Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week Forty-Seven

Event:  Took an Improv Class

Director:  "Ok, class, someone yell out an emotion and someone yell out a profession."

Guy #1:  "Um, what about joyful."

Guy #2:  "Mortician!"

Director:  "Perfect.  A joyful mortician.  Now let's see.  I want you and you up to the front" (pointing to me).  "And....action!"

Me:  "Oh crap."

Welcome to improv.

Last week I got online and did a search for Improv classes.  The first one I found seemed pretty promising - the website said it was perfect for beginners, would guarantee fun and would improve listening skills, confidence and team-building.  I decided to send an email to the contact listed on the site, just make sure this was in fact a class for true beginners and no previous experience was required.  (I've never done improv, nor have I ever "acted" before.  Well, as long as I don't count the acting debut I made as a cabbage patch kid in a school play in the early 80's).  I digress.  Soon I received an email back saying not to worry - the only thing I needed to bring was a check and a positive attitude.  Bring it.

The best part about the Improv class was that it was being held in a Sunday school classroom in a Lutheran church.  I was slightly conflicted - surely God wouldn't let me fail miserably in a church, but this also means I would have to keep my improvisations G-rated.  I worried about that until one of my peers dropped the F-Bomb with enough passion you thought she was trying to get an Oscar nomination.  We all took a deep breath, paused a brief moment, said a prayer and moved on.  It was during that moment of silence we discovered the children's choir rehearsing for their Christmas concert across the hall.  Oh Holy Night.

Within the first 15 minutes of the 90 minute class, we were improvising.  I quickly realized this was NOT a class for beginner anything - I was being forced to act out my favorite hobby, imitate the person's mannerisms standing next to me, complete a story that the guy in front of me started with the theme of "space invaders" (seriously? I was living in an episode of the "Big Bang Theory") and before I knew it we were acting out two and four person scenes in front of the entire group.  We were given topics, categories, emotions, character types, professions, predicaments, situations, locations...all of which had to be perfected and acted out with only seconds to prep and no time to discuss with our partners.  At first, I found myself completely frozen - sort of like those people who totally suck at Catch Phrase.  You know when it's their turn all they can get out is, "Uhhh...Well...Hmmm...Let's see..."  But finally, about an hour and 20 minutes into the class, I gained confidence, started listening and put my faith in team-building and suddenly found myself...acting.  I went from the quiet, intimidated, shy girl who couldn't come up with anything creative, to a girl about to write her own ticket to Second City.  In my last "skit" I completely hijacked the performance and forced all 4 actors to focus on my character in a scene I created.  I was equal parts Tina Fey and Ellen with a pinch of Carol Burnett and a dollop of Lucille Ball.  I was on fire.  Or so I thought.

When the class ended, I walked out with the Director who asked me if I had ever taken acting classes before.  Thinking he was going to respond by saying something like, "Wow - you're a real natural."  Or, "You're kidding me!  You have some serious talent."  Instead, when I told him this was my first time, he just responded, "Huh."  Not sure if that meant he was keeping his cool about his new starlet or if he was thinking, "Yeah, that was obvious."  Either way, this joyful mortician looking for alien life forms while sitting on the bus reading Vogue magazine drinking a dirty martini holding the hand of Superman who's about to skyrocket from his seat to land on planet Mars to capture the alien and save the going back for more...

End scene.  Fade to black.  Roll credits.

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