Monday, January 28, 2008

I wonder if I should try

I’m working a theory that the perfect improv troupe meets the following criteria:
  • Four people or fewer
  • All single
  • All childless
  • All swear they will never get married and have children

I say this after my third attempt to put together a rehearsal schedule for the seven-person troupe I’m in. (Hint: It rhymes with Rantrum.) We almooooost had it: A social-life-obliterating series of Friday rehearsals.

Stupid people and their stupid relationships.

Over the years, I’ve seen more good improvisers lost to spouses and kids and…and lives. It’s heartbreaking, really. So it’s no surprise the majority of the improv universe is run by four categories of people:
  • Improvisers who’ve never been married
  • Improvisers whose spouses are OK, really, with them spending a lot of nights out
  • Improvisers married to or sleeping with other improvisers
  • Divorced improvisers

The first question friends who haven’t seen me in a while ask: “So, are you doing any of that improv stuff these days?” After I answer, they invariably say, “How do you
do all that?”

Easy. No husband. No kids. (And honestly, I can’t remember the last time I went out on more than one date with a guy who wasn’t an improviser. So…yeah.)

So why bring this up? Because I think it has a lot to do with why small-market improv troupes never get as good as Chicago/NY/LA groups. In those cities, there are plenty of people who either want to—or actually do—make their livings performing and teaching. They arrange their lives around improv.

Here, we fit improv into our lives. Which means a weekly rehearsal feels like a lot. And monthly shows are the average. And many casts are comprised in large part of people with five or fewer years’ experience, while the most experienced improvisers ultimately play the fewest shows.

Because of this, we don’t have a community of elders who teach the classes you
have to take and perform the shows where everyone goes to see how it’s done. We don’t have the TJs and Daves, the Susan Messings, the Beer Shark Mice of the world.

It’s not just about talent. It’s about life choices.

Maybe I'll put out a want-ad for the perfect troupe. 


  1. No one in Rantrum has kids. So you all have that going for you.

    I am liking the the fact the the Trip Fives are now only four. It just means more scenes with me, and i like scenes with me. Me me me.

  2. True dat.

    I should maybe have pointed out that I'm not really annoyed at the members of our troupe who have lives. Because honestly, that may be everyone but me.

    And I've been scoping out some online dating sites and...let me tell you, it's not pretty out there.

  3. Is there a "No dating within the workplace" rule at your job? If so, scope someone out, be real nice to him, then get him fired, then ask him out on a date.

    You'd have LOADS to talk about.

  4. Hooray for the laws of inverse relationships. I have way too many thoughts (and too little time) on this to devote to a tiny post reply.

  5. Good ol' chicken and egg problem of growing an improv scene.

  6. You're welcome, Pete.

    I've just given you the next topic with which to update Feel Me Don't You.

  7. I have noticed that since I got into a relationship, the number of people in the audience laughing for (ok, AT) me has increased by one.

  8. Are there more people in the Chicago/NY/LA who arrange their lives around improv? Of course – but most of those people moved to those cities for the specific purpose of arranging their lives around improv. Obviously, that isn’t happening in KC.

    This means, generally speaking, you have a glut of younger improvisers with highly varied levels of A) passion, and B) talent. What happens to them as time goes by?

    -The ones who are long on passion but short on talent attend every rehearsal, take every class they can, then eventually get discouraged when they realize they’re as good as they’re going to get (and it’s not good enough for their liking).
    -Those who are long on talent but short on passion (which, unlike talent, tends to deteriorate over time) find something they are more passionate about.

    Those who have both tend to keep it up for quite a while. However, a couple different fates eventually creep in:

    -They get into relationships with non-improvisers, life happens, priorities change; participation in improv diminishes or ends completely.
    -They immerse themselves in improv, and make it the focus of their outside-of-work life. Because of this, they usually end up dating other improvisers because A) they’re the only ones who understand, and B) they’re the only people you end up meeting outside work because you’re always doing something improv-related.

    Unfortunately, even the perfect troupe’s perfection would be temporary. Someone would fall through the cracks eventually. Statistically, a smaller troupe would give you better odds of a longer run.


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