Every summer from age 16-19, I worked at a Boy Scout summer camp in the Handicrafts Lodge. During the day I would teach art, basketry, leatherworking, woodworking and woodcarving merit badges. There were other daily duties besides teaching merit badges like leading the camp in grace before meals, singing songs after meals, cleaning the shower house, and nightly rounds. These duties were given to people like a chore chart someone might have set up for their kids. I never was much of a singer but I would routinely trade away my responsibilities of going on nightly rounds or cleaning the shower house to lead the camp in a song on a day when someone less outgoing than me was assigned song leading duties. I liked getting up in front of people and having a good time much more than dealing with mopping up showers.
The real fun though, was the twice a week, camp-wide, campfire. On Sunday nights, it was the first bit of fun most campers were allowed to have after a day of swim tests, medical checks, planning out the week, and ceremonies. The campfire was held in an area that fit a couple hundred people and at the bottom of the amphitheater-like setup was a fire pit with wood piled several feet high engulfed in flame. In front of this fire, counselors would lead the camp in songs and cheers, as well as act in a lot of tried and true skits. Friday nights had much of the same, though campers were encouraged to submit their own ideas and participate in front of their parents. I was so into this part of the job, that for most of my time working there, I was in charge of running them. Master of Campfire Ceremonies was a little title I gave to myself. I would take the lead role in as many of the skits as I could (without being too obnoxious…I hope). These performances would be the last time I’d do something resembling a live sketch performance for 8 years.
A couple of weeks ago, on October 6th, I had my first real, live sketch performance at ImprovBoston as a part of Dictators Time Machine. It was in the Sketch Cagematch, a squaring-off of two sketch groups to see which is funnier/has more friends,* vs. Baby Giraffes. We lost, which I expected, but it’s been a long time since I’ve let stuff like that bother me. I had a lot of fun and it felt oddly familiar considering my 8 year hiatus. We also did a pretty good job of executing all of our sketches. We were given some notes afterwards on how we could improve our performance and they were all valid (mostly to cheat out towards the audience more). Personally, I was impressed that we all seemed to know our lines or at least do a good job at faking it. I’ll be doing more of this in the future and we are even submitting the sketches we performed during Sketch Cagematch to SketchHaus, ImprovBoston’s non-competitive sketch show. We’ll see what happens…
* I’m realizing I haven’t put my opinion on contests out there yet, that’ll be an upcoming post for sure.