Sometimes I wish that there were two universes you could step in and out of: one where, sure, fine, you have to behave age appropriate. I mean, everyone loves a little bit of stability and habit. You have to go to work, wash your socks, and pay the milkman for his delivery. But then there is another universe where work means WERK (AMMIRIGHT?), washing socks only happens if you are playing in a sweet, sweet rain storm, and you're paying the milkman, sure, but not for that kind of delivery. *wink*. (...Did that just get weird?)
Soooooo, unfortunately, this week's troupe talk doesn’t have two universes for you. (Or a milkman.) But what we do have is something better. We’ve got the two, solidly funny fellows from the two-man improv show, Age Appropriate. #youareeeeeewelcome
So go ahead, give us the cutesy, tootsy story of how you two met! How long have you been a thang?
Mike: Well, it's a fairly crazy story. Ben and I took classes together at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH). I think a couple months after finishing the program in 2012, we started practicing together for a two-person show. Like I said, a crazy story. Ben: Mike and I met in our Level 3 class at DCH. We went through the program and have been improvising together for almost four years. It is oddly similar to the movie Sleepless in Seattle, only it takes place in Dallas and we are both heavy sleepers.
Why do you like improvising with each other? (*awkwardly dances while hoping you actually do…*)
Mike: I love improvising with Ben, because I think we're different improvisers in some ways. We both have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, Ben does awesome stuff with environment and space work that I would just never think of. We're also just different people outside of improv with different interests and perspectives that we bring to our scenes. I just typed the word "different" four times. Ben: Without a doubt, improvising with Mike is one of my favorite activities in my week. He plays exceptional characters and makes really fun choices on stage that leads us to wonderful discoveries during a show. Truthfully, we are very different individuals, and without improv I very much doubt we would have met each other. Thanks to DCH I have a fantastic improv partner and friend I get to see and perform with every week.
What do you think makes a really good scene in improv?
Mike: Shouting, touching, going for a laugh at the expense of the scene, ignoring your partner, and references to pop culture. These are guaranteed to make for a really good improv scene. Ben: Even if you aren’t “following” the rules of improv in your scene, if you are having fun onstage, so is the audience.
What's the difference between playing in a group of two as opposed to say, six?
Mike: A lot. I think playing with just one other person is more challenging, but it can also be more rewarding in a way. It's just the two of you out there, so you know there's no one coming in to edit or walk on or tap out or whatever. I think a two-person show also forces you to just deal with what's in front of you a bit more than in a group. You can go for just the joke, but that scene is going to be over fast. You're kind of forced to deal with relationship to make the scene work, or it's just going to be a bad show. Ben: In Age Appropriate, I’m responsible for 50 percent of the show. In my mind, I am obligated and expected to do more in a two-person show because there is no cavalry coming to support the scene. With an ensemble, sometimes you can have a secondary role that evening because the show dictates it and your other players are the primary characters within the show. In a two-person show, that is never an option. All we have is each other when we walk on stage.
The world would be a better place if everyone followed the _____rule of improv.
Mike: "Slow down, listen, and have an honest reaction" rule. Ben: Make your partner look better than yourself. Generally, we live in a self-absorbed and a me-first society. If everyone looked out for each other and put others before themselves, without a doubt the world would be a more harmonious place (jumps off soapbox).
Please name three things that ARE age appropriate and three things that ARE NOT.
Age appropriate: 1) A 34-year-old man drinking a beer 2) a 34-year-old man crying while watching It's a Wonderful Life 3) a 34-year-old man listening to Merle Haggard
NOT age appropriate: 1) a 34-year-old man drinking a glass of milk 2) a 34-year-old man watching any cartoons 3) a 34-year-old man listening to any teenager sing
Age appropriate: 1) Ron Howard 2) M&M’s 3) Bob Saget, pre 1995
NOT age appropriate: 1) Ron Jeremy 2) Eminem 3) Bob Saget, post 1995
Age Appropriate performs at the Dallas Comedy House on August 14.
Tori Oman is a Level Five student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.