The day the Pitch comes out with a big article about Thunder
dome is not a day I want to be off the boards. But I waited. I read the Pitch (totally in bounds), checked an e-mail from Jared and wrote on the Improv Thunderdome board on Facebook (not so much in bounds).
Like I said, weaning.
BUT HERE'S WHAT'S GOOD:
I am noticing that avoiding the pesky, administrative stuff during the work day is helpful. (As was a 30-minute chair massage in our health department.) Knowing I have to put it off gives me permission to do just that. Compartmentalizing has kept me focused in other ways—for the first time since I got it, I sat through a two-hour meeting without looking at my Blackberry once. And because my moratorium has coincided with a rare week without tons of meetings, I've been working on projects that take focus and thought.
In the book The Artist's Way At Work (which I credit with saving my career during some dark days), you do a week of media deprivation. Outside of your job, you cut yourself off from TV, magazines, the Internet, radio, etc. It makes things feel very quiet—and after the first few days or so of COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT, you relax into it. This is the closest thing I've done to that in a while, and it's made me realized some scary stuff. I spend the better part of my day plugged in—by Blackberry, mobile phone or laptop—and I think it's shot my attention span to hell.
So this has been good.
AND HERE'S HOW I REALLY FEEL:
I told myself I would be OK with either of two outcomes. I lied.
I'm not playing in Thunderdome. I'm teching a team I coach—Scriptease. I've worked with these guys since they were 15, so I'm pretty emotionally wrapped up in their success. On the other hand, I have friends (and people I've played with) in Loaded Dice, so I was rooting almost equally for them.
And then Alan Scherstuhl goes and says in his preview that he doesn't think Scriptease stands a chance. That has me a little riled up.
I should say that Alan is one of the best things to happen to KC's improv scene since Tommy Todd got over a near-fatal stomach virus. He really understands improv, writes about the good/bad/ugly of it and sees enough of it to talk about it as an expert. That's a first in Kansas City—and, honestly, rare in almost any improv community.
I agree with him that, as theater students, Makeshift Militia might have a leg-up on Scriptease in the presentation category. But—without going into a critique of either team—I think Scriptease has a clear advantage when it comes to pure improvisational skill. Is it bias? Yes. Is it a little bit of ego? Certainly. (Though Mick Napier, Susan Messing, Tim Mason and Dan Izzo get the credit for a big part of their education.)
It's also nothing against Makeshift Militia.
I mostly believe it because learning improv takes more than—and is very different from—theater training, and Rene, Clay and Drew have a disproportionate amount of experience for three 21-year-olds. The only way to prove it (besides watching them play in show after show over time) would be to throw both troupes down a comedy black hole: Make them start from the bottom with a bad audience, weird energy, technical difficulties and all the things that can suck the life out of a show. And make them fight their way out using only their character, relationship and scenework skills.
I'd put Scriptease in that fight—and bet on them to win—any day. Saturday is going to be interesting.