Good show last night. It was “Improvinitus with friends,” a live action cross over event with the current roster of Improvinitus – Rob, Pierce, Ethan, Leo, and I – and two up-and-comers out of OCC, Ivan Hoz Kurland and Liam O’Mahony, two young guns with the stuff to hang with the OGs (orignal gangsters). “… With Friends,” was one of those show taglines that made the event feel like an 80s- esque Avengers comic book featuring Spider-Man and Daredevil. The usual comic book formula for justifying such an intermingling of distinct superheroes is as follows: under staffed superhero team is tasked with epic mission that requires more bodies; superhero team recruits from local free lancers, who may or may not be a-list talent (Spider-Man vs. Scott Lang Ant-Man); superhero team and freelance talent overcome menace that brought them together in the first place; superhero team and freelance superheroes shake hands and confirm mutual respect. New storyline is alluded to on last page.
We jammed before at Rob’s (as per usual) in some type of improv danger room masquerading as a 70s living room in central Orange County. We shot the shit for a bit on Rob’s driveway. Ethan punted a garden spider, and we speculated as to the supreme importance of this particular spider (Was he the Martin Luther of spiders or the Martin Luther King Jr of arachnids?) and dubbed Sir Liam the Token white guy (a lot of different hues of brown on Improvinitus, which is great because improv could always benefit from more divirsity in general). The pre-show rehearsal is where all the bugs and kinks get worked out. As much as it is improv, you still prepare your ass off.
A Hotel 68 is kind of like a Harold, but it’s a bit simpler (and I imagine the format came from a bunch of players tinkering with a Harold) than a Harold because you have no opening game or group games in between beats, and it’s much more focused on constructing a narrative and building relationships than playing the game. You have the infamous Hotel 68, a roadside lodge in where three sets of relationships cohabit rooms in the same hotel. The hotel manager (the host), channeling the spirit of Rod Sterling, gives a synopsis of the hotel’s three, distinct tenets and cuts to the first room. After a scene has been established, the manager cuts to room two, repeats the process for two until it leads into room three. There are usually three to four beats in a hotel 68, with the manager always deciding when to move on to another, and finally, when to end the show. Like a Harold, the rooms plots can bleed into each other, but each room here can exist as its own storyline independent of the other rooms, so a room never needs to integrate with another one if its own plot is self contained.
Memory fails me every minute away I’m from that show. The show was good: Pierce and I played sheltered Augustinian monks surrounded by temptation in a mandatory visit to a religious orders convention in Las Vegas; Leo and Ivan played furries at a cross roads in life – Leo, the mold, struggled to deal with Ivan, the porcupine, an unsure furry – while also attending a furries convention adjacent to the religious orders one; and Ethan and Liam played bounty hunters with different philosophies on their profession (Ethan tries to bring them in alive and Liam just brings them in dead). And Rob played a good hotel manager, always editing where appropriate, always letting the scene develop while not letting it go on too long.
A theme of brother hood and disillusionment with it was pervasive throughout the Hotel 68. My character was ready to leave the Church for a secular life of Red Bull and Harry Potter, a parallel and contrast to Ivan’s character, for he was an experienced furry who wanted out in exchange for a life of spiritual contemplation and service to God. Pierce’s character tried talking sense into me, reminding me of the vows we made when we joined the order, and Leo’s character reminded Ivan’s character that you had take the good with the bad if you wanted to be a furry. Ethan played a veteran bounty hunter trying to understand his rookie partner’s reckless ways. Overtime, despite his partner’s indiscriminate and targeted killing spree of furries across Las Vegas, he decided to turn himself in instead because his love for Liam’s character compelled Ethan’s character to take the wrap for beloved friend.
The show was a smash! Everybody pulled their weight and elicited great laughs from the audience. For $5 on a Friday night in Costa Mesa, CA, it was not a bad deal for your entertainment dollar. Pierce, as always, contrasted my over enthusiastic monk on the verge of leaving the Church with a balanced, concerned, yet flamboyant monk who constantly reminded my character of the consequences of my defection to the secular world. Leo radiated a certain passion and commitment to the furry lifestyle that came out in his character’s hysteria over his fellow furry’s approach the lifestyle. Ivan, with the assistance of a British accent, really played the part of a lost man alien to himself. Liam and Ethan had a Riggs and Murtaugh things going on, except incredibly more violent, but with no loss of the bromance. Liam brought the energy in the form of bold physical choices (cleaning hunting rifles, being hand-cuffed to a sink) while Ethan imbued the scene with gravitas by first chastising his junior partner and then sympathizing with some aspect of that sociopath so much so that he came to love him. And Rob, of course, was a competent hotel manager. Big ups to him as its always hard sacrificing show time to make sure the show goes well. And of course, the show could have not gone one without the last minute assistance from our free lancers, Powerman and Iron Fist, Spiderman and Daredevil, Liam and Ivan. Thanks boys. Mutual handshake confirming respect while the wake of our destruction colors the backdrop. Until the next event that we bring you in to boost sales and attract new, younger readers. Seriously, great job, dudes, and great job Improvinitus.
And there was some short-form as well, which kicked ass, but that story is for another blog.