Jason Specland: Consultant, Comedian

Making it up as I go along. Always.

Tag: the pit

Cut? DON’T QUIT!

To elaborate a a bit on what I posted yesterday:

This is my second time through the audition process at the PIT, and the first time I’ve been through significant cuts. Many people I love, including half of Technicolor, won’t be around for this cycle.

It hurts. I know. I’ve been there.

When I was put on a Harold team at UCB*, I was well beyond cloud nine — I was on cloud a hundred and seventy-four and had a leather steamer trunk covered in stickers indicating the many clouds I’d been on. When I was cut a short time later, I was bereft.

At first I thought, “It’s all right. I’m a bit emotional now, but I just need to take a break from this place.” But then the break became a hiatus. The hiatus became “Whatever happened to…?” Before I knew it, I hadn’t done longform improv in ten years.

Let me tell you: This is, seriously, one of the biggest regrets of my life.

If you need to take time, go ahead and take some time. But please, PLEASE don’t make the same mistake I made. Don’t abandon your craft. Make things happen. Persevere. Be great. I have faith in you.

* Back then, this was not quite the amazing accomplishment it is today. On the UCB retrospective interview that was recently published, someone said, “Anyone who could stand got on a house team.” I could stand. Barely.

A Time for Change

The PIT house team auditions are done. Some incredibly talented people I love are now on teams, and for them I am ecstatic. Some incredibly talented people I love are not, and for them I feel a profound sense of loss, ameliorated slightly by the hope that for them it is not the end of the road, but rather a new beginning.

In any case, if you wish to see me perform at the PIT, I will be performing Monday nights at 9:30 with the team currently known as 1800’s London. I hope to see many of you there…

CANCELLED: Show at The PIT: Vorpal and Friends

UPDATE: The snow has abated from the sky, but not the streets or subways. This show is CANCELLED. See you in January for “Through the Laughing Glass IV!”

Once the snow abates, you will need to poke your head out from beneath the tons of accumulated powder. You’ve been snowbound in your claustrophobic New York apartment for days. You will be desperate for mirth and merriment. Perhaps of the improvised kind…

That’s where we come in.

VORPAL! Monday, December 27, 2010 at the People’s Improv Theater!

Where’s that? 154 West 29th Street, between 6th and 7th Ave.* Here, let me draw you a map:


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*It won’t be here for much longer, but it will be there for this performance.

With special guests:

Kelly Davis
No Laugh Track Required
BAY-SIDE
The Heat Miser (booking still tentative)

$5 buys you all this comedy in a heated theater! Why, that’s cheaper than heating oil!

Vorpal is:

Kathryn Dunn
Jason A. Specland
Colin Longstaff
Daniel Operman
A Partridge in a Pear Tree (booking still tentative)

In Praise of My Team

So, as I promised, this past Sunday, my Level 1 Improv class at the PIT performed our class show. Our final class, in which we basically practiced the form of the show, seemed a little rough to me. I still feel like I’m struggling to be a relaxed, grounded performer. I was a little worried.

I shouldn’t have been. We rocked. Everyone in the class brought their “A” Game.

We got to the theater a bit early – 6 PM for a 7 PM show. We actually managed to do a fairly extensive rehearsal with our teacher beforehand, which I think really helped us get our heads into the game. Before the house opened, I took a moment to stand on the stage and just breathe in the theatrical air. Although I’ve done a few brief performances on that stage before now, it was the first time I ever got to just stand there and worship the space. It’s an important part of my theatrical ritual, and something I’ve missed desperately.

So, as I said, everything just seemed to fall into place with everyone. Sure, there were a few clunkers for scenes. I promised myself that I’d play more grounded, real characters. When I forgot that, it was rough (although I was often saved by my scene partners). But when I kept it in mind, I felt like we did some really good stuff up there.

Don, Alex, and Tesse were there to cheer me on, and they joined me for a few drinks at Mustang Sally’s afterwards. It was especially gratifying that Alex was there, since it was her Level 1 UCB class show that inspired me to get back into this crazy business we call improv in the first place.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our wonderful teacher, Tom Ridgely. He’s knowledgeable to be sure, but a lot of people are knowledgeable. More importantly, he’s endlessly patient and encouraging. Where my own experience might drive me (back in my improv directing days) to issue an authoritative rebuke, Tom steers the ship so gently that you can barely feel it, until 8 weeks later you find the ship has mysteriously taken the proper course. He took a motley crew of improvisers with experience ranging from extensive to none at all and made us, for one night, perform as a team.

Right now, I’m in a bit of limbo. I will definitely take a Level 2 class, but right now the only one available is during Paula’s Icky House Club rehearsals. I’m wary of going up for the open jams, just because it’s very hard to get into a groove with people that you don’t know at all. No matter what happens, though, I will continue this journey. It felt so good to be welcomed back in the congregation to worship at the altar of the theater.