I filled out a fun questionnaire for an upcoming show I’m involved in, and this was the last question on the list. A Del Close award? (Yes that would be a HUGE honor but that wasn't it) I didn’t think very long about it before an answer came to me. My only dream is that I can still be performing when I am so old that I need a walker to get around. I had the honor of meeting and taking a workshop with Charna Halpern during the Vancouver Improv Festival this year. She warned us improvisers to stop going to super loud concerts and to protect our ears. She wears hearing aids and said that she can’t really listen like she needs to when performing on stage. She rarely does shows nowadays because of it. In a weird way, in her saying this I felt my mortality for the first time in my life. Not my life passing by, but my improv mortality rather.
I had another improviser (Aaron Merke) ask me if I could get in shape to do some crazy physical improv and I laughed and laughed. I’m not athletic and to say I’m too tall and awkward is an understatement. Now I know we are not professional athletes training for a marathon but I realize that if I do plan on performing I need to take care of myself. That or die young from a drug overdose. (Seems to happen way too much to some very talented performers) If you use the analogy of a flame; I definitely want to burn strong for a long time. Not flare up and burn out super fast. I’m sure you other improvisers out there will agree sometimes it’s hard to look after ourselves when we are doing a ton of shows. Especially if you are like me and work a full time day job on top of running a theatre. This kind of inspires me to start working some physical stuff into our warm ups……WOW what a great idea. I have thought for years that if you could get fit from performing improv I’d be the Incredible Hulk of the improv stage. LOL. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. We often eat crap food much too late and have a beer now and then (or 12). So that’s something I am going to start working towards because I NEVER miss a warm up. Incorporating simple work out routines into the warm up could definitely help. I promise no shake weights.
I’m only 31 and I am already starting to notice changes with how my body performs. I know that adjustments will have to be made as I continue to age. I will adapt and change and grow I’m sure. I also look forward to some of the challenges that are sure to come as my body decides what I can and can not do anymore. This is a bit scary because something I say all the time is “Let your body do the improvising.” What does the future hold for me? How will I perform when my body can’t? Will people pay to see an old man sitting in a chair on stage for an hour? I’m not sure. Asking myself these questions makes me think to the image of a Buddhist Monk riding a donkey backwards. We must always be moving forward, present in the moment and paying respect to the journey we have taken. (Thank you for telling me about that image Randy Dixon)
I truly love directing and know that I will be a bitter old man scaring new improvisers until they close the casket door on me, but it is performing that keeps me alive. I joke all the time that I will out live all the Vegans and Vegetarians because all the preservatives in the food I eat preserve me. I joke that I’ll out live em all, and to be honest I plan to. The theatre that is killing me is also keeping me alive. There is a balance created that can not be broken. It’s this balance that will allow me to live FOREVER! Well maybe not but I love the romance of it. I guess I better start taking care of myself now so there isn’t any reason I can’t do this for 100 years.