Wowww. I just got home from the 20th annual Del Close Marathon, and the last Del Close Marathon in NYC. DCM is continuing in LA. I’ve been wanting to move to LA for a long time and after this year’s DCM, I think I’m following the fear and moving to LA. I’m not sure I want to live in LA necessarily, but I’ve gotta go West. Also, I should probably try living in LA, if only to try it.
So this is my third annual DCM and it was very different from my first two. This DCM I took a workshop, like last year, which I got to take for free thanks to my Diversity Scholarship. It was a musical improv workshop taught by Jon Bander about developing musical characters. It was insanely fun.
The class description said to come in with pre-written characters, or at least character pitches, and your musical instrument. I happened to be working on a musical character that started as a parody/tribute to Portugal. The Man called Portugal. The Woman, so I brought my guitar and did that character.
Only 2 people out of 11 came with pre-written musical characters, and of the two I was the only one with a musical instrument so, I’m killing the game. Only one other person brought an instrument, a mandolin, but she never played it. I ended up doing a park bench of truth scene and musical number with mandolin girl and it was amazing. We had the best number out of everyone in the class, objectively (most laughs). Part of the exercise included the whole class jumping in on everyone’s choruses, and there was this sleepy guy who was too sleepy to participate, but even HE was singing during our musical number, a testament to the power of a banger, which our musical number definitely was.
The chorus I came up with based on our Park Bench of Truth conversation (the exercise was to do a park bench of truth until we both agreed on something and then sing about what we agreed on with a chorus verse chorus verse chorus song structure). Eric Gersen (oh yeah, my boi Eric Gersen was doing keyboard accompaniment, just like in my musical improv workshop last year!) started playing a sad song based on my partners response that she felt sad and confused about what we agreed on, which was that we don’t remember how we learned to tie our shoes. The chorus I came up with was “I don’t remember how I learned to tie my shoe, do you?” and wow, I crushed it. Everyone was so into it and it sounded great and it was so much fun!
You guys. I think musical improv is The One.
So my teacher Jon Bander told us he was performing with his musical improv team the next day at Theater for the New City, and incidentally I had an unused $5 “Poet & Genius Pass”, which gave you access to one show at TNC and then if you wanted to get a full festival wristband you could get $5 off the wristband.
I said that I’d never work during DCM after working during my first DCM and realizing it fucked up the flow of my DCM, but this year I accepted work for Saturday and Sunday because the work involved free food and also money. Due to not having time to go to Del Close Marathon, I still had my Poet and Genius pass and I decided to use it to see Jon Bander’s team.
After work, I made my way to Theater for the New City, blazed a lil. I was not prepared for what DCM had in store for my ass. I went to see one show but ended up staying for 3.
I started with Jon Bander’s team, Premiere: The Improvised Musical. All I have to say about this set is that there was a point where my mouth was gaping wide open for like a minute in shock of a genius transition the team made in a time leap type of scenario between purgatory and real life.
I can try to describe it even though we all know with improv you have to be there– a group of friends ritualistically sacrifice a couple of their friends at parties and also kill an FBI agent who comes in to investigate. Then we go to purgatory where the sacrificed friends chat and then the FBI agent arrives in purgatory and they head to a “Rain Party” in the clouds. During the musical number the character that killed the FBI agent returns and kills the FBI agent again and then they jump back to real life. Oh yeah, and everyone was singing and dancing at the same time. It was so fucking good.
Then I saw Fancy Man Sings. I was only going to see the one show, but how could I say no to MORE MUSICAL IMPROV. The description for this team is “Gay. Musical. Improv.” and that’s pretty accurate. They got the suggestion Burlesque and did a musical number about the Christina Aguilera movie Burlesque. Other numbers were about the proper way to lick an asshole, being in a gay gay box and “you can take the DCM out of Pride but you can’t take the Pride out of DCM” referencing how DCM wasn’t during Pride this year, when it usually had been in the past. It ended with the group doing a tableau of licking an asshole. So good.
After Fancy Man Sings, since I’d stayed this far, I figured might as well stay for the rest of the shebang. I felt even more compelled to stay when the tech yelled out “are you ready for the last show at the last ever DCM in New York?” Turns out I wasn’t ready. Spoiler Alert: I cried.
I’m gonna try to write about this even though I’m pretty sure it’s non-write-about-able. I’ll start out by saying it was experimental theater and also improv.
The final team I saw was poHa which stands for The postHarold Movement. They used props, like a big rainbow wind circle fabric, and utilized all 4 stages within TNC. The audience would move from stage to stage following different prompts from different improvisers in the team. It was insane and it took me while to get what was going on.
I only ended up going to two of the stages, but different stories unfolded in each one. Eventually everyone ended back at the “Johnson” stage and next thing I know half the audience is sobbing, most of the improvisers are crying or cried at some point and one of the improvisers bared her tits. It was beautiful and intense and thrilling and weird and omg it made me love nonmusical improv again (musical improv is still the baddest bitch in comedy tho).
I didn’t get a full wristband this year because (other than I am overworked and on a tite budget) I have just not been feeling improv lately and the thought of sitting through hours of improv made me uncomfortable. The 2 hours I spent at TNC completely changed my mind about improv though. Del Close Marathon- You’ve done it again.
I love DCM because it makes me confront truths about myself and it always feels like an improv learning experience that was tailer made for me by the ghost of Del Close himself. I can’t describe how transformed I felt after those shows today and that workshop yesterday. I feel creatively energized, full of self love and love for others, reinvigorated excitement for improv, and determination to make sure I don’t miss DCM 21 next year…