Okay, I’m not too keen on Improv comedy.
Maybe because I spend too much time writing jokes, or maybe it was my experience with an Improv comedy troupe years ago. I was doing a show at a comedy club, and the Improv troupe who was going on ahead of me took up the entire green room. They had clothes all over the place and food and drinks, but the most annoying thing was that they had a SET LIST. As in a list of the bits they would do.. .it was VERY structured. . .more so than my act. And the irony was their name – Totally Unrehearsed Theatre! Yeah, right. Improv is supposed to be IMPROV! ANYWAY, regardless of my stance on Improv, I sometimes have to do a little myself – and you might too.
On Friday I emceed a wonderful fundraiser wine tasting event
at the Computer History Museum in San Jose, CA. Very fun, but if you’ve ever tried to do comedy at a cocktail party, well, you can imagine the talking and walking that goes on. . . and it was happening Friday night. Plus there was no stage, but rather I was standing in the back of the room on a spiral staircase. I got people’s attention in the beginning to welcome them and do a few jokes, but once I stepped down, it was hard to get their attention back. The challenge was to pop up every few minutes to make announcements and keep people flowing through the wine stations, the food stations, the desert stations, the movie, the museum, the cash bar and the silent auction. . .oh, and did I mention there was a great saxophonist playing? Soooo, I improvised. Luckily I had a wireless mic, so I started walking around to the different stations and joking around, in between the music, with the winery people and the food people. They of course loved it because they had donated their time and wines/snacks, so they got more exposure. I liked it because I didn’t feel stuck in the corner being ignored, and the client liked it because I was keeping people moving.
Don’t get me wrong, it never got quite in there,
but I think people heard me and had fun. I got some nice comments, with even some people repeating the jokes during the event. AND when I got on the bus to go back to the hotel, I shouted out “did everyone have fun?” There was a big round of applause and one guy shouted out. . .”I couldn’t hear a word you said in there, but you sure were funny!”
This improvisation not only made the event more interesting
for all, but the fun facts I learned from walking around was worth it. One of the wineries was located in an old school house – “hey everyone, remember drinking back in school? Well you can do it again!” One winery was across the street from the infamous winery in the move “Bottle Shock” – a GREAT GREAT wine movie about the true story of a guy who got wines on the map in California. You MUST see it. One of the desert vendors made organic flavored (banana, watermelon and blueberry) cotton candy. . .and one winery actually started paring their wine with it and it turned out to be tasty. And then my favorite woman of the night made peanut brittle in different flavors – almond and coconut was good as was the “ballpark” brittle flavored like a hot dog, mustard, pretzel and beer!
The moral of this story. . .
Don’t freak the next time you have to do some humor in a situation that is less than perfect. Look around at the tools you have (in this case, a wireless mic and free roam in a museum), and improvise your humor. You’ll give your jokes a fighting chance, AND you may actually enjoy the weird situation.