Things I Learned in the Fire

And by fire, I mean the hot tranny mess we left on stage last night during our improv shows. Yeah, most of last night fell to the ground with a loud thud. Being the analytical analyst that I am, here’s my proposed corrective action plan:

1. React. Reaction continues to be my kryptonite, as I am a robot and have no capacity for emotion. I just need to make a decision to loooooooove or haaaaaaaaate whatever my scene partner brings at the top of the scene. That will just make it easier for everyone. Seriously. React already. 

2. Play Stronger Characters. Normal Archie is boring, but German Interior Designer Archie is a hoot. And don’t even get me started on Nerdy Ultradork Archie. Clearly, being other people is one of the primary reasons I got started in the funny business. I’ve been contemplating actually taking some accent and dialect lessons. Ever since I played the understudy of Will Parker in Oklahoma! in high school, my Southernish accent has needed some work. 

3. Take Your Sweet, Sweet Time. I think many beginning improvisers have this tendency to get verbal diarrhea at the top of a scene. Of late, I’ve preferred building a scene organically, and so I get thrown for a loop when I’m sitting there, quietly knitting a sweater while my scene partner quickly insists we’re on an exotic jungle expedition. (It gets cold in the jungle at night — hence the sweater.) My challenge is that I need to be conversant in both types of initiations. More often than not, I get so thrown that I need a second or two to catch up with my scene partner. And by that time, we’re already taking down Nazi Germany while wearing tutus.

For the record, I was in four — FOUR! — improv shows last night. So needless to say, I got progressively less and less funny as the evening wore on. (Although I did try to play a wide variety of characters, my favorite being a Tuesday-afternoon-shift exotic dancer named Jasmine or Jewel or something or other.) In any case, I think I’ve made amends to my friends who showed up, particularly for the 10 p.m. show, but rest assured that next week’s shows will be markedly better. Or I will buy you drinks.


3 thoughts on “Things I Learned in the Fire

  1. My improv teacher here in LA told us a great way of thinking about taking your time. You build a cathedral one brick at a time.

    This means giving the audience and improvisors a foundation of reality. Then once you have their attention, the unusual thing will present itself. Trust is key I think.

    4 shows dude? Wow.

  2. Oh it was a mess wasn’t it? As a fellow government analyst, I submit my performance improvement plan:

    1. More Characters…and I need to do some character development. I’m kicking around taking an acting class. I think every character I did was some kind of woman…boring.
    2. More listening
    3. If I’m not enjoying myself, figure out a way to enjoy myself
    4. I can’t watch people perform before me.
    5. If it’s a Friday show and I’m tired, I need a red bull or coffee.
    6. Think of more things I can do in my environment. I can only have so many characters that drink coffee (for the record, I had 3 different drinkers during my two Friday shows!)
    7. Invite more people and do a better job hyping the shows. It’s hard to improv for 6 people.
    8. Don’t miss the warm-up.
    9. Start my scenes with an action. Don’t come on stage and assume the “dueling pistols” position.
    10. More tag outs, more edits, more supporting my team by giving people stuff to work with. It’s a gift that I know I appreciate receiving on stage.

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