Last night, I was doing lights for The Incident, the Harold team I coach, at the iO Theater. Traditionally, the improvisers do a Dream before the last team of the night. It consists of an audience member being interviewed and then the improvisers perform a “dream-like” riff on the subjects fears, hopes and details of their day. It’s a fun bit of audience interaction. Sometimes, however, like last night, it doesn’t go as planned.
The audience member said that he had killed a hooker the night before (which, you know, is pure hilarity.) The host and the improvisers tried to course-correct and tell him to just tell the truth about his day, but sometimes people feel like they have to be funny on stage. It just wasn’t going well. When asked “What time do you get off?” he replied, “Oh, I get off all the time.” I (and the audience) had had enough so I pulled the lights and cranked the music super loud (it was “Turned Down for What.”) and the final team (The Ruckus) just danced for a good minute. That was awesome.
I was pretty blasé about it all… I’ve seen too many Dreams gone wrong and I’ve been thinking about some of them. Here are some of my best/worst Dream memories:
When I was hosting and interviewing a young lady, I asked if she had a significant other. Julia Wolov from Deep Schwa exclaimed, “God, Jason, stop hitting on her!” I turned to tell Julia to shut up and when I turned back to the interviewee, she (the audience member) grabbed me, dipped me and kissed me long and hard. That was a funny Dream.
I was interviewing an uncooperative, has-to-be-funny audience member when suddenly a voice rang out, “This guy’s no good, Jason. Let’s get another person up here.” It was Charna (the theater owner) and she was right. Switched out interviewees and everyone was much happier. Lesson learned.
Once a young lady was being interviewed and she said she spent most of day drinking and screwing her boyfriend. She was mad at the US Army for taking him away (he was returning to duty). Eventually, we discover that A) she’s only 19, B) she met him last week. Her future plans? To move to LA and start her porn career. The ensuing scenes were actually quite brutally honest and honestly brutal. So much so that she and her friends left.
So long ago… iO student Mary Archbold was the audience volunteer. My teammate Pat Shay was dating her. The host asked her to describe her boyfriend. She pointed at Pat and said dreamily, “Beautiful. He’s very beautiful.” Years later, I would be the Best Man at their wedding and today (2014) they have two children.
There was a large group of intellectually disabled adults and one of them volunteered to be the Dreamer. As they were being interviewed, it was Paul Grondy who began whispering to everyone on stage, “He’s a superhero.” and we did The Dream where the subject was the greatest person in the world- always there to help and be a great friend. It’s my favorite version of the Dream ever.
We used our powers to lift up and inspire instead of ridicule and criticize. That Dream was pure wonder and imagination and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I think, sometimes in the fast-tag-out version we do, we forget that these are all real people being portrayed.
The Dream, sometimes, can be just that.. made of Dreams.