March 14 - Precious & The Mainstage Improv Set

After the Rush show today I saw Precious. I found it a beautiful movie, perhaps one of the most beautiful movies I have seen. The strength, hope and humor of Precious are to be envied. Her life not so much. The movie puts things like this silly blog into perspective. But just like Precious, I will keep writing. Because after I’m gone, people will need to know about my sleeping habits in the van, my notes on the Beatles mono masters and my opinion of Beatlemania! The Movie.

Lauren understudied on the mainstage at Second City tonight. My friend Mitchell Fain accompanied me to see her in Taming Of The Flu. Mitchell is working on a cabaret with the bold and buxom Meghan Murphy. We all met while working on the cruise ship a couple of years ago. I can’t wait to see their collaboration.

Lauren killed, adding her own charms to Shelly Gossman’s comedy. I’ve always enjoyed Shelly’s alderman monologue and the “I’ll tell you why I’m lucky/I’m lucky I’m so happy” song. Lauren slayed with it.

Afterward I got an invitation to do the improv set with the cast. I have turned down this invitation twice already this year. So this time I did it.

It went well. They told me I did a decent job. I hadn’t improvised in over a year. My heart beat like a shaken deer. I was rusty and a bit lost at times. I was in my head and not in the scene.

At Second City failure is not an option on stage. It has to be funny. That’s why tourists and parents come to see it. Because it’s guaranteed laughter. It’s not arty. It’s not weird. It’s straight funny. And it has to be funny now! It is one of the few successful businesses in the world of improvisation.

Unfortunately for me, immediate $traight comedy has never been my bag. I tried it on the cruise ship, and learned that it did not make me happy. It raised my blood pressure, accelerated my heartbeat, and caused me to second guess myself. I revisited that feeling tonight.

I got a few laughs and didn’t make any huge blunders. But afterward I felt awful, and agonized over my missteps. In what is supposed to be a loose, fuck around improv set. Stupid.

Five years ago, these boring feelings of personal failure would have festered with me for weeks. Now they haunt me for a couple of hours, or until it’s someone’s birthday on the etc. stage and there’s free pizza and beer. Happy birthday, Brendan Jennings!

It’s good to know who you are. Even if you might be technically proficient at something, to know you can put it away if you don’t enjoy it is better.

Verdict: Win

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