Day 28: Playing with Coach

imagesSo last night, Switch Committee got to do an extra special show with our coach Timmy Mayse. We were very excited to have him join us as he has been coaching us for the past 3+ months. I reached out to him because I wanted to play with him during this 31 days thing. Right from the get go, we were having fun. The living room beginning talked about things like having your video games stolen and being robbed. Our suggestion had been Xbox which led to a story from Collin about the time he had all his video game consoles stolen as well as other things in his house. A traumatic event. For the first scene, I initiated with “I can’t seem to find my keys.” The reason behind my initiation was pulling from the idea of having things stolen or thinking they were stolen because they were misplaced. Dave joined me in the scene to inform me that the kid down the street was stealing the things (like my keys, wallet, and eventually my shoes and clothes). A quick-game occurred of saying things and watching them immediately disappear. For example, Dave said something like, “sir, put some clothes on” and I replied, “OMG my clothes, he took my clothes!?” We quickly cut to me confronting the kid down the street (Alan), who just so happened be in an iron lung making him incapable of leaving the house let alone stealing anything. I spoke with his father (Collin) about my accusations. I loved that everyone jumped on board to form a breathing apparatus (an iron lung) around Alan with their arms and hands. It really was a “we’re all on the same page” moment. He had a Darth Vader/Bane like way of breathing. I refused to give up about having my things stolen as I was convinced he was lying, which led to Timmy entering as a police officer. I informed him I thought the iron lung kid stole my things. Timmy then went  into the iron lung kid’s house and absolutely tore the place apart (in reference to Collin’s story where his place was destroyed when he was robbed).

In one scene, Dave was playing video games and swearing at someone on a headset. From the side, I spoke as if I was the child (named Tony) on the other end of the headset antagonizing him. We quickly found out it was because I came from a troubled home that I picked on people after Timmy and Alan went behind the curtain and started swearing at each other as my recently divorced mother and father. They said horrible but hilarious shocking things. Things like, “yeah you’d like me to hit you wouldn’t you?! Makes ya butt-hole wet!” SICK. HILARIOUS. RIDICULOUS. FUNNY. That line got a huge uproar from the audience. Hell, it got a huge uproar from everyone stage as we had a hard time keeping it together. In another scene, Alan was attempting to rob me at a Subway restaurant. I lunged at him and disarmed the knife from him, but was then shot. A quick game occurred where I kept getting up, puking, and getting shot over and over. In another scene, I was pulled out to be the child with the iron lung, but decided instead of speaking my character would just bow and salute randomly. Collin and Alan supported me in this scene saying, “this is all he knows how to do now” and asking me questions that resulted in more bowing and saluting. This quickly transitioned into Timmy and Dave as German soldiers addressing me as Adolf Hitler. My character stayed the same, bowing and saluting, but I now had a German accent and was more interested in “drinking vite zinfandel.” The final scene was between Timmy and I as he played a friend over at my house. I was Tony again. He said, “Tony, your parents sure do fight a lot” to which I responded “yeah my dad says my mom’s got a wet butt-hole ” Lights were pulled on that line/final laugh for the set.  Personally, I had so much fun with this show. Afterward, Timmy said he had a great time as well and was happy he got to play with us. The fun level was at a 10/10 on this one. Only 3 days left!

Day 27: Spice Girls

imagesLast night Switch Committee did a show at the Upstairs Gallery opening up for our friends (wanted to write fronds for some reason) Jukebox. It was another one of those “good, but we didn’t feel great about it” shows. We had fun. We played around with each other. Though something was missing. It felt as if we were playing hesitant or we didn’t pull the trigger. I know personally there was a few times I was thinking “what are we doing” vs just going with the flow. It may have been because of our opening. We kinda got stuck on a certain topic (the Spice Girls) and just discussed that for a good amount of time. By the time the living room was over, I was having a hard time coming up with anything for a scene. We agreed later that we got hung up on too many things and didn’t give ourselves room to generate ideas. However, we did do some things I was happy with. For example, call-backs were apparent. We brought back almost everything that had been established in the beginning of the show such as characters and mirror scenes.

I was very happy that I got to workshop a character that I created in rehearsal at the end of our set. We had our show called a few minutes early so we could try out my new character. Our coach suggested I try this character out in front of an audience. The character, Trevor, is a rambunctious and wild drunken lunatic who lives his life on the edge. He’s a loud mouthed joint smoking, pill-poppin alcoholic who lives for the party. We put 2 chairs back to back for this. I sat in one while my friends Dave, Alan, Collin, and David rotated one after another presenting different scenarios and characters for me to interact with. It was a ton of fun. Thanks to the guys for encouraging me do this as it was a lot of fun and it got a good response from the audience. As for this 31 days thing, ONLY 4 MORE SHOWS LEFT! :O

Day 26: Street Walker

SONY DSCSo tonight I did a show with my friends Dave and Derek (different Derek from other posts). Despite my plans to do a show at the Bar Below being thwarted by a cancellation, I was able to make last minute plans to perform at a place called the Lincoln Loft. The space is enormous. It’s literally an 8 person loft apartment with a gigantic open area where there is a mini-stage and chairs. Not just stand-alone chairs, but chairs that were connected together in a row (like you’d see in a college auditorium or movie theater). There were rows to the left of the stage and rows in front of the stage. Someone tonight referred to it as theater in the round. Also, they are move-able because they can’t drill them into the hardwood floor. We’ll get back to that later though. Trust me, it’s relevant.  I think the problem right off the bat (and this is my fault) is that we didn’t really have a form at all. We decided to do something different (as an experiment with my 31 days adventure) and take a suggestion from the audience and then create a form out of it. This quickly backfired as the first thing we did was go right into a scene. It was no different form whatsoever. We just went right into a montage and used the suggestion as motivation for that scene. That scene was at an airport and I got hassled by Dave (TSA agent) for looking suspicious yet Derek walked right on through. I said something to Dave about being fed up with this and that I was tired of getting sass from everyone. Derek transitioned into a new scene by bringing in crates full of sass. We then threw the sass around. It was a crazy, but fun idea. In this reality, sass (an attitude/emotion) came in crates and had to be tossed into the air. A few more scenes occurred (a poetry slam) and then I found myself seated in a chair in the audience while Dave tried to electrocute me. As an editing move, Derek ran at me to throw some sass in my face (callback to earlier sass scene). As he hit me he pushed me back and in the process pushed the chair back, which in-turn tipped the whole row of chairs back. Remember what I said earlier? I told you it would be relevant. Thank God for the people sitting in the row behind us because they were able to grab the row in time so we didn’t completely topple over. I could feel sincere panic by the audience as an actual accident almost occurred. My first emotion and thought was embarrassment. I quickly jumped up and apologized (within the scene) to the other people that were in the movie theater. We then marched out of the theater where I would justify all of the chaos by saying that we were all brothers who were stunt men and that we couldn’t go anywhere because we were just too rowdy.

Personally, I think a lot of good moves were made. There were transformational edits, characters, games, and call-backs. It wasn’t a terrible show, but it wasn’t the best.  I think we weren’t invested enough in the scenes. I found myself a few times thinking “what is going on here” and more importantly “well what now?” I did get to play a silly character that I was really happy about though. It got a good response because it was just stupid and frankly, sometimes stupid is funny. For example, Derek and Dave were beating me up because I didn’t “have the money”. We found out it was because I’m a degenerate gambler and gambled it away by betting on the colors of the stop-lights (specifically that one would turn orange). It was strange, but the premise (excessive gambling and owing debts) was still very much understandable and realistic. Rounders anyone? It turned out that the only way I could make the money back was by being a street walker. I know what you’re thinking, a prostitute? Hooker? No, I literally just walked the streets. We quickly cut to me walking up and down the street as people hollered at me. I would walk up, take my top hat off , extend it out for tips, and just keep walking. I informed Dave and Derek that I don’t do handsies pandsies, footsie wootsies and Derek quickly jumped on the game by supplying ones for elbows and knees. Dave would haggle me down to performing a kneesie (just kneeling on someone’s back) for Derek because it was his birthday. That scene was a lot of fun. This transitioned back to the air-port (CALL-BACK CITY AM I RIGHT!?) where Derek was down on the ground as Dave and I (TSA Agents) were beating him up while playing the classic good cop/bad cop routine.

In the end, I had fun. I know exactly what some of the things are that I needed to work on, but I also was satisfied with a lot of the moves I was making and the support I felt from my partners. Despite a low volume response from the audience, I was happy with the moves we made as improvisers.

Day 25: An illusion (Improv Gladiators Competition Night 3)

9MAh3So last night we did our third improv gladiators show at the Cornservatory. When I say we, I mean Switch Committee. I’ve been having a ton of fun doing these Cornservatory shows. Week after week we have been really bringing it to the stage and firing on all levels (characters, call-backs, being physical, exploring the stage, and transformational edits). We got the suggestion of popcorn, which led to a scene where Alan was in line to buy popcorn at a movie theater (Collin behind the counter) while David and I stood behind him fighting with each other. We were the kids. Things quickly escalated as Alan turned around and reprimanded us for fighting and then slapped us around. It was hilarious as David and I flew around the stage after being slapped. Alan would then slap Collin for questioning him. While laying on the floor, I transitioned into a new scene where David and I were a father and son working under a car. The conversation we had while under the car was funny because we talked about how I’m waiting for an acceptance letter for college and how mom’s a smoker (this queued Alan to crawl under the car as the mail man). I would mention that I was covered in oil and that if a spark (from one of mom’s cigarettes) went off  it would blow up everything (this queued Collin to crawl under the car with some cucumber sandwiches. The next scene was between Alan and I laying in bed. His opening line was, “why won’t you kiss me?” to which I responded, “I’ve got wind-burnt lips.” There was some funny conversation back and forth between us which ultimately revealed that my character, who built igloos in Alaska, was looking for excuses not to kiss his girlfriend. Collin and David would enter as Penguins who would quickly be slapped around and dismissed by the upset girlfriend. This transitioned back to the scene at the movie theater where Alan (the child abusing maniac) would reveal that he was an illusionist. This became a quick game of Scooby-Doo like “I was you the whole time” moments. For example, he made me disappear then brought me back. Then, revealed that he was actually Collin and that David and I were the same person despite being brothers. It was absolutely insane, but hilarious and fun to play out.  Later on, we would revisit the under the car scene to close out the set. Of course, this was after the car had exploded killing everyone leaving only me and my now disfigured father. He would inform me that a letter had come for me from the university. I asked the question, “well, did I get in?” The show was called right then and there. Like an open-ended movie, we never found out if I got into the school. I loved it.

Personally, I loved every second of our set. I got to be extremely physical. For example, I fell down the stairs in one scene and then slid across and off the stage in another. Let it be known that this stage is a platform that’s about 5 feet off the ground. I also was happy with my choices and what I brought to the scenes either as an initiation or as supporting dialogue. As a whole, I’m enjoying these shows. I like the other teams (everyone is doing great work) and the improv gladiators are really cool people. I’m bad at these short-form games, but it’s still fun to try them out. Ton of fun! Love this! Only 5 more days left, I can’t believe it. This month has gone by so fast. The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” couldn’t be any truer.

Day 24: It’s Sly Stallone

sylvester-stallone-el-post-que-se-merece-taringa-689951Tonight I got to play Sylvester Stallone while doing a show with Switch Committee (Dave, Collin, and I tonight). A character I’ve wanted to play ever since I started improvising. Being pimped into Stallone was so much fun. I played the punch drunk action star with a slur who’s tactic was messing up lines (saying lines from other movies like Throw Mama from the Train and Rocky) and punching everyone on set. A character so incomprehensible he needed a translator. Stupid, but fun. I enjoyed it and I think the audience did too. At least, I hope they did. Personally, I had fun with this show. I’ve had fun with all these shows. However, I don’t think the improv was that great tonight. Rather than having an actual grounded scene (something I feel I’ve lacked in the past few shows), we got crazy and just went with the fun. We jumped into a game very quickly and rode it out til the end. For example, we started with myself and Collin sitting at the theater watching movie trailers. I played an Italian/Boston type of character while Collin played my date. We pimped Dave into announcing the trailers and then after each trailer we would cut to the filming of that movie or “on the set.” We would do this for new blockbuster movies coming out with Sylvester Stallone, Will Smith, Hugh Grant, and Charlie Sheen.

Almost all of them (all except for Charlie Sheen) getting a quick cut-to moment to the filming of the movie. We did do one scene outside of this game where we were 3 guys at a birthday party. Collin played Thad, the birthday boy who loved having his friends over to watch the movies (referring to some of the ones we had mentioned in the trailers). Quickly things would spin out of control as he would find out we thought the movies he liked were shit and before we knew it, the scene we were in was actually a new Michael Bay Trailer. I just kept pretending I was exploding all over the place. Something Dave and Collin jumped on making me do more of, which triggered a laugh from the audience. It was a scene within a scene. Later, Stallone would have a dream within a dream. We would later end the show with a slip of the tongue (I said Hugh Jackman instead of Hugh Grant). There was some clever stuff going on when you break it down, but I want more than that.  We can have a grounded scene and get just as many laughs. I look forward to working on that tomorrow.

Day 23: A trip to ComedySportz

logo_reg_all_colorSo last night I did the short form improv jam at ComedySportz run by The Stevens Family. The Stevens Family is a group of wild and drunken hillbillies (part of the show) who choose different short form games to play and then ask for people to jump on stage to play them. Let it be known, I am still sick so my enthusiasm and energy is at an all-time low. I enjoyed the way the show was run. The Stevens Family does a good job of inviting you in on the fun, which I appreciated. However, playing the games was tough. It’s very difficult for me to be on the spot funny. I’m more of a explore and discover type of person where you watch the ‘funny’ develop. Of course, I jumped on stage when they decided to play the game “Be Funnier.” The premise is that 3 people will be having a scene and at any point the host can stop the scene, point at a player, and say “be funnier.” At that point, you have to make sure whatever you say is funnier than the last thing that you said. It’s brutal. I quickly found myself scattering for something, anything, and coming up with nothing.  I found myself having a hard time being funny at all during this. I felt more like an idiot than anything. However, the Stevens Family did a great job of supporting the things we did and inviting the audience to laugh about it.

Another game I played was called ‘Categories.’ That’s where the host gets a category from the audience and then points at people on stage to start rapid-fire rattle them off. For example, he’d point to multiple people after getting the suggestion ‘Planets’ and you’d hear Saturn, Venus, Earth, etc. This was another one I had trouble with. I’m awful when you point at me and tell me to “GO.” I can’t really judge myself on this one. Despite doing short-form in college for 2 years, I’m not really fond of it anymore. I didn’t really get to work on things because I was busy playing the games. It was fun to try this out because if I hadn’t been doing this whole month long thing I probably wouldn’t have. It’s always fun to try something new. Short form? I’ve got no business here.

Day 22: Team Nasty goes to Middle Earth

8003Last night I did a show with TEAM NASTY (me and random people I’d like to play with). Thanks to Zack, Dave, Frank, and Derek for joining me. This show started differently than other shows in terms of the form. I thought, “let’s do a multi-person Armando” where multiple people on the stage can come up and do a monologue. For the performance, we would pull ideas from those monologues to do scenes. After the monologues, the scenes began. As a whole, I thought the show was so-so based on the audience reaction. I don’t know what it was, but it was not going as well as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I still had fun and more importantly, I didn’t panic at any moment. Anytime I step on the stage I immediately feel better than when I was sitting in the audience, but something just felt off. I could roll through the excuses (I’m starting to get sick, it was 5 degrees out, etc.) or I could try to breakdown the improv set in the attempt to fix the problem.

Personally, I wasn’t happy with my choices. I wasn’t happy with the characters I picked. I didn’t think they had much detail or purpose. I think the characters I chose were one-off characters. In other words, the character that comes out once, says a line, and we edit the scene on that. I also didn’t really explore the environment. I sat a lot too. Instead, I should have come out, done object work, moved around and been more physical like I have in other shows. I also think things may have gotten a little weird too quickly. We needed a really well-rounded and grounded scene, but everyone was so excited to play we were quickly trying to jump on any and all games. On the plus side, I think we did a great job with the games. We got to travel through Heaven, Hell and Purgatory (which we called Middle Ground and referenced Lord of the Rings) in a tag-out run of scenes. We brought back everything that we had established in the beginning (all the characters returned and the same type of scene that started the show also ended the show), which was great. I was bummed at first, but after sleeping on it and thinking about the actual improv that was done, I’m satisfied with what we did as a group. Improv wise, we did a good job calling things back, committing to the characters we had created, and wrapping things up nicely. I’m happy with that and like I said, performing is fun no matter what.

Day 21: Mixing it up at the Playground again

FS1FKHZSM2DXV5DTTonight I did The Mixer at the Playground again. It was SO much fun. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. For starters, this is a great Monday night thing. For $5 improvisers get together to have fun. That’s actually the #1st and #3rd rule – HAVE FUN. #2 being ‘Don’t be a douche-bag.” So right from the start everyone is there to kick back and do some improv and support each other. It’s a very supportive environment. For the workshop, we learned about being on the same page as your scene partner. How you may be sitting next to someone who you are in complete agreement with vs another group of people who you are not in agreement with (but they are in agreement with each other). Sounds complicated, but it’s not. One of the problems with multiple people in a scene is that it can sometimes cause conflict. This is cause when 3+ people are each coming in with their own ideas, it can sometimes be hectic and crazy if people aren’t on the same page. We tested the theory out by doing some heavy handed scenes where we were given the back-story or premise (example: friends getting together for a Super Bowl party) and then told to improvise. For example, we had 4 people total in my scene. I was with the 3 who were really good friends excited to watch the game together. However, the other guy (my co-worker), was the 4th person in the scene who was invited because we were just trying to be nice. We would DISCOVER how I worked with him at the office, he sat in the cubicle in front of me, and he eavesdropped on my phone conversations with my wife Carol. We all played off each other very well as the 4th guy would say things clearly helping us to play off the fact that he was the outsider here. I was thrilled at how well it turned out. After the workshop, teams were created and we did a quick show.

The show we did was outstanding. The ideas behind the scenes we did were clear. I watched as one scene would inspire the next scene and so on and so forth. More importantly, we applied everything we had learned in the workshop to the show. For example, in one scene I came out behind someone to ‘scare them’ with a classic “BOO, gotcha!” This prompted someone else to pop out attempting to scare the person. Before you knew it, the entire team was out on stage trying to scare that person with a variety of “boo’s, gotcha’s, and scared ya’s!” It was a hilarious game that quickly occurred all because everyone was on the same page and in agreement that we were going to scare this person.  I definitely can walk away from this one picking something up. It seems so obvious, but it’s in our human nature to create conflict. I quickly found the game aspect of this, which I LOVE. I’m totally a game-oriented type of improviser. I was very happy with the choices I made during this show.

I can’t believe it. Only 10 more shows left. This has gone by so fast. FUN! (not the band).

Day 20: Most fun I’ve ever had

tumblr_m5mxn3ePUX1r51ucco1_500Last night I did a show that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. I did a show with Switch Committee at the Playground for our final Extended Play show. It was completely ridiculous. We had 35 minutes on stage and it felt like it went by in 5. Right from the start, we opened the door for nonsense. We started to do our normal living room opening when we heard a crash (guy fell getting to his seat) in the audience. Rather than ignore it, we immediately acknowledged it and started interrogating/razzing the guy who caused the commotion. We asked him what kind of wine he was drinking, what his favorite wine is, and then we turned on the house lights to see if anyone else in the audience was drinking wine. David was trying to tell a story, but we kept turning back to the guy in the audience to continue our conversation with him. Every time this happened the audience laughed. A quick game occurred as each member tried to tell a story, but it was interrupted by other members continuing their conversation with the audience member. This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this, but it ran so smoothly. We usually talk among ourselves and never involve the audience, but this time we pulled out all the stops. I’m not going to go into detail with the scenes, but we were very physical and we played a ton of different characters. I will say that we summoned an evil monkey (played by Alan) after reciting the cryptic words from a book (like in Evil Dead). Awesome!

Personally, I loved it. I was very happy with the choices I made. I had so much fun and the audience’s reaction to what we were doing was amazing. EVERYONE in the room was in on the fun. We broke all the rules. We tried everything and we each had each other’s back. We kept calling things (scenes and characters) back. There was a mix of crazy nonsense as well as grounded sincere scenes. Our edits were smooth and we played a variety of different characters. It went so well, the guy in the light booth (also named Dave and is one of the people who started the Extended Play) got in on the fun. Usually he doesn’t interact with the show (just lets the team do their own thing), but he provided us with music (Jurassic Park theme song) as well as different lighting for the scenes. It made our set so much better.

Day 19: Astronauts, Wet Nurses, and a GrubHub guy

astronaut_in_space-wideTonight I did a show at the Bar Below thanks to my friends Timmy (runs the show) and Jake (told me about the show). I jumped in to do ‘The Mixtape.”  The idea is that it’s a bunch of improvisers who have never performed together before jump on stage to do a set. I was surprised how well we worked together cause sometimes jumping in with random people can be tough. Anyone who has ever done an improv audition knows this first hand. It can either go splendid or tragically wrong. This, however, went extremely well.  Right from the start, we were all on the same page. The first scene involved guys at command center on Earth (did not say, but it was implied it was NASA) talking to an astronaut who was stranded in space. Everyone at the command center was a dumbsky/terrible at their job. We would inform him that it was going to take a while (3-15 minutes/hours) to get new oxygen tanks out to him. However, our characters were more occupied on other things like when the Grubhub was going to arrive. This led to a new scene where we saw one of the guys from NASA talking about how he planned on killing the guy in space the whole time and then to a live broadcast for the funeral. I would interrupt the live funeral as the GrubHub guy finally arriving with the food.

The next scene would involve a man at war who had a team of followers watching his every move. A funny little game occurred here where people mentioned things they thought he was really good at. This would lead to his superior officer telling him that he was released of duty because he just wasn’t getting the job done.  The scene after involved me being his wife welcoming him back home and telling him I was pregnant. This would lead to me meeting a wet nurse (who was actually wet cause of excessive sweating) to help me with my pregnancy and the scene following was a fake protest at an abortion clinic. A fake protest by guys with the hopes of meeting women. I would walk out towards the end of this scene and interrupt the protest by passing out food as the GrubHub guy once again. Lights (show ended there). Personally. I was thrilled with the show. I worked very well with everyone and had a ton of fun. There were people I have been wanting to work  with and now know that we work well together. The response from the audience was great. A very responsive crowd. They laughed at all the moves we were making and seemed to be enjoying what they were watching. The transitions and motives for every scene were clear and concise. It was very clear to follow the ‘story’ that we had established. I was happy with the GrubHub character that I had created. We didn’t really get to see much of him, but we didn’t need to. In my head, he was created solely to edit/end a scene. All because ‘GrubHub’ was mentioned once in the very first scene. The laughter that this garnered reinforces the fact that nothing is a throwaway line. Everything you or your partners say has importance. Which, more importantly, reinforces listening. I look forward to doing this show again.