Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flaming mass of wreckage...

...That's what the long form improv skit that my sister and I did on Father's Day turned into. Ok, first a bit of background. A couple years ago my aunt turned 40 and was extremely bummed out about it. Being the caring, feeling people that we are, my older sister Christine and I composed a rather humorous, but flattering poem about our aunt and called her up to read it to her, deciding at the last minute that we should read this as two British people, living in London (in a cardboard box as it turned out) and writing these birthday greeetings for a living. The poem was a huge hit, and instead of just dropping character when it was done we continued on and improvised a dialogue that was about 30 minutes long. It was a huge hit, and quite funny if I do say so myself. Made our aunt's day! Flush with our sucess, a year later we pulled it off again, this time with a song about how rotten people are, and two totally different characters. Somehow this "tradition" grew and we were expected to do these little skits for everyone's birthdays and then eventually, all holidays in general. Fine by us, we love making stuff up! Most of the time we would have no idea what we would be doing until a few hours or even minutes before we went "on stage" so to speak. Usually we only went armed with a central idea to base the scene on and the accents with which to build the characters around. Maybe (probably) our extended family and/or friends are just easily amused, but most of the time, we killed. Well, this Father's Day, yes this Father's Day, June 18th, my sister and I absolutely bombed. If we had stopped after about 2 minutes into the skit, we might have escaped, but we didn't. After 5 or 6 minutes we finally wrapped it up, rather abruptly. Some of the more polite folks there claimed that "No, no, it was great, you guys were funny!" but we're not that stupid! We know when we fail miserabley! I believe we have pin-pointed the issue. Firstly, having nothing prepared, and very little time we decided to use a skit that we had done before for my aunt's birthday. She was the only one that saw it, so we figured it would be fresh for everybody else. What did not occur to us is that by using characters that we already knew, we had to try to find lines that fit those characters, instead of just flowing with the "feeling of the moment" and letting the characters build themselves. We were recycling, and we knew it! At the start of it we got in a few good lines, but then it just started petering out. In our defense, we saw what was happening and didn't let it go on for another five or ten minutes, but still, it was a big disapointment. Never will I try to reuse a character again! An accent, yes. A character, no.
The moral of the story children, is recycling is bad for the environment!


Ryan said...

Improv is tough. You take chances, make mistakes, and hope to be funny. At least you learned something? But that's still awesome that you can entertain your family like that.

Renee L. said...

Yup, I guess that's one of the things I love about improv. When you go out with no script you're throwing caution to the wind, but that's what makes it fun!
There's nothing quite like just getting into the scene and letting it flow, and maybe, just maybe, getting a few laughs.
And any time when you can say you learned something is good right?