Well, as promised, Crush Improv’s new and improved MY SUMMER CRUSH series is here and underway, with a few workshops preceding tomorrow night’s gala opening. I pitched in tonight, throwing my weak skills into the 1st of 3 ‘Advanced Improv Workshops’, and a swell time was had by all. I’d previously decided that, in the improv spirit, I would write these blog posts about the goings-on as quickly as I could, and in a different writing style every time. Tonight’s suggestion was FILM NOIR, suggested by my awfully talented workshop-mate Ryan. I rattled this off over a couple of pints at the Wood following the workshop. Try and take it with a gran, or gallon, of salt. Enjoy,or hate, but remember to tip your waitress.
I wondered what I was doing there even before I pushed the button on that deathtrap of an elevator, riding the two floors up like a coffin going in reverse. I must have been outta my tree, or maybe I was just hanging from it like the last leaf of Autumn, too dumb to just fall to the ground and get it over with. Story of my life.
When I got to the meeting, it reminded me of my AA days…plastic chairs, high ceilings, and the stink of desperation. All that was missing was the stale coffee….but I guess that wasn’t included in the cover charge. A saucy dame with initials for a name took my cashola at the door, and she coulda had more if she’d asked me nice enough. I waited around like a good little boy, minding my P’s and Q’s as the rest of the guinea pigs filed in, one by one. Something had to happen to break the tension…and then, when me and my old war buddy Levy were shooting the shit about that ball buster Ruprecht, it happened. And SHE walked in.
She had all eyes on her in a flash. I’d never SEEN someone wear a purple shirt like that, like it wasn’t even a colour until it wrapped itself around her chest. She had eyes like a gazelle in a knife-fight, and a beard that didn’t know the meaning of the word no. Her name was AL.
“Let’s have some fun” she said in a husky voice with a life of its own, and we were all on board. We all formed up around her, obeying her every command like she was the purplest drill sergeant in the whole world. We did roll call forwards, backwards and sideways, ..this dame was more thorough than a body cavity search at Afghanistan customs. Pretty soon we were all good pals…along with me and Levy, there was Kevin, Travis, Andrew, Kim, Danni, Ryan, Stephanie, Jill, Andy, Ayma and Jennifer. I had my suspicions about this motley crew…never trust a Kevin, I always say, and there’s no WAY ‘Ayma’ is a real name. Probably secret service or some other off-the-books spook. But we’d worry about that some other time, like my back taxes…AL had plans for us, and we weren’t about to let her down.
She didn’t play nice, neither. Her little games went straight for the tough little shell I keep tucked up inside me, a lifetime of scar tissue that I’ve nurtured real good with a steady regime of booze and very deliberate isolation. But this little lady and her beard were having none of that…she had more tricks with her than a whole herd of one-trick ponies. She ran us through a round of ‘Make it Better’, something I bet she’s real good at. She made us play, oh yeah, we did scenes for her and the others, strutting an stumbling like babes in the woods, and me without my weed whacker. I bit my pride and swallowed my lip, playing third wheel in a scene with Andy and ‘Ayma’ about lawn bowling…we had a humdinger of a time, I’ll admit, but I’ll leave the reviews to the man upstairs.
I admit it, I felt outta my element…ugly mugs like mine don’t belong on a stage any more than the Chairman of the Board belongs in a tutu, but I’ll fight if someone throws a punch and I held my own. The last half hour was all mine, when AL threw some of her ‘restriction games’ at us…and brother, me and restriction are old school chums from way back. A little ‘word count’ and ‘alphabet’ got me ending on a high note, just like when Joey Petunia got his minister of procreative affairs caught in the sausage grinder over at Delvecchios. Served him right, I still say (God rest his soul). Nice that Levy was on that stage with me for the last one…and whoulda thunk it, but Kevin came through in the end too. Maybe I was wrong about them after all. Maybe.
It wasn’t the best of times, but it was sure closer to it than the worst of times. And that’s saying something. I’ll see AL and the gang again next week, sure, what have I got to lose? My dignity and self-respect skipped out in the middle of the night back when Reagan was still in office, and good riddance. But when the little lady asked us to let her know what our weaknesses were…? Oh brother. Neither of us have that kinda time, sweetheart, believe me. Let’s just play it by ear, or toe, or whatever body part you like. Doesn’t really matter does it?
Let’s just play.
…to be continued!