Friday we have to say goodbye to a friend, player and partner. Ilana Isaacson is moving and her last performance with the Sick Puppies will be our anniversary show on Friday at 9:30pm. I gave her an exit interview to capture as much brilliance as possible before she departs. Also, I wanted to make sure there weren’t any lingering HR issues… there’s lot’s of heavy petting among us.
What has improv provided you?
Confidence. Improv people. People who dedicate a good portion of their time to improv are the kind of people that you want to be around. They are well rounded. Well educated. If it wasn’t for you guys I wouldn’t know what an anorak is.
I spend a lot of my time in the yoga community so its nice to have two approaches to life. Improv is a different approach and it’s something that makes people feel like they are part of something big and short lived because the beauty of improv is that only lasts a second, but lives in your memory forever.
What’s your favorite improv memory up to this point?
I’ve been doing this since I was 6 years old. There’s something about just playing a game like tag freeze that I love and loathe. There’s something about it that makes me feel at home. You just know right away. There’s safety and comfort and it’s terrifying.
How has improv affected you as an actor?
Well, it’s reminded me that there is no right or wrong answer. It’s alright to fail. The failure is much more compelling to watch than doing it by the book. I wish I had more time with you guys. I think what sick puppies excels at is eliminating plot and just showing the story. Get out of the directors head and into the actors head. Just worry about your part in the picture, not the whole picture. And just be compelling. Sometimes a scene may not be funny, but people are engaged.
Do you have an advantage over other actors that don’t have improv training?
That’s an interesting question because I went to drama school. I learned all of the methods and techniques of acting, but improv is where I began. I appreciate improv because it forces you to play with others. The teamwork and camaraderie is all helpful in so much as it takes a village to make a good improv show (chuckle). Does it help me? Yes. From the business side it helps. To do acting professionally, it’s called show business. To be nice and quick and entertaining and a good person to be around, it’s all about people. I love improv people.
I once had a boss who told me if he only had $5 left to spend on anything, he would spend that money on a movie. It’s amazing to see how much people need and value entertainment. It’s as important as survival necessities. Entertainment will live. It will always be in demand and exist. In improv you don’t need props or costumes. You just need people. You make something out of nothing. Those people are the bravest and smartest people on the planet.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
In the mirror.
Ilana is a friend and a long time partner in crime. We’ve played on stage together since 2010 and she’s been one of my largest advocates. She encourages me to write, but more importantly, she encourages me to DO. She’s a loyal cast member and an unforgettable personality. We will miss your words of wisdom, your kind spirit and your inhuman body type positions. You will be great wherever you land and we are proud to have you in our lives.
Come see Ilana shine one more time with us on Friday. You won’t want to miss it.