Like I did last night, I have spent every Wednesday night for the last – oh – three years? four? at The Peoples Improv Theater. I’ve written before about The PIT and my improv house team, The Baldwins. Coincidentally, my sketch comedy group, Harvard Sailing Team, performs a weekly Saturday night show at The PIT, and we’ve done so for several years as well. I guess I’m there a lot.
This is Baldwins member, Shelly Slocum. The legs and lower torso are that of Baldwins member, Steve Soroka.
Wednesday seems to be a big night for improv comedy in New York City. At The PIT, Wednesdays are nicknamed “Super Free Wednesdays,” a term coined by former Wednesday night host, now house team performer, Jacob Hobart Brown. Super Free Wednesday at The PIT means you can see back to back improv shows performed by each of the theater’s very talented house teams, all for free! Free! As in, no money. It’s sort of like highway robbery in reverse.
Before I was on a house team, which requires that you take 5 levels of improv classes and then go through an audition process, I still spent many Wednesday nights at The PIT. First of all, I’m not one to pass up free stuff. Secondly, the improv comedy shows I saw there were and still are consistently some of the funniest, most inventive stuff I’ve seen on stage, ever. And as almost anything will with time, the quality of the shows has only gotten better.
There are currently a total of 9 house teams at The PIT, which is the most audition-only teams the theater has ever had. When I first started going to see shows there, they had maybe 3 house teams. A lot has happened in the last few years.
As I do every Wednesday, I performed with The Baldwins last night and as usual, it was a lot of fun. There’s something so incredibly freeing and childlike about performing improv. It’s an artistic expression of the farthest reaches of your imagination. We had a good time last night, performing a show about Las Vegas. I’m not quite sure how else to describe the show – as one of my favorite improv teachers and others before him have said, Improv is like toilet paper. Once the show is over, you flush it away. There’s no good way to retain, recapture, or retell it.
I stuck around last night after my show was over, something I haven’t been doing very much lately. When I first started spending time at The PIT, I could hang with the best of them. I’d watch all the shows, go to the bar afterward and close the place down. That’s part of the appeal of the theater – it’s an amazing community of colleagues and great friends who will happily spend many hours together watching shows and sipping cheap beer. But for whatever reason, I can’t stay out that late anymore. I find myself exhausted, irritable, itchy, hungry and thirsty all at once when I’m out past a certain time. I’m an 89 year old woman living in the body of a 28 year old grouch. 😉
But last night, I decided to stay, as did my boyfriend, Kevin, who is also on a house team at the theater. Yesterday afternoon Faryn and I successfully met a milestone deadline we’d set for Fanny & Jane, so I felt some relief on that front. Plus, some old improv friends are back for a visit from their new lives on the West Coast and I knew they’d be playing in the shows last night. It was the perfect night to catch the 10pm show.
The fantastic new house team Halfbear opened for The Faculty and both teams’ sets were just hilarious. I laughed often and hard all night long. Like a sunny day or a nice long run, genuinely laughing for a good hour can do a lot for my mood. When Kev and I finally headed home, I felt happy and calm, which made me wonder why I don’t stick around on Wednesday nights like I used to. I’ll have to work on that.