On Thursday, Liz and I jumped in the purple demon and drove 22 hours to Denver.
As we were driving through Illinois, we realised that we would be passing through Champaign just at dinner time. So we called Mike and Camille Monahan and asked if they'd like to eat dinner with us. They cheerfully changed their dinner plans and we had some delightful pasta. For those of you who care, they're fine.
Kansas, by the way, is evil. There's just so much of it. And, perhaps because there is so little of real interest in Kansas, every little town has some manufactured attraction -- an oil drilling equipment museum or the five-legged cow at "Prairie Dog World". Kansas is home to the World's Largest Ball Of Twine. There are even towns that don't tell you why you should visit them, but still encourage you to do so. 30 or 40 miles in advance, a cheerful sign proclaims "Hannerville Welcomes You!" or "Come Visit Beautiful Gompton".
Friday afternoon we finally arrived in Broomfield, home to Shaun Himmerick. After a quick shower and playing with Shaun's mutant kittens (perhaps they could go on display in Kansas) we went out to dinner in Boulder and then headed down to Denver for some improv.
First, we went to Denver's Playback Theatre. Playback Theatre is a form of theatre where an audience member shares a story from their life and then the troupe reenacts that story on stage. It can be hilarious, sad, and often theraputic for the story-teller. We had picked a great night as it was their 9th birthday as a group and the place was packed with an enthusiastic audience. They warmed up with a few sound-and-motion-scapes of how people's day had been and then moved on to some stories. A woman's horrible and wonderful year was really touching. Then they did a man's dream. Moses and Georgia O'Keefe were preparing a stucco house becuase Jesus was coming. The dream ended with Meryl Streep singing the man a song. "An artist is a candle with it's one eye burning." It was both very funny and pretty deep.
We had to leave before the second act, because Shaun had a show to do across town with Comedy Helper.
It was not the perfect night to see a Comedy Helper show. For the first half, there were four people in the audience: Liz, my brother Dave (he's going to school in Colorado Springs), one real paying customer, and me. They did a Harold (a long form structure) that didn't go very well. For the second half, they let me join them (oops, the audience is down to 3!) for a Drake (another long form structure). It was the first time I'd ever done a full long form improv, so it was actually kind of nice that the audience was so small--it was very low stress.
Saturday morning, we drove up to Boulder and climbed halfway up a mountain. The trails were all packed ice and snow, so we slid back down (not in a good way).
That afternoon, Matt Martin finally showed up and we had time for a very quick practice before we were all off to Bare Essentials practice.
After working with most of the improv groups in Denver (Shaun is still in 2 other groups) Matt and Shaun decided to form their own. They've assembled a great cast (purely as actors, they're all better than Shaun or Matt or I) and had a few months of intensive rehearsals before they started performing at all (this show was their first). And it's all paid off. We got to see them practice their new long-form structure, "Your Father's Advice" and they rocked.
Then it was off to the theatre. They had had pretty good publicity, and there was a crowd of 40 or so (and the space was intimate enough that it felt full). Bare Essentials did an hour inspired by "Don't color on your sister's socks". It wasn't quite as good as their practice had been, but still good. (I have a theory that you only have so much creativity and so many new ideas in one day. It then becomes dangerous to practice improv really close to the time you're going to perform as your mind naturally comes up with the things you thought of earlier in the day and then you waste time and energy censoring those thoughts to try and come up with something "new".)
Then it was time for Jose Hirohito and his All-Girl Orchestra.
Shaun and Matt and I got tired of going to improv festivals but not being able to perform because we couldn't get anyone from our own troupes to go. So we decided to form a group of convinence, JHahAGO. But most festivals require a videotape with performance applications. So we set up this show, mainly to videotape it.
Shaun, Matt, Liz, and I did 45 minutes of classic short-form improv (much like old National Velveeta stuff). I think we did remarkably well for having practiced together about 1/2 an hour.
A cast party, a few hours sleep, and it was back on the road. It only took 20 hours coming back (because it's downhill?). Back in time to waste time at work writing this.