We Made It Up
Years ago, I dreamt of being on Saturday Night Live. The playful Gilda Radner riveted me with her physical comedy, facial gestures, goofy voices, and friendly characters. She was an older version of myself. I thought having Lauren as the funny girl and Lorne Michaels as the producer would make a wonderful and memorable pairing.
In 2000, I shared my dream of becoming a comedic superstar with my friend, Tina. We promptly enrolled in Players Workshop, an improvisational acting program that was originally associated with Second City and founded by Josephine Forsberg.
Each term we would learn various techniques such as gibberish. I can make up words in English – ala “Laurenism’s”–without issue and I’m sure people would argue I speak nonsense, often. However, the official art of speaking in tongues perplexed me.
Fast forward to a scene with fellow-player Terry, in which we played a couple looking for a house with a realtor. Terry started rambling in tongues with ease, and I looked at him big-eyed as if to say, “Ive got nothing!” I was basically tongue-tied. Thankfully, Terry became my comedic lifeline and heightened his animation with his non-verbal communication, enabling me to lean on my physical comedy and survive the scene. Now, if you asked me today, I could probably do a gibberish monologue.
CREATIVITY ENTRAPMENT – SQUASHED!
Fast forward to the end of our training in a restaurant scene. At this point, we were supposed to be gifted enough to take things to a higher level. Sean, another fellow player, expertly played an obnoxious maitre d and Len convincingly portrayed a waiter who, in my face, mocked everything I did as the demanding customer.
In the middle of the scene, I became irritated with Len and Sean because they were having so much fun and I felt like an observer, clearly outmatched by the witty wisecrackers. I started speaking “properly” and with an air of confidence masked in a British accent, completely straight. The scene took off and, for me, finally validated that I had something to offer the class–other than creating and writing the show’s program.
That scene was the grand finale of the October 2001 grad show called “We Made It Up”, and it’s one of my favorite improv memories. Fellow classmates would come and go but there was a tight core contingent that made it to the end together Our talent and ability to play well together translated into amazing scenes.
I often wonder about my improvisationally gifted classmates. Shortly after the show, I hosted a video- viewing party. About once a year, we had an email thread that would get updated by one of us and banter would bounce among all of us. Over time, many of the email addresses became obsolete and the conversation ended.
A few years ago, Facebook empowered me to find some of my fellow funny folk and I now reach out to them once a year to wish them happy birthday or congratulate them on their latest accomplishment. I give credit to Len. He frequently makes me laugh by using Facebook as his comedic stage with hysterical posts. He’s just naturally funny. They all are.
It was a fun and fulfilling couple of years and a wonderful investment of time and money. I miss performing and being around people who can make me laugh so easily. Laughing is one of my favorite things to do but making others laugh is quite rewarding. The art of improv comes in handy when I unintentionally create awkward situations. Someone will ask me, “What did you mean by that?” and my internal idea wheel whirls until I successfully redeem myself. In sales, they call it “backing out of loss”.
I still believe in that brilliant pairing of Lauren and Lorne spreading the funny around. If you’re listening, Lorne, I’m here for you!
Posted on June 7, 2013, in Rant, Rave and tagged comedy, Facebook, gilda radner, gratitude, humor, Improvisation, josephine forsberg, life, lorne michaels, reflections, sarcasm, satire, SNL. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.