I have one of the greatest hobbies ever; I own a small comedy troupe. We write and produce our own shows for a variety of different venues and occasions. It’s a blast! What could be a better feeling than knowing that you are making a whole room full of people laugh and be happy? Plus, it’s like Halloween all year long – whenever we do a new performance, we need to buy a new wig or prop or figure out how to make some goofy object that doesn’t exist for sale: like a fake dead possum with a removable head or a life-sized Sasquatch that can burst into flame on cue (tell me you’re not curious about seeing one of our shows now).
It’s definitely interesting for my boys to grow up in this environment. The first couple shows we did were written for male-only casts. However, there were plenty of female parts so, in true Shakespearean form, the guys threw on a wig and a skirt and away we go! The first show had me in drag for the vast majority of the performance. So since we rehearse at my house, I was walking through the living room in a skirt and wig (looking pretty hot, if I do say myself) and my son – who was barely four – hardly glanced up from his cartoon, said “Hi Daddy,” and went back to his show without batting an eye. I took a few more steps and then thought to myself, he should probably have more of an issue with this than he does. But, nope, in our house it just means it’s Thursday.
Our very first performance was one of our best…and one of the most difficult. It was a fast-moving, three-man, slapstick comedy and it would have been way easier if I didn’t dislocate my knee ten minutes into the performance. Yes, yes – my Achille’s knee was acting up again just like it did at my wedding. I stepped wrong, popped my knee completely out of the socket…
***Please allow me to completely skeeve you out. Take your right hand and put it on your right knee. Cup your hand around it to get a good idea of the form of your knee. Now, with your hand still cupped in the shape of your knee, slide it to the right side of your leg (if your leg was a clock and your knee is pointing at 12, your cupped hand should be pointed at 3). Now look at where your hand is…that’s where I found my knee…yup, it hurt a bit***
…and I hit the ground. The crowd cracked up (it would have been a great pratfall if it wasn’t 100% legit). I felt sorry for one of my co-stars – this was his very first performance of any kind and there he stood frozen with a permanent grin on his face and a look of unadulterated fear in his eyes. My other co-star rushed over to me not knowing what was wrong and knelt down next to me putting his hand (and his full weight) on my knee and popped it back in. He instantly went pale and I was sure he was about to toss his cookies on me! So now you have a three-man show with one guy with a broken leg (yeah, yeah, “break a leg” ha ha ha – first time I heard that one), one about to spew, and one in a catatonic state. But, as they say, the show must go on. Fortunately for my knee (unfortunately for my liver) we had brought a bottle of Captain Morgan to toast our performance with a shot. My father was helping us backstage since there are literally almost a hundred costume changes in this show (mostly by me) and I told him, whenever I came back for a costume, I needed a shot. The Captain kept the pain at bay and the constant adrenaline kept the alcohol from making me tell some random hairy dude in the audience how much I loved him. When the show ended, we earned a standing ovation. We have been hired to do that show more than any of our others and we’ve never had a repeat of that incident…of course, once, the catatonic grinner almost had his appendix burst during a performance of that show, but technically that is a different kind of incident. But, even then, we finished the performance (engorged appendix and all) with a standing ovation. The show must always go on.
Even when you know the show is doomed from the very beginning. Our friend booked us for a charity event he was hosting. It was a full day of all sorts of different events and it was for an awesome cause. Tons of fun? Worthy charity? Our friend’s request? How could we say no?!! However, right from the booking we knew this was going to a bad day. We were to perform live improv – like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” – for about an hour. Remember when I told you we were an improv group? No? It’s because I didn’t. It’s not that we can’t do improv, it’s just not our thing. Then we heard about where we were placed in the schedule. We were going on right before a very popular local band that was headlining the whole event and right after the petting zoo left and the dice run was over (I told you, tons of cool stuff). So we had to do improv for a bunch of bikers and small children who were all waiting for the really cool band? How could this go wrong?! Quick, think of a joke that would make a leather-clad biker and a toddler who just had live animals taken away from them laugh equally hard at…can’t come up with anything? Neither could we. I give them credit – they were kind. They clapped and no one even remotely tried to shank us (I wasn’t worried about the bikers, but some of those preschoolers looked mighty ornery after the quarter horses and bunnies were loaded back on the truck – I think they thought we made the animals leave).
But, even with the rough performances, I wouldn’t trade my hobby for anything – unless of course I found something that paid better. I can easily be bought!
“Perhaps I’m not a good actor, but I would be even worse at doing anything else.” ~ Sean Connery