There’s a Map and Sick Puppies Comedy is On It

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The download from the weekend is still processing, so you might get some stream of thought and lazy writing… not that you don’t get that from me anyways.

Improv Festivals are the equivalent of an addict being left in an evidence room with other addicts and the drugs never run out.  Ever.  18 hours of improv shows or workshops over a 60 hour period.  The Tampa Improv Festival was a beast.  A beast run by Nick Briggs, Post Dinner Conversation Inc and the wonderful Student and Improv Volunteers from the Tampa Improv Community. Played at a hybrid Theater/Bar/Movie Theater/ Ball Park (not really), it was a fun venue.  An enormous stage, plenty of seating and friends, friends and more friends.

I seemed to have plenty of improv crushes as I stalked my favorite improvisers.  I’m not using hyperbole when I use those words in that previous sentence.  I really admire great improvisers and don’t know how to control myself around them.  A couple of new ones were Steve Kropa and Patrick Poulin of Mandate (Chicago) who deem themselves as “Improv by two guys (Steve Kropa and Patrick Poulin) who couldn’t find a third.”  You’ll find that Improv troupes put little to no thought or importance on their name.  Their set on Friday night was exactly the type of improv I enjoy.  Slow play, patient and connected.  A scene about two brothers.  One getting married and the other helping him get ready just before he walks the isle.  Games played regarding rules and wishes, character switching, wooshers and walk ins… from two actors only.  It was a full mono scene that never lost our interest, had a real message and plenty of laughter.  I was lucky enough to take their workshop the next day and try to be totally cool… which I wasn’t.  I’m a nerd boy.  I gave them T-shirts.  They probably have a restraining order.  Some of the most impressive acting I’ve ever seen.

I got to re-connect with an unbelievable teacher and improviser, Ricky Wayne, of Hawk and Wayne (St. Pete).  I was privileged to take his minutia workshop and then watch them put on the most energetic and lively of all the sets this weekend as Ricky tried to convince Gavin the best way to learn law was to poorly quote and imitate old Law movies (“You can’t handle the truth”).  Gavin lost his shit and his voice.  He had to justify that in their next scene as Gamezone.com employees.  You can ask cast member Tony Francis about that particular scene.  I give it “high” praise.  Great work as always from those guys.  Again.  I tried to be cool in front of both of them.  I gave them T-shirts.  They probably think I took hair samples.  Maybe I did.

I didn’t even restrain myself when I saw Richard Paul of SAK Comedy Lab (Orlando).  I just hugged him, asked his shirt size then sat next to him for a whole show like a Labrador retriever.  Richard performed a couple of times during the festival.  His most stunning performance came during the midnight show on Friday as he performed a 5 character, 1 man improv show.  25 minutes of 2 jews, 3 opinions; the input from the audience.  There was never a moment that I didn’t know who was who or what was happening.  Creative character and space work.  Genius.

I made  new friends with Mike from the New Movement Theater in NOLA.  Mike gave me some really nice notes and praise for some of the space work and silent scenes performed during his workshop.  He was unbelievable during his performance in Super Computer.  I forgot to get him a shirt.  Dammit.

I could go on with all of the interactions I had and if you’re reading this and we had a moment, I remember.  I cherish it.  There were so many in such a short period of time.  I was able to get really close to one of our own cast members.  Plus is such a treasure to have on our team and I’m glad I was able to know him better.  10 hours in a car gives you no choice but to build relationship and then we spent more time driving karts.  Fun times.

The highlight of the weekend is pretty easy to point out.  The humble and generous Nick Briggs asked me if I would be the monologist for the UCB show Sunday night.  Wow.  A great comedian opened for the show, then Cult Classic (members of PDC inc) and then 4 of the best improvisers there are with UCB.  They performed a version of the Nightmare with probably the perfect human being and yet another man I love.  I question who I am.  This guy works to cure cancer, swims with dolphins and never gets embarrassed.  He gave those guys pure gold to work with.  They were off to the races.  They took a 5 minute break, grabbed me and I got the pleasure to shoot the shit with them in green room.  Marshall Stratton, Jenny St. Angelo, Mike Kelton and James Smith III were just a joy.  They were so welcoming and did something really neat before we all came back out on stage… they hugged us and said “I’ve got your back”.  Neat moment.  Real pros.  Real fun.  I think I held my own and they built some unbelievable masterpieces along with Cult Classic to close out the show.  So many thanks to them for being gracious and giving.

Sick Puppies Comedy represented well and I couldn’t be more proud of Lauren, Plus, Tom, Julie and Tony.  Everyone had nothing but nice things to say about us.  Can’t wait for The Miami Improv Festival.

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