Let me finally talk a bit about “I Love You So Much,” the main improv thing in my life for the last couple of months.
This show, the Hideout’s Mainstage show for January and February, is all about love. Romantic love, mostly, but we toss in some familial and platonic love here and there. Tonight is the fourth show in the nine-show run, and I’m heading out the door in about an hour…
I was excited to get cast in this show for a few reasons. For starters, it was being directed by Roy Danger and Jessica Arjet. I’ve worked under Roy before, and that dude is so improv-smart that I’ll leap at any chance to work with him. And Jessica Arjet is a veteran improviser who had a very clear vision for this show, and I wanted to help her fulfill it.
I was also excited because I figured this show, which aims to be realistic and (hopefully) touching, would force me to escape my improv comfort zone of “fast and silly and a little naughty.” I’d have to be willing to play grounded, vulnerable, even at times … gasp … dramatic improv. That’s not in my wheelhouse. I think I can ACT with the best of ’em, but it’s hard for me not to turn everything into a joke.
The rehearsal process has done two distinct things for my improv: First, it has made more comfortable with physical contact onstage. I grow more and more convinced that physicality is the bulk of good improv, and as such, I need to get better at it. I had (have?) a reputation among my improv peers for being a little shy to touch—not a big hugger or cuddler. It’s not my thing. Forced intimacy is a huge pet peeve of mine, and at times, the exercises in rehearsal did just that. But with time, and with a couple of tumultuous months personally, I’ve found myself more eager to hug and touch my fellow improvisers. I’ll never be a barnacle, never one of those people who latches on to every person I see. I still need to know you a bit before I dry-hump you at Quiznos.
The second thing that I Love You So Much has done for my improv is reinforced the fundamentals of scene work. It’s a semi-large cast, and it’s highly narrative, and as such, it’s critical that we lay out the who, what, where, and why of each scene—and to do it right away. If we’re not careful with the story, and if we don’t listen intently to every scene, the show can easily jump the rails into Confusing Town. I’m reminded again that ham-fisting the scene info into the first couple of lines may sound strange to my ears as an improviser, and maybe even to the audience, but they’ll gladly forgive an awkward, exposition-laden line or two if it lets them know exactly what is going on.
The opening night of the show, one of our cast members, Ryan, proposed to another one of our cast members, his girlfriend Jennifer. Like, a real proposal. Like, they’re actually engaged now. It was sweet, of course, and it made plain for me just what the purpose of this show is: to celebrate love—which, let’s face it, is the most basic human emotional need. We all want to be loved.
Come see “I Love You So Much” at The Hideout. Click here for tickets.
Note: I’m not in every show, so if you want to see me specifically, check out the Performance Calendar page. But hey, any week you decide to go will delight you.