15 March 2012

Tackling Solo Improv (or 1mprov)


Improv is (almost without exception) a joy to perform, because there's such a dynamic and focused connection between the performers. Last night I learned how that relationship works when there's just one performer.

Last night's Happy Place was another great comedy event. And not just because there was some leftover cake from Horse's (of Horse & Louis) recent birthday party. Nope, there was a lovely crowd, some quality acts (not least of which was a teaser taster of Max & Ivan's upcoming Con Artist Edinburgh Fringe show. For me, it was a bit of a milestone, as it was the first time I've stepped onstage, alone, with no idea what I was about to do, and just improvised.

Solo improv, I learned, is terrifying and wonderful, exhilarating and freeing. Last night was very informal; also, I had the excuse that Dave Waller was unavailable, so it was logical that I was by myself, fulfilling our obligation. For just last night, 'Marbles' became the singular 'Marble', or the adapted 'One Man's Marbles'.

So, after justifying my lone presence, I just got into it. I began with audience chats, (especially gently teasing a German girl), before getting into a scene based on the word 'trumpet'.

That scene sparked a discussion with the audience about childhood passions or achievements, which led to a monologue scene taking place at Blockbuster video, where a struggling filmmaker explained the concept behind his short movie. It was poetic and authentic. And, as it came to a satisfying conclusion, I took the opportunity to not press my luck, and said goodnight.

I'm not sure how long I was up there for, it felt simultaneously like almost no time at all, and approximately three hours. The truth was probably something like twelve or so minutes. A respectable span of time, and the audience seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

Afterwards, a few of the other acts commented on my 'massive balls' for going it alone. Being cited for onstage bravery can be a backhanded compliment (i.e. "That was awful, but I respect you're bullheaded enough to plow on with your shit"). However, I'm pretty confident that wasn't the sense they were using.

So that first test of getting onstage alone, with no idea what's about to happen, has been put to rest. The verdict is yes, I'd like to do it again. Every so often. It's nerve-wracking and exhausting, but a challenge replete with rewards. Not always with literal cake, as there was last night, but presumably more learning and confidence from each show.

However, I look forward to stepping back on stage with other people. In particular, reuniting with Dave Waller for a weekend trip to Belgium for Marbles shows and workshops at the end of the month.

More on that soon.

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