I started this post on Saturday, but sitting still irritated me. There was a subconscious goal that settled, a self-bet to keep myself away from technology for four days. The original plan was to go to The Gathering Literary Conference at Keystone College. However, due to the current mind-fuck that I’m wading in, I disappointingly opted not to go. It was a tough decision primarily due to my looking ahead. At the conference, I am certain that I missed out on networking opportunities and meet-and-greets. My future publisher could have been in attendance. The girl of my dreams could have been there, but my missing this has unfavorably prolonged the inevitable. My excitement for the conference could not be contained, and I took a day off of work to fulfill an opportunity to be interviewed for a video that is on The Gathering’s website.
Instead a personal challenge came to bloom; my time and patience was tried and tempted. The goal was to blend the days, but my hesitating changed those plans. Each day, Thursday through Sunday, was to be separate. They are separate days, so the days should hold their own adventure. Improv practice (Wednesday night) went well, but bittersweet. A lot was placed on the table, and we learned a lot about ourselves and each other in retrospect. It was as if we, the five of us (plus Joe, minus Stef), were required to test. This was a metaphorical game of Russian Roulette; four of us played while Joe emceed. One bullett was placed in the chamber, which was spun. The gun was placed upon the table, and twirled in the spin-the-bottle fashion. The person facing the nose of the gun would have their turn; no matter the outcome, before the spinning stopped or the trigger pulled, everyone had their fingers crossed.
Of course, this is my perception of what it felt like.
The orignal plan of attack was to have Joe coach us until our first show (plug: August 9th at CNY Playhouse in Shoppingtown Mall), and we would be on our own after. We technically are now. The purpose of using the Harold formula is to keep us on track for the first show, and our goal is to come up with our own method to putting on an improv show. Our troupe warms up, and ideas are generated. The show goes from there, incorporating themes and feelings from the warm-up. Our prologue conversation was intertwined in the mix, which added to a messy Harold due to jumping the gun with scene work. Beat #1 went well: three separate scenes were played out. The first game or “palate cleanser” worked well. Beat #2 got messy from making connections way too quickly. There were continuity issues: Eric, who played my brother in one scene and a father to my bride in another scene, morphed the characters he played. This quick realization on my part, knowing that I can’t chime in while the scene plays out, foreshadowed the demise of this Harold: this was to be as successful as driving down the railroad tracks, playing chicken with a train.
This brings me back to January, reveling in the fact I have taken more than six months of classes and have performed regularly (it’s almost been a year!!!), where one of the first things Mike told us was: “Don’t be a dick.”
It was simple. Be nice, play nice, listen, and yes, and everything. It just comes with great concern especially for my friends in the troupe. Improv isn’t for everyone, and it’s true for most standup comedians, who are looking for the punchline. As an improviser, I love acknowledging and performing as a glutton for laughs. Where you’re looking for the punchline, it will take away from the scene. I have seen people performing improv, who do a great job; I am still new at this, but I do realize a purposeful looking for a joke. We’ve gotten laughs onstage from doing a serious scene, because life is serious and funny at the same time. There is a comedian with us, who falters with this issue.
He’s a heatseeker. This concerns me and maintaining the integrity/future of our group. Yes, already, and we’re only in the toddler stage. We’re beginning to walk. It’s going to come to a point very soon, where I will have to have a talk with this person about words and actions. Thinking it’s because I am a guy…yes, let’s face it: it’s a sexist thing. I don’t feel like I am being attacked, but it’s obvious that my teammates are. Instead of feeding his person to the frustration that makes up 60 percent of our have-yet-to-be-named troupe, which would be as entertaining and in similar fashion as the Sirens tearing apart Odysseus’ crew, I feel like I should step in the next moment this occurs. I would stop a scene completely to have my voice heard.
When you make my friends feel uncomfortable on stage or in their own house, and it’s a consistently intensifying matter, bringing in personal aspects of our lives and using details against those specific people in a scene, thinking you’re being funny or acting (both of these may be great to acknowledge for excuses, but bullshit isn’t that thick), the weight of everything comes to a disastrous head to spew fire and not puss. Taking aspects of regular conversation to use at your own advantage because you know damn well the other person will not break the scene is downright mean. Not giving a shit whether you’re jeopardizing the scene isn’t cool, and this goes with the purposeful looking for a punchline. Alexis left abruptly and silently; her silence was so piercing that it could have shattered windows. Joe left with an uncertain aura. The other did the same.
Danielle and I were left staring at each other, actually, but we had the understanding of not wanting to ask: What the fuck was that? And so we didn’t talk immediately after everyone left. There was a pause of a handfull of minutes, avoiding the inevitable rant about the evening. We cleaned up what little odds and ends there were and rearranged furniture, which didn’t take long at all; we’re all clean people.
It was strange. Before everything started, I grabbed a pizza from Bianchi’s Pizza Pad along the way; a week before Danielle and I vowed this would be our weekly pre-improv dinner. Upon my arrival, she was watching St. Elmo’s Fire, and we laughed and commented on the movie, its entertainment factor. It’s funny to see how strangely fucked up the characters’ lives are, relatable and laughable.
This was a prelude of irony, setting the tone for the rest of the night we had yet to experience. It would also alter the four following days that I had off.