On Saturday, Thank You, Robot was luck enough to be part of Tesla’s The Lab at the Players Theater. It was the first inaugural LOLympics… which was mostly an grand excuse to mix up a bunch of great teams and perform a series of short-ish, exercise “events.” Creative editing, focus on scene work, straight man, etc..
It was an all around great and fun show. Big props to Telsa for knowing how to host a show like this. They really truly made it about the performers and the show and not themselves (except for themselves as performers). And big props to the three judges (Nicole Byer, David Bluvband and Kristen Acimovic) for treating it it with just the right touch.
Lately I have been coaching way more than I’ve been improvising. I’ve been loving coaching and it has greatly improved how I talk about improv. But I haven’t been able to put much of it into practice and to see if I can walk the walk, as it were. I, personally, kind of need a show like that.
Improv is so ephemeral. Not just in all the discussions of “what is good improv” and “how does one do good improv,” but even when a show is good, it is immediately gone. We can rehash scenes but usually we just rehash the scenes of others, not ones we were in because it feels gauche. (Except to significant others. Significant others exist in part to be able to speak with pride our own accomplishments with out fear of judgment, right?) I find it hard to even remember fondly my own scenes in my own head because it feels… wrong.
But all yesterday and today, I have been forced to remember the show. In the Endowment set, I was gifted with being “slippery” (thank you, Benjamin Apple). Now, a few weeks ago I had been thinking about how it had been a long time since I did some balls out physical comedy on stage. And when gifted with being slippery, I just ran with it. Hard. My legs were like jello and every time I stood for longer then a few seconds, I fell down again. Often hard. When Apple started having a heart attack, I threw/dragged myself across the room in an attempt to get to the first aid kit. Later my prosthetic leg fell off and Apple caught on fire and I threw myself around trying to get to a fire extinguisher. I ended that set exhausted and winded but joyous. And (mostly) unscathed).
Later, while the judges were tallying up their scores, was the callback session. (Let’s ignore my failed “Gimme that Dick Grayson” move… which might have made sense if JR was still there to play Batman). The very last callback was back at the restaurant that my slipper character worked. I came out in a mad fury, carrying a plate of food. And, at some point, landed hard on my left thigh… and the keys in my left pocket. Hard. Very very hard.
So all day yesterday and today, my leg has been in deep muscle bruised pain. But every time I wince at taking a step, I am reminded of Saturday’s show and how much joy I felt. Not just me being able to do some hardcore slapstick (and embracing the simplicity of the endowment “You are slippery”), but other moments. Ellena and I knocking over chairs as bowling pins. Being the mirror to (I believe but may be remembering wrong) George Kareman. And watch all of the “same first line” sets using “Gimme that dick”… including/especially Jeremy and Matt’s “Gimme that dick!” game show. And so many other moments.
For once a show is lingering on beyond the performance… in the form of deep glorious pain.