Sunday, October 5, 2008

Comedy on the Square makes a comeback

OK. So we've finally got something that works up in Liberty. 

As much as I would have loved for On The Spot! to fly, it was too much work (promoting, staffing, creating run lists) generating too little interest (improv isn't a big enough deal yet that "see the best players from the best troupes!" is a draw) for too little payoff (players made less than they spent on gas—and I sometimes paid players and rent out of my own pocket). 

But the Fakers (aka Scriptease) were drawing decent crowds. And when we added Exit 16 to the bill—bingo. 

Last night, we had 33 people in the crowd. Which doesn't sound like much, until you factor in that the show wasn't promoted super-heavily AND it was homecoming. In a 90-seat theater, 33 feels pretty full. A family of five with a teenager showed up, laughed and I'm hoping will be back—I wish I'd been able to get to them fast enough to see if they had fun. 

I typically work the box and tech, which isn't ideal—especially because I cross the mom/coach line too often. The format and the set-ups aren't polished. Because the crowd is mostly friends and locals, the relationship with the audience is casual.

But the vibe is good and the improv Is it genius, groundbreaking work? Not always—though every now and then there's a glimmer, and I think the potential is there. Nobody's playing to the lowest common denominator or trying for a laugh a minute. And I watched the audience, and they laughed—a lot—at the funny, smart, weird, political and playful stuff. It's a young show, but I saw the Mom and the teenager in that family of five laughing their heads off. 

Some stuff I remember: 
—In the two-group montage, Laura came out with her hands together over her head in kind of a goddess pose. A few of the guys genuflected, talking about her they'd follow her she seemed to be sent down from the heavens. Then Drew: "We will follow you, Sarah Palin." Laura started with a strong edit when the scene needed it and initiated with a big physical move, the guys followed and heightened—and ka-blam. 
—The Fakers/Scriptease guys did a scene around a grandmother's deathbed—all she wanted was her old sofa. When they patronized her and wondered if she knew when and where she was, the grandmother (Drew, again) said: "It's 2008. I'm not senile—I'M DEPRESSED."
—Tim initiated a scene about the suggestion "robot," with "Let me show you my creation." Chris, who'd clearly come out as a robot, immediately responded, "You're...replacing me?" It was a little thing, but the start of a really nice relationship scene.

It's going to be fun to watch this show take shape over the next few months. Fakers/Scriptease has committed to more regular rehearsals (with Rob as their coach) and Exit 16 will be the regular opener. (The kids have always wanted to do more than one show a month, and I think this will be the way to make it work.) I need to either get better at teching or (preferably) find someone else to do it so I can focus on the house and relationships with the audience. 

Better still, it's finally doing what the Corbin hoped—getting a younger crowd into the theater. Next step—figure out how to get them excited about everything else going on there. 

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