I used to be an actor if you didn’t know. Looking over the course of life it seems I tend to be a late bloomer in many things. Most come into acting much younger I was bitten by the acting bug in my late 20s. This was after I was asked by a friend who had an extra ticket to attend a comedy show.
I have seen stand up comedians before, but never a group of comedians performing improv–improvisation for short. The concept is simple, take suggestions from the audience on any topic and turn it into a real-life, hopefully humorous performance.
I have the utmost respect for comics standing alone on stage, vulnerable and hoping for laughs from the audience. At least they get to practice, rewrite and hone their jokes and timing. Improv is done on the spot with no chance to refine or practice.
That night I laughed to the point of, had I been drinking milk it surely would have shot out my nose. After that first experience of improv comedy I was impressed. Anyone who can take something as simple as standing in line at a grocery stores as a topic and turn it into something both dramatic and humorous is amazing.
As we were exiting the club after the show I was given a postcard from one of the improv members standing at the entrance. I took it without looking and shoved it in my pocket. A few weeks later on my way back from grocery shopping I was standing on the opposite corner from where I had seen the improv show. Waiting for the light to turn green, the plan was to head home. Shoving my hand in my pocket I felt a piece of paper. Taking it out, I noticed that it was the same postcard I had received that night after the comedy show.
While waiting for the stoplight to turn green I started to read the card. It was a notice for improv classes for beginners. I was never creative or impulsive. In fact I took pride in my athleticism–the opposite of creativity in my mind. Light still red, I finished reading the postcard. Then something happened, a voice inside my head whispered, acting, acting, acting. I turned around to see if someone was standing behind me–nobody.
The light turned green, and as if I were being pushed, propelled and drawn I started walking towards the comedy club. Standing in front of the club, I knocked on the front door. An attractive, long, dark haired, blue-eyed woman, the very same woman from the show answered the door, “Can I help you?” she asked. I showed her the postcard without saying a word. She looked me up and down and knew right away I was ripe for the picking. Not in a bad way, rather I was ready to walk through those hallowed doors of this comedy club, register for a beginners improv class and what would turn out to be a new direction to the life I was about to embark upon–creativity.
I will not go into any more details (read my book) other than to say I went on to take many more improv and eventually acting classes, gave up a comfortable, conventional life and followed “the least less traveled road.”
I zoom my Mom nightly since corona came into our lives. The other night we were reminiscing about the life that we both have led. She just turned 80 and started feeling the weight of nearing the end of a well-lived life. She has done so much it boggles the mind. I will save that long list and post for another time. I will say her influence is in large part one of the reasons I have taken this least less traveled road. I regret none of it.
To invoke the title of this post, “Take Two? No Way!” That is to say if I were given the chance to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing. Even having the advantage of hindsight, I would not change a thing.
As I have gotten older, while I have settled down with the deepest roots to date here in Japan, I am still wanting to experience all of what life has to offer only in a far less dramatic way. Taking big risks like selling everything I own and moving to New York to follow an acting dream is one of many such examples during those dramatic days.
Nowadays, discovering a new bike route in the mountings outside of Tokyo, writing a book or even posting a blog are the extent of my risk taking and life experiences. Is this a function of age, definitely, feeling like I am missing out on something, never!
Knowing there is no take two, it is now the simple and subtle in life that provides the richness of experience.