Recently, I participated in the one-year anniversary of an improv nightclub. I’m not much of a clubber, wasn’t even when I was age-appropriate, but this was more fun than I’ve had in years.
The evening opened with a sweet young singer, followed by the headliner – Marc Jaffe, what an amazingly funny man. There were a couple of videos produced by an improv group – sound antithetical? but very funny – a monologue and song from a let’s-seed-improv-with-written-material group (yes, that’s where I fit in) – and then short-form and long-form improv by veterans.
Read through the list of my plays, musicals, and operas, and you might get the idea that improv world is not my métier – by a long chalk. But when I was invited to write a 3-5 minute riff on a word-prompt some months ago, I jumped at the chance, not only to meet a new audience, but also to absorb a new set of techniques and skills, not to mention, to experience a new community.
For the anniversary, I gave the producer near heart-failure by running in at 5 (for the uninitiated, stage managers generally call “five minutes” to warn performers of an imminent curtain, meaning that I got there at just about the last possible moment) and was greeted by a regular with, “Vintage Deb!” “Do I do this?,” I asked, and a whole row of people laughed.
I’ve worked hard, most of my life, to belong – in the opera world, the theater world, at a national laboratory – and find that, without even trying, this fish-out-of-water is welcome in the improv pond.
What a gift.
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