Thursday, July 10, 2014

Multiple Personality Disorder & Improvisation...

No, I don't have multiple personality disorder. Definitely not trying to start that rumor. Am I weird? Without a doubt. But schizophrenic? No. Well, to be fair, I do have conversations with my dog all the time, and at this point I could totally list 'Midwestern mom voice' on my resume. But our first improv class of the new term went down last night. I tried something new that was inspirational to say the least, so you all know what today's gibberish will be about! (And please enjoy the obscure alter ego shots below from 'United States of Tara,' a personal favorite, oozing with Kohan/Collette talent.)

PSA: I survived my first one-person scene (OPS, for short) yesterday at, of course, the world-famous Dallas Comedy House. Because doing a OPS anywhere else would result in me being the newest county psych ward resident. This would also be chop liver to a professional comedian and potential case study for any psychiatrist, but it's an achievement in my book. And I hate to get all cliché for the umpteenth time but if you ever wanna "escape your comfort zone," channel the Tara Gregson within, or merely grow as a human being, do improv. Specifically a OPS. It's totally acceptable to have your dog/cat/fish be the audience.

For those on the outside world, a OPS is an improviser (improvising, obviously) playing two or more subjects with their own premise/dialogue; popping in and out of characters through logical conversation; using fancy improv tools here and there to raise stakes; with the goal of producing a structured and entertaining scene. And I bit the bullet and went first in class because A) I'm intrigued by the technique and was ready to give it a whirl, B) The fact that I would control the story, dialogue, timing of lines, etc. was right up my alpha female alley, and C) What kind of narcissist would I be if I didn't jump at the opportunity to gab on and on with myself?!

And I know I'm not shocking anyone when proclaiming that it was insane amounts of fun. Bad pun intended. However, had I been asked to do this humbling task in prior classes I would've had to pop a Dramamine, re-apply my man deodorant, and perform in a chair due to shaking legs. Just ask my former writing class cohorts about the intimidation struggles I faced every dang time I monologue-d 'ole Sage. I am certain the nervous anxiety in making that flower child caused an ulcer, though not officially diagnosed but boosting North American antacid sales, nevertheless. TUMS weren't needed last night, though. Nope. Because this term I did a schedule switcheroo and moved back to my usual Wednesday class. They are the OG's I first learned this magical stuff with, and supposedly level four turns up the emotional intensity notch. So I wanna do melodramatic soap opera shenanigans with crazies I'm comfortable with. Duh. The bond between improvisers who fully trust each other is like Thelma and Louise times a hundred. Stronger than any Duggar family courtship, for sure. Also I've been dying to have Christie Wallace/Cameron Goldapp for DCH profs, as they're basically national funny treasures.

And while the OPS was challenging, it was also easy, thanks to my supportive spirit animals. I unapologetically morphed into a cynical, liberal, 20-something from California, possibly pregnant by her ex and being judged by a middle-aged, conservative, childless-but-super-pro-life employee over pregnancy tests/Plan B, and in a CVS smack dab in bible-belt Texas. (How predictable of me, right?)The twenty eyeballs (there were ten of us last tonight, in case math isn't your thing) staring at me never crossed my mind, indicative of colossal strides made. My confidence level reached Leslie Knopes heights, and Queen Amy would've approved because I knew that if I committed, I wouldn't look dumb. Finally crossing the fear-of-looking-stupid bridge felt fantastic and everyone in the universe should experience it.
In conclusion, (despite improv conditioning me to never apologize, I'm going to absolutely apologize in advance for this God-awful metaphor)... Doing the OPS was like jumping on a commercial plane that could either be going to Siberia or Hawaii, only the plane evolves into a private jet with no other passengers, endless Pluckers mild wings, and ultimately lands at the Four Seasons Koh Samui. The past six months of improv training has taught me to go with everything. Always. And not question sh*t, because, hello, it's all made up. The weird and whimsical are valued. Creatively expressing yo inner-freak show is appreciated. And I find comfort in the fact that the worst that could happen, as a result of any action made or word said, is nothing. On stage that is. Definitely don't go by that gem of a mantra at a bar or on a Vegas vacation or something.

Alas, if your comfort zone has walls of fear thicker than Bellagio cash vaults, hopefully this novel has convinced you to at least come see a DCH show, like YOUTH GROUP, my other beloved DCH troupe taking the stage at 9:30PM tonight. Alright, my Oprah-excerpt-for-the-day is complete. If you've made it to this sentence you would thrive as a yes-and-er, and I sincerely applaud your loyalty.