improv

Year in Review (2010)

Another year has come and gone and before 2010 becomes as easily-forgotten as 1996, let’s look back and re-visit the highlights in The Year of Ed before we jump into 2011…

JANUARY

  • January 19 – I was hired to record the voiceover for a commercial at MAX Films here in the area. This is only notable because of how hilariously long it took me to get paid for it.
  • January 23 – Improv night at the Landis household! Our friends John and Lisa invited a bunch of people over for some fun parlor games, including some Whose Line-style improv games.

    In one of the games (“Party Quirks”), Sarah was a turtle. This is her doing her turtle thing.

FEBRUARY

  • February 2 – Our regular Tuesday night Lost viewing parties continue as the final season premieres. We celebrate with a pinata. Naturally.
  • February 5 – Our friend Alyssa debuts her month-long art show at our favorite coffee shop, Square One.
  • February 10 – A massive snowstorm hits Lancaster. As Sarah and I are walking down to warm ourselves at Square One, we have this conversation:
  • February 13 – Sarah and I traveled to Pittsburgh to catch our friend JT in a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • February 19 – Sarah and I head to Philadelphia so Sarah can attend a Zumba conference and I can hear weird noises coming out of the rooms of strangers staying down the hall.

MARCH

  • March 20 – I judge a local singing competition, LS Idol. William Hung does not make an appearance.
  • March 27 – Sarah and I catch the hilarious production of Noises Off at the Fulton Theatre.

APRIL

  • April 3 – Sarah gets to meet the Beals, Jeff and Nik, dear friends from my days in Nashville. A barbecue on a great spring day in York. Hard to beat it.
  • April 12 – Sarah and I travel to Destin, Florida to visit some of her family for a week.

    Just because we’re visiting relatives doesn’t mean we don’t stop acting like this.

MAY

  • May 23 – The Lost season finale. We all freak out.
  • May 27 – Sarah and I go to a Lancaster Barnstormers game. It gets rained out.

JUNE

  • June 3 – Sarah is chosen to lead the crowd at a Barnstormers game in some Zumba during the 7th inning stretch. The game gets rained out in the 5th.
  • June 25 – Sarah and I go to the Lancaster Catholic Carnival and then walk over to our friends’ house to watch the fireworks.

    During the fireworks display, some fallout landed on the Ruoffs’ roof and firemen had to climb on top to make sure it wouldn’t burn down. Fortunately, it didn’t.

JULY

  • July 31 – Sarah and I traveled to Gettysburg to do a little amateur ghost hunting.

AUGUST

  • August 15 – Hey, remember that voice over job I mentioned back in January? I finally got paid for it!
  • August 21 – Sarah and I enjoyed ghost hunting so much the first time around, we decided to head back to Gettysburg for our first ghost hunting session with actual ghost hunters. It kinda blew.

SEPTEMBER

  • September 9 – Sarah and I, along with the Breneman siblings Ryan, Alyssa, and Ashlea, head west for a California vacation.
  • September 18 – Our church, Willow Street Mennonite Church, celebrates 300 years!
  • September 19 – Sarah and I return to the Fulton Theatre for their performance of Spamalot!

OCTOBER

  • October 15 – My old college pal Ed comes into town for a few days. We spend some time at Inner Harbor in Baltimore and have a blast.

    At this point in our visit to Inner Harbor, we are totally clueless as to how amazing the tapas are going to be that we have just ordered.

NOVEMBER

  • November 4 – I debut my brand new comedy-album-review site, Comedy Reviews. Feel free to “Like” it.
  • November 6 – Sarah and I move into our new apartment!
  • November 14 – Sarah turns a year older.
  • November 17 – I do, too.

DECEMBER

  • December 5 – Sarah and I attend a performance of The Nutcracker. It’s the first time seeing it for both of us and we both agree once is enough.
  • December 16 – Sarah and I go to the Fulton to see The Sound of Music with our good friends Dustin and Janelle. We all enjoy the show and then wonder what they do with all of the huge Nazi flags. Ebay?
  • December 17 – Sarah and I head to New York to take in the city during Christmas, improv at National Comedy Theatre, stand up comedy from Jim Gaffigan and our pal Adi, and film our annual Christmas video.
  • December 23 – Farewell party for our friends Alyssa and Ashlea Breneman as they gear up for their trips to Arizona and Hawaii (respectively).
  • December 24 – We attend church for the Christmas Eve service and then spend the rest of the night at Dustin and Janelle’s playing games.
  • December 26 – Sarah’s sister and her family comes into town to stay with us for their annual Christmas holiday celebration of playing games all day long. For the first time, my brother and his family come out and join in on the celebrating. We play games, film the final (?) installment of Terocus, and drink lots of coffee.

Things I learned in 2010? I don’t know if I learned anything new, but I did re-affirm what I already knew. I love Sarah a lot, she’s my best friend in the world. We love to travel. And all of our other friends…we love them a lot too. And want them to travel with us.

So pack your bags everyone and make sure your travel documents are in order. 2011 is here and we want you to see it with us.

Happy New Year, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

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30 Day Photo Challenge – Day 22

Day 22 – A picture of something you wish you were better at

Actually, I don't wish I was better at it per se, but I sometimes wish I'd had the motivation and drive to put in the years and years of work it takes to get a sort-of toe hold in the stand-up world and that just sounds like way too much work and way too much time on the road for someone who's probably funnier on a one-on-one basis with my friends than I ever have been on stage. But at least I recognize my limitations, right?

Can We Get A Volunteer From the Audience….

This is what I love about the internets. Sometimes you come across things you had no idea were there, and sometimes it’s actually something that you’re pleasantly surprised to stumble across (unlike the horrible midget dressed as Michael Jackson dancing in the subway fiasco).

This weekend I’m heading back up to New York to do some improv comedy at the National Comedy Theatre. I was there performing in May and in one of the games we asked for a volunteer from the audience. A bachelorette party had come to the show and the bride-to-be came up on stage to join in the fun. After we had thoroughly exhausted every hilarious opportunity, we thanked her, took a picture with her, and the show went on.

Today I was surfing NCT’s website and came across their show blog, where they have been posting pictures of the volunteers who come on stage during the shows.I started laughing as soon as I saw the picture from that show and memories of me playing her airplane-pilot fiance came flooding back.  So enjoy this little blast from the past I didn’t even know was out there.

What is Improv?

What is comedy? What makes something funny? What the heck is the “rule of three?” These are just some of the topics scholars have discussed – and debated – since the dawn of time.

And when improv was discovered (right around the dusk of time) it spurred on deeper queries. My pals up in Manhattan at the National Comedy Theatre shed some light on the topic. Enjoy.

And discuss.

The Results Are In

I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with the director from the Ephrata Playhouse regarding “The Pillowman” callback I went to yesterday. It seems that he decided to go with The Other Guy for the role I was up for. It’s all good though (for real, and for honest) because The Other Guy (no disrespect…I just don’t remember his name) did a really good job at the callback and he made me laugh. He’s a funny guy.*

The director did ask if I would be interested in playing a much smaller role in the play and I said sure. He sounded surprised that I would accept. Maybe it was because I started off reading for the lead role and he didn’t think I’d take a smaller role? Or maybe it was because he was hoping I’d turn it down. Hm. Let me think on that one. :)

He also indicated he’d like me to come back to the season callbacks, which are callbacks for all of the shows the theater will be doing this season. He told me he’d like me to read for a role in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and also for an improv show revolving around fairy tales.

Now you’re talking my language. :)

*This is a quote from Three Amigos! by the bad guy Jefe, played by Alfonso Arau. I am unable to say the words “He’s a funny guy” without saying it in my bad Mexican accent. Just thought I’d let you know. Thank you, John Landis!

The Callback

Yesterday I went to a callback for the play “The Pillowman.” (For those of you who don’t know what a callback is, it’s basically the second round of auditions. Kinda like when you watch “American Idol” and some kids get the yellow slip of paper to “go to Hollywood, dog” for a second look.)

I went to the audition last month and was given a copy of the script to peruse for yesterday. It’s an extremely dark comedy and although the things I were reading were horrible I was impressed with the writing that I still found myself laughing at what was going on. If it happens that I’m cast in the show, I’m in for a fun time.

So how did it go, yesterday? Eh. I don’t know. There were about 10 of us there and it started by each of us introducing ourselves, talking about which part(s) we liked, and our general over-all thoughts on the play. From there they had us read a few different scenes quite a few times and the director would mix it up a bit each time, having someone read a different part, so he could get a feel of who might fit where.

I felt I did OK. But of course, when I would finish each reading I didn’t sit down and think about how well I did but would find myself wondering what I should have done differently. Second-guessing yourself like that can really wreak havoc on your brain if you let it (and I sometimes do)so I decided to just let what happens happen and enjoy the other auditioners.

There’s a law in the stand-up world that the worst crowd to play to is a crowd of comedians. No one wants to laugh because by laughing you’re letting the audience, the club manager, the talent scout know that “Hey that guy on stage is funny! I may not be, but boy he sure is!!” Sometimes it’s the same thing at auditions. You don’t want to respond positively to other people auditioning because ultimately, you’re going against that person, and you don’t want to give them any extra leverage.

I say screw all that.

If there’s anything I learned doing improv at the National Comedy Theatre, it’s that it’s about teamwork; doing what you can to make the other guy look good. Life’s too short to worry about the whole competition part of it. It as nice to be able to sit back between readings and laugh and enjoy the other guys auditioning. They were really good, a really talented bunch of guys, and I’m always up for seeing talented people do what they do best.

So I don’t know if I’ll get the call today or not. If I do, that’ll be a lot of fun. If not, I can see why. Those guys yesterday were good.

Through “the Roof”

A couple of weeks ago I agreed to be the guest teacher at LBC and gave their theater class a crash course in the world of improv. As a way of saying thank you, the professor, Kristen, gave Sarah and I two tickets to see “Fiddler on the Roof” now playing at the historic Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster.

I’d been in the theater before but not to see a performance, so this was the first time for both of us. Our friends John and Lisa were telling us that the Fulton is the oldest continuously-running theater in the country and it is indeed a beautiful place. I knew nothing about the show going into it. I’d heard a couple of the songs (“Tradition,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset”) but didn’t have any idea what to expect.

Sarah and I were both pleasantly surprised at the amount of humor in the show and the cast did a great job. The mostly silver-haired audience seemed a little cold at the onset but that didn’t deter the performers. They kept at it and turned out a first-rate performance and by the final bow the crowd was on their feet with cheers of “Bravo!” being shouted all around us.

Sarah and I are fortunate that we were able to walk the few short blocks down to the theater and despite the grand spectacle on the stage, the walk there and back was probably my favorite part of the evening. Hand in hand on a cool (not cold) December night, the streets to ourselves, and only the sound of Sarah’s heels and our conversation floating around us to fill the still night.