April Fools’ Weekend

An overdue retrospective on what I was up to this past weekend.

Friday was the PSUB Improv Night, a joint show between us Ship of Fools and the Crazy Monkeys, the other improv group on campus. We had done one of these two years ago with mixed results, one of the main problems then being that the Monkeys’ fan base took the faux-battle format of the show a little too seriously.

But this weekend’s show went surprisingly well, with all in attendance enjoying themselves. And it was the first time I MC’d (well, co-MC’d) a show in front of a couple hundred people.

There was some, shall we put it, behind-the-scenes drama with some of the things surrounding the show, the details of which I won’t go into here. The moral is: when planning a performance, don’t assume anything that isn’t explicitly worked out among all involved parties. Nothing good ever comes of that.

Then Saturday was the SCUM show. SCUM, naturally, stands for Santa Claus United Methodist church, an acronym they’re not shy about using.

“Santa Claus,” of course, refers to the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. Suppose for the sake of argument you had a dirty bomb, replaced the radioactive material in it with Christmas, and detonated it in southern Indiana. The blast zone would be Santa Claus, where just about everything is named after or references something to do with the holiday.

But I digress. In exchange for free home-cooked food and lodging, we performed as the opening act for a professional comedian. In my opinion, the show could’ve gone quite a bit better. The audience was pretty quiet and reserved, and the acoustics of the theatre we performed in were great at absorbing sound; this equals a one-two punch of barely noticing any audience reaction while up on stage. Which, short of being openly booed (c.f. aforementioned PSUB show two years ago), is the worst-case scenario for doing improv. The only thing that ever really got a decent reaction from the audience was physical humor, which in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would’ve been nice to have anticipated beforehand and planned for accordingly.

Afterwards many of the audience members came up to us and complimented us on the performance, though, so it may well be that the audience liked the performance more than it seemed like while we were on stage.

The comedian who followed us played well to the church-going audience, but really wasn’t my sort of thing. Not that I’m a terribly huge fan of stand-up to begin with. The only part of his set that I really liked was his dead-on Alf impression, which only the six of us Fools seemed to really appreciate — the rest of the audience either being too young to remember Alf, or too old to have liked it when it was on.

Recently inducted Fool Ryan also has a writeup about the weekend, and I agree with most of what he’s got there, especially his reaction to the comedian’s performance.

That night we stayed with the Allens, whose family has contributed not one but two Fools in the history of our organization, and who provided us with more home-cooked food and even bags of chocolates. Plus, I got to see Ein (named after that Ein, for obvious reasons) for the first time since Chuck (one of the Allen brothers) graduated. Ein’s the kind of dog who won’t get tired of playing until long after you have and no longer want to touch the toy that’s covered in dog hair and slobber. But Ein’s smart enough to then drop the disgusting mess of dog drool right into your lap where you’ll have to throw it, if only to get it away from you. Smart dog.

He’s also the kind of dog who’ll jump onto the foot of the couch you’re sleeping on and, when you sit up to see what’s going on, will quickly work his way up and take over your pillow.

Another fun fact about Santa Claus, Indiana, is that it’s on Central Time, unlike most of Indiana. Indiana time zones are a mess to begin with, and the fact that our trip took place over the weekend where all sane parts of the country start Daylight Savings Time didn’t help. My cell phone was very confused as to what time it was; whether it was an hour ahead of local time or not often depended on where you stood and what cell tower you were connected to. Net result: gaining an hour on the drive down, only to lose it in the middle of the night.

As an added bonus, Ryan was kind enough to get the theme song from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? stuck in my head along the drive back. He shall pay for that.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s going to be no shortage of improv fun this month. Next up is a performance for Relay for Life, a 24-hour fundraiser for cancer research. We perform at 4 am late Saturday / early Sunday.

Yes, you read that right. That’s how much we hate cancer.

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