1. Craig Cackowski is great.
His class ‘Sell It’ was the most fun I’ve had in an improv class for a while and rather than making this introvert make increasingly big and silly choices (which was my guess) he showed us all a really good time and reminded us how joy is the biggest player in a good improv show. Be prepared to play Blind-Musical-Pimp-Freeze-Tag in every single workshop I teach from now on.
2. You can have all of the things in one show.
Dasariski was probably my favourite improv show at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. It married the careful listening of slow burn improv with all the big, silly physical stuff and fuck-aroundery that I adore in groups like Baby Wants Candy. Not only that, but there was a gentle meta nature to it that didn’t throw me out of the show, but gave me a little peep at the improvisers as people. I loved every minute and that’s props to Bob Dassie, Craig Cackowski (again), Rich Talarico and guest Stephanie Weir.
3. We can all be super generous if we choose to be.
The open-heartedness of Austin, Texas is pretty amazing. I didn’t quite believe how people would just show up to give me and Chris Mead lifts around the place, how we were given accommodation (and sometimes food and booze) for free and how epically kind the community was. I resolved that I would be a bit more generous and open-hearted when we have improvisers visiting.
4. Have faith in the little guy.
I have a couple of connections in Austin, but basically it was Jon Bolden looking up over his laptop in June and remembering that he needed an international act that meant that I got to do Destination at Out of Bounds. I am not a ‘name’ over there (or here for that matter) so it was amazing to be asked to put on Project2 and play the big-guns Stool Pigeon show too courtesy of Dave Buckman. I also had people come to my workshop, which was delightful. I am the little guy to Austin and I will take more risks on players I don’t know so well in my community.
5. I’m lucky to know and work with Chris Mead.
Chris is a great player and a great friend. I bagged him for moral and technical support when Tony (my husband and podcast partner) couldn’t make it to the festival. I realized that we haven’t been on a proper road trip together beyond the UK and it deepened our stupid bond. We were both inspired and made hungry by OoB. It was partly the barbecue, but also the improv.
6. I can’t do the heat.
You’re right – I knew that anyway. Chris told me I would be gushing about Austin, then walk out the door into the sunshine and hate it.
7. Bad things are good.
Okay, I didn’t see any bad improv. But I did see some new players who were learning the basics, but watching those shows is always useful to remind you how far you’ve come. I may have a good or bad show these days, but that’s based on a very high bar that I’ve set myself. It’s great to remember how long it takes to be watchable, to be confident and to really, actually support the people on stage with you.
8. Mick Napier does magic tricks.
I mean, he does actual magic tricks. But apart from that, Trigger Happy is a super interesting show that he has directed. The intro describes a ‘special language that may look like magic’ and it really is. Watching the show was like looking into a kaleidoscope where all of the offstage players were constantly symmetrical in different kinds of patterns with scenes clicking into place all over the stage. It’s very hard to describe, but feels much more like a piece of theatre than improv. It takes itself seriously and that’s a refreshing code switch from the Labrador-like looseness I normally see in longform.