Team bonding better than team practice?


What did you do for your set?

This past weekend I had the pleasure of performing at the Orlando Comedy Festival with two great groups. The Conglomeration and The Unwritten Sketch Show, Improv U’s mainstage cast. 

Unwritten hadn’t performed together in over four months and with us moving to Central Florida I wasn’t sure how that would go. Could we play well together even after all this time apart? 

It was Friday evening when the team arrived at our door. Patrick, Diane, and Tony. Brian couldn’t make it, but we texted him with updates. 

The four stayed at our house. We stayed up late passing the remote and sharing YouTube videos, talking, and sharing updates. In the morning I made French toast and then we all piled into Diane’s Civic and set off to Deland for the day. 

My friend Steve took me here last week and it was so nice I had to show it to everyone. We walked around the bookstores and sipped cocktails. 

We experienced a new place together. We talked about what we were passionate about and we also talked about our plan for the show. What will our set be? We decided to do the set that was in front of us and not what we had done before. 

We didn’t run sets or practice. We talked about what felt fun to do. We talked about the big picture. 

“I want to get weird with it,” I said. 

“I want to do things in the audience.”Diane chimed in. 

“I don’t care what we do so long as I get to do it with you amazing beautiful people.” Said Patrick. This was normal for Patrick. We chatted some more then we all took naps. 

We got up, piled into the car and headed to the festival. 

Our set was fun. We played with each other and supported one another. Not because we ran the set a bunch of times but because we ran the friendship. We spent the day connecting and that was everything. 

How important is the connection between the players? We focus so much on form or “getting better at improv” but what about connecting with who you play with? 

In improv you really have to trust your fellow performers. So much of what makes improv great is the way we play together. 

The more we trust the better we play. 

As I mentioned earlier I also got a chance to play with The Conglomeration! This group is made up of The Mayor of Improv Darryl Knapp and actor, published poet, professional clown Victoria Dym. I love playing with these two, but we also don’t live near each other and while we do rehearsal sometimes for the most part we don’t. 

I walked into the green room and greeted Victoria. She was looking a little nervous. 

“We need to connect.”, she said.

So we found Darryl and the three of us huddled close in our chairs. 

We briefly discussed the form and opening suggestion and quickly moved to intentions. “I want to make you both look good. I want to support what you do and give you a bunch of gifts.”, I said. 

Victoria does something very special before the show. Often times improvisers will say “I’ve got your back.” Victoria does it differently. 

“I want to do a show with you”, said Victoria. 

“I want to do a show with you too”, said Darryl.

We all repeated this and patted each other on the back. 

When we got on stage I felt confident. That confidence would stay with me through the night. It also reminded me that training the skill is only half of what it means to perform improv. We need to nurture the relationships too. 

A big thank you to Matt Gervia for shouldering the weight of this festival and holding a space for us to perform. If it wasn’t for your hard work and dedication these special moments and insights may have never come.