I mean, I really do see the value in preparing material and then honing and polishing it, like say through rehearsal. These are not radical statements for most theater artists, I know, but I've just done so much improv for so long. And, in all modesty, people seem to like the stuff I improvise. So, often, it seems easier to just improvise everything.
But sometimes I think I should work that whole "prepare and hone" muscle. And it's hard to acquire actual skills through improvisation. So when Erica gave me a ukulele for my birthday a couple months ago, I asked Steve to give me a guest slot for Don't Spit the Water with the working title "Ukulele guy". He did, and that gave me a deadline to learn to play at least one song on the ukulele and work up a character and routine to go along with it.
Well, I got busy, as always, and I learned a few chords and practiced them, but I kept dragging on learning an actual song. When I'd start looking at a song, I couldn't figure out the character and act that would frame signing the song. And when I'd think of what I wanted the character to be like, I couldn't figure out what song(s) to do.
And then two horrible things happened. The first was that I was looking for online ukulele lessons and I found this advice:
If you are still a poor player, you don't have to play. You are playing music not typwriting. Forget your fingering and song voice. The most important thing is to keep the rhythm and continue singing. This technique is very useful if you memorize only the first chords of some songs.
And then I was noodling around practicing the three chords I knew and I sang Erica a little song I made up, and she said, "that was lovely."
Well, damn, I might as well just improvise the damn thing, then.
So I did. I was kind of mortified to find out that the Humpnight Thumpers jug band would be playing before the show Saturday night, which meant that there would be actual musicians in the audience. And I planned out some little bits that I completely forgot as soon as I got on stage. So I talked a little, and made up three little songs, and people laughed, and I got off-stage.
And hey, that picture way back up at the top: I dyed my hair black a few months ago to do a different character for Don't Spit the Water and it's grown out far enough that the roots are rather obvious, so it was definitely time for a hair cut. But since I was doing this show, I asked Erica to cut my hair "crazy" to make Morty that much more of an odd character, before we cut it for real on Sunday. She gave me this kind of wide mohawk and we both think it looks kinda cool, when it isn't spiked up to be all "kerazy," so I think I'm going to keep it for a few weeks (at least until I have to actually look professional for something).