Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Huh...this is high school?

OK. Two of the laughs tonight? At the Exit 16 show?

PALIN JOKES.

I've got an insanely smart, politically savvy, culturally aware group of teenagers on my hands. So the rest of the year—or at least, until October—will be spent:
a) Keeping up.
b) Giving them ways to express their views.

Hee hee hee hee hee.

ALSO, here's a thing. Exit 16-ness crosses generations.

I hope it's OK for me to mention this. (Since my readership numbers mostly in the single digits, I think it's probably OK.) A few years ago, a Exit 16 alum passed away. He was one of the coolest kids you could ever meet. A few things I remember:
—He taught hip-hop dance to little kids. (And a couple of times, to Exit 16.)
—He volunteered at schools in town.
—He helped raise his younger siblings after his father passed away.
—He was equally comfortable on the Exit 16 stage and with the football team.
—He spent a Second City show sitting next to a guy from Saatchi, and had a business card and an offer for help with an internship by the end of the show. (BTW. I was an ad major. I never got an internship offer. From anyone. Much less a major shop like that.)
—I got the nicest thank-you note from him for a couple of advertising books I gave him for graduation. (It doesn't happen super often. But when I hear from the kids after they graduated, it reminds me—every time—that working with Exit 16 may teach me more and give me more than I can ever hope to teach or give back.)

Anyway. Tony was an extraordinary young man. And the Scriptease guys have decided to dedicate their shows—and their profits—to his memory. That started with Thunderdome. Clay came to talk to the kids tonight about Exit 16 maybe participating, and before he'd finished talking—before he'd completed more than a few sentences—every single one of them said "We're in. Whatever you need."

I don't want to get goofy and emotional about this. But sometimes the things that move you the most come from the places you least expect it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The end of a long, fun weekend

First, and just because I HAVE to get this out of my system. What kind of a dick do you have to be to say something mean about a high school troupe's show in your Facebook status? Seriously.*

Second, the movie The Fugitive still holds up. Even when they friendly up Tommy Lee Jones' language. Harrison Ford looked better pre-earring.

Third, I saw some fun shows this weekend.

THURSDAY: I am in absolute awe of Pretty. Funny. It's not just the funny. They are so generous and playful with each other—you can't help but wish you were up there with them. Gorgeous pacing, insightful writing, great casting. The sincere, spontaneous standing O they got was completely deserved.

FRIDAY: I'd been wanting to catch a ComedyCity show in their new space, and knew a bunch of my pals were playing Friday. The new space is terrific: great size, location, energy, vibe, everything. I really hope this is the start of a successful new era for CC.

SATURDAY: The Trip Fives show was a blast—Jared, Ed, Jen, Megan and Tim complement each other really well, and their format really played to their strengths. I laughed hard and often. The Thunderdome Championship was a blast: all three teams were on their games. I was blown away by what Andrew and the kids pulled together—and it was fun to see Exit 16 alum Darin Seal on the keyboards with Andrew's guitar. I know from talking to them that some of the kids were pushed outside their comfort zones—what with the music and the poetry and all—but they committed 100% and the result was good.* Scriptease played the best set I've ever seen them do—and (hope they wouldn't mind me mentioning it) they played in honor of a former classmate's memory, which made it that much more moving and meaningful. And Type O Positive put up another super-fun set—so funny, so smart, so playful. I really hope they're one of the Thunderdome teams (like Loaded Dice or Spite) that decides it's too much fun to be a one-shot deal. (Fluffer Nutter would do the same, if I were all-powerful and got to pick...)

STD won and Scriptease took second, which isn't really the POINT of Thunderdome (OK, it is). And yes, I am freaky proud of the youngsters. Andrew and Rob are terrific coaches, and have taken both troupes further than I ever would have. It's such a good thing for groups to get different perspectives from different directors—you can't help but grow. Rob has the perfect temperament for the Scriptease guys, and they're freaky lucky to have someone as talented as he is as a coach. Andrew is an artist in every sense of the word, and he pushes the Exit 16 kids to play up to their intelligence.

So yeah, it's been a good weekend.

This week: Tuesday is Exit 16's first show of the year, which always rocks. (They had a terrific rehearsal, even.) We're back at the Corbin on Saturday, with Fakers (aka Scriptease) and the kids from Exit 16 who are blowing off Homecoming.

Oh, and Thursday. Thursday I start belly-dancing classes. Three reasons:
1. Need to add another workout.
2. Need to do something in my life that has NOTHING TO DO WITH IMPROV.
3. Need to...um...OK. Girl it up a little. Working out has helped, but I'm still much more comfortable in my brain than my body.

Eep.

Only 12 more days 'til LA, and classes with Jill and Dave Razowsky. Counting down.



*Plus, for the record, he's wrong. The STD set was "all that funny." And I've got enough experience doing and watching this stuff to put my admitted bias aside in that assessment. Their edits were tight, their relationships were strong, their callbacks were solid and there are professional troupes around here that couldn't match their game moves.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First shot at the trophy case

Exit 16 is a school organization, but has zero opportunities to participate in school events.

Which makes it extra cool that—playing as Some Technical Difficulties, coached by alum Andrew Brant, and accompanied by Andrew and alum Darin Seal—now has an Improv Thunderdome belt. Their goal: Put it in the school trophy case.

Scriptease came in second with a killer set and motivation that will make me cry if I write about it.

It was a great night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Like toilet-paper

I've always heard the line that improv is like toilet paper: good for one use.

Fight Club actually helped me believe that. Because you're not allowed to talk about it after, you learn to treat the scenes you do as less important precious. That has translated into performing...I'm much less likely to torture myself over a screwy scene, a mediocre show or a missed game move, because 1) it doesn't exist anymore and 2) honestly, people, I'll have plenty of opportunities to do better.

Which is today's "treat work like a show" lesson: Let. It. Go.


It's been a nightmare of a week—for others more than for me. But the tough part from my POV has been the emotional investment on one side and emotional drain on the other. If I didn't give a shit about my work or the people I work with, my left eye wouldn't be twitching and I wouldn't feel like I've been run over by a bus. I'm freaking TIRED. 

But I'm not angry, in tears or otherwise worked up. I have been—several times this week—but once I got out of the moment, I was pretty much able to get past it. This is a fairly new skill-set...one that comes from a combination of growing up, management training, medication and—yep—Fight Club. 

It's been an interesting weekend to try to treat work like a show. I can't say I've been 100%...or even 50%...successful. But it has helped me recognized the potential for being engaged in my work at a different level. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 3: Sometimes, it's all about the people


First of all: Tonight Tantrum officially (or as officially as we get) celebrated b-day number one. Pete bought a cake, because he rocks.

And now: Today's reminder...because it's not a lesson, really.

A good number of people start at my company right out of school, leave for a while, and come back (um, like I did). They usually give the same reason for returning: They miss the people (also like I did).

It's impossible not to get excited about going into work when I think about who I get to hang out with. Some of the best writers and designers...sharpest account and traffic people...and generally most fun, talented, generous, creative folks I've ever worked with sit within flying-screaming-monkey shooting distance from my booth. And whenever things get nuts, that's the reason it's worth it.

Which is exactly what it's like when you find an improv troupe you dig.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 2: Emotional reactions aren't always super-effective

Lesson for today: What works in improv isn't always helpful

In improv scenes, you want to heighten the emotion. So that's what I'm used to.

But it's probably not the BEST idea to get so amped up about something that you're shrieking. Loudly. Whether you're right, and it feels good, or not.

Must. Practice. Control.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 1: It's showtime.

Lesson one: Figure out how to translate some pre-show rituals into pre-work.

So, what are my pre-show rituals?

1. Start getting excited about show between 2-24 hours in advance. "Excited" meaning: Nervous stomach, lack of focus, preoccupation with preparation. Sometimes to the extent that I have to take PTO on show days. (Might get an ulcer from trying to replicate this 5 days a week.)
2. Above-average concern with wardrobe and makeup. I dress for the way I want to play—smart/sophisticated, playful/silly, fearless/badass. It is not unusual to make Nikki and Megan pick my wardrobe. (This will be difficult to replicate on a daily basis.)
3. Control-freak behavior manifested in desire for alone-in-the-theater prep time. I set up chairs, make sure everything is where I want it, check the cash drawer, check sound and lights, whatever it takes for me to be able to not worry about how the show runs and think about nothing but playing. (This...this I could do.)
4. Contrary to what a lot of people suspect, there is no drinking before improv shows. For me, and the folks I like playing with, anyway. Anything that fuzzes up the brain is baaaaaad. (After is another matter. There should be more after-work gatherings. Haven't had one at my house in a while.)

OK. Numbers 3 and 4 it is.

Lesson two: Remember the tug-of-war exercise.

In the days when I taught corporate workshops, I ended them with a boneheadedly simple exercise:
1. Make two teams.
2. Tell them their job is to have a tug of war.
3. Watch them fail—stretchy rope city.
4. Tell them their job—all of their job—is to show us a tug of war.
5. Watch the lightbulb go on.
6. Watch them give and take...pull and resist...win and lose.
7. End with a goose-bump inducing speech about the fact that we're all on the same team.

There are meetings, sometimes, that feel like going into battle. Which sounds especially ridiculous in a greeting card company. But sometimes, you walk into a room with other people...and you just sense (right or wrong) that they don't trust you to do your jobs, respect what you bring to the company or value your point of view. You feel like every discussion is a battle over territory.

That, let me tell you, sucks. Especially when on an intellectual level you know the people you're meeting with are smart, capable and out for all the same things you are. Which is why that exercise made such a big impact every single time I did it.

So it helps to remember the "all on the same team" theory. And as trite as it sounds, to assume people are building on an idea instead of tearing it down. When I do, it keeps me from going into a room with my defenses up and lets me hear what they're saying, which is usually valuable. And it turns out that if I'm willing to watch the other "team" and heighten their actions, we stay out of conflict.

Here's the hard part, and the one I haven't figured out yet. What happens when you disagree? Or when the disrespect and mistrust becomes obvious and inappropriate? I know that'll come, and I'm not sure how I'll deal with it. Maybe read Mick's book again (http://www.amazon.com/Improvise-Scene-Inside-Mick-Napier/dp/032500630X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222139356&sr=8-1). (Blame my antiquated Powerbook on the lack of ability to embed links.)

Lesson three: Eight hours is a long damn time.

12 is even longer. So maintaining the EXACT level of show energy...uh, no. Will work on that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Things will be different...right?

So now it's time to see what stuck. Will we/I, as requested/commanded/goaded, approach work differently?

I'm going to try the "treat the work-day like a show-day" approach. It's the ultimate "take improv to work" experiment. Is it possible to maintain the same pace, energy, engagement, interdependence, focus and sense of play for eight hours a day, five days a week as for a few hours, a couple of times a month? 

Is it realistic to think about even getting close? 

There's no reason not to. My team has all the best qualities of an improv troupe. The opportunity to collaborate exists in every meeting (and I have a LOT of meetings). The work we do is creative...and has the potential to be even more so. 

If there's a chance a job can be as much fun as a hobby, this is it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Head o' steam

So for two days, I've listened to speakers talk about creativity and collaboration and leadership. And over two days, I've heard a dozen direct references to improvisation (at least) and even more that could be connected to improv theory. 

A guy from Nike talked about moving fast—because it makes you hyper-aware and your thinking is clearer. (Jill's Fireball Theory!) A Toastmaster's guy had us play two improv games. A director and actor talked about "yes, and..."

And I just about bounded out of my seat. I've shoved improv into my corporate world in a gazillion different ways over the last 18 years or so: performances, workshops, presentation training, collaboration-builders. I've brought in friends and done it myself. All along, I've felt like a big ol' dork—like I'm pushing my personal agenda on people who maybe say "OK" just to get me to shut up. 

But suddenly it's started to feel like I've got this cool superpower. I don't quite know what to do with it yet; I mean, I know theories and principles, but translating them into the way I behave every day seems like it would feel like playing an eight-hour show...

Huh. 

As I wrote that, it occurred to me that I've said more than once I want to perform more. And that I love playing with my friends. And that the group of people I work with are a lot like a really good improv group. 

So. 

I wonder if it's maybe time to start treating every day like an eight-hour show. With all the same stakes (higher ones, really), and an even bigger audience and...

Huh.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why not, really?

OK. So today: 
  1. I rode my scooter to work, which happened to be a creative symposium at Liberty Memorial. 
  2. We were challenged by several different speakers from inside and outside the company to think and behave up to our potential. 
  3. Matt Sax stole my scooter and taught me how to beatbox, and I rode my scooter off stage in front of my boss, my boss's boss, my boss's boss' and the CEO of the company.

I followed this adventure with three beers, after which a friend drove me back to my house so there would be no scooter-related concussion. 

Molly and Mike were two of the featured speakers—and reminded me I work with freakily talented, incredibly smart, unnaturally perceptive people. Then there was this guy: Ron Caruuci

Here's what he made us do: 
  1. Think of someone you respected and admired who's no longer with us. If you could ask that person a big life question, what would it be?
  2. Then, much later: If you could write one or two sentences about the legacy you want to leave, what would it be?
At the end, he asked us to read both to the person next to us. I chickened. HARD. On either side of me were two of the smartest, most creative guys I've ever worked with—two guys I would have thought I could share anything with—and I chickened. At the time, it felt too vulnerable—too naked. 

Then there were those three beers. 

So my question. I thought of two people: My grandmother, Wese, and Del Close. Wese was the woman I want to be...and because my grandfather died before I was born, lived kind of like I do. From the time I knew her, she lived alone. Controlled her own world. Made her own decisions. The question: Did you ever get lonely?

And my legacy. Ron said to think big—to write about who we want to be. Our best potential self. So I wrote: She taught us to be fearlessly collaborative and generous with energy and ideas. 

It's probably easy to see this coming when you look at both those things at once. We answer our own question. 

Another thing they talked about today was being authentic and vulnerable. I know it works in improv, but it's much harder to do in an unmeasured, non-calculated way in real life. Like I said, talking about the question I asked and the way the wiser, smarter self who lives some time in the future answered it, felt naked. I wasn't ready for that at 10am. 

But seriously. After beatboxing and being outed as a scooter rider in front of God and everybody and having three beers, there's no sense covering anything up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One year and counting

A year ago this week, Tantrum performed together for the first time. So officially we've been together for more than a year, because there were several weeks of rehearsing, name-choosing, etc.—though I don't know that all of us were convinced it was a "troupe" and not a "show." 

(That's one of the cool things happening right now: You can do a show or be a troupe. Or you can do a show, and decide later if it's a troupe. Which is what I'd advise. You never know if whatever group you throw together is viable. If you start by saying it's a show—just a one- or two-shot deal—there's no commitment if you realize three weeks into rehearsal that something about the whole thing makes you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork.)

Anyway, we've come really, really far since our first show (actually, it might be kinda fun to watch it—then again, it might be horrifyingly painful). And the best compliment (I think) that we've gotten about our last two shows is that we look like we're having a blast together. 

Turns out, we do. 

Rob talked after the show about difference between playing for the audience and for each other. And Michael mentioned being in shows where you went out trying so hard to make the audience laugh (it does not go well). I feel like we've hit just the right spot: 
  • Everyone in Tantrum has been improvising professionally for quite a while—so the basic awareness and incorporation of the idea that you are there to entertain is ingrained. You do not exist without the audience. So you can't ignore them.
  • So, knowing we've got them covered, we can play with each other. To use a marketing phrase I hate, we're able to "surprise and delight" each other when we play—whether it's with smart initiations, "funny bombs" (weird surprises dropped mid-scene) or just startling choices or actions.
Anyway, it's fun. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How do you forget something like this?

I think I've become too results-focused and forgotten how to work with teenage improvisers. 

Here's what lead to it: 
  • A rambunctious, to say the least, 12-kid cast in Exit 16. Including about half a troupe in their third year of working with me, which means I have little or no authority. 
  • An early festival show, and the first performance at the school two weeks away. 
  • Oh, and I'm not doing as much directing and teaching. So I may have forgotten what to do. 
So I leave feeling like I've cajoled, yelled and bossed them into scenes. I don't nurture unless they do something right. I'm treating them like adults—actually, I may be treating them like robots. 

They push me—hard—and instead of yielding and redirecting, I push back. I have a feeling I can't win this, and shouldn't be trying. It's an incredibly smart, funny, talented and strong-willed bunch, and I need to channel their energy instead of resist it. 

But then...but then...in some cases, I have to draw a line. When t-shirt brainstorming and scene content get highly inappropriate, I feel like I have to have zero tolerance. 

So the trick is figuring out when to draw the line, and when to move it. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

KC Improv Festival After-Action Review, Part III

This one's a photo review. 

First of all, here's how it started for me—Jill came in to work with the Exit 16 kids. 



The first night of shows was a blast. Sold out crowds, great shows, great parties. And I got to see these three guys (Jeff, Dan and Wendy) play together, which makes me happy (though this is probably from night two):



Actually getting to enjoy an after party is always a good thing. Here, I dissect a tiny frog with Tim from monkey 13 and the masked menace.



Jill and I had our "first rehearsal" for Brownies Don't Lie, our new show. (Our second, third, fourth and fifth rehearsals with Dave Razowsky begin in October in LA. At some point, we'll schedule an actual performance.) When Jill visits, we take pictures of Truchi and Argo and turn them into LOLCats. This is her shot of Truchi. (Yeah, he looks annoyed...but there were two warm bodies who did nothing all day but lay around and eat, so he was actually pretty happy.)



Tantrum effed with each other for 30 minutes solid. In this scene, we instituted the new "the person carrying the person carrying the football must also be carried" rule for a first down.



This seems like it would be a pretty kick-ass cast:



Hey! This is Tim drinking...and there's not even a show to do!



The Exit 16 kids (minus a few) opened Sunday night.



Right here, you're looking at the two people who might just be the happiest about the festival being over. Except maybe Bess should be in it, too.


Note to self: Learn to not make a face like a dumbass every time there's a camera around.

KC Improv Festival After-Action Review, Part II

Why more than one After Action Review post? Because I know I’ll think of more.

So a few years ago, when I talked to some old Funny Outfit friends about bringing the festival back, we set out some criteria. Three I remember very clearly have guided a lot of my thinking as we put these last two KCiF’s together:

  • We don’t lose money. When you’re running a festival with no budget, this one guides a lot of your decisions. (Our budget rule last year, for example: Expenditures should not exceed the amount Trish is willing to put on her credit card and not get back.) We didn’t lose—and after expenses, I-A should have some seed money for next year’s event.
  • Everyone on the planning committee gets to participate in everything they want to. In years past, I spent most of the day answering the phone while everyone else took workshops. Instead of watching shows, I paced. Screw that.
  • We’re all still friends when it’s over. Hey! We are! And probably better ones, even, than when we started. This festival is the reason I know Pete as well as I do—and that probably has something to do with getting to be in Tantrum. 

I should point out that I’ve been mocked for starting meetings by reviewing our mission and objectives. My craving for analysis, charts, questions and bullet points has been questioned more than once.

But here’s the thing about putting up a festival: It’s easy for your eyes to get bigger than your stomach. It’s easy to get excited and say “yes” when the clear-headed answer is “oh 
hell no.” It’s easy to make decisions because something seems like it would be fun, cool or popular—or just because that particular answer is easier to give in the moment.

All that stuff you figure out up front—the vision, mission, objectives, guidelines—makes your decisions for you when you’re not in any condition to think. Because you write things down and agree on them when you’re clear-headed and the stakes are at their lowest, it makes you smarter when you’re faced with tough calls. It’s like having a designated driver for the whole festival. (Oooh! Not a bad idea.)

But it’s probably time for some of the objectives to change—and that’s another reason it’ll be good for the festival for me to step out. The majority of improvisers in KC have more experience than I did when my partner and I started Lighten Up (after one year with ComedySportz) and started the festival (after one year with Lighten Up). For it to grow, it needs fresh perspectives and new ideas.

Who knows how much or how little it’ll change? But if you’ve got ideas, you can send them
here.

KC Improv Festival After-Action Review, Part I

OK.

So.

Wow,
it’s over.

And now I’m going to write a few really, really,
really long posts about it to get it all out of my system, after which I’m not going to even think about it for a while. Because I am this person, I’ll start here—even though, lacking outside feedback, any evaluation will be pretty biased:

MISSION—why we’re here
Produce an improv festival that is educational, entertaining and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Evaluation: Accomplished.
  • Educational: I’ve heard and read troupe members and directors saying they learned a lot and were inspired by both the performances and the workshops.
  • Entertaining: Audiences laughed a lot.
  • Enjoyable: The after parties were all well-attended, and we’ve got photographic documentation of very happy drunk people.

VISION—what the festival can be
KCiF is the MOST FUN, BEST RUN local festival in the country.

Evaluation: I don’t know how we compare to other festivals, but it seemed like folks had fun and things ran smoothly. The out-of-town folks were effusive with their praise; they loved just being able to show up and do shows with their friends for sold-out crowds. A few little glitches cropped up here and there…but I think they were mostly invisible to the participants and crowd. 

OBJECTIVES—what the festival must accomplish
What is “the most fun”?
— Shows
— Workshops
— Parties
— Planning

From whose perspective is it “the best run”?
— Audience
— Guest artists
— Local performers
— Workshop participants
— Planning committee
— Improv-Abilities

What do we mean by “local festival”?
— Showcase for local talent
— Workshops based on our needs

Evaluation: Again, I think we delivered—to varying degrees of success—on just about everything we set out to.

And I’d say there were some pretty big reasons things worked as well as they did—from my POV, anyway.
  • An experienced festival planning committee: Pete, Bess, Scott and Keith knew exactly what they were doing based on last year’s work. That’s huge.
  • Improv-Abilities as producing troupe: Tim and Aron’s backing made a big difference. They cut checks, signed forms, provided support and, in general, gave us the infrastructure we needed.
  • People to do the legwork: Jen, Jess and Matt were there from the start to take on the critical, time-consuming stuff like poster and postcard distribution and web calendar blasting.
  • Flipping the weekends: Not only did we front-load our PR by leading with the National Showcase, but the local groups got a chance to see shows, go to parties and attend workshops together. Which meant that when the Local Showcase rolled around, everyone was in it together—and excited to use what they’d learned.
The thing that made working on this festival (and probably a couple of others on the committee) so different for me was the knowledge that next year, it officially becomes Improv-Abilities' baby. I-A is focused on getting better as a company—but their folks are also very community-minded. They're demonstrably supportive of all improv in KC, which makes them the perfect group to take this on; if running a festival is ever just a showcase for your group, it fails. 

Oddly, that's not even a little bittersweet for me. When Lighten Up existed, I ran the festival for four years as Spontaneous Combustion, and it was pretty much a full time job—so it got bigger every year. Then Funny Outfit took over and it became the US Improv Festival for a couple of years; the organizational model was a lot closer to the collaborative effort it is now. The last two years have been great. Instead of doing everything, I just have to be aware of everything that's getting done. Along with Artistic Director (a job heavily influenced by the rest of the committee), my role has turned into Grand List-Maker, with a side of Marketing and Promotion. 

The biggest change—for the very first time ever,  playing wasn't an after-thought. 

I went through a long, long period (let's say 1996-2007) where I was way more interested in directing and teaching than performing. I didn't really want to be in festival shows, because I had to shut down my left brain and switch to the right. Now I have this job I love at Hallmark—and the part of me that loves to lead and manage and direct really belongs there. Plus, a year ago (thanks to an empty show slot and some prodding from Jared), Tantrum started as a one-shot show and turned into the most fun I've had since I got to make stuff up with my good, good friends in Funny Outfit. Spite followed—and really showed me how fun fearlessness can be. And Poke pushes me solidly into my right brain. 

Every time I get on stage with Tantrum, I have the same thought: "Holy crap. I get to play with these guys." And every night of the festival—when a group was on fire and clearly loving just messing with each other—I was nearly jumping out of my skin wanting to get up and play.

So next year, I'll help with whatever Tim and Aron and Scott and Keith and whoever else is involved thinks they need from me. But I'm really looking forward to letting improv be about recess again. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Recovered and ready to go


Brother Love in Saturday night's show. 

Taking today off may count as the smartest thing I have ever done. Which is good, since "sure, let's open up that third bottle of champagne that's been in my fridge forever" was part of yesterday's decision set. (First order of business this morning: Check online activity for evidence of regrettable decisions. Result: No embarrassing wall posts or tweets. Amazon one-click ordering under $20. No confessional e-mails. We're good.)

It feels like the festival is over, but really, we're only half-way there. Last weekend was two shows, a day of workshops and two after-parties. This weekend, we replace the workshops with a third show. Ticket sales seem to be picking up—I'm hopeful our local crowds will come through. We got great press, and I think we'll get at least a passing mention in the Pitch. 

Now, off to bed. The next three days are all about normal: work, rehearsals, workouts and sleep. 


Friday, September 5, 2008

Like Donkey Kong.


Monkey 13 and the Masked Menace opens 8: The KC Improv Festival. 

Man, tonight was fun. 

I can't begin to say how happy I am with our choice to bring back pretty much the same groups from last year. It was great to have Dan Izzo, Chris, Tim and John open the show. And to see Dan Walsh, Jeff and Wendy play together again—David, their friend from LA, was terrific. Jill's set was...well, it's Jill. So it was just perfect. And Der Monkenpickel—this year, all five of them—was so much fun to watch because they have so much fun with each other. 

Besides work, there are two things I do that feel like they matter beyond just the everyday stuff: work with the kids at Exit 16 and this festival. I bitch about it a lot, roll my eyes when I have to spend another evening sending press releases, and play the martyr more than is absolutely necessary or appropriate. But after a night like this, everything feels absolutely worth it. 


Here we go.



That right there is Jill with the kids. 

So. It's 2:42. In a few minutes, we'll pack up and I'll drop Jill at Jack's Stack, then head to the theater. Everything is ready—everything is done, or assigned, or planned. 

It's almost BETTER for me to be running around like an idiot at the last minute. I think all this calm is giving me a migraine.