improv comedy

Now You've Done It, Wal-Mart Kid

By Sarah Mowery Over the past 24 hours or so, the Internet has been inundated with news of a 14-year-old boy who was found at a Walmart in Corsicana after apparently setting up shop in there for several days. The kid had been living in secret compounds he built behind the shelves, taking food and drink through holes in the grocery aisles and even taking care of a fish he stole from the pet department. If all that isn’t absurd enough for you, keep in mind that this guy chose to live in a Walmart when there is a perfectly good Target in Waxahachie.

According to the CBS report, Walmart customer Myrna Aguilar said, “You never expect that you’re at Walmart and someone has been living there for four days. That’s crazy.”

Well, Myrna, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. I ALWAYS expect when I’m at Walmart that someone has been living there. For AT LEAST four days, maybe more. Possibly with multiple other people. Listen, I’m from Arkansas, I know Walmart. Look at the facts, and you’ll see that it’s more likely than not that someone is attempting to move in to a Walmart at any given moment in this country.

I’m not the only one who’s been struck by this possibility, either - just look at the proof. Last Sunday, I did a show in my hometown with the group I used to perform with when I lived there. We did our usual format, the Harold, and one of the storylines that unfolded was that of a man taking his son camping in an effort to force some classic desperate parent/detached teen bonding a la Mrs. Doubtfire, rest his soul. On the way to their campsite, the two stop at a Walmart for supplies. Preceding a great deal of sufficiently disturbing plot twists including the discovery of an army of evil sweatshop robot employees, the two decide they’ll just go ahead and camp out in the Walmart instead of the great outdoors. Hmm.

The following week during my improv class at DCH, a few people did a scene where they spent the night in Walmart to celebrate the anniversary of their friendship. Interesting.

Living In Walmart Obvious Idea: 2 Myrna: 0

These incredibly coincidental improvised stories raised a couple of questions in my mind. 1: Does everything we improvise become reality? Because, if so, I should probably take a break from doing my sexually frustrated 12-year-old boy characters. And 2: What the hell, Walmart kid? You move into a Walmart, a feat thousands of Americans have only dreamed of accomplishing, and you go and get yourself caught?

It’s not even that I’m mad at the boy for doing what he did. Nay, if he had only succeeded he would have been my hero, the hero of us all! However, he failed to think his mission through, and that fatal mistake is what disappoints me. That’s right, Walmart kid, I’m not mad, just disappointed.

His mistakes were plenty. First, his choice of real estate. Walmart kid thought it would be a good idea to camp out behind the baby aisles. No, Walmart kid, people are buying things over there! Sleep somewhere people don’t go anymore. Like the CD section. He changed in and out of a couple of different outfits to “avoid detection.” My god, Walmart kid, you’re in Walmart! Take advantage of your resources and create some real disguises! As if all that weren’t bad enough, what finally got him caught was a trail of trash leading right to his hideouts. All that effort and you couldn’t manage to pick up after yourself, Walmart kid? Really? Though I’m not convinced what led to his discovery wasn’t the smell from the diapers he’d apparently been using to avoid having to walk to the restroom. Yeah. Uh-huh.

Now you’ve done it, Walmart kid. You’ve gone and ruined it for all of us. As for me, I don’t blame you. Sure you left a massive trail of garbage large enough to get yourself spotted by possibly the most inattentive, aloof employees in all of retail, and you presumably did nothing to cover up the smells that must have been creeping from your hideouts with more ferocity than the poisonous vines from Jumanji, RIP. But I can’t be mad at you, Walmart kid, when our nation has an education system that is clearly not teaching our children the principles of Leave No Trace! I can only hope that the rest of the world will be as forgiving.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She lives alone with her cat and in her free time enjoys applying dialogue from The Lord of the Rings to real life situations. You can check out more of her comedy stylings HERE!

 

Lady Town is coming to OUR TOWN!

Sometimes, you just get lucky. You find  five dollars in your hoodie from last winter. Or your apartment complex is passing out sausage biscuits when you leave for work on Friday morning. Or maybe, just maybe, three of your favorite improvisors agree to come back to Dallas for a weekend of workshops and shows. Ladytown comes to town August 1st and 2nd!

If you didn't find  $5 (or you're not wearing a hoodie today because it's freeeezzzzzing) or you're rich and live in a house where you can make your own sausage biscuits, that's okay. Because we here at DCH have snagged LADY TOWN for you for one hot weekend.

Maribeth Monroe (Workaholics), Jaime Moyer (Jennifer Falls), and Kate Duffy (Second City) are making an appearance here in Dallas August 1st and 2nd. Workshops and show tickets are on sale now! These ladies are all favorites of DCH, but they've never been here at the same time. And this is going to be amazing. Their shows sold-out quickly in the past, so get tickets and register for workshops while you can.

SEE THE LADY TOWN SHOW! Saturday, August 2nd @ 10:30PM CLICK HERE FOR ADVANCE TICKETS!

 

REGISTER FOR WORKSHOPS! 

Brush Up Workshop w/Jaime Moyer  Friday, August 1st  4-7PM CLICK HERE TO REGISTER 

What the %&*#% Are You? w/Kate Duffy  Friday, August 1st 4-7PM CLICK HERE TO REGISTER 

Ladies Love Cool Improv w/ Jaime Moyer Saturday, August 2nd 11-12PM CLICK HERE TO REGISTER 

Throw Out the Rules w/Kate Duffy Saturday, August 2nd 11-2PM CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

 

Actually, No, Improv Isn't Stand Up

By Sarah Mowery I’ve been doing improv on and off for about 6 years now, and over time I’ve began to notice that people’s reactions upon learning I do improv typically fit into one of two categories: Either they know what improv is, or they think improv is standup.

No matter what the situation, casually mentioning having been at improv the night before usually arouses quite a bit of interest and curiosity. In my experience, if you tell someone you do improv, you’re probably about to turn into their “friend who does improv.” It’s kind of like being the “girl in the group” or the “really athletic friend” or the “strange neighbor who’s into tentacle porn”, except different because everyone knows what those things mean.

Jerry Seinfeld: A guy who writes jokes. Sarah Mowery: A girl who makes up jokes. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!

With improv, unlike with being a girl or athletic or inexplicably attracted to tentacle porn, I find there’s a surprising amount of explanation involved. People say, “Oh, will you do something for me?” or “Tell me a joke” or “So it’s, like, standup?”

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. There will always be that woman you meet who started an improv troupe in college and wants to talk all about it, but she sucks because now you’re not the only fascinating and mysterious one in the conversation anymore, so we try to stay away from her and stick with the group of people who are confused by the fact that we don’t write jokes.

Then comes the awkward part of trying to explain what, if not standup, improv actually is.

Uh, well, it’s this group of people and we get a suggestion from the audience and then we make up scenes with each other... Yeah, OK, I guess you’re right, that doesn’t sound all that funny but I swear it is! We practice every week so that we’re really good, trust me... No, we don’t meet to plan anything ahead of time, it’s just... Agh OK, fine, we do write it all, stop interrogating me! Wait, come back, that was a lie – See! Improv!

The explanation dilemma always gets me wondering – why don’t more people know what improv is? Hell, maybe I’m the odd one. Why do I know what improv is? Have I been living in a weird former theatre kid bubble my whole life? And why is the most accessible popular culture reference anyone can use to explain it Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The most popular Stand Up Comedy Chain is called the IMPROV. Why do we make things so confusing? It's like naming Dunkin' Donuts the Hamburger Palace.

I mean here we have perhaps the rawest, purest, most vulnerable form of comedy, and unless they live in a place like Chicago or LA where it’s a cultural fixture, a huge chunk of the population hardly even knows it exists. People love a good laugh, whether it’s from seeing a funny movie, reading the Sunday comics, or watching SNL, but why is it that when improv comes up, they expect to see a standup comedian? It’s sort of like if my friend bought us tickets to go see a live cooking competition, but I understood that to mean that we would be having a nice sit-down family dinner prepared by her grandmother. The food would obviously be delicious either way, but they’re two completely different things. One takes a lot of preparation with delicate care and crafting to perfection. The other is likely to be a huge mess of loud noises and mysterious spills during which something is likely to go horribly wrong, but it will be all the more satisfying because of it.

Just like improv, people on those cooking competitions know all the techniques and what a good dish tastes like, but they don’t know what ingredients they’re going to have to throw together to get that final product. Just like improv, I didn’t really have any idea where this article was going when I started it, but it has now become clear to me that I have already raised awareness of improv by associating this article with the Internet search results for “tentacle porn”, a thing that several people apparently know and like.

Now, someone ask me if I do standup.

Sarah Mowery is a level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She lives alone with her cat and in her free time enjoys applying dialogue from The Lord of the Rings to real life situations. You can check out more of her comedy stylings HERE!

 

#Ashtag: Ashley Gets Her Head Out of the Sand

For those of you who struggle to keep up with everything that's happening in the world, you're not alone. Follow Ashley Bright's journey to become "hip" again.  I fear I am becoming an old fogey at too young of an age. I am not hip to the jive of today's popular culture, and I've been out of the loop for many years. I just recently saw a picture of this Drake guy people talk about, but I could not identify one of his songs. Someone else set up Instagram on my phone (although yes, I do now use it).

It's time for me to get my head out of the proverbial sand. Against my better judgment, I am going to learn about what's cool and trendy these days. It was actually a challenge for me to figure out how to find what is trending these days. But I did it. I watched this week's top videos, which included children reacting to Gameboy and an illustrated debunking of brain myths. I looked at Twitter's top hashtag, #cashnewvideo. And frankly, I'm not exactly sure what it is. It appears to be somehow related to two young gentleman who do vine and YouTube videos. My goal is to learn more about this hashtag business as I continue to do this weekly exploration.

I checked in on the top Google searches for today, as well as the top read Wikipedia articles. Sports. Sports are very in right now. I must admit that I have not watched one second of the World Cup. I fear that makes me a bad American. Worse, I think I'm a bad global citizen. I mean I've overheard many conversations about it. I've seen the Facebook posts about the games, the bars the games are being watched at, or the handsome fellas on the field, but I haven't watched any myself. I don't have cable television, which lends a bit of the hand towards my World Cup ignorance. Without a television, I have to seek out what I watch, and I have not sought out soccer.

The #1 google search today is Josh McRoberts. Sports, I tell ya. McRoberts has verbally committed to sign with the Heat. I like watching basketball, but reading about potential contract, dollar amounts, and whether his addition will sway LeBron made my eyes get sleepy. So, I have nothing more to say on the subject.

Apparently this Wimbledon thing is a big deal?

Did you know Wimbledon 2014 was going on? Me neither. Novak Djokovic won the title in an apparent mental victory over Roger Federer. The only thing this sparks in my brain is that once in a video of UCB's ASSSSCAT, someone made mention of a tiny Roger Federer, which is to say I know nothing.

Miley Cyrus is the #2 google search today. And this is how I learned that she is in a Flaming Lips video. With Moby. I watched this video, "Blonde SuperFreak Steals the Magic Brain," and I did not dig it. It's a reverb-laden acid trip, and if you know my musical tastes, you would know that reverb-laden does not deter me. But this doesn't have many other layers under the reverb except for some squeaky loops and such. I typed that I was a fan of the Flaming Lips, even their newer stuff like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I went to confirm that I had the album title correct and saw that it came out in 2002. My idea of "newer stuff" goes back twelve years. Does everyone understand why I need to dip back into pop culture?

I'm ready to learn about what today's young whippersnappers are into. Meet me back here next week, and we'll discover some more. Or I will discover some more stuff that you already knew, and you can laugh at how out of touch I am.

Ashley Bright is graduate of the DCH Improv Training Program and a teacher's assistant. She is a level 2 sketch writing student and intern for the DCH Blog. Find all things Ashley HERE.