Script or no script

The open secret of standup comedy is that we act like we’re making up all our jokes and observations right there on stage, for the most part it’s all scripted. And I’m comfortable with that. Even though I try to do a different show every time, it is composed of pre-written sections. Sometimes it has taken dozens of re-writes to get each of those sections to a point that I like.

When you’re doing standup, you live or die by yourself on stage. While a really great performer (think Robin Williams) can read the phone book and make the audience laugh, for me a good script is the only protection I have against totally bombing. But you knew that, right?

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to do an improv show last weekend. Oh, and it’s a competition between teams of improv-ers. No script – say what’s on the top of your mind. No taking it back once it’s out there. Be ready for a total change of direction. Yeah, it’s completely different set of skills. At least you’re not out there by yourself. I managed a few fresh-from-the-cerebrum lines and actions that elicited some serious audience laughs. Although my team did not win, it was a valuable and fun experience. I will do it again. And I’ll have some trepidation again, but that’s how you grow.

One of the organizers of the improv show wrote a play that he’s going to take to several Fringe festivals. I was asked to do a video audition and we had a table read of the script last week. So despite the detour into improv-land, I may be back into script mode.