The Improv Life: Del Taco Nights
On almost any given Friday or Saturday night, I could roll on over to STAGES Theater and catch whatever improv show Spectacles Improv Engine was putting on that night.
If it wasn’t packed, I’d sit at the very last row and watch. If it was IFL, I knew I was in for a treat. Austin Floyd and Matt Thomas would be hosting, the field reporter would take suggestions, and the teams would be doing improv, and we were just living up the magic of each other’s company.
I remember there was this one time where the improv was amazing, Austin was on fire with his quips, he was even responding to my heckles from the top row, where I took off my shoes because no one was around, and I was exhausted, and then when I felt safe and vulnerable, I thought to myself, “This isn’t going to last forever.”
I don’t know why I thought that. It was a thought that came to the surface when I was off guard. I looked at the stage and got a little sad.
I then immediately buried the feeling and tried not to think about it. I just knew that I was witnessing a really cool moment that would stay with me from then on.
Once the show was over, I think I went down the steps to shake hands and give hugs and let everyone know how amazing of a show it was.
I had just had a long day in LA and hadn’t ate in more than 8 hours. I had a terrible diet back then, forcing myself to go without food until I couldn’t stand the hunger.
So I went to Del Taco, the one on State College and Chapman, ordered whatever, and then ate it in my car.
It was a very Orange County thing to do: eat Del Taco after a super late show.
Being an improv comedian in Orange County meant late nights: late shows, late dinners, late karaoke jams, late hangs in the parking lot spilling your guts to your peers, or opening your heart to a new friend; you let the day linger to its last second because you wanted to feel like you did all you could that day to squeeze every ounce of value and joy from this day that would be gone forever.
Del Taco was just part of that lifestyle.
I lived late, laughed late, and ate Del Beef Burritos after midnight.
I ate Del Taco to cool down my mind, body, and soul after an epic day.
To get some calories for the drive home.
To begin to let go of a day that had to end.
When I was at Specs, even when maybe it wasn’t the best or it was phenomenal and people would quote that shit forever, I did not want it to end.
I wanted the night to continue and go on, to see more improv, and do more improv; to just laugh like a dumb kid and throw out suggestions that were also bits; to see my friends and marvel at their skills.
Del Taco was necessary for me to end the day, accept it was over, and go to bed to not be too exhausted for the next one.
And you can substitute Del Taco for Norms, Denny’s, whatever post game late night meal to draw the day out a little longer. The bonus about those places was that you ate with friends.
I miss Specs. I don’t know if I have fully processed it’s over (despite playing in a show that was labeled as the Last Specs Show). Maybe I’m not good at processing reality or dealing with trauma, but not eating Del Taco at the State College and Chapman location for over a year finally convinced me it’s over.
Love you Specs. Thank you for all the good times and memories, the friendships and lessons, the feeling of being alive. I will forever be in your debt.
Love you too Del Taco.
#improv #ocimprov #specsimprov