Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hope for the Future...and the Past!

One of the really beautiful things about improv is that people are human and they make mistakes. While improvising a scene, the best way to handle it is to embrace it. Otherwise, it's the elephant in the room that no one is talking about and is hoping will go away. Of course, it is possible to acknowledge the mistake by treating the person making the mistake like they are an idiot. This doesn't do much to forward the scene and works to putting that person in their head and clamming up (which, at times, might be the desired effect). But for the audience's buck, it's wonderful to see mistakes parlayed into important elements.

The last time I played with The Improvised Shakespeare Company, I informed the king of England that an Irish army would be invading our shores at dawn-thirty by crossing the English Channel. In the next scene, my geographically-challenged plot point was called out by the leader of the Irish army. "Instead of crossing the Irish Sea into England, which would be the quickest and easiest route, we'll be going all the way down to France and crossing the English Channel into England from there!" It would have been easy for someone to just correct my mistake. It was more fun to call it out and embrace it as a brilliant feat of war strategy. Huzzah!

A mistake in Danse Macabre! last Friday came when one of the players called another player by their previously killed character's name. Instead of telling him he made a mistake, the player created the first of many sets of identical twins that also shared the same identical name.

Not to sound too much like a lame inspirational business poster, but mistake are opportunities. They could even be considered the subconscious of the group mind mischievously at work.

The title of this piece? It's something one of the students said last night in an improv game for a class I was subbing at Second City. The idea of having hope for the past made me laugh quite heartily. You could see on her face just a flash of "what the hell did I say?" and it's exactly the kind of mistake I'm talking about here.


Yesterday, I asked...

"In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Craig S. McCullough was arrested in a public restroom when he was found with his pants down doing what?"

33% naturally assumed "passing out Republican Party buttons"
- Now, if they can only swing putting voting booths in bathroom stalls.

33% thought health and "checking for testicular cancer"
- Well, he was feeling around down there, but he was more interested in making a lump than finding one.

9% hungrily answered "eating his lunch"
- Did somebody say Quizno's?

25% overcame their denial and got it right with "lying next to an inflatable doll"

According to the Associated Press, Craig S. McCullough was arrested last week after a government agent allegedly found him in an office building restroom lying next to an inflatable, anatomically correct doll with his pants down. McCullough's criminal record includes a 2004 conviction for burglarizing a Just For Me bridal boutique. Shortly after the burglary, police officers found McCullough in a nearby alley, carrying a mannequin wearing a bridal dress. It's a shame it didn't work out with his mannequin bride, but it's their kids who will really suffer.