone like Roseanne, the chances of this happening are good. (I suspect my cynicism about the industry is palpable here.) But I felt sad and disappointed because I realized I had to officially give up on one of my idols.

Maybe, like those who have defended the Woody Allens and the  Louis CKs and wailed over the news of the Aziz Ansaris, I had cut her too much slack in the past because I needed to still believe in someone who had been so important to me, so important to who I became. It’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow to lump yourself in with dudes who acted as apologists for other dudes’ shitty behaviour! But not nearly as bitter as having to acknowledge that one of your heroes is a garbage human. So I guess, oddly, I’m understanding those defenders a bit right now.

It hurts to have to let go of your idols. Because in condemning them, it feels like condemning a part of yourself. If so much of who I am was inspired by someone I have lost all respect for, how do I respect myself? It really pulls the rug out from underneath you in a way you don’t really see coming. So I may get where the defensiveness and initial denial stems from. But sometimes, we are left with no choice but to walk away from that which no longer serves us; even when that is a person you once aspired to be.

Roseanne, you meant so much to me. You inspired me and entertained me. You paved the way for women in comedy like me. For that, I loved you. But you have let me down immeasurably and I don’t have a place for you in my heart anymore. The revelations around Louis CK etc. sucked but they didn’t feel personal to me. This feels personal. I was initially surprised by how devastated I felt but, the more I unpack it, the more sense it makes. This is personal. It’s very personal. You have turned the tables on so much of what “we” prided ourselves on standing for and it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what the hell happened to you, but using comedy to speak out against sexism, transphobia, homophobia and racism still has my heart. I was inspired by you, but I am not you. And I vow to do better than you.

I’ll take what you taught me and continue to create the work that I want to see, from a place that is truthful, not from a place of trying to be what I think people want to see. You taught me that. But you clearly have nothing more to teach me. So long, Roseanne. I loved you. But you are so fucking fired, you crazy bitch.

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Written in the Stars

Greetings from Edmonton! What am I doing in Edmonton when our VOKRA foster cat had kittens just over a week ago and I could be cuddling this? 

I KNOW! Well, I’m here doing my show Give It Up at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. 

I’m lucky to be staying with my wonderful friends, the Skaret family, who are taking good care of me and providing endless laughs and cute dog cuddles. 

But things have started out a bit rough, I’ve got to tell you. 

My first show was like a bad dress rehearsal. No big deal, it happens. But of course, that was the day a reviewer came. Oddly, his review wasn’t that bad (although he did miss the point entirely on the characters and must have been distracted and missed the ending). It was like a three star out of five review, I’d say. So it’s kind of odd that he gave the show ONE STAR. Ugh.

You know, I wouldn’t care, but in a town where I don’t have a following, where an unknown show can live or die by a rating like this, I care. And it sucks.

I’m feeling pretty bummed. I miss my family and my pets and my home and my community. The irony of doing a show called Give It Up about my wildly moderately successful career and feeling like I want to crawl into bed and watch Netflix for 26 days is not lost on me. I am a big…okay, moderately sized fish in a little pond at home. But here I’m not. And it’s a bit unsettling, to be honest.

I have evening shows all this week (I opened with two matinees to boot. In a venue a 10 minute walk from the epicentre of the Fringe no less.) so I know things will turn around. I’ve just had the wind knocked out of me but I’m getting back up, dusting myself off, and getting ready to do some extreme freestyle dog dancing and win over some audiences. I had a great audience yesterday and the show felt great again. Tonight will be even better. 

I’m feeling a strange mix of unfamiliar vulnerability and the teflon indifference that I guess comes with my age and how long I’ve been doing this for. I’m focusing on the faces in my mind from the audience members laughing at the show these first two shows, the woman who covered her face and put her head in her lap with laughter (and probably a bit of horror) when Caboodle and I started dancing, and the email I got from a woman just starting out in sketch who saw the show and raved that it inspired her. After all, those are the moments of magic I’m after. Like Roxanne, I’m digging down deep to remember why I started modelling…I mean doing comedy in the first place. The glamour. The magic. The pass that gets me on the Edmonton bus system for free. 

Welcome to (one) stardom, Morgan Brayton.

Oh, and I’m posting videos every day on my Facebook page. They’re fun and funny and don’t require any reading. Check out…

Today In Edmonton Day 1

Today in Edmonton Day 2 With special guest Graham Clark

And if you feel like writing your own review of Give It Up but don’t have a blog, you can do so here.

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Welcome Home, Lucy


I found this teapot at an antique store in Wenatchee, Washington and knew I had to have it. When we started filming Morgan Brayton & Other People for OutTV, some two plus years ago, I brought it to the studio to be part of the set. I wanted to have a bit integrated into the decor. Today, I brought Lucy home, along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bunch of feelings.

Today we filmed the 50th and final episode of Morgan Brayton & Other People. The topic, fittingly, was endings. In preparation for the topic and the final episode, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about endings. I discovered that I’m way more comfortable with them than I thought. Or than I used to be. Or than I’d given myself credit for? Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

We don’t stop a lot these days. At least, I don’t. In our world of multitasking and multiple tabs open and everyone having to do double duty just to make ends meet, the idea of marking time or change through ritual doesn’t happen a lot. Sure, we have birthdays and holidays, but they’re fraught with other complicated feelings and don’t always help us actually stop and look backwards and forward. (The exception to this being decade birthdays. I have had complete meltdowns at 30 and 40 and I look very much forward to doing so at 50 and turning my life upside down once again. Stay tuned!) But when something ends, either by choice (like the ending of my show) or without consulting us (like the death of a relationship or a loved one), we can’t help but  take a look around. Endings help us stop a minute and take stock. They help us reflect on what has gone before and what was important about it to us. Which is what I’m doing right now.

When I think about Morgan Brayton & Other People, the feelings are layered. I’ve had an amazing time. I’ve learned so much, I’ve laughed so hard, I’ve shed a few tears, and I’ve met some great dogs.


And I’m also ready to move on. That’s not a phrase I say a lot. Working as an actor for almost 30 years, you get really used to other people telling you where your career is at and where you need to put your energy. You get used to being grateful for any work you have. This show, while being very much about the people taking part in the conversation, was anchored in me and what I wanted to talk about. But earlier this year, I had the interesting experience of saying, “This isn’t where I want to be anymore”. It was unfamiliar and terrifying and the angry gnome at the back of my head kept screaming, “YOU HAVE A TV SHOW! HOW DARE YOU NOT BE SATISFIED! SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY!” (His voice sounds like the whistling of a teapot and the screeching of train tracks combined, in case you were having trouble imagining.) When my feelings were met with agreement by the production team, I felt a sense of validation and satisfaction. Then sheer panic. Then satisfaction again. We were all on the same page and, best of all, they suggested we turn another page and figure out something new to write. Believe me, I’m aware how lucky I am. Thanks, OutTV. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves to beginnings, and we’re still talking about endings.

If we really take the opportunity they offer us, endings help us pause the busy-ness, the treading water, and encourage us to ask ourselves, “If this really were the end, would I be satisfied?” Oh man, when my mum died, I went through an amazing phase of having zero patience for nonsense. What’s that? Yeah, okay, listen, my WORLD just fell apart; your petty bullshit is trifling and will not be tolerated! MOVE! It was amazing. It didn’t last, unfortunately, but remnants of it remain and step up to shut down nonsense periodically. It’s pretty great. So I don’t want to let the opportunity of this ending go by without gleaning all I can from it.

So, how do I feel? Well, on the one hand, I feel sadness at letting go of this regular opportunity to bring interesting people together and talk about things that matter to them. When I ask myself why I love doing this show, that’s the reason. But, you know, I’ve realized that the reason I ended up doing that on OutTV is because I do that in life. Bringing interesting people together is kind of my jam. I’ve been lucky enough to build a community full of fascinating people over my past few decades in Vancouver and I love nothing more than to introduce those people to each other, growing that community even further and having conversations that bring together so many fascinating opinions and experiences. The show has given me the opportunity to present those conversations on a different scale. There’s no producer who books all these fascinating people, these fascinating people are all a part of my world. Looking back on these people and these conversations, as only an ending can make me do, has been overwhelming. Man, what a lot of smart, funny, interesting, passionate, loving people I know.

Some of them I’ve been lucky enough to learn more about through this show and I think that might be one of the big things I’ll take with me from this experience. People aren’t always who we think they are. They so often have experiences, thoughts and opinions I never would have guessed. But through this show, I’ve had the opportunity to ask them about their lives and their thoughts. I’m going to miss that. Or I would if I thought the end of Morgan Brayton & Other People meant the end of those conversations. But it won’t.

I’ll keep asking. I’ll keep bringing together people from all the various parts of my communities and finding out what they have in common. I’ll keep listening to them and facilitating conversations with them and finding out where we diverge. And yes, I will keep talking too much and making jokes at inopportune moments and crying when I get overwhelmed. Let a girl have her foibles, will ya?

But here’s another big thing I’ve realized. Through doing all that, I’ll be reminded that I belong. If not to all of these communities, at least to a part of all of them. My connections are my strength. I am not alone. None of us are. But maybe sometimes we need something–a tv show, a dinner party, a play,  a book of poetry, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, some comedy, a blog post, or even, god forbid, a phone call–to remind us.

On today’s episode, we talked about endings. The ever-clever Tetsuro Shigematsu pointed out that every ending has many beginnings held within it. I love that. It think it’s so true. This case is no exception. So, I’m happy to announce that we are currently in pre-production on a new OutTV show and I look very much forward to sharing it once it’s ready. So stay tuned!

But in order to have a beginning, we must have an ending. So it’s time to say good-bye to Morgan Brayton & Other People. (Although, in this digital age, does anything ever really go away?) It’s been amazing. I’ve really loved it. And I am grateful to everyone who watched, tweeted, appeared on, worked on, or even heard about the show. Thank you. I’m glad to be connected to you. And good-night.

Thank you to OutTV, especially my producer Philip Webb, for approaching me and for thinking I could anchor a show people might watch. Thank you to my director, Nicky Forsman for fighting for me and sometimes with me to figure out what works and what could work better. Thank you to our amazing cast for the bulk of our run, Katie-Ellen Humphries, Erica Sigurdson, Fatima Dhowre and Robyn Daye Edwards. And to all the many other guests who graced our set. Thank you to our crew which mostly consisted of Samantha Amaral, Jonathan Schmidtgall, Milan Wejr, Matteo Di Iorio, Jordan Sy, Evan Eye, Craig George and Meredydd Gray along with Davina Faye, Karly Paranich, Mark Barry, Sandor Gyurkovics, Cameron Sinclair, Travis Hansen, D’Arcy Hamilton, Rain Essery, Gloria Ching, Lisa Kolisnyk, Jack Fox, Lisa Forrest, Katherine Frost and of course Brad Danks and James Shavick.

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Making a Fringerer: Change of Plans

I bet you thought I’d been buried alive under boxes in my basement, didn’t you? I bet artists on the Fringe waitlist were hoping they could have my spot, weren’t they? Well, I’m alive and mostly well and I have, in fact, tamed the basement. What? You don’t believe me? I anticipated this, and I have photographic evidence. Behold! Before and after!


I will assume you are duly impressed. Thank you. Thank you so much.

So, that’s the good news. The bad news is, the bins are still there. Well, it’s not bad news, per se, just news, I guess. See, the thing is, I thought that once I had cleaned up the basement and could access the bins, I could access those feelings and emotions and memories and write a show about it. I figured that was what was holding me back. But once the clutter was cleared away, I realized that wasn’t it. I realized I’m just not ready. That story is not the one I need to tell right now. I will one day. But I realized today is not the day. And then I had a little meltdown. I mean, here I am with this Fringe spot and these plans to write this show and these expectations from the world…

And then I realized, there are no expectations. People will go about their lives whether I write this show or not, whether I write any show or not, and so will I. We’re all going to be okay, you guys. Seriously. So, I set about Plan B. I know, I know, I barely had a Plan A! But that’s how life works sometimes, isn’t it? You set out to do one thing and you end up somewhere else. Maybe that’s a failure to achieve that original thing or maybe it’s a success because you ended up achieving another thing. Who can say? The important thing here is, there IS another thing! (sorry waitlisters)

In an attempt to calm myself down, I decided just to do a straight up sketch show, filled with all the new characters I’ve created over the last while, back to back monologues, no overarching theme, no message, just a bunch of goofball people I have dreamed up, thrown on a stage that will hopefully make people laugh. But when I started looking at the characters, I realized that, actually, there was a theme. These are all characters who, in one way or another, have dealt with or are dealing with their lack of success. Or at least, with their lives not turning out how they’d planned. They all set out with big intentions, sure they were going to “make it”. But something changed or they changed or nothing changed and now they’re trying to figure out if this is even what they wanted. Yup, there was a definite theme. And I have no idea where it came from.

Okay, that’s not true. Obviously, all these characters express some facet of the struggle I’m facing in my own life and have been for a few years. I’ve been acting professionally for 27 years, been doing comedy for 20. I’ve achieved a lot, I’ve been on my way to “making it” several times, but I really haven’t achieved success. Or have I? Is this it? And if so, is this what I want? And if I’ve failed (which is a strong possibility), why the hell am I still doing this? I have lots of questions I’m pondering and so many stories to tell about the experiences that led me here. Which leads to my new show.

I considered calling it Plan B but didn’t want to be picketed by a bunch of pro-life / anti-choice idiots so instead I settled on Give It Up. It’s a nod to that voice in my head that keeps telling me it’s time to pack it in. It’s a nod to the old comedy intro, “Give it up, for Morgan Brayton!” And there’s something in the act of surrendering too, of giving up on what I’d set out to do and following the path to this show instead, wherever it may lead. Maybe giving up won’t be so bad after all?

So, Give It Up mixes stories from my career and my life with these characters I guess my brain created in an attempt to try and sort this stuff out. I’m crafting them all together into some kind of shape that I hope works. I hope it will make you laugh a lot. I hope it will reflect some of the questions in your life and let you know that you’re not the only one. I hope it will be a huge success and become a smash hit on Broadway and then I’ll write a follow up show called I Didn’t Give It Up, I Made It! We’ll see. But for now, I’m just working away on it and getting ready to entertain you come September.

It wasn’t where I set out to go. But I think it’s going to be a great place to end up. I hope you’ll come see it.

Give It Up.jpegPhoto: Michele Brayton

Give It Up

Written and performed by Morgan Brayton
Directed by Shawn Macdonald
Stage Managed by Heather Johnston

Morgan Brayton has it all! Okay, well, she has questions about it all. Where is her husband Scott Baio? When is SNL going to call? What happened to her big break? Did she miss it? Is this it? Will there be snacks? Outlandish characters and true stories combine for big laughs from the award-winning comedian and Fringe Fest “Critic’s Choice”.

Part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Venue: The Cultch

Thursday, September 8
7:15 pm

Saturday, September 10
8:45 pm

Wednesday, September 14
5 pm

Thursday, September 15
10:30 pm

Friday, September 16
6:45 pm

Sunday, September 18

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