A few weeks ago, I went to see my good friend Alexandra Finger perform her Level 1 improv class graduation show at Upright Citizens Brigade. As is often the case with a Level 1 show, the performances were… shall we say… uneven. But Alex, as usual, was hysterically funny.
I haven’t performed improv in a very, very long time. It used to be my life. I performed with Comics Anonymous and Comedysportz in Florida. I directed the No Parking Players at Carnegie Mellon University. Then I came to New York City, and after working my way up through the system, I accomplished the ultimate: I was on a Harold team at UCB. We were called “Pole Position.” We were… not the best team in the house, and after a while, we were broken up. A few members of the team were reassigned to other teams to continue performing. I was not.
I took this as the ultimate rejection. People who I respect and admire essentially told me I just couldn’t hack it. I haven’t performed improv on a public stage since. That was… I’m tempted to say five years ago, but it’s more than that because I wasn’t married then. In fact, I think it was before I’d even met Paula, which would make it at least eight years ago. (Gah! I hadn’t done the calculation until I just had to type that!)
Seeing Alex perform woke something up within me. I knew right then and there that I had to get back on that stage and perform no matter what! I immediately signed up for a Level 1 class at the PIT. (Partially because I know more people there from “back in the day,” but mostly because they had a class open and UCB didn’t…)
At first, I stumbled a bit. In fact, I was kind of shocked and angry with myself at how rusty I’d gotten. But, like riding a bicycle I got my bearings and now I feel… well, not quite ready for performing at the upper echelon like back in the day but confident that my faculties are still with me.
After class on Wednesday nights, the PIT has something called “Improdome,” which is pretty much a “make your own team on the spot” kind of free-for-all. It’s an excellent way to shake the dust off in a totally non-judgmental atmosphere. I’ve performed there the last two Wednesdays, and by golly, I’m going to get on that stage again and again as long as they let me.
I’ve missed it more than I could ever have imagined. It feels really, really good to have a purpose again.