Once, at a gig in Acton, I was threatened with physical violence by another act. Rather than just responding with a pre-emptive thumping of him myself, I was exceedingly British and apologised for whatever unknown to me thing that I had done to upset him. However, it transpired that that upset was caused by my having been born, as he hates me for being “posh” – tough gig!
You cannot please all the people all the time, and I know that my aim of doing so is, to a degree, a failure. I am learning to “hold on to my shit”, as those brilliant people at the Annoyance Theatre would say. That means, to me, to be honest in my reactions, to believe in my choices, and then to commit to those choices. Of course, to start that and be honest in my reactions, I have to relearn that aspect of my personality that was euthanased by a traditional British upbringing. I have to learn to listen to my emotions, accept them, let them in, let them affect me, and then let the boiling concoction of me plus the new experiences of these overwhelming sensations, overflow into action. And I have to trust myself to do so.
Today I had my first class at ComedySportz, a very different affair from yesterday’s call at the Annoyance. Whereas Annoyance is about looking after number one in order to look after everyone else, ComedySportz is all about short form games.
This morning I got up sprightly and early, finally well rested and in the right time zone. I wrote up some notes this morning, some emails, got my life in order. There is an immense freedom of having very little here to encumber me, just a few clothes, a fair amount of electronics and very few admin tasks except go to classes and ensure that my life is suitably hacked into simplicity.
Yesterday I had my first improv class of the whole trip. And what a way to start.
Over the next 12 weeks I am taking a phenomenal amount of classes: 40 hours this coming week, and my first day of no classes is not until September – although I may book something in for then by then… I am doing writing and long form classes at Second City and The iO, the two main schools in Chicago, I am also doing most of the program at ComedySportz, a school that concentrates on short form games, and also the first two levels and possibly their intensive Fall course at the Annoyance Theatre.
The first of all these classes was with Megan Johns, at the Annoyance. Megan herself is a bubbly and bouncy individual, with the energy and focus of a flight of swallows over a summer meadow, and there will be 10 of us in the class when everyone turns up. The room itself is in a slightly rundown part of town, opposite a very grand looking building, and is fairly basic – carpet on the floor, very little sound leakage, a good size, it does the job.
Yesterday in our improv session we had a workshop led by Raphael Perahia, based on a workshop he did when he was recently in New York, on being the straight man in a scene. It was one of the most interesting and productive sessions we have done and there were some lovely scenes by everyone. The technique resulted in everyone doing something different from what I have seen them do before, and has added a nice new skill to our toolbox.
This comedy lark is a great game, but there is a serious side. As an art form, it is self financing – as in, I currently finance my art myself. Yes, I get paid gigs here and there, however £100 to headline a gig in Plymouth barely covers the petrol, and whilst I perform maybe 20 nights a month, I am still not at the stage where enough of them pay sufficiently to keep me in tea and biscuits. And I like tea and biscuits.