Friday, December 5, 2008

The Generic Comedy Troupe

The picture above was taken, by my guess, sometime in the spring of 1983. I may be totally wrong about that. Being the archivist/historian is not my strong suit. For that, talk to the guy holding the Crispy Rice. Clockwise from center is Brad Sherwood, Melissa King Schlosser, Jeff Strohaver, Pete Ficht, Tom Brooks, Peggy Queener, Paul Custodio, Jude Prest, and me, the only one mugging(!).

((For those not born at this time or who were just little toddlers, generic brand products were all the rage in the early 80s for saving money. They came in these black-and-white Dharma-like boxes and were super cheap. A college student's friend.))

When I teach classes, I am aware that I am facilitating many people becoming best friends for life. When I was in college, there was no improv program. I didn't let that stop me. I took what I had learned from a Del Close workshop and from what I knew seeing Second City trouco shows and put together The Generic Comedy Troupe. We all knew each other from theater classes, but how we formed as a company was through a series of improv workshops I put together that were open to anyone. After a few weeks, this was the ensemble that naturally emerged from the process. It was rough and tumble. We were college students, we were hormonal, self-conscious, hungry, we had no models on how to do what we were doing off stage, we fought, we laughed, we loved. We were family. And are family. After more years passing than I care to admit, we are all in touch with each other. We come together for a few weddings and some of us have made kids. One of us died, which wasn't cool.

The GCT was an experience that I still carry with me. I learned a lot about directing, producing and comedy writing from this gang of ragamuffins. And everyone you see in that picture is a success.

Brad can be seen touring with Colin Mochrie with whom he worked with on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Melissa sadly subcumbed to cancer eight years ago and it still feels so recent. She was working out of New York as a popular actress working regional theaters. Her future was so bright. And she held that rare feminine mix of class, beauty and a tough broad. I miss her.

Jeff works in Florida and if you have seen any film or television series produced there, he had his hand in the production of it.

Pete is a web designer in Portland and also a damn fine musician and composer.

Tommy is the actor and human all of us wanted to be. Funny, charming and unjustly talented! He continues to act and coach others in the fine art in Virginia. He also has a thing for alpacas.

Peggy, who still looks much like she did in college, is an actress in New York. I still laughwhen I think about an adlib she did as the Virgin Mary about eating the Christ child.

Paul is an advertising copywriter in Seattle.

Jude produces and directs documentaries. You have probably seen his work on The History Channel of The Learning Channel. Check out his documentary called Rabbit Hash, about a town in Kentucky that elected a dog for mayor.

Me? I'll do something some day. Legally. Not in a psycho-sniper-taking-out-people kind of way.

The point? If you have ever wondered about taking improv or writing classes, jump on it. These are the people that make treading on this planet a little easier.


Nor will I wait. I'm already playing it in my head.

And, yes, it's the original actors providing the voices!

(If the embedded video isn't working, click HERE!)


Yesterday, I asked...

"Timothy Havens of Springfield, Ohio told police he accidentally shot his wife while they were doing what?"

50% said "pointing guns at each other"
- The number one cause of people being shot.

33% said "watching television"
- Sorry, Elvis.

No one said "eating dinner"

17% got it right with "having sex"

According to WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, a Tri-State woman is in critical condition after police say her husband shot her while they were having sex. Timothy Havens, 38, told Springfield police he was reaching for something on the nightstand when the pistol went off, hitting his estranged wife Carolyn in the upper chest.

I'm all for sex toys, but...a toy that makes extra holes is not a good idea.