My First Improv Show – A Play by Play

28 Oct

It’s 8:30 pm I am still riding high. High on STAGE LIGHTS. and DRUGS. Just kidding. Just the stage stuff.

My show finished at 6:31 pm last night and I still feel like my heart is beating overtime. I don’t understand much about our primitive brain system but I just wanna tell that caveman part like, Relax! The danger is over! No one boo-ed you or sat there in silent judgement at your terrible improv performance. Quite the opposite. It was a success. People laughed. And not just fake-laughed because I can tell that shit apart from real laughing.

But I’ll start from the beginning. Yesterday was Sunday and I spent all morning at work in knots. Literally counting down the minutes until I had to be at UCBeast theater. Thinking my classic pre-showtime thoughts such as “This would be a great time to get accidentally killed. They would say how much potential I had – how this show could’ve been the greatest but now I was dead and no one would ever know.” Ya know, normal thoughts.

My brother, Ari and I get to the theater 45 minutes early as per instructions. I tell the woman at the ticket desk that I was in the 5:30 pm graduation show. “Ok, a lot of your classmates are in the bar next door,” she says.

“Of course they are.”

4:52 p.m. – I leave Ari and Elie to go to the UCB bar which is called something ironic like the “Hot Chick’s Room.” My 101 classmates seem really excited. I was picturing we’d all be like my 11th grade class before finals, all nervous reassuring smile-cringes. But it’s not. It’s like we were all about to go on a fun and scary roller coaster. (This post might turn into a drinking game every time a simile is mentioned). Instructor Brandon explains how the show is gonna go, announces the two teams that would be going (“I divided the teams by attractiveness – just kidding! But seriously, you guys have been a really attractive class.”) and then we play some warm-up games and do a thing where we grab each other’s shoulders and say “I got your back.” It’s 5:21 pm and time to open house.

5:28 pm – Ari, Elie and my friend Mel walk in. They sit second row. I know from being on stage 3 min before that you can’t see anything past the tip of the stage due to the bright lights.

5:31 pm – Brandon opens the show – somehow I feel a weird kindergarden graduation flashback when he describes everything we’ve learned this year and how pleased he is.

5:31 – 6 pm – The first team (Named The Farmer and Adele) goes. The rest of us are in the front row and I’m sure we laugh the hardest. Mostly because they are genuinely hilarious people but also because they are making our whole class look good. It goes fast.

6:01 pm – Phil announces our team “Football to the Groin” (I didn’t get a vote on the name). Leon asks for a suggestion and the one that gets chosen is “sex.” I had a story in my arsenal ready for the possibility of a word just like that. I tell a story about my “sex-ed” in my Orthodox Yeshiva high school. It’s a pretty funny story and people laugh but I worry it’s too long, or too short, or not vivid enough and step back as soon as I decide it’s over. The first sketch is an eager kindergarden teacher for a Jewish school teaching sex-ed using a pop-up, scratch and sniff book. It’s a solid opening.

I’m not going to do a play-by-play of the actual show because improv should be seen not read. But the show goes fast, with scenes about a left-handed baby, grandparents beating the shit out of dogs and Al Capone getting syphilis. It’s not the unnaturalness I feel when public speaking. I have no lines memorized and I’m allowed to just say what I think is funny and it’s a weird freeness. Soon it’s 6:31 pm. We take a bow and Brandon closes the show.

6:35 pm We sit and pow-wow. Discuss how it went and say our good-byes. There’s hugs and pictures. We get our stuff from the green room and go back from where we came in – through Hot Chicks Room, where we can see our friends and boyfriends and daughters so they can tell us how amaaazzing we each did. We dissect the show in our own groups and then drift to other subjects. Some leave. I discover I’m in the 201 UCB class (starting tomorrow!) with Leon. So I’ll know one person at least.

7:03 pm I’m getting the “wrap it up” signal from Ari. I end my conversation with Logan’s boyfriend and make my rounds saying goodbye. I think I may have said something to Brandon about being a caterpillar turning into a butterfly – but I’m sure it was the cider. Okay, it wasn’t the cider. I said it. Because I can’t say goodbyes without ruining it with genuine weirdness.

Ari, Elie and I walk to Wild Ginger on Broome Street. It’s chilly but I’m too jazzed to put on my coat.

Today, 11:45 am, I quit my job at Fox News and decide to see if there’s something actually here with this performing/comedy thing.

2 Responses to “My First Improv Show – A Play by Play”

  1. joeyallgood October 28, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Yikes!

    That 11:45 am is quite the closer!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Aviva!

    I’m very happy for you! I’ve been busy peddling my art in Union Square on Sundays, or else I would have gone. Maybe 201’s grad show!

  2. Anonymous October 28, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    AHHHHHHHHH I am so proud of you!!!

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