Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Portraying a Dog

Last week my musical improv class at ComedySportz had our show. We had a large crowd, including 6 of my supportive friends/family, and my team won. A great night.

If you're in a regular play, you know exactly what you're supposed to say and when you're supposed to move, and after all the rehearsing you pretty much know what everyone else will say and do. The fun and frightening thing about improv is that you never know what character or activity you'll be called upon to do...and all choices and decisions are made on the spot. In one game, A Day in the Life, an audience volunteer comes on stage and shares the details of his day. Then we perform a musical about that. My team captain had already chosen the two team members who'd take the leading roles, with the 3 remaining playing all other parts.

Our volunteer was a radiologist whose day began by forcing his dog, who'd had a bad weekend, to take medicine. Instantly I knew I should be the dog. A second later, the captain whispered to me that I should play the dog.

So when our "radiologist" called for his dog, Bootsie, I dropped to my hands and knees and crawled to him. I barked. I shook my recently shorn (more on that another day) but still somewhat curly black hair. I thought of Scooby-Doo, who sort of talked in words like 'ruh-roh,' and did that. I refused to take my medicine, even when he enticed me with a ball. And, the audience laughed.

In another game, Sideline Karaoke, one member from each team leaves the theatre while audience members suggest songs for the rest of us to silently act out, as in Charades, and for them to guess while singing as if they were at a Karaoke bar. I think this game is one of the hardest, so I hope I never have to be the guesser.

The songs we had to do were You're So Vain, and two I'd never heard of: Sister Christian and Woop, There it is. For Sister Christian, another woman (who also is short with dark curly hair) and I tried to show that we were sisters by linking arms and pointing to each other. Then we tried to portray nuns. Our team member got that, but couldn't make the connection to sisters. Then we tried praying, then taking communion while she guessed 'Catholic' and other religious things. A guy then tried 'sounds like fist', and she guessed the song.

The other team got hung up on Material Girl...she got 'mat' when team members drew on the floor, and 'girl', but couldn't get further. My team member amazingly guessed all three.

These examples illustrate some of the benefits of taking improv: enhanced team building and communication skills. Most of us have been taking classes together for almost a year now and have come to appreciate each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Note to self: figure out how to apply these lessons to every day life.

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