Last night, Granny Cart Gangstas(GCG) did a show, “Sketchy People,” together with another comedy troupe, Taste Better Wit. Initially, we were supposed to work together on something collaboratively but time did not allow that. Our first GCG rehearsal was only two weeks before showtime and we only rehearsed about twice a week. It also didn’t help that our rehearsal locations were so far and traveling took up about the same amount of rehearsal time if not more. So here are three lessons I’ve learned from this show.
1. Learn to improv
During the time crunch, there were many times where we had to make do, sometimes make stuff up on the spot. One of our troupe members was only able to make one rehearsal, the last full rehearsal before our show date. Since she wasn’t there at the previous rehearsals, a lot of us ended up in multiple roles and we had quick changes in between sketches. Our solution was to have her entertain the audience during transitions long enough to allow us to change our outfits. We needed her to do a 2 minute improv piece and she had 2 days to come up with something. After that rehearsal, doing the line up, and adding a piece last minute on day of show, there were more quick changes than we anticipated so she had to come up with 4 transition pieces which she did while we are brainstormed together. Making fun of the internal aspects of improv such as Contact Improv, playing Props and Interpretive Dancing seemed to be the way to go and she got plenty of laughs! Mission accomplished.
2. Just Go With It
More than once, I’ve been in brainstorm sessions where I am the “logical” one in the group and I’m always playing devil’s advocate. I asked questions like “How are you going to get permission?” or “It’s safer to do that in a soundstage, not in the actual woods.” or “This is impossible, we don’t have an elevator to film in!” These statements come in contrast with opposing statements such as “Let’s all go film it at Bally’s Gym!” or “Let’s film car scenes while we go camping!” or “Let’s do a parody video of the Solange/Jay-Z fight tonight!” I’ve come to the conclusion that while I am always preaching that I can do anything, I, in fact, tell others what they cannot do. In their words, I “bring them back to reality.”
Being an aspiring comedian is a bit of an oxymoron. If you’re making the effort to make people laugh, you’re a comedian, whether you label it or not. Other examples of unintentional comedians would be the “Class Clown” of your grade in high school. This person makes you laugh and you called him/her “You’re such a comedian.” Oftentimes, I find that comedy comes from real life but my troupe members sometimes find their comedy in fantasy and who am I to tell them not to live in a fantasy world if it helps hone their craft? I don’t mean to be a killjoy, just asking the right questions that need to be asked, I thought. However, I often wonder what would happen if those logical questions never get asked? What would the end product result in? Just go with it and find out.
3. Chill out, it’s comedy – missed cues
People who go to comedy shows are there to have a good time through laughter and so should the actors! This show didn’t get to really have a cue to cue session until the day of so naturally, some cues were amiss. And when a cue is missed, nothing you can do really, just hope that the tech person realizes their mistake. So while I could get upset and crazy over what happened, there was really nothing you could do. We are all human. Plus, it’s live theater. Shit happens. Thankfully, the audience was made up of all our forgiving friends who have been onstage as well, for the most part, and understand what it’s like to have a cue amiss. I didn’t get upset at the tech crew, just brushed it off my shoulder and I never dwelled on it surprisingly. i figured, what’s the point of being bitter about something you cannot change? We can only learn from it. Next time, have more cue to cue sessions.