Here are some numbers:

* I haven’t been onstage in three weeks. And I won’t be onstage for another two.

* I started my first improv class in late July 2011, which means I’m at 17 months.

* 17 months into my slam poetry career (which would’ve been around Christmas 1999) I hadn’t yet even made it to the third round of the weekly poetry slam at The Electric Lounge.

But wait! There’s more behind the break…

* My best guess is that I performed at 350 weekly Austin poetry slams, hosted another 100, and performed at about 50 non-Austin slams. If I average two poems per slam, that’s about 800 poem performances. Three-minutes each translates to 2400 minutes, or 40 hours.

* I competed at about 75 speech a debate tournaments in high school and college. At each tournament, I probably averaged four events, three performances per event, and 10 minutes per performance. That equals 9,000 minutes, or 150 hours, or almost a full week.

Improv is tougher to quantify. But let’s try, shall we?

Not counting classroom work, I have performed in about 50 improv shows. I’d say I was “very active” in about 30 of them. The shows averaged 45 minutes each (mainstage shows push two hours, but most sets come in around 25 minutes). Of those 45 minutes, I’d guess I was onstage for 30 minutes, and active in the scene for 25 minutes. In the shows I was “less active” in, like guest spots, Maestros, and a few editions of The Derby, I was probably “active in a scene” for 12 minutes.


That comes to almost exactly 1,000 minutes of performing in an improv scene in an improv show in front of the audience. Or about 17 hours. That’s less than half of the time I spent doing slam poems, and a mere tenth of the hours spent at a speech tournament.


For starters, the numbers probably aren’t even that close, because in terms of audience attention, a slam poem and an improv scene are quite different. This isn’t scientific stuff here, but I still feel like my 17 improv hours is even less than it appears.

Also, daaaaaamn! Only 17?

I got a million miles to go.

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