I had a bit of an Improv overload this past weekend.
Thursday night: was in a show
Friday night: saw two shows
Saturday: rehearsal; was in a show; saw two shows
Sunday: rehearsal; saw a show
Monday night: rehearsal
As I headed to the practice studio on Monday, I was grumbling about this seeming time-suck.
"Is this all I do? I want my free time back! I'm tirrrrrrred! I want to sit at home and eat a Trader Joe's burrito and watch Cheers on Netflix!" That's about how my grumbling went.
So I gave myself a talking-to (as I'm wont to do) and tried to re-frame these thoughts. I reminded myself that I wasn't giving without getting. Because doing a lot of Improv + watching a lot of Improv = the recipe for improving at Improv. All those hours weren't being wasted; they were spent working at something I profess to enjoy. And when we do the work, when we log the hours - there is some pay-off, there is some return on our investment. I mean...right?
Yes. Right. In theory. But there is still the question: just what am I working at? Improv is - by nature - ephemeral. A scene, a performance exists in the moment and then it is gone. It can be remembered, but it can not be repeated. It is unlike a painting or a piece of writing - I cannot point to something physical and say, "Hey, look what I did!" I could tell you about a show I was in, but recounting Improv shows always, always ends with the phrase, "Well, I guess you had to be there." You have to be there, in the moment. Outside of the moment, what remains?
What remains (get out your crackers, here comes the cheese) is relationships. Relationships. As I trudged to the practice studio on Monday night, I reminded myself of the previous Monday, when my teammates and I had sat outside a bar on Seventh Ave, nursing drinks and laughing until well after midnight. And how on Friday evening - after fleeing a terribly, awfully awkward first date - I made a beeline for the theater, knowing I would find people there who would help me laugh it off. And I did. And we did. And that made things a little better.
I love this community of weird and wonderful people. They are worth spending time with, working at this weird and wonderful art/comedy thing that we do. I may not have a real clear vision of the end goal of Improv, but I feel the blessings of the day-to-day.
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -e.e. cummings