The Austin improv community is large. But it doesn’t comprise only improvisers and performers. There are tech wizards who work in the booth, musicians who provide live accompaniment, and there are photographers. There are quite a few photographers, in fact. I’m hesitant to start listing names, because I’d certainly leave some folks out; but there are many and many of them are great at their jobs. And it makes sense that these amateur and professional shutter-clickers would use improv shows as their subjects: they’re full of movement and interesting stage pictures.
Have I kissed up enough?
Good. Because I want to make my point very clearly: it is not the fault of these photogs that I usually appear to be a lumpy sack of flour and potatoes in their pictures. It is entirely my fault.
Most folks are critical of themselves in photos. I’m not breaking any ground here. And I’ve cringed at photos of myself for years before I started improv. This is nothing new. But before improv it was semi-rare for anyone to take a photo of me. Now that I’m in shows regularly, and now that Facebook tags the fuck out of people, I see far more photos of myself than I ever have. And so logging into Facebook has become a trepid walk onto the plank, i.e., Which shitty picture of me will I see today?
Without any further delay, I proudly (and with a healthy cringe) present to you…
The 5 Worst Improv Photos Taken Of Me Ever
1. Haggard Hagrid
As the watermark tells you, this photo was taken at the Harry Potter episode of Fandom, back in February. I’m playing Hagrid here. (That’s a wig, for the record.) Pay special attention to how the beard, which was grown to better delineate my neck and chin, has totally failed its purpose. Even worse? Not knowing much about Harry Potter, I falsely claimed not to be wizard. Hagrid, I was loudly reminded by the audience, is, in fact, a wizard.
2. Fancy Pants Child Molester
Fancy Pants, a monthly shown by Sunday Interview guest Ryan Austin, is meant to highlight just how dapper improvisers can be when they dress up. And I have to admit, I frickin’ loved my suit here. (Notice the multicolored pocket square!) But I hadn’t had a haircut in a couple of months, and this photo, snapped at just the right moment, transforms me into a leering pedophile. Look at that gaze, children! Uncle Touchy wants to give you a Push-Pop. Come on in to the back room of bicycle shop, Arnold!
3. Coming or Going?
What is especially frightening about this photo is its ambiguity–and the thin sheen of sweat that accompanies my forehead at all times. The question? Am I stick out my tongue, or am I inhaling a hot dog? Nobody will ever know.
4. Man in the Moon
This one was taken 48 hours ago at the latest edition of Braised in Texas (the BBQ show, running Saturdays at ColdTowne, which welcomed Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ as an audience member this week). I’m playing a stoner, which explains the thin eyes. But what explains the missing button on my shirt?!? Why is my ghostly white chest on full display? Would a stoner do that? No. And I wonder if anyone except Justin Timberlake should attempt the stubbly beard. Otherwise you should go GIGANTIC BEARD or NO BEARD AT ALL. Improv teaches us to commit, even to our facial hair.
This photo is a frothing cocktail of everything that can possible go wrong in a photo. We have the beard’s failure to divide my face and neck. We have the unintentional stoner eyes (despite not playing a stoner or being stoned). We have a hint of unibrow. We have the douche swoosh atop my head. We have a poorly ironed collar. We have one-too-many buttons unbuttoned. We have an endless chasm of nostril.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I know I’m a sexy bastard. And there are improv photos in which I’m highly fuckable. I’m not fishing for compliments (though I’ll happily accept them should you be so inclined). No, this is just a fun, light-hearted, self-deprecating post meant to light a fire under my gym membership card and point out that even the best-looking improvisers can, at times, appear less-than-ideal.
If I ever run for President, these photos will be burned. So gaze upon them now, and commit them to memory. Because yeah, I’ll burn the Internet down if I need to.