Thursday, June 7, 2012

The improv stage is terror, magic

Ed Fletcher at Camp Winton with Ray Ray,
the Allen brothers and Eric Chew.

On Sunday, I stepped on stage for my first improv performance.

It was like standing on the edge of a cliff, not knowing whether you'd made a smart move or stepped foolishly. Making it down from the cliff successfully means seeing something you've never experienced, with the full knowledge that next time -- no matter how thrilling it may be -- it will never offer the fear and associated reward.

It was, in my opinion, an unmitigated success. Sure, our elderly hippy cast member had a brain fart or drug-induced neural dump, but we covered it like pros and made people laugh.

There was no clear path to my decision to take a long-form improv class, which concluded with the performance. In addition to playing with words more often lately, I've been trying to say 'yes' in the real world more often. (As opposed to at Burning Man where yes is always the right answer).

It began lightly with Thursday nights at the "Playground" at Blacktop Comedy in Roseville. I had never done improv before. I'd been in a couple school plays, was a rally commissioner in high school and did some class videos, but the majority of my comedic performances came at Camp Winton, where twice a week we entertained kids at our "award-winning" camp fires. It was something between sketch and improv. We set high marks for the production and we're known as one of the best in the state.

The Playground, run by the owner Paul Burke, provided a safe fun environment for people of all levels. Finding success for this short-form games, a long-form class was the next logical step. I chose the Sacramento Comedy Spot primarily because it was closer to home. I was pleased with my chose owner/teacher Brian Crall pushed and pulled us into performers.

 It's hard to put to words the pace at which the mind has to work as the session starts. You searching for a scene to snag from a monologue as the crowd laughs blissfully unaware of the terror in your head. Sticking the landing is something magical though.

Not everyone will have financial success from living their ideal life. No matter how many kids dream of being an actor, not everyone gets to get make millions in Hollywood. But that doesn't mean you can't step onto a smaller stage, produce your own show on access television or write a film short.

 As I news writer, I'm not the star and definitely not a performer. The idea is to ask the right questions, but otherwise stay out of the way of the news. I guess that is way I liked doing Edventures so much. It was a small taste of Ed the performer. I'm happy to say I'm back on stage and I don't anticipate another decade plus performance break. There are more cliffs to stand on.

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