Friday, July 10, 2009


I started my improv career playing ComedySportz, and learned an important lesson: You don't have to play dirty to be funny.

I teach high school kids, who entered Improv Thunderdome specifically so they'd be allowed to say dirty words. (I didn't coach them for that show, and wouldn't let them use the name they use when they play at school.)

But still...over the 19 years since I started, I've spewed some pretty smutty stuff on stage (including what I thought was an excellent rhyme with "Carolina" in a blues song about douching). So I was surprised when, after a show, Hilarious Improv Chick Tina said, "I've never heard you say fuck before!" (Somewhere in Monroe, GA, my parents were laughing their asses off.) (OK, my mom was. My dad was muttering and using my full name.)

So tonight.

I dropped an f-bomb in the first scene of the first game (a tag-out exercise we use as our opening). Mostly because I started it with an exercise I learned at TCiF, and it felt right for the emotional level of the character I was playing.

Our audience was pretty much all there to see our guest monologist and raise money to support the MS Bike team he and his wife participate in. Even before he got on stage, the audience let us know they were feeling rowdy with...uh...suggestive suggestions. (In Advice Panel, Josh answering in rap challenged my ability, as the host, to keep a straight face.) Our guest did a great job—he was completely authentic and hilarious, ending with the suggestion of "laptop" (heh heh) and getting busted by his wife for browsing adult sites.


After our first couple of shows, Tantrum made a concerted effort to play more physically. I've worked really hard over the last few years to get more comfortable with the giant game of grab-ass improv turns into when we play together. Tonight, I:
  • Played Hammer pants (kinda without realizing it—I thought I was a baby elephant)
  • Gave birth to two players, who started with their heads INSIDE MY SHIRT
  • Played one guy's banana hammock
  • Had my boobs portrayed by two guys, using their hands and elbows in close proximity to my ACTUAL BOOBS
  • Acted out an adult video with two players, including one playing a cat
There was probably more, but those were the...highlights.

On one hand, I'm pretty pleased with myself for losing myself in the scenes enough to play them out without getting self-conscious. On another, I'm happy with the fact that in the adult video scene, my training kicked in and said, "You could do something dirty and expected, or fun and interesting" and I picked fun and interesting. (Next-clarification: Not saying the scene didn't start off dirty. But once the cat entered, I played it more tastefully than you'd imagine.)

On hand number three, I'm amazed that after a show that involved so much smutty content, I really feel like we played it smart.

It's easy to say the eff word to get a laugh. But it's just as easy to play a character who would say it. And the laughs are bigger, better and come with a lot less shame.


  1. I'm curious to see that DVD as well as the ones from May and June.

  2. You mentioned the Sarlacc Agreement in your object work post (i.e. the audience pretends the Sarlacc Pit we just tiptoed around meticulously is real; we promise in turn not to walk through it without pretending to be digested over the course of many centuries).

    I think there's another implicit agreement, and it has to do with the level of raunch we're allowed to explore. It's almost as if the two groups are feeling each other out, seeing who'll break the ice first. Kinda like when you're around someone new and you're not sure how the other person will react, until said person says someone's an asshole, which means the profanity suit has been broken and cussing can commence.

    If the audience shouts out "male G-spot" or "my kid's into hookers and blow", we have the license to go there, much like the audience has license to go there if we initiate scenes with those themes.


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