If you love comedy like I do, when it comes to your doorstep you have to open the door and hug it like a long absent family member.
So I embraced, if only from the audience, four of the Blue Touring Group of Second City at the Clinton School Tuesday. When Mom said, “You should go see them,” I thought, “Why not.” I looked at the schedule and Wednesday night included free champagne. I’m a sucker for free things and sparkling wine. But as a last minute decision, I didn’t have time to find anyone to go with me. This is no problem for me when I’m out of town. Would being alone on my home turf make me feel like a leper? I stirred up my courage and bought a ticket online.
Wednesday night I arrive a little after 6:00 p.m. which is the time in Little Rock when the meters downtown become free. I go upstairs where the champagne is located, sit on the window seat alone sipping cold bubbly and eating a small square of cheesecake. As I gaze around the room at friends busily chatting, I admit I feel a little discomfort. But it is minor. I don’t feel much better when the usher takes me to my box seat where only I am sitting. Should I have opted for the orchestra center?
When the lights go down, flying solo no longer matters. And it actually gives an unanticipated benefit; alone I am able to turn a critical eye to concentrate as a professional rather than enjoy as a private citizen. Things I have never considered become crystal clear.
Apparently word hasn’t quite gotten out about the Second City engagement because there are way too many empty seats. To much “dead space” makes for less connection between the audience and performers as well as a sense of connect among the audience. For the first time I appreciate the ultra small, black box style theaters of LA. The smaller the venue and the closer the players and the audience means better flow of the funny and a better night for everyone.
Another plus is that I am able to judge more critically the content of the show. “Have you noticed I don’t laugh as much as you do?” an improv teacher once said to my class. He pointed out the fact that he had a more discerning eye and ear from years of comedy exposure. Having more exposure didn’t lessen my experience that night, but helped me more easily identify the material that really worked for me – a sketch that turned plans for a family vacation into a political campaign and a middle Eastern take on “Dirty Dancing.” And I spot for the first time in my experience, the successful use of multiple, very short scenes which seemed like flash fiction for the stage.
Home alone, I realize going sans friend was way less painful than I imagined. Will I do it again? You betcha!