This semester, I auditioned for and got into Lunchbox–a sketch comedy group at Wesleyan–because immediately following my disastrous audition for an improv comedy group in the fall, I had concluded that I was not very good at thinking on my feet. Contrarily, I am very good at thinking on my ass and typing, so sketch comedy works perfectly for me.
Now imagine my horror when I learned that Lunchbox signed up for a slot in the 24-Hour Improv Comedy Show (9 pm – 9 pm) sponsored by short-form improv group Desperate Measures. My fellow sketch comedians chose a 2 am slot over the original 12 am one because they figured that the audience would be significantly more negligible at 2 am, henceforth diminishing the possible level of embarrassment at our lack of improv experience.
Around 2 am, there were roughly 40 people there. Not negligible. Not negligible in the least.
About two minutes after our arrival at the Nics Lounge, Desperate Measures gave us a warm welcome and we were to go to town. Middletown, that is.
The night, or morning, started out rough as sandy paper. The first game was “Party Quirks,” and the only thing you need to know about this is that I was supposed to impersonate the character of Eric Cartman from the hit television series “South Park.” Seemed easy enough, but his voice sounded more convincing in my head than it did coming out of my mouth. So I ended up coming off less like Cartman and more like a hybrid between a disgruntled infant and an octogenarian with a speech impediment.
As the hour wore on, I swore after each game that it would be the last one for me, but I kept finding myself drawn to doing the thing at which I seemed doomed to fail. The games did become easier as they progressed, the particular highlight being “Genres.” This was a game in which four of us were each assigned a literary style and we had to tell a cohesive story while being chosen at random. I was “erotica,” and it was super-fun.
True: I was becoming more fatigued and agitated, but I was simultaneously becoming more involved and confident as a performer. Miraculously, I was able to think on my feet even when I wanted nothing more than to be unthinking and asleep on my back.
There is something admirable about a group of people who would do an activity for 24 hours that I wouldn’t consider doing for even a single minute, at least since that disastrous audition in the fall. But there is something more admirable about a group of people who would encourage somebody like me to work against all odds–exhaustion, general skill deficiency, and inability to impersonate Eric Cartman–in order to succeed.
Regardless, I don’t plan on doing improv again in the near or distant future. It can get hellish.