It’s amazing how you can be living your life and a message from the Universe will just come along and smack you upside the head. In this case, it was at a high school where I was to experience my first Improv Competition!
Second Born Son was sufficiently vague about what an Improv Competition was. He had spent countless hours at school after class with his Improv team, but until now, we had never seen them in action. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how it could be a competitive endeavor, but in my campaign to be Mother Of The Year, I didn’t bother pressing for details, instead I told him I’d be there! And I was. Inspire of a laundry list of jobs, errands, and a trek across Southwestern Ontario.
I roar into the parking lot with minutes to spare and inhale fast food takeout in the parking lot. With a stomach full of indigestion, I slip and stumble across the icy parking lot and wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I took a header between the vehicles. Safely inside, the cute, if not overly smiley greeter advised me that I’d want to take my coat off. It was really hot in the auditorium. Oh, and I’d have to wait to enter between performances. Oh, and it was $10 to get in. I cursed SBS under my breath and prayed I had $10 to my name after an impressive bathroom shopping spree. (No I’m not posting on that freakin’ bathroom again until it’s done!)
Applause indicates that we have a break and I gain access to the “auditorium” which is only the size of a standard classroom. There is a small stage along the far wall and raked seating which starts a the entrance where I’m standing. There is. no. room. As in, if I’m going to have to be in this “auditorium”, it’s if I’m sitting cross-legged on the second last step from the bottom, only 5 ft from the stage. Then I’m hit by the heatwave. The soaring, humid temperature is understandable, as I’m sure we are exceeding the fire department’s recommended occupancy level and illuminated by dozens of stage lights. Body odour is a given.
SBS is sitting onstage with his team, along with five other secondary school teams. His cheeks are bright red from the intense heat in the room. If that wasn’t enough, the volume of the organizers, participants and the audience makes for a truly overwhelming experience. Slowly I figure it out. The teams have various categories to perform. Sometimes they require audience input before they start. Each “scene” starts with an audience countdown. Each one ends with a theme-related song hand picked by an invisible DJ. The wave of enthusiasm washes over the less enthralled.
Each teenager in the room that is performing has enough energy ON THEIR OWN to power a Red Bull factory. Times four to six teammates, times six teams! It’s loud. It’s beyond hot and it’s draining to see all these young people with so much bloody energy!
Naturally, the highlight was seeing SBS in action.
And then to realize how GOOD he was at this! How quickly these team members could move in and out of a scene and come up with new ideas on the fly.
You forget about the heat. And the noise (mostly because you are now adding to it) and it becomes about the performance. What the performers onstage are doing, they had no idea they would be doing 10 minutes earlier. They are doing the best they can, and supporting each other.
At the end of the day, SBS’ team ranked in the middle of the pack, which thrilled all the teammates. It was their first competition and they felt it was worthwhile. While I was please for them, and proud of SBS in particular, one of the most memorable aspects of the day was the closing remarks by the competition host.
He pointed out that Improv is like no other performance art. Participants must react and respond on the spot, without rehearsal, without a script, character profile or a novel to draw from. There is no director, second chance, editing, do-overs or re-recordings. Just. Like. Life. He encouraged the audience to take the experience home with them and remember the laughter, excitement and creativity they had just witnessed.
This parallel really affected me.
My day, and in fact the entire week prior, had been incredibly busy. I had way too many task on the To Do List for a Saturday. The Improv Competition forced me to be in one place for several hours, and just laugh. Well, and sweat my tush off, but that’s beside the point. The performances we saw were such a beautiful example of what life is, spontaneous, full of meaning, and hopefully, fun. This was exactly what I needed. It’s what we all need.
I could close with a sappy paragraph about how we need to smell the roses, but the fact of the matter is this; life doesn’t slow down. It will come at us as fast as we let it. I’m trying to grab on to more moments like this, because I want to REMEMBER. I want to have a mental image of times in my life when all I can do is look back. If I don’t slow down, all I will have is a blur.
And I’m very grateful to SBS for asking me to be there. And I’m grateful I felt I WAS there.