Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something in the air?

So I'm not the only KC improviser hitting burnout. My pal Pete talks today about hanging up improv for good (don't you FUCKING DARE)...letting things on the boards get to him (you and me both, buddy)...and feeling a little overwhelmed by it all (feel you, I do). 

(And because I'm such an awesome friend, what do I do? Call him? Take him out for coffee? Send him a "hang in there" card? No. I WRITE about it on my BLOG. What an asshole I am.)

POINT: Why sometimes it's way easier to just suck it up and do what someone tells you to than strike off on your own. 

If you are in an improv troupe run by someone else...if you have never once thought about finding or getting the keys to a rehearsal space...if your call times, show dates and run lists are dictated by someone else...if you don't ever have to make sure the cash drawer has enough ones or check the reservation line or negotiate rent...

Dang, people, you have it easy.

There's always plenty to complain about: stupid policies, favoritism, mistaken philosophies, too-low standards, what-the-hell-do-they-do-with-all-that-money-anyway? But when it comes right down to it, you are responsible for one thing, and one thing only: Your own performance. (OK, and maybe wiping down a table or three.) So what do you really have to bitch about? It's like being a teenager—your parents do the hard stuff. 

Once you have even a little responsibility, it's highly likely you vacillate between these three emotional states: 
  • Sublime self-satisfaction: I am organized.  My press release rocks. I have designed the Ultimate Flier. 
  • Extreme anxiousness: There are two hang-ups on the reservation line. I have six Confirmed Guests for my Facebook invite, and five of them are IN THE SHOW. Most of the fliers are still in my car. 
  • Supreme Self-Loathing: I didn't do enough. I'm going to have to pay the players and the rent out of my own pocket. Everyone in the troupe hates me. Fuck.
And it just gets worse the higher your standards get. If you just want a little stage time—if that's all that matters—seriously, you'll be fine. (I wasn't lying.) But if you want your group to be really good...if you want to evolve, grow, blow away audiences and inspire other improvisers....

Oh, then you are just truly, deeply screwed.

COUNTERPOINT: Why going it on your own is the One True Path to Creative and Spiritual Fulfillment.

Of the somewhere between 17-18 years I've been improvising, I've been completely free of responsibility for less than two of them. Even my first year at ComedySportz, I begged to take over their marketing about six months in. 

I go through phases, like now, when I lie in bed for two hours before I can sleep while the Evil Being I call my Inner Hamster spins on a stupid wheel spinning options and outcomes. (See "emotional states," above.)

Usually all it takes is a few weeks of bitching, a few days of cold turkey and one really good show. That I don't even have to be in. Usually watching one is enough.

I have a Theatresports history book called Something Like a Drug sitting on my shelf. It's fifth in line to read. But I think here's a lot of truth in that title. 

1 comment:

  1. Don't get too upset with yourself about me. I'm hoping going away this weekend for a Gilda's Club charity benefit show will help recharge the ol' batteries. I can't describe the feeling I get visiting my old improv stomping grounds and doing a good deed.

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