Someone hands you a big check to entertain their group—employees, bosses, stakeholders, friends, family, whatever. It's typically a less-than-ideal performance space—no lights or sound, standing in the middle of a dance floor or in front of a fireplace, no control over the environment. You've got a list of things—and people—to incorporate, and an audience who may or may not want to be there. Oh, and the planner is putting his or her reputation in your hands.
If you do them long enough, you will experience several Archetypal Corporate Shows. They include, but are by no means limited to:
—The Prom Show for Disinterested Teenagers
—The Show Outside
—The Show for Drunk People
—The Show During Which the Guest of Honor Receives A Lapdance from a Guy in Buttless Chaps
—The Tiny Show
In my opinion, you cannot call yourself a professional improviser until you've checked these off. So tonight, Clay (of Scriptease) pulled together Andrew and Danny (both Exit 16 alums) to check off The Tiny Show, and do a 15-20 minute set for my church's young adult group (OK...adult group).
They did a really nice job. They performed for a dozen people sitting around a table in our multipurpose room; using the stage just seemed fussy. They played Oracle, Slide Show and Dating Game—that middle one with 5 or 6 audience volunteers under the age of 5, and Clay gets big kudos for including every single one of them in the descriptions.
They were confident, charming, intelligent and appropriate—and it's the audience saying that, not me. Several expressed interest in seeing Clay/Scriptease perform with Tantrum on June 20 at the Westport Coffeehouse ($8! 8pm!).
Arguably, the stakes were lower than some gigs—they did it free as a combination of experience, exposure and a favor for me. And honestly, that makes me even happier that it went so well.
It's kinda nice every now and then to get a reminder that sometimes, you win audiences over in church basements, a dozen at a time, with simple, quiet, clever little shows.