58 days out here, and very much on the home stretch. Knowing how little time I have left in this climate, I decide to tempt sunstroke and hike up Runyon Canyon after a morning of email fun. At the top I look out over this hazy city that was so alien to me less than two months ago.
I’ve had an extremely positive time here. I need to make some money sharpish when I get back but I’m not feeling daunted or blocked by that. It’s just something I need to get done. Little things every day. And maybe a commercial…
Last night I went to see some improvisation. The improv scene is big in this city, and people look for qualifications from the two major troupes on an actor’s CV. Having looked into the two major schools I’ve worked out which one suits me the most, and it’s Groundlings. They are interested in the possibilities of long form character based improv. That’s all that my experience has been, with our improvised Odyssey at The Factory, and my one attempt at a 30 hour Improvathon in Bristol, when I sentenced myself to death by hanging about 20 hours into the show, was exiled as I couldn’t reach the lever with the noose around my neck, shaved off my hair and my beard and came back on as a penitent monk who killed a cyclops with ballet-jitsu before some robots played the death harp to me. I was fine until I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror with no hair. That stuff takes a while to grow back. And it was mid winter.
The Sunday show at Groundlings is always sold out, and I can see why. It’s masterful. I’ve been lucky enough to get a friend’s ticket as she is training with them but can’t make the show. I love watching improv when you forget it’s improv. There need to be moments where you remember or you start to think you’re watching a show with a weird script. Some of my favourite Odyssey moments came out of a catastrophic drop that was saved. But I find it joyful watching actors taking risks that could unravel them completely and then discovering that the unravelling is where the gold lies. And the way it seems to work with the Groundlings is that if you’re struggling you just have to head for some sort of punchline and the dude will drop the lights and the band will start playing. If in doubt, make a good joke or fall in love. And if the lights don’t drop then keep slugging as you know you must be doing something right. If I were to come out here again with money I’d book a course with these guys and jump off the cliff a bit. Can’t do any harm on the CV and impro is a muscle. The Odyssey ended over a year ago. I need to get flexing it again.
After my canyon walk I am really sleepy. The predicted sunstroke is kicking in. I’m washing all my clothes and getting started on the packing. My God. London, I will be back soon with a lovely tan just in time for summer. How do I make it work that I can come out to the sun every year in shivery January and February?