I got started in improv on a whim. I was still blindly feeling my way through the world of stand-up comedy, so when I saw an opportunity on social media, I took it. A ComedyFLOP was co-hosting a beginner improv workshop, so I jumped in for a few weeks with a dozen other people. There, we were introduced to the basics of making things up as you go. Which turned out to be addictive as hell. Improv attracts such an interesting variety of happy people that you just want to be around them, even if all you do is pretend you’re in a room filled with nonexistent items. Once the workshop ended I looked for more.
I went on to take a 3 day intensive workshop at Second City in Chicago and more improv workshops in Ithaca so when I saw that The ComedyFLOPs were auditioning, I jumped on it. With everything I now had under my belt, I felt confident that I could muddle my way through any night of improv. What I didn't realize was that while i had been honing my skills, The ComedyFLOPs had dwindled. Life had gotten in the way and stripped the troupe of all but two members.
At the audition I met Creme Fraiche for the first time. As the last remaining member of the original group, he runs the FLOPS from behind the scenes without ever making you feel like he's the boss. In general, He comes across as a dad from an eighties sitcom. A guiding hand to point you in a general direction, instead of telling you where you need to go. He was joined by Superman, who, with unlimited voices at his command, is more of a superhero in his day-to-day life than his name would let on. I was there to have fun. I can only assume that this stress-free attitude was what made me look more personable than I see myself, and got an invitation to join the group.
With such a large influx of new members, I think it was easier for most of us. There was no trying to fit into, we just had to meet weekly and discover who we were. The reformed group seemed to be in two general veins: younger grad students working to change the world, and older students of the world. An entire room filled with people with a shared love of learning.
Of the newcomers, I feel the need to call Vomit Box our resident pretty boy, partly because I think he'd prefer that description to his name, but also because there's no one else we could strap with that title. Especially when he picks up the guitar. You can almost picture him sitting around the fire on the beach playing, surrounded by girls on towels.
Mrs. Cheese is our master of dance. Though I believe it to be a skill we underutilize, except that time we forced him to play the role of a pet rock giving testimony in court with interpretive dance. I did enjoy causing that moment.
If I ever need to go too far in a romantic scene, there is no scene partner that fits the bill like Mr. Moneymaker. He's always willing to go down the next rabbit hole, you just have to point and be willing to hold on for the ride.
Camel Treasure has the presence of a bouncer with the demeanor of kindergarten teacher. Trying to piss this guy off wouldn't be a mission, it would be a life pursuit.
The only member I have any history with outside the troupe is Dave. We're classmates together in the Actor's Workshop of Ithaca, so we get to work together on a regular basis. Which is what I credit with our being the only ComedyFLOPs of the new generation to have avoided nicknames. It's probably not true, but since Dave has me outmatched in theatre and film, I had to come up with something. At least something better than my wife's suggestion of, “either you're just that good or they don't like you that much.”
No one tells a story quite like Dry Run. It's like If you were to take the yarn of a foul-mouthed sailor but filter it through the mind of an Oxford Literary professor. She makes a bathroom stop in India sound like a Indiana Jones sequel, and follows it up with the ins and outs of teaching sex education in a refugee camp. There's no telling what adventure she will take you on next.
Week after week we met in the basement of the Community School of Music and Arts. Months went by before we performed a random show in the middle of a park, eventually finding a home at The Dock where we found my favorite kind of audience: the one looking to have another drink.
This ragtag group of misfits has become a family of sorts. I definitely see them more often than my own relatives, so I do feel a sense of loss when we lose a member. The archenemy of improv is, of course, life, and it can do just as much damage with the good times as the bad. We just lost Mrs. Cheese to graduation and a shiny new job offer in Boston. We're now waiting for the day that Mr. Moneymaker is no more, having been diagnosed as a new parent with a successfully defended dissertation.
I guess that's how it goes when you are with a group whose sole purpose is to entertain people on the fly. The people will change. The performances will change. In the end though, I will make the best of every moment I get as a ComedyFLOP.