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10:29 pm - Sun 7.05.2009
A Lot Of Class

A Lot Of Class

I want to write about the first week of Stand-up and Level 3 Improv classes, before I'm onto the second week of Stand-up and Level 3 Improv classes...

I signed a "Fight Club"-like agreement regarding Stand-up class, so I can't really get into the nitty-gritty...but basically, we're going to be working together (In class, and in outside-of-class "Comedy Groups") to hone "premises" and "act-outs" (And I imagine other things I don't even know about yet), then at the end of 10 weeks, having our stand-up debut at a local comedy club.

Gerry K., the teacher, is very energetic and upbeat (But on the "down side", his high-energy can also make him a little snappish and impatient at times).

The first class was a lot of him explaining how the class was going to go, reading the rules, etc., but I would say in the second half/final third of class, he got us on our feet, where we played a couple of games, then he started breaking down the method he was going to be teaching us.

After that, we started work on "premises", which is going to be our subject for the next number of weeks: Not "the funny stuff", but the "stuff that will get us to the funny stuff".

When I left class that night - which is being held in a super-small, decrepit theatre on Hyperion Ave in Silverlake (Well within biking distance - yay!) - I felt as if creating an actual stand-up act was going to be quite do-able.

As I've been saying to whoever I can get to listen, I don't know that I'll be the next Richard Pryor or George Carlin, but I feel quite confident I'll be able to get up and do an "act" that will get laughs.

And considering stand-up comedy is something I've contemplated all my life, but avoided as somehow too daunting - too scary - I think it's beyond "impressive" that Mr K. got me to that place after just one class.

I wish I could say I felt just as positive after my first Level 3 Improv class, but I left that class wondering, once again, if improv was maybe "just not my thing".

My problems with the class that night were two-fold - 1)I'm still sick, still even more tired than usual, and my energy and concentration were for shit, and 2) I have a terrible tendency (Which I know already from Levels 1&2) to mentally "check out" of class if I get up once and stink up the place. Once that happens, I tend to be done for the evening.

(My scene was so bad that, not only did I feel humiliated for myself, but I felt sorry for Autumn, the woman who'd had the misfortune to be doing the scene with me.)

I've thought in the time since, "What the hell happened...?".

I was tired, like I said, and nervous because I was so tired, and I pushed too hard - ironically, because I wanted to make a "good impression".

And I talked too much; It's always nice to let the other person on stage say a word or two, now and then. I didn't listen, I picked a character I had no idea how to play (And wasn't even consistent with it), etc and so forth.

A total train wreck. A train wreck like the last 16 weeks of Level 1 and 2 never happened.

I was deeply disappointed with myself.

So I left that night feeling terrible. And to be quite honest, I'm still pretty spooked, because the way things went caused me to confront something I'm terrified of: I'm afraid that, when it comes down to it, I just don't have the energy for this form.

I was more tired than usual that night...but I'm always tired. My energy is always an issue (And if I'm too tired and worn-out for an improv class, how am I going to withstand the rigors of being a "Series Regular" on tv?).

It's one thing for me to say "energy is an issue" when I'm talking about not wanting crap jobs to sap the energy I want to devote to acting, and quite another to start thinking, "I don't have the energy to perform at the level I need to perform".

Cause if I don't have that, what the fuck do I have?

But I don't know...the teacher, Jim Woods, seems like a good guy, and he's a great improvisor, and I liked what he had to say about where he wanted to go with the class.

And though right now it's just making me more more tired and irritable, at some point, the "balls pinned on a t-shirt" are going to keep me on my right side (My "good sleep" side), and I actually will have more energy.

And beyond the question of how much "energy" I have, it's also just a matter of "chilling out" - Marshaling my resources, doing what I know I'm supposed to be doing onstage (Not showboating, not just being loud and trying to be funny, but actually trying to listen and interact with the other person or people in a scene, etc.) - that will help me both get something out of the class (And out of improv in general), and emerge a better actor/performer.

I just know that I can't give up, at least not yet.

But I do have to "give up" on this, because I've got an early day tomorrow, filling in on an 8:45 WW meeting.

So long for now, friends and well-wishers...


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