Saturday, July 09, 2005

Spaghetti with Tofu

Tonight, my improv class is scheduled to perform in a variety show/fundraiser for the Nisei Week 2004 Queen's Court called "That Spaghetti Show." In a nutshell, it's a spaghetti dinner with a '70s theme, plus a variety show featuring some new and burgeoning talent from the greater Japanese American community. There's no main act, but our class is featured toward the end of the show, which makes it seem like we are the main act.

Next weekend, Cold Tofu does its regular monthly show and our class will be the warm-up act, just like we ought to be. ;)

Last week's class was pretty fun. We did this thing where each person in the scene had an AUDIENCE-SELECTED idiosyncracy or tic that happens when another specific person in the scene does a particular PERSONAL idiosyncracy. So, they had me beat my chest like King Kong every time one guy touched his hands.

This guy usually touches his hands all the time, but for some reason, he didn't do it all through the scene. But the purpose of the improv is to bait them to do the thing that makes you do your thing. That's where the improv comes in. We did a set-up scene of being in an election campaign office. So, you have two things going on at once: the tic you're supposed to do and to help progress the scene. The scene culminates when everyone knows each other's tic. It's a total kick to do and hilarious to watch, since it isn't dependent so much on dialogue.

We'll be doing that skit tonight and it should be a lot of fun for the audience members.

We had evaluations during the last class. As always, this is a difficult thing to go through. They start off with your strengths, then tell you what you need to work on, then bookend it with an overall assessment, usually positive. I was told this: You don't think you're funny but you really are.

I'm not sure what that means exactly. But sometimes I do find myself in an exercise not knowing where it will go or being frustrated because it just isn't funny. He said that is when it actually gets funnier, because I'm caught with my pants down and it's interesting to see how I'm going to pull my pants back up. Ah, now that's improv. I get it.

Another thing he says is that I tend to think a lot and that it's noticeable. I didn't know that was the case so I asked him, "Can you really tell when I'm thinking?" He said that if I wanted, he would throw an eraser (we do our class in an actual classroom) at me every time he catches me thinking. I'm sure that would help, but it does seem a little like "Japanese volleyball coaching." (Not sure if you'll get that one.)

My instructor said my pauses were hard to describe but he said they were noticeable. So I said, "Like a truck?" One person in the class laughed at that. He was a theatre person and that alludes to "a pause so long you can drive a semi-truck through it." It's an old theatre saying.

Interestingly enough, when I said, "Like a truck?" I didn't put the brakes on. I just said it whether anyone was able to understand it or not. One person did and it was enough to show the class that I wasn't just saying things pulled out of my ass. But that's the point, I suppose. It shouldn't matter if anyone understands what I say. I should just say it.

I think I've made a practice all my life of censoring what I say. Of course, I don't censor everything and sometimes I end up saying some inappropriate things. But really, who the frick cares, huh? In one minute, no one remembers anything you've said.

What you write, however, is another matter. That lives on as history in the blogosphere of life.

What you do -- well, that's another matter entirely. Sometimes your actions suck. What do you do then? Regret? I've always believed in this: Do or don't do. And don't have any regrets about what you do. It can be difficult though.

Tonight, I hope not to regret any actions or things I say. But if I do, you can be sure I'll be writing about it here.

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