How did you get started with improv?
Kind of by accident. I got really into sketch comedy in college, and I always (this is me at age 21 when I was even more cocky and stupid than I am now) thought improv was kind of dumb or lazy. So when I graduated, I wanted to come to Chicago and study at Second City, because I thought "hey, that's sketch comedy, I love sketch comedy, I'll do that. I'm already a pretty good writer."
Then when I got to Chicago and took the Second City program, it was "all of our sketch comedy comes from improv," and I was like "well, I've been living here for a year already, and all these awesome people I'm in classes with are doing improv all over the place, I should too."
And then it turned out that improv is not at all dumb or lazy. I some ways it's way more difficult than writing something and then performing it. And you can never ever be so good at it that you're like, "I'm good enough at this, I don't have anything else to learn about it." So once I started doing it more and more, I really fell in love with it.
What brought you to ComedySportz?
Basically, they pay money for people to be funny. So while I was kind of getting started as an improviser I thought it'd be a good idea to see what that was all about. You know, in case I could make a career or at least a semi-career out of it.
What sets ComedySportz aside from the other improv you have done?
I think most people would say it's the pace. It's pretty fast. But I've done fast stuff at other places, too. I'd say it's the format. I learned so much about what audiences want from doing ComedySportz. I mean, you do something, and then it's a part of the show for them to tell you if they liked what you did or what the the other team did. So you learn about what an audience likes and doesn't like, and you get to sort of figure out why as you go along. It's a pretty amazing tool for performers that way.
What kind of shows are you doing now, and how has ComedySportz prepared you for performing elsewhere?
I'm mostly doing fewer, more dramady-based theatrical productions at a slower pace. A short play I directed had a run at the Annoyance recently, and I'm working on some solo stuff now. I'd say my ComedySportz experience has prepared me for those by instilling in me the ability to see what works and what doesn't. With Comedysportz, you spend a lot of time (like 30% of every show) on the bench watching the other team perform and you use that time to see how they either are or aren't connecting with the audience. It's like directing a show from inside of the show. Reffing is a lot like that, too.
I'm also still doing the Hot Karl every Saturday at midnight at ComedySportz, so technically ComedySportz has prepared me for that by being in the same building.
What is something you miss about performing ComedySportz?
It's mostly the people. ComedySportz has some fantastic, fun, talented performers in its cast, and hanging out with them is a real treat. I don't necessarily miss waiting around in a hotel conference room for five hours before a corporate show, but I do miss some of the funny stories and gags that people have come up with in that time. There are some funny, funny people at ComedySportz. There are a lot of times backstage when we make each other's drinks come through our noses. I miss that.
What do you like to do when not performing?
I'm a big music appreciator. So my ideal day would be to crawl into a basement full of records and then look at all of them and then come out with like 50 that I want, and then pay like $5 for all of them. I also like to read. While listening to those old records I just bought. But if it's nice outside, I'd also like to ride my bike or go for a walk. I like birdwatching. I don't have books or binoculars or anything, I just like watching birds, like "oh look, a bird." Also: I think water slides are the funnest. Wait. Why are you asking me this? Are you hitting on me?
|Photo by Lindsay Williams |