Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Update and world-crossing thoughts.

First, the update: I run my first 5K, with the ladies of Spite and our pal, Daryl, on Saturday. I'll be pretty surprised if I can run the whole thing, and totally OK with it if I walk part. Peggy has convinced me I'll recover enough to do an hour of strength training later that afternoon and a Spite show at the Fishtank and an Omega Directive show at the Imp that night. The next day? Usher at church, followed by a 1 hour swimming lesson.

And a long fucking nap.

Anyway, two improv-related thoughts for this week.
  1. Kickball is an awesome warmup. I'm feeling all athletic and fit and energetic lately, so the idea of wasting a few hours of glorious, sunny daylight Tuesday night was unthinkable. I am ready, at any moment, to play kickball—so I whipped out the ball and bases and forced the kids to play 30 minutes before rehearsal. I pitched, leaving them 5 people to cover the outfield. It was a muddy, goofy blast.
  2. Writing is not improv. As much as I'm tempted to apply improv rules to everything in my life (I'd look up the link from last year when I tried to actually do that, but I don't feel like it), every now and then it's nice to get a reminder that it just doesn't work. Especially when it comes to the two things I do more than anything else. This post (a memo from David Mamet to writers of The Unit) has been circulating in the last couple of days (funny, 'cause the memo's old). Some stuff works for improv (i.e. "ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT."). But the point he makes over and over doesn't: "*FIGURE IT OUT*." Improv rules (hints, guidelines, teachings, whatever we call them) have been developed over time to compensate for the things improvisers can't do in creating entertainment. As writers, we have endless do-overs—first drafts should never see the light of day. As improvisers, we're creating our first and final drafts at once. The standards are lowerbecause the work only exists in the moment. (Which is part of the reason improv doesn't always translate well to video. Not only do you lose the energy of creating on the spot, capturing it means holding it to the same standards as any other writing or performing.)
So. Yeah, well, that's it. Have to go to bed so I can wake up and work out. Which is what's taking over my life, kinda, in a good way. In a few weeks, I start incorporating strength, yoga, cycling, running and swimming into a weekly schedule. I have a feeling I'll miss what rehearsing feels like. A lot.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Explaining the quiet.

I have social media ADD.

Part of my real-world job is paying attention to different ways people market, and it totally works with my "let's-try-this-let's-try-this-let's-try-this" attention span.

So I was tweeting a lot for Spite for a while. I'm maintaining that, but have switched to a weight-loss blog, because my ass has been stuck at the same basic size for way too long.

Also, I'm kinda sick of hearing myself talk. So I'm just taking a little break. Maybe a week, maybe a month...maybe just until I have something to say.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week in review.

I can't wait for Sunday. Seriously. The part of me that craves my own company (well, you know, and the cats) and control over my schedule is so very, very ready for a completely unscheduled day.

It's not that I haven't had fun this week. I have. Or I wouldn't do this stuff. But I also feel like I've turned into the big bionic version of me, in a way, and I'm doing the things that feed me but send me into self-parody at the same time. The play by play:
  • The thing that makes coaching the Trip Fives so freaking delightful is that I've known (and taught) 4/5ths of them since they were babies, and the 5th is Megan, who is pure fun. So watching them and coming up with new toys for them to play with feels easy and natural. And, because they're sofaking good, it pushes my teacher/director buttons, challenging me to come up with something—anything!—to do that will challenge them and help them grow. They're some of the strongest players in KC, and completely open to the idea that they could be even better. Which is why they're so great.
  • Exit 16 rehearsal was mostly just the boys Tuesday night. And they...tested me. I had a small hissy fit because they were taking things so NOT seriously, but eventually they came around, and it was a decent rehearsal. Spring is different. Spring is burnout. Spring is "just play and keep them entertained" time.
  • Tantrum rehearsed with KMBC's Johnny Rowlands on Wednesday, and he's Fun storyteller, fun person, fun energy, fun fun fun. He's a little afraid of improv, which is nuts—because as someone points out, he FLIES A HELICOPTER AND REPORTS NEWS AT THE SAME TIME.
  • Exit 16 and the Cardinals Jesters played their monthly show at the Corbin tonight. It was...fine. Right now, some members of Exit 16 play 3 shows a month—which, unless you're at ComedyCity, is a lot. I wonder what it's like for them. Is every show still a rush? Are they bored? Has it become an obligation? I should ask.
Tomorrow, Tantrum improvises with Johnny. Saturday, Timmy has his last show. Sunday, I don't want to fucking think about improv.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A little random blah-de-blah.

A few show updates:
  • Spite played around with a different format—the improvisers' fave Living Room—just to switch things up on Friday night at the Imp. It was fun to do something different—and nice to have the conversations to pull themes from.
  • I swung by the Fishtank to catch the first set at KC Crossroads Comedy: Some Technical Difficulties doing their take on the Living Room. They had some really nice scenes in their set—a few really sophisticated set-ups, especially considering their ages. It's interesting to watch the Exit 16 kids playing in front of adult crowds (and audiences made up of folks who don't know them). Taking any improv troupe outside their home theater/audience pushes them in new directions.
  • Monday night, Jared has invited me to the Trip Fives rehearsal to take them through some Viewpointsy stuff I learned from David Razowsky. It's Tim Lemke's last rehearsal, prior to his final show, so I'm looking forward to one last chance to tell him what to do.
  • Exit 16 and the Cardinals Jesters play together this Thursday at the Corbin. That's turning out to be a fun little show—two sets by two student improv troupes. They complement each other nicely, and it's great to see what Clay and Drew (two former Exit 16ers) are doing as directors of the William Jewell troupe.
  • Tantrum gets to play with KMBC's Johnny Rowlands this coming Friday, and I can't wait. Tantrum's last show together was a blast—and Johnny's stories should be fun to play with. We've got a bunch of new monologists coming up, including Hallmark pals Sergio and Emily and Stacey.
So...ummmm...busy week.

The other thing I'm trying to cram in is working out. I've been giving myself one day off a week, which I probably shouldn't be—I have, thus far, been unwilling to give up fun stuff (good food, good beer, decent wine). I've got a few major incentives to get into better shape:
  • March: Running in the Rock the Parkway 5K with the Spite girls.
  • April: The Chicago Improv Festival, where Spite will be an apprentice team.
  • May: Josh & Kim's wedding. In Mexico. Where a swimsuit in front of people I know is bound to happen.
  • June: A family beach trip. Where, again: Swimsuit. Ack.
I don't just feel better when I'm in good shape—I play better. I'm more physical, more confident—and not tugging at my clothes or worrying about back fat.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh, the badness...

And I'm not talkin' about Sarah Palin on Leno.

Though that was bad. From the clips I saw. On the Daily Show.


I'm talkin' about the bad that has been me on stage. I'm going through that phase in my Growth As An Improviser. The one that hits every now and then, when you are capable of doing NOTHING RIGHT. When the badness sucks any potential goodness from a scene, because you are so powerfully bad that no good can exist around you. You (and by you, I mean I) become the Black Hole Of Suck, pulling anything that has even the SPARK OF POTENTIAL to be good like light into the ultimate darkness.

I'm not being self-deprecating here. I'm not looking for pity or compliments or assurance that I'm not that bad. I don't need those things. Because I've got 20 years of improv experience, have seen hundreds of brilliant and good and bad and fucking wretched shows, and have spent hours training with some of the best teachers in the country. So I know two things are true:

1. I recognize bad when I see it and when I play it, and when I call what I've been doing bad, you will not argue me out of it.
2. It's a phase, and I'll get over it. Probably before my next show.

So we're cool.