Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: KC Improv in review

It's been another great year for improv comedy in Kansas City. Our community continues to grow, bringing more troupes, stronger shows, bigger events and some really unwatchable crap. (Of course, that's just a side effect of increased content, and not what this is about.)

In no particular order, because I feel like writing them and without over-thinking things, here are my three lists of three things.

Three cool shows or events
  • ImpFest: A bunch of KC improvisers got a chance to experience the intimate space, the friendly crowds and the love of improv unique to the Roving Imp. Yes—if you're accustomed to driving no more than 15 minutes to get your fix, the location is a minus. But John's doing something very cool out there, and it's worth the trip.
  • Messing With A Friend at KCiF: If you ever get the chance to hang out in Chicago on a weeknight, you should see two shows: TJ & Dave and Messing With A Friend. The Improv-Abilities guys brought Susan Messing and her long-time friend and Annoyance co-conspirator Mark Sutton in for KCiF, and they put on the single best improvised performance KC audiences saw this year.
  • The Trip Fives: They've got a tight, well-trained, playful ensemble. They continue to grow, constantly trying out new things in rehearsal and on-stage. They're the best in KC right now (and not just because they got the most friends to vote for them).
Three things we need more of
  • Training: We've got a city full of players with not much beyond a festival workshop or two and a lot of on-the-job training (some good—some not so much). More experienced performers need to teach and more untrained performers need to study. Until that happens, we'll continue to reinforce bad habits and we won't grow. The Roving Imp's program is a start, but we need more.
  • Disciplined use of social media: Serious. Ly.
  • Audiences we aren't related to: Here's the secret to pulling big audiences for your improv show. Ready? Grow up in KC, keep your family from moving away and stay in touch with every friend you've ever made. Getting the word out isn't enough—we have to not only attract, but get repeat business from people outside of our circles of friends. ComedyCity has, so far, done the best job. (Their secret? Group sales and corporate business. Why sell four tickets at a time when you can sell 40—or 400?)
Three things to be excited about in 2010
  • More producers: Improvising is fun. Finding space to rehearse and play, promoting, managing ticket sales...that's the pain in the ass. Thanks to KC Crossroads Comedy, Roving Imp and Thunderdome, your troupe can focus on the work. (You still have to do some of the promoting, but Tom and John and Jared are doing the heavy listing.)
  • More coaches and directors: Sure, many troupes are still self-directed. But some of the city's younger improvisers are teaching college groups at William Jewell and JCCC. And experienced players are getting sucked in to coach start-ups. Something to remember on both sides: A coach doesn't have to be exponentially better than a team—objectivity and willingness to speak up about what's not working are more important than an encyclopedic knowledge of technique and exercises.
  • More arguments: On Facebook. In blog comments. And, rarely, in person. We're disagreeing with each other. We've got different groups, theories and approaches and people who feel passionately enough about them to throw down.
* * * * * *

Don't feel like shutting up yet. So, an addendum.

Three things I'm personally excited about in 2010
  • Doing an assload of shows: Spite has committed to two shows a month for the first part of the year. Tantrum is back at the Coffeehouse. Omega Directive is weirding out at the Imp. Beejay is an interesting experiment. And Team #9 is back in T-Dome. Yes, it means I'm a little busier than may be a great idea, but I love it. So.
  • Coaching in limited doses: Exit 16 is performing at the high school and the Corbin (which is making them strong in the Force), and (uncoached by me) as Some Technical Difficulties at KC Crossroads Comedy. Spite has banded together to coach T-Dome team Olive Juice, featuring Julie Robison, Nifer Honeycutt and Chanté Keller, all Imp regulars. They're all John-trained, which makes them fabulously easy to work with, and there's not an ego or an attitude in the bunch, which makes them delightful.
  • Getting serious about my health: I've started running. Yeah, it's indoors and on a treadmill. But running. (And, to quote Tim Lemke, with "no one chasing me, and nowhere to go.") I've been backsliding on the diet thing (though the exercise thing, thanks to Peggy, is non-negotiable), so it's time to refocus.

1 comment:

  1. Trish, I love you and the positive energy you put into KC improv. Thank you, and may we all experience amazing things together this year!


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