As the story goes, fate brought me to Denver and gave me the cleanest fucking slate I've ever had. Not only did I not know anyone, I didn't even have a map. While this situation can be hard on one's emotional stability, it sure forces you to boil down your needs.
Picture me in a weepy stupor, not knowing where to turn and how to start. "Must find horse people ... must find other comedians ... must find grocery store ....." Thankfully, I found the wonderful Kath, who led me to the incredibly talented Howard, who wisely recognized my kind and said, "You need to be a Rodent."
And so, after Howard put in a good word, I found myself in an abandoned house near downtown Denver, playing improv games with five strangers who call themselves The Rodents of Unusual Size. (Hard to believe that was a year ago this month.) Another fellow, Steven, was new as well. Technically, we were auditioning and they were only supposed to pick one of us but our combined brilliance was overwhelming so they kept us both, thank God. (Steven is the one who tends to look after us - he lines up all the game lists in the dressing room, each with its own packet of Gushers. So thoughtful!)
So, together, we workshop, we put on shows, we play with our Monkey friends and we mostly crack each other up. As individuals, we're funny but as a group, we strive to cause spontaneous urination and have been known to succeed.
Last Wednesday, we put on our usual monthly show at the Avenue Theater and I will officially declare that we kicked major ass. We felt it and the audience agreed. Nights like that, I cannot believe how lucky I am to have found these people and, furthermore, that they let me play with them.
And the key word is 'play.'
Let's face it, I'm an adult. I have to do adult things like work, pay bills and wear pants in public. That's not my fault, my body just got bigger and hair sprouted in weird places, that's all. Inside, I'm still seven. Words cannot express the joy that takes over me when it's time to improv. Remember recess? That's what it's like.
It's the beauty of total acceptance - the only rule of improv. You can run around screaming gibberish while holding your crotch and it's perfectly acceptable. You can be a French garbage collector or a Jewish hairdresser, Denny Crane or a fetus. You can even be Jesus, which I managed to pull off in one show, alarming even myself. It's as if the contents of your brain were scattered about like some rich kid's Lego collection - you just start building stuff. It's hard to describe but it's like flying, with your friends.
The experience is completely liberating and - when all is going well - the feeling is on par with really great sex. Of course, much like robust intercourse, it can also be painful.
Lately, we've been combining two of our popular games into one and the result is Mousepants. An audience member is given a bell and every time they ring the bell during the scene, we all have to drop our pants. Meanwhile, all the players onstage are blindfolded and the floor is covered with live mouse traps. (I'm still PISSED at myself that my character was a complete wimp during this game while the always-brave Christa played a baby that crawled around on the floor. What a stud!)
While the curse of my life is that is has 8,000 moving parts, I want to state for the record how much I love - no, that doesn't cover it - how much I NEED this in my life. Last June, I arrived at Denver Airport after a frenetic five-day business trip in New York. Magically, it was a Wednesday and I scrambled frantically to make the show. Finally, I arrived at the theater at 7:25 p.m., barely in time to change and 'make the curtain' at 7:30.
I'll never forget the immense relief I felt that night - like my soul went through a high end car wash - vacuuming and everything. After all the grown up seriousness and Important Meetings, it was the warm comical welcome I desperately needed.
(Next show is March 12th. I'm opening as a Storyteller - check it out!)