|Husky and Portley Stout.
||[Nov. 13th, 2008|03:21 pm]
It's worthy of note, too, that none of us realized Tuesday had been our 3 year anniversary until last night. More so than ever before, we're too busy, too stretched thin...|
So why do it? Last night provides some clues for me.
We were contacted a few weeks ago to play at a party put on by a local arts organization. The explicit purpose of the group is to get young business people interested in the arts. Anyhow, the party was at some new condos on East 6th street. Our role was interesting. We'd have a room to perform in, and every half hour we'd do a short 15 minute set. For four hours... which equaled like 7 shows.
When we got there, we realized that the setup was less than ideal. First off, there was no stage to speak of, and people were free to wander in and out. Plus there was a bar in the corner, which just encouraged milling around and not paying attention. All of that we knew going in and totally expected. What we didn't expect was the extreme echo/reverb in the room, owing to the stained concrete floors and the room's relative emptiness. This made it extremely hard to really understand what we were saying, unless we shouted.
But... we persevered, you know? The first few tries were a little rocky, because we were still hitting our stride.
We did what I considered to be a stellar Book Club show... a format we made up for Public Access, where Kareem hosts a book themed talk show, and invites the rest of us as guests one by one to talk about our books... which of course, are drawn randomly from a bag of like 20 books. It was stellar, as I said, but the audience was fleeting. We did Teen Talk (another Public Access format), a roundtable about teen's issues. We managed to keep the people in our near vacinity entertained and engaged by interacting with them as "fellow teens", so that worked. We gave a fake tour of the art in the room, which mainly consisted of describing fire hydrants and chairs as if they were art, and taking pictures of them.
But we really hit our stride with something ridiculously simple: Slow Motion Samurai. We went to the 4 corners of the room, and led a huge countdown from 5, which shut everyone the hell up. We then slow-mo'ed our way to the center, screaming long, impossibly slow war cries, which were only made more epic in scale by the reverberations of the echo chamber. At some point Kareem sneezed in slow motion, and I got to slow-motion "gesundheit" him. The battle lasted 6 minutes, tops, but it was grand.
After that, we realized the counting down thing worked really well to get the audience's attention, and used that for the rest of the night. We also hit upon the "Let Roy bellow as loudly as possible" tactic, which pretty much guaranteed that anyone staying in the room would have to pay attention. And surprisingly, people stayed.
The next thing we did was a mock debate, with me as the loud-voiced moderator, Val as the timekeeper, and Kareem and Kaci as the debaters. The premise was (or became) that we were a club who met once a year to have a debate, and the winner of the debate would be the moderator of next debate. This is a deadly simple idea, and for that reason I will make it a reality. We took questions from the audience, did a speak in one voice answer, and Kaci gave her acceptance speech sitting on Kareem's shoulders. Fabulous.
We finished out the night with a Redneck Family Discussion, which once again gave me an excuse to speak extremely loudly. The best part was incorporating the drunk audience members' suggestions into our family's plans for saving the ranch.
So ultimately our set list was:
Art Gallery Tour
The Great Debate
Redneck Family Discussion
So there you have it. What started out as a potentially disasterous situation turned into something really fun. We played, we adapted, and we ended up enjoying ourselves. And although a lot of the party guests could care less that we were there, we wound up winning a lot of people over and giving them information about ourselves and improv in general.
Also, the bartenders in the room who had to see all of our shows really liked it, and once the 7th show was done, gave us some very powerful drinks.
Also Also, a number of improvisers wound up there, including Mike McGill, Katie, and Joplin. Joplin in particular was very supportive, and always useful in a pinch. If you haven't had him as a member of your audience, I highly recommend it.