When I was in Boy Scouts I remember going to a big ol’ regional Jamboree on Catalina Island and a regular thing that would be a part of the celebration, aside from live chicken sacrifices, cow skull helmets and the synchronized speaking in tongues, were sketches. Squeeky clean, turn-of-phrase type stuff. Funny too. A lot of these were pulled out of a stock book that I guess comes with being a scoutmaster. But I didn’t know that at the time. I thought the scoutmasters were just really clever dudes and came up with that stuff.
Having more than a handful of entertainers on my Mom’s side of the family and a strong love for Monty Python and early 90′s SNL and goofing off in general, this sounded like something I could do. So I told my Scoutmasters I’d come up with a sketch. They said “sure” and I then proceeded to do… basically nothing. I just let the time slot arrive and tried to convey at the last minute to some reluctant troop members some vague idea about a misunderstanding on a subway that was supposedly HILARIOUS! As if I’d ever ridden a subway before. I was 12 and from Lake Forest.
Cut to the performance that night, between a raging campfire and packed forum-style seating.
It of course goes nowhere. I sputter out and then experience what seemed like an abyss of boos. Boos from Scouts. Boo Scouts.
That scene stuck with me and, admittedly, has probably mutated over the years. Through no fault but my own, I let it weigh on my confidence. I’d let things I want just drift on by and then get bummed out or angry about it after it happens.
And I guess that’s what’s so appealing about improv to me. While I still have to practice, I don’t have to prepare much at all. I show up in jeans and a t-shirt and do what I’m told. When I eat it with a bad joke, I get passive silence instead of active boos and I can handle that.
But then I put in a request to Josh Nicols and Matt Thomas of the Spectacles Engine (current Scoutmasters??) to do a Marvel vs DC show. I had seen Rapid Fire Theatre do something similar and knew that it would probably bring some new attention to Stages Theater. Shows like this stick out. I also knew there would be more effort going into it, but I didn’t realize how much and I suddenly found myself in that position again of making sure everybody is on the same page and that it’s going to make sense and work and holyshitwhathaveIdonethisisgoingtodestroyme!!
I like to think that I’ve become more confident of myself 20 years later, but as soon as I put the flier out, that scenario creeped its ugly head back into my psyche and was fucking with me. I couldn’t relive that moment again. Exaggerated by time or not.
Between work, school and shows, I hustled around and picked up costumes for players and made a couple with my own hands! I don’t do cosplay, so I’m having a hard time believing that I successfully built a Doctor Octopus backpack with functional puppet arms. But I really did, and that wasn’t nearly as difficult as constructing a simple fucking cowl for my Uatu the Watcher, who would be moderating – something else I’ve never done before!
Cut to the performance last night, between the backdrop of the current Death of a Salesman run and packed forum-style seating.
The show went perfectly. Everybody was decked out and way enthusiastic about it. The jokes were on point and the fun translated over to an equally enthusiastic crowd. People who never knew there was an OC improv scene had heard about it through fliers passed around to comic shops or friends of friends brought their friends.
It was a great experience and worth every bit of hustle.
Major thanks to Josh Nicols, Matt Thomas, James Stebick, Matt Apodaca, Ify Nwadiwe, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Sanchez, Jill Tsai, Chase Hooper, Carl Etner, Tony Rey, Ian Adams, Alex Hererra, Blaire Byhower, Kat Shea, Austin Floyd, Nick Handley, Brett Parmenter, Alex Bower, DJ Ohea, Catlin Lopez, Ryan Hererra, Tech Mistress Lisa Bryan and everybody who came out.
You guys make it way too easy for me to justify doing this stuff in the first place.
We’ll definitely be doing something like this again!