2014 Del Close Marathon Postmortem

The Del Close Marathon (DCM) is an annual improv festival put on by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City since 1999. It now offers several concurrent shows running across multiple venues for 48 straight hours with acts from all over the world.

When I took my first improv class back in 2011 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in New York, I was in awe from all the old posters hanging in the hallway from the fourteen Del Close Marathons that had already gone by. I had been a fan of the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show and theatre well before getting into performing improv so I had heard of the festival but didn’t really understand it’s significance.

Last year was my first year actually attending the Del Close Marathon and it left a lasting impression on me. I was never going to miss it again, I needed to be there every year. I needed to perform at it. I needed to be able to add that to my accomplishments: Del Close Marathon performer.

This year, I achieved that goal, twice over even! On Friday night at the New York Theatre Workshop, first Big Gulp performed at 7:15 and then the ComedySportz Boston based team,  Good Old Boyz, performed at 8:15.

Getting from Boston to DCM proved to be harder than I thought. We tried to leave Boston around noon, but that turned out to be closer to 1:00 with traffic. It then took us another five and a half hours to get to Manhattan (normally a four-hour drive). By then it’s 6:30 and we are waiting in line to get our performer wristbands. We bolt out of the place where we picked up the wristbands and three of us from Big Gulp were in my car as we tried to race over to the venue only to be stopped in solid traffic (due to some police activity). We got loose of the traffic, made it down to the venue, parked in a possibly illegal spot awfully close to a fire hydrant, and ran inside. It was 7:10 for our 7:15 time slot and they came close to replacing us with an improv jam. Lauren, Mickey, and I took the stage at 7:15 and at 7:15:30 Sara, Tao, and Emily come on stage. They had literally just gotten off of a pedicab and walked onto stage, backpacks and all.

Matt Aromando, Emily Laverdiere, Sara Burns, Lauren Magnuson, Mickey McCauley, Tao Yang. Photo by Laura Miner.

Big Gulp at the Del Close Marathon (from left to right: Matt Aromando, Emily Laverdiere, Sara Burns, Lauren Magnuson, Mickey McCauley, Tao Yang). Photo by Laura Miner.

Next up was the Good Old Boyz. Since ComedySportz is a short form improv show and all the acts at DCM are long form, we needed to create something that none of us had really done before. A few days beforehand, we settled on a monoscene (a single scene that would last 15-minutes) with the ComedySportz-style modifier of Revolving Doors where each person has a word associated with them. If the person is offstage and hears their word, they must find a way into the scene. If the person is onstage and hears their word, they must find a way out of the scene. We rehearsed this for 20 minutes between Big Gulp ending and Good Old Boyz getting on stage.

My word was Cheetos. The girl who suggested it apologized for giving is to me afterwards. I told her it was fine, any word works.

From left to right: Lauren Magnuson, Todd Page, Ben Lewis, Matt Aromando, Francesca Villa. Photo by Laura Miner.

Good Old Boyz at the Del Close Marathon (from left to right: Lauren Magnuson, Todd Page, Ben Lewis, Matt Aromando, and Francesca Villa). Photo by Laura Miner.

And then my performances were over. I had two and they were both in one night. In one hour and fifteen minute block. I couldn’t even soak it all in. I arrived, I performed, I moved my car. I  had an amazing time seeing all the acts and seeing lots of friends but I hope next year I’m able to appreciate performing a little more. It just went by so fast.

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Twitter #DCM16

Hot Chicks Room

Hot Chicks RoomWhen I first got out of college, I spent a few months doing practically nothing—my parents own a swimming pool, so I would use that pretty much every day—but practically nothing. Then one day a job recruiter called me out of nowhere to ask if I was still available for hire. (She said she found my résumé on Monster, which was strange because although I did post it on Monster several months earlier, I had since pulled it.) I decided I had waited long enough for a job, so I told her I was able to go in for an interview.

The interview was my first in over a year but it went really well. I guess they had vetted a lot of people out of the process because they asked me to come back for a second interview with the boss. I don’t remember what level of boss he was but busy enough that he only saw the candidates they were ready to hire.

Since the second interview was more of a formality, my recruiter let me know what I’d be looking at for a salary. After that, I decided to look up online how much I should get paid for the kind of job they were offering me. I realized the offer was for much less than what my research showed I deserved to make. This left me with a tough decision but I went on the second interview anyways.

The boss loved me. We didn’t even talk much about the job. (The one thing I remember talking about was him asking me if I liked the Red Sox—to which I said I did—and he revealed to me that he was a Yankees fan. I don’t remember his name or job title but I know his baseball allegiance.) He showed me around the office as if it was my first day. He was basically selling me on the place because he wanted me there that much. Then we went back to his office.

He offered me the job and told me how much I’d make. My gut told me that I needed to haggle with him to get the fairer salary but my brain isn’t good at negotiations, so I just gave him the figure that I read online as an ultimatum. That figure was 50% higher than the one he gave me. He then went through the five stages of grief.

First, denial; a quick “what?” on his face as the shock of me letting him down hit him.

Second, anger; telling me there’s no way I’d make that much money doing what I do (more on that in a minute).

Then there was bargaining. The saddest, most transparent bargaining possible. He tells me that we should take another walk around the office. I obliged. This walk took us to a different part of the office than before. It was a room where only attractive, 20-something girls worked (plus one guy, who was also admittedly handsome). I’m not even sure they actually worked in there or if the boss just corralled them in there to impress me. He had brought me to the hot chicks room (and there was also a ping-pong table in it). Strait out of the first episode of the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show:

I’m sure the boss went through the steps of depression and acceptance after I left but not before returning to anger briefly. On my ride home I got an angry phone call from the recruiter asking me what went wrong. I told her about the salary thing (though sadly, not about the hot chicks room) and she told me the same thing the boss did, that I’d never get the offer I was looking for. As it turns out I didn’t get the money I was asking for, instead of 50% higher than they were offering me, I got to 33% more and I was pretty happy with that.

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Stick a fork in it

DTM Photo

Photo by Laura Miner.

The first sketch group I was ever a part of, Dictator’s Time Machine, is no more. It’s somewhat fitting that we were originally pulled together to perform, compete, and ultimately lose in ImprovBoston’s Sketch CageMatch and our (unannounced) final show was a victory in ImprovBoston’s Battle Royale, the (also competitive) successor to Sketch CageMatch.

I’m not sad or disappointed about our end. I knew one day it would be over and I’m proud of what we accomplished. We performed many, many times at ImprovBoston in all kinds of shows: Sketchaüs, Sketch CageMatch, The Comedy Lab, and Battle Royale. We had the opportunity to open for one of my comedy idols, Jonathan Katz, at a charity event. We put up a set in the show Test Drive at the Magnet Theater in New York City. And of course, our last show was a winning campaign and probably our best show.

Tim & Tam

Timmy & Tammy ruining some poor guy’s flight. Photo by Laura Miner.

Unfortunately, it feels like it’s impossible to hold a sketch group together in Boston. I know there are groups that do it and I give them a lot of credit. When it comes to troupes in Boston, it’s all about the improv scene. Bringing people together for an improv show (or run of shows) is infinitely easier to do since there are no scripts to write or lines that need to be learned. It also requires a bit more commitment to be a part of a sketch group and I think a lot of people prefer things to be more casual. Oh well, to each his own, life goes on, et cetera…

Battle Royal Winners!

We’ve got the title belt! Photo by Laura Miner.

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Do you like to work out?

photo credit: Rodney_F via photopin cc

photo credit: Rodney_F via photopin cc

I’m no pioneer in the field of comfort but I am one of those people who wear sneakers to work and change into dress shoes once I get into the office. A lot of people do it and it makes a lot of sense.

I don’t need dress shoes at home very often and sneakers are more comfortable to commute in. I thought those were pretty much the two reasons to wear sneakers to work but I was proven wrong the other day. I saw someone wearing a button-down dress shirt tucked into khaki pants (with a belt), running shoes, listening to music, running around downtown Boston around 5:00 in the afternoon. After thinking about it for a week, I’ve come to several possible conclusions:

  1. He’s a very dedicated runner. He forgot his workout clothes at home but still wanted to get a run in after work. That would explain why he looked like he felt out of his element.
  2. He’s just decided to start running and saw other people wearing sneakers to work. The only logical conclusion to him was that people must go running in their work clothes. Nevermind the fact that those are the most uncomfortable clothes to run in (amongst other drawbacks).
  3. He had never been running before and just saw Forrest Gump for the first time.  Spoiler alert: Forrest runs. Forrest ran in a similar, full outfit and this guy is trying to emulate his hero. What better inspiration is there than the person who started a million “run, Forrest, run” jokes?

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What's your theory on what this guy was thinking?Twitter #runningguy