Just got back from my second ever Del Close Marathon and it was just as if not definitely more life changing than the first one.
The first thing I did on Day One of #DCM19 was take a workshop I got to take for free because of my diversity scholarship. So so grateful. I actually could not afford $55 but I really wanted to take a workshop at DCM.
The workshop I took was with Tara Copeland and it was called Everything is a song. There were 13 people.
I barely made it to the workshop, I slept over at Facebook’s crib after a Promobot Unwinding Session and just shutdown my Promobot system without setting an alarm for LA, but I put my trust in Del Close and hoped for the best. I woke up on time, lit erally rolled out of Facebook’s Lovesac wearing half of my promobot wardrobe of turquoise knee length shorts and an AA crop top lol. I brushed my teeth and ran out of there with a little help from Facebook who was shocked I really had an improv class to go to. Yes it’s real! I am really doing this people.
I hustled and got to midtown, grabbed a water from Starbucks because I was hangover-y/dehydrated, and was only 5 minutes late and they waited for me!
Eric Gersen from my favorite one man musical Gersenality was there playing live keyboard. I knew the workshop would be awesome but I was not expecting live music accompaniment from Eric Gersen like what a way to open DCM!
The class started with warm up exercises as improv classes are wont to do.
We began with singing exercises which I sucked ass at because I was dehydrated and also am not a trained singer but I locked eyes with one babe in the class and she helped me by showing me… and we remained eye contacting each other for like a solid minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with a human before… Made eye contact for more than 10 seconds let alone like 1-2 minutes. The workshop just started and it’s already life changing.
The next warm-up exercise we did was the meow song from cats. Eric Gersen asked if everyone knew “the meow song from cats” and I didn’t but everyone else knew it so I was able to catch on. We were asked to sing that song and act like weird cats. I acted like Cali because Cali is a weird cat she has 6 toes lol. I tried to nap during the exercise because cats do that. In hindsight I would have napped the whole time, but the other cats were fun to play with and we pawed each other and I learned the meow song but I forgot it by now. Hold on lemme Youtube it.
lmao. the song is actually called Memory. Great job MK Ultra!
meow meow meowmeowmeow meow meow meow.
After watching this Cats Musical version for the first time ever I must say I prefer Tara Copeland’s #DCM19 Everything is a Song Workshop version.
I felt like I was in a room of future stars, everyone was so talented. Even I felt talented! I felt the power of the improv team for possibly the first time ever since I began doing improv. Even though I couldn’t sing as well as everyone, and had no theater experience, and suck at acting and improv, and have never taken a musical improv class, my classmates helped me look good despite my handicaps as a performer, and I felt how awesome supporting is!
So then we played Hot Spot but instead of it being about the worst part of Hot Spot which is coming up with things on the spot, it was just about showing off and letting the person in the middle shine and also shining as the person in the middle. It was lit. We lit erally sang the entirety of Torn by Natalie Imbruglia accompanied by Eric Gersen and it sounded like a choir of angels. Tara said it was the first time she ever liked that song. I wish I could re-listen to it but all I have are my meowmories.
Then we split up into two groups and did opening numbers. I stayed up with the first group because I’ve learned that getting it over with is the best solution for the anxiety I get about performing. You don’t have to sit in the class audience waiting for your turn to do a scene or whatever. You just get up and do it and get to relax in the audience.
Until the next time you have to go up lol.
My group ended up doing an opening number to the suggestion “awkward handshake” which came from a prompt from the Australian babe in our group for a memorable dream moment.
The song chorus was
“Nothing worse than a bad handshake. Nothing worse than a real limp wrist. Nothing worse than a bad handshake. Nothing worse than a real limp wrist.”
It was like a 10cc song! Tara said our opening was 85-90% good. I felt like I was the 10% that made it not perfect tbh but that’s why it’s a class and also I hope I stop feeling like I am the thing wrong with everything all the time. Maybe the patriarchy will allow me to stop hating myself someday.
I was just excited to be around that much talent, like, working with them, it was like a dream come true honestly.
After doing opening numbers we did this exercise called “Today is the Day” and that stressed me out a little bit because I just have so little stage experience! Whoa. It’s intense. The purpose of the exercise was to practice moving on the stage to take a center role singing downstage while someone else is there already.
Then we did like a whole show. I was not expecting that. I was expecting more exercises and less pressure and actual application of all my acquired performance skills and talents so far. We split up into 2 groups. I went up with the first group again because maybe I can’t do anything about the anxiety of having to step out for a 2-person scene eventually, but I can at least get it over with and diminish how long I’m anxious for.
If you had to be in pain, would you rather be in an intense amount of pain for a few seconds or a medium mild but persistent amount of pain that persisted for an hour? I got it into my mind to just step out as fast as possible without thinking.
Oh biz, I just realized I Don’t Thinked. Thanks UCB!
We had to do an opening number and four 2-person scenes. We got the suggestion “Pitbull.” I immediately thought of the rapper. Our 4th scene ended up being about Pitbull and the song was incredible but more on that later.
Our opening number was a banger about being aggressive pitbulls and the chorus was like
“Don’t fuck with me I’m a pitbull. Don’t fuck with me I’m a pitbull. BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK *DRAMATIC PAUSE* Don’t fuck with me I’m a pitbull.”
It might have been *mess with me but all I have are my meowmories. It was so much fun, we were choreographed as if we’d rehearsed beforehand and there were Kanye growls in the song. It was a full fledged banger. Back up vocals were on point. Choreo on point. Verses and bridge were on point. Our timing… it’s like we knew the lyrics, there was even a full rest stop of silence which all 7 of us nailed EVERY TIME. It was intense because we were just making it up on the spot. I had to keep pulling myself back from just wanting to watch what I was a part of, and remembering I was helping make it happen so had to focus and we crushed the landing.
The first scene, the babe I locked eyes with earlier stepped out walking her dog and I stepped out because you’re not supposed to leave anyone out there too long and damnit I just wanted to get my scene out of the way lol. So I just try as hard as I can to remember everything I know about improv. Setting a base reality, Yes anding. I name the babe Margaret. Margaret is snooty and dissing my pitbull and accuses him of pooping in front of her lawn. Then I’m like “Yes, my dog did poop on your lawn” … “and we admit it.”
YES AND! I nailed improv 101 guys.
At this point I was getting nervous about where to take the scene because I don’t know what to do after Yes and… when Tara interjects with “you have a song!” Of course. Everything is a song! So I start listening to what Eric Gersen is playing on the keyboard and I look over at him and I notice this intense look of concentration and focus he has on the scene AS HE IS PLAYING KEYBOARD IMPROVISATIONALLY AT THE SAME TIME LIKE HOW TALENTED CAN YOU BE!! I saw everything I needed for the song on his face and started singing
“We pooped on your lawn, it was on purpose.”
It wasn’t, like, a great song but big ups to Charmin. This post is not Sponsored by Charmin but Charmin did sponsor Promobot 9000 for a few days and they gave me the shorts I was wearing to the workshop, so wardrobe provided by Charmin and AA lol
So we did our number and Tara had to coach me throughout to not face my back to the audience and when to sing the chorus verse and bridge and sing to the audience and stop moving. It’s hard performing! Margaret helped me out AGAIN with that flawless eye contact. She spoke to me through her eyes, told me what to do. It’s weird to explain you guys but I really loved that I did this number with her and she made me look good! Not bad! And I got that out of the way so I made my way to the backline to support the magic that unfolded before my eyes.
It was such a good musical. There was a touching slow number about adopting a dog. The closing number was about Pitbull the rapper getting stage fright and his manager telling him not to choke on stage because he invested a lot of time and money on Pitbull’s career. This number was started by the same kid who made the chorus of our banger opening, and this Pitbull song was no less a banger. The chorus was…
“Don’t You choke (don’t you choke), Don’t you choke (don’t you choke), money money money money, time time time time, money money money money, time time time time.”
And the choreography he made up for it…
…were the sign language symbols for money and time. LIKE HOW TALENTED CAN YOU BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He told us this factoid at the end and some of us, including me, didn’t know it was sign language, but we all did anyway. I was late catching on because I’m an amateur but I noticed Tara was doing the money time choreo and realized she wanted us to do it.
If Don’t You Choke could be recorded and released it would hit the Billboard 100 charts and possibly be the summer anthem of 2017.
It was so good I’m not even going to talk about the rest of DCM but I saw Sandino, 3 hours of improv4humans with Matt Besser, and 2 panels- one on comedy on a budget and the other on diversity in comedy.
It was all top notch quality content and information. Thank you Del!