You Win Some, You Lose Some: Games And Relationships

Sticks Author: Jesse

Remembering the Game, the Relationships, and the Relationships between the Games and Relationships.

As we have grown and learned in this medium we have spent time focusing on finding ‚Äúgames‚ÄĚ. Games are the little funnies that crop up during improv that we try to heighten and expand on. They can be as simple as a little slip in dialogue, or as complex as a running gag that gets called back throughout the show. Some of us love games. Appropriately, some of us get chided for overusing games. Some would argue that our games are a good part of what makes us funny, but they can be the cause for us running amuck.

Relationships, on the other hand, are our differentiator. We have all known each other for a long time. There is trust and honest caring between the group. When I look in someone’s eyes and let them know they have a boogie hanging out, they, and the audience have to know it’s a statement based in honest compassion. When they do, it’s deeper than a low brow joke. While lots of groups build relationships, I think we are exceptional in this area. Whenever we lose our way, I find our solution is often in remembering to slow down and let the relationship simmer. Humor is often fermented in surprise. When we let an audience really know some characters, and perhaps even start to care about them, the twists we throw in are what generates surprise and laughter.

No one in the group should be surprised I was disappointed with our last show. More clearly, I was disappointed in myself. I found myself far too often an observer. I felt we lost our way during the show, and I sat paralyzed watching instead of actively contributing to try and improve things. This weekend, my mind has been filled with all the great things I should have tried. They all seem to center around a simple truth that hasn’t occurred to me before. There is, and should be, a balance between games and relationships.

I‚Äôve always compartmentalized them before, considering them separate items that require balance, but not considering how they feed one another. Games add depth. Improv is a short art form, and we don‚Äôt necessarily have the time we need to add the depth to characters to make relationships real. Games are an avenue for not only ‚Äúthe funny‚ÄĚ but for depth. Games give us a chance to explore and add to characters without them even necessarily even being present. Characters, in turn, are the manure pile for our garden of games. They have faults, quirks, and interesting habits. All things that we can explore with time dashing, parallel scenes, and straight up pimp outs. The richer our relationships, the more fodder for games.

This may seem like just the ramblings of a Monday morning, but they are actually a call to action for all my fellow Sticks. We need to remember when we are on stage to build the relationships. Take it slow and find them in your hearts. Always strive to make them real. The closer to reality a character is, the more the audience can identify with them, and the more surprise we generate when their world changes. Supporting characters need to help the characters build. We need to use our opportunities to come on and make the main characters richer. We need to push each other to add nuance to our characters. Pimp them in unimaginable ways and look for the games that make the main characters twitch just a little. Above all remembering that while big can be good, small is often best.


The Time The Sticks Abandoned Me

Sticks Author: Steve

You can ask anybody and they’ll tell you that I’m terrifically heroic.

It comes first probably from my physical gifts. ¬†I basically feel obligated to save people and animals and to do what’s right and aggressive and patriotic for my country. ¬†When you are blessed with a 40-inch waist and hidden cheekbones, you either pose for the NBA logo or you live out your life as a comic book legend.

So it’s the life that chose me really. ¬†I didn’t choose it, but I do what I must since the Spiderman movies taught me about great power coming with great responsibility and movie reboots after broadway debacles.

So this weekend I am heroically going to our nation’s Capital to ensure that the food and booze there is free from toxins and global warming and mistreated livestock. ¬†I’ve got a great way to do this. ¬†I’ve done it before. ¬†I know what I’m doing. ¬†Rest easy America.

The rest of The Sticks, who could maybe shoulder some of the heroic burden every freaking once in a while, are performing here in Connecticut.


Prancing around on the stage PRETENDING. ¬†Yucking it up to feel better about themselves while I am off protecting our civil disobedience liberties and lecheries. ¬†By the time I’m on my 21st selfless act of bingeness or maybe brushing up on the latest techniques at the International Spy Museum, they’ll be basking in the glow of their impact on an audience. ¬†Cowards.

Anyway, heroism is lonely work and only the most humble can do it as awesomely as I do. ¬†No need to worry about me. ¬†My wife will be witness to my spectacle and it will reinforce all of the reasons she’s chosen to settle.

If you’re able, go give The Sticks a piece of my patriotic mind. ¬†They’ll be the guest performers at Sea Tea Improv’s long form showcase tonight 3/16. ¬†7:30, Studio At Billings Forge in Hartford right next to Firebox restaurant (one of the best places to eat in the state).

Watch for me on CNN!

Let Me Tell You About Chris M

Sticks Author: Steve

Let me tell you about my friend Chris M. ¬†After that, I’ll tell you why his intro to our performance last Friday at Playhouse On Park in West Hartford mattered.

Chris is a bit older than most of us. ¬†Older enough than me that I can remember my impressions about him from when I was as young as 11 or 12 and he was just hitting his 20s. ¬†Chris was the artistic and intellectual center for most of us and honestly probably still is. ¬†I know that I looked up to him during some crucial youth theater years. ¬†He was a performer. ¬†A magician who even as a young kid worked the craft, a clown, an actor and a director. ¬†He would teach us prat falls and stage direction. ¬†He directed me in my first and most significant role as a 7th grader when I got to be a noir detective with a rubber chicken billy club. ¬†A funny role. ¬†One that I’m sure is still talked about amongst the crowd of parents who got to see it. Remember the kid with the rubber chicken?!!! HE USED IT LIKE NUNCHUKS!¬†

All of us in The Sticks grew up like that, doing theater every summer for 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 10 weeks. ¬†I’d do shows with Chris, now on his staff, and I felt important. ¬†He was making a living directing, doing magic – he is still a name in the better magic circles. ¬†All because he honestly worked the craft, over and over, again and again, not because he needed to, but because he had to. ¬†“You don’t choose your art, it chooses you,” he’d say and I’d feel unartistic because even though I liked to write, it didn’t hold me down and force me to type or think or imagine. ¬†I didn’t do it at all hours of the day and night. ¬†I didn’t force myself to relearn it all after an accident set me back. ¬†He did.

Chris always did these things because it was in him and it would poke out of him until he worked it, shaved it down, smoothed it.

So when Chris started talking about improv, I listened.  Improv was always my favorite part of the theater experience.  I loved the games and had been playing them since his father taught them to me in sixth grade.  We all did.  Over and over.  Change a scene, add a scene.  When Whose Line Is It Anyway came out on the BBC, we felt nerdily superior because WE KNEW ALL OF IT!

But two years ago when he brought it up, Chris was talking about something called The Harold.  I barely knew what it was.  He went off to New York a few times and learned, I read a bunch of books.

So The Sticks, we are all Chris.

Which is why his introduction to our show in West Hartford was for us as much as anything. ¬†It wasn’t an apology about our origins, our amateurishness, our approach.

It was a YAWP!

A burly, barbaric yawp 30 years building in our gullet.

He talked about how audacious it was to imagine teaching this thing to ourselves, but indicated that we had no choice! ¬†There are 12 people in The Sticks and 14 children spread among us. ¬†There are 4 married couples in The Sticks, 2 people dating and two people with husbands/wives not in the group. ¬† We can barely get enough babysitting from the town we live in to cover us to rehearse! ¬†And when we do get out, we bring lots of booze because it’s a night out no matter what is happening.

But we did it and it’s hard and The Harold makes us all its bitches, but we did it. ¬†My favorite part about it is working it over and over, turning each moment around, overanalyzing, trying again. ¬†He’s got us all in the mode of working it to be better.

I’ve known him now a long, long time and had so so so much fun and gin with him. ¬†I wasn’t sure where he was going with that intro, but I got it by the end. ¬†Yawp to you Chris!

Lie To Me: Pathology Of Improv

Sticks Author: Steve

In 1993 I didn’t understand how jobs worked, but I was certain that companies across America were waiting, bald heads plugged into Cerebro, searching for my special DNA tone among the masses. ¬†They needed writers, I was assuming. ¬†Who better than me – ¬†a person published several times in the UConn student newspaper? ¬†Hadn’t they seen my tendency for overwroughtity and my¬†aptitude¬†for word makeruppery? ¬†I¬†prolifically wrote about the swim team AND the cross country team. ¬†I had once written a fluff piece on the football team – FOOTBALL – as they took on New Hampshire in which I publicly admired their license plate motto. ¬†Live Free Or Die. ¬†Live. ¬†Free. ¬†Or. ¬†Die!

Oddly, I was not plucked proactively from the bulging hordes of UConn grads as I made my way to live with my girlfriend (now wife) in Buffalo. ¬†I assumed that when I arrived in Cheektowaga, word would have preceded me and perhaps there wouldn’t be a parade per se, but there would surely be a ringing phone in our apartment with employers treating me like a blue chip basketball prospect. ¬†Come work for us son. ¬†We’ve got great facilities and plenty of coeds. ¬†I was young once too son! ¬†I see a little bit of me in you. ¬†The writing comes easy, right son? ¬†Yeah. ¬†Well, now’s your chance to show it off on the largest stage in town.

Talent I guess isn’t a rare thing and it’s graded on a curve. ¬†Sure I can string some words together, but writing is about writing. ¬†Like all the time writing, never stopping, writing, typing, erasing, editing, writing, writing, writing. ¬†Writers are everywhere and most of them are better than I was. ¬†Am. ¬†Are. ¬†Whatever, screw grammar anyway. ¬†Anyways.

Writers like me it turns out are the trees that fall in the forests with nobody else around. ¬†You write, you get it published or you simply aren’t heard. ¬†So instead of writing for a magazine or a tv show or a greeting card company, I got temp jobs stocking paint in the middle of the night or typing (that’s a lot like writing!) for a lawyer’s office. ¬†I taught acting. ¬†I tried to audition for an improv show. ¬†I slept. ¬†I managed a video store. ¬†I got a job making pancake batter during which I ate a lot of pancakes. ¬†I got a job making pizzas during which I ate a lot of pizza.

And finally, I lied.

In the end, it wasn’t my writing ability or my quasi understanding of when to use semicolons¬†that got me what I needed; it was my ability to make stuff up.

While temping at a mortgage company, I learned of a real opening in the customer service department.  I learned that the hiring manager liked lacrosse.  It took a book, some discussion with actual athletic people, and two weeks to prepare, but by the time I interviewed I had an entire character built around a love of lacrosse and I sold it.  Got the job.

I owe almost everything I have now to that lie.

I’m still not the brightest bulb because putting this down on the internet is probably a great way for people like my past/current employers to learn that I never played right wing or what the hell ever on a club lacrosse team at UConn, but I’m pretty sure I could talk my way out of it if confronted.

I’m not saying that lying is improv, but pretending you are somebody else is a pretty big part of it. ¬†Who doesn’t like trying on the ill-fitting clothes of some character? ¬†I can always be Steve the insurance marketing guy. ¬†That’s every damn day! ¬†Why not be Luke the buff lacrosse psycho? ¬†Or James the shy beekeeper? ¬†Or Jacob the wayward rumspringa?

I’ve matured now and I totally understand that with great power comes great responsibility. ¬†I don’t think I’d ever use improv powers to lie ¬†to secure a job.

But Charles the awkwardly suave electrical engineer?  That dude would lie in a heartbeat.



Funny Search Terms

Sticks Author: Steve

This barely counts as a blog entry, but this stuff makes me laugh.

Here are some actual, weird search terms people have used to find this little blog:

  1. “She out wrestled me and tickled me silly.” I don’t know the context for this search nor do I know why it pointed to this blog. ¬†But I do know that anybody who uses the phrase “tickled me silly” is likely to get out wrestled under most circumstances.
  2. “How is pig turned into toothpaste.” ¬† ¬†Crest with “pork the other white meat” whitening power.
  3. “Peeing on beer bottle.” ¬†I’m ashamed to say that I find this arousing.
  4. “Ladies group games.” I’m completely unashamed to say that I find this arousing.
  5. “Sexy baba yaga.” Is there any other kind?
  6. “Wander of allah in super outer space.” ¬†This is really just a series of safe words I think.
  7. “How long does improv on ice w/ stix last.” ¬†Just long enough to get to Mr. Roboto.
  8. “Diaper wedgie.”

Improv In The Workplace

Sticks Author: Steve

The other day I was totally making something up at work. ¬†It was probably nothing too major as far as you know, but maybe I was making up what I actually do for a living or maybe it was about my background being felony free or maybe I was just making up that I was listening to what somebody was saying to me. ¬†It’s really not important so stop asking me so many questions about it.

I got to thinking about improv exercises in the corporate environment.  Actually, I first got to thinking about something else, but later (now) I decided to retrofit a whole bunch of details for purposes of having some words to write.

I think it’s fun (sort of) when groups come in and spend a few hours training corporate ghouls (like me… take no offense) that a bit of “yes and” along with zip zap zop and change-a-scene can really loosen you up and make it easier for you to return to your soulless beige cube to concoct new ways to check reddit or fleece America whichever is your vocational mission statement.

Practically speaking, I think that this is a necessary part of the improv theater or group’s model to make some money to fund the things that they really like to do such as Harold nights, Maria Bamford tours, and late-night Caligula re-imaginings. ¬†And a little improv class with your peers might be a tad awkward, but it beats the shit out of sitting through another session on diversity training with 700 of your closest white guy coworkers.

But I think I may have found the greatest incorporation of improv training ever. ¬†I work with an advertising agency in the midwest. ¬†(I am protecting their names because there’s a very good chance that one of the 11 people who reads this blog actually works for a rival or something and that they would use this information against them and destroy their lives without mercy.) ¬†They are required to participate in several kinds of training by their parent company, but they have some freedom in designing it.

So what did they do?

They have hired an improv company to teach them The Harold for a couple of hours each week for one year.

Come on! ¬†How great is that? ¬†At the end of the year, they’ll perform. ¬†And this counts as their corporate training.

They are a clever, smart, funny bunch of creative types and I bet they’ll be outstanding. ¬†In the meantime, I have to log on to take the interactive web module training on Ethical Behavior. ¬†I hear it’s hosted by a funny cartoon pirate and his sassy parrot.

Back to my beige cube.

Cartoon from SavageChickens.Com

I (Should) Always Feel Like Someone Is Watching Me

Sticks Author: Chris B

With a scripted show, you never really know what may happen ‚Äď an actor may forget her line or pages of lines (My Fair Lady, 1993), the power may go out and leave you acting into a black abyss (Into the Woods, 2005), or the flat you worked so hard to paint to look like a real house ‚Äď fail ‚Äď will fall over and almost take off your left foot (Two By Two, 1992).¬† But these things truly are oddities when it comes to scripted theater.¬† Sure there is always the occasional dropped line, a flubbed part of a song, or a missed entrance or cue; so terribly minor.¬† On a whole, in my 25+ years (really?!) of performing on stage most of the shows go just as we‚Äôve rehearsed them.¬† This may be why I am now so drawn to the art of improv.¬† You really don‚Äôt know what you will say, what you will do, and whether you‚Äôll be good or not.¬† It‚Äôs like the Actor‚Äôs Nightmare, but it‚Äôs a joke that you and the audience are in on together.

Ok, I admit it; I love having an audience.¬† Something happens when the lights dim, you hear the murmur of the crowd (well ‚Äď small group of people you know won‚Äôt be too harsh when you suck) start to die down, and the waiting begins.¬† The anticipation of the unknown.¬† In that moment, just before the improv show starts, not a single person in the building is sure how the show will go or what the show will even be about.¬† You are all in this together.¬† Your job as the improv performer is to be quick, witty, big, bold, funny even.¬† The audience‚Äôs job is simple ‚Äď laugh.¬† I feed on that laughter.¬† I don‚Äôt quite know why, but I feel myself become a different person.¬† I‚Äôm far more focused than I am in rehearsal; time seems to tick slowly by, and I notice things that I don‚Äôt think I would notice without an audience there.¬† I can‚Äôt really explain how this works or why.

Part of me feels a little bad ‚Äď like I‚Äôve been letting my fellow Sticks members down during our rehearsals.¬† I can remember rehearsals when I struggled to get my butt off the chair and contribute, unless that contribution was pouring more wine into my glass.¬† In front of an audience, I could hardly stay in my seat.¬† I‚Äôm starting to think that this may be one of my fatal flaws.¬† When I think no one is looking, or it doesn‚Äôt matter so much, I get lazy.¬† I‚Äôve been acutely aware of this ever since our performance last week.¬† I do this same thing in many aspects of my life.¬† As soon as the spotlight is on, I grab the controls and act like I‚Äôve been flying the ship the whole time when actually I‚Äôve been on cruise control¬† gliding through life happily unaware of my lazy bliss.

Improv is no time to be lazy.¬† Because you have to completely trust your fellow troupe members, you have to believe that what they give you in rehearsal they will give you in performance.¬† I am not doing that right now.¬† I will though.¬† I‚Äôll pretend there‚Äôs an audience, set up a video camera and threaten to put it all on YouTube, open the window shades ‚Äď put speakers outside and let our neighbors watch and listen (kinky!), or drag a homeless man off the street to come watch and judge me.¬† ¬†Or, maybe I don‚Äôt need a gimmick.¬† Maybe I just need to bring it, all the time, because that‚Äôs what my friends and family deserve.¬† Consider it brought ‚Äď now, time to get my butt out of this computer chair and pour myself another glass of Malbec.


There Was An Audience And Everything!

Sticks Author: Steve

I really recommend that when you are 12 or so you start hanging around with smart, funny, talented stagey types. ¬†It’s about the best thing you can do if in the future you want to try and learn the Harold. ¬†It’s what I did.

We did our first public Harolds last Friday in front of a warm, engaging and appreciative audience. ¬†The Sticks, my closest and most important friends for 30 years, were truly amazing. ¬†We’ve been rehearsing since September 8, 2010 and I suppose that’s a long time . ¬†But consider that up until about August 2010 only one of us (Chris M) even knew what the hell a Harold was. ¬†Personally, I never even knew a person named Harold because I wasn’t alive in 1910. ¬†My only exposure to things heraldric came via dungeons and dragons (heraldry) and Hark The Herald Angels Sing.

So. ¬†A rewarding trip with these Sticks that began as a discussion with Chris M and I on the rooftop bar of The Elbow Room in West Hartford and continued with frantic research, book reading, video watching (while on vacation with many of the soon-to-be Sticks in Cape Cod) and finally, outrageously, audaciously with the first Sticks rehearsal at Chris M and Jen’s house.

We barely understood what beats were, but we knew how to improv.  We studied and worked and disagreed and then, then!  Then the bastard Sticks staged an intervention against me.  Me!  An intervention to wrestle me into submission about performing publicly.  An intervention against my pickiness.  Assholes.  Lovely, lovely, correct assholes.

Up until now we’ve performed in various Sticks living rooms across the great town of East Hampton. ¬†And all of these Sticks long, long ago surpassed my improv abilities. ¬†With the structure of the Harold down, and with our decision to include mini monologues instead of group games between beats, we’ve been flying. ¬†The best part is – I get to watch them.

Last night, other people got to watch them and it wasn’t in a living room. It was in the upstairs of our little town museum. ¬†That’s practically Radio City Music Hall or The Apollo or some other famous theater like the main stage of the Gold Club.

Since most in the audience were unfamiliar with improv (let alone the Harold), we spent a minute explaining the form.  We then warmed up with a bit of shortform.  After that, we got the first audience suggestion.  Horse.

Chris B. performed a nuanced monologue dealing with his first experiences with horses and we had plenty to work with.  From there, things went really, honestly, perfectly.  Bad driving, horse chicanery, QVC horse-themed restraint devices Рall tied neatly together in the third beat thanks to great listening and trust in one another.  The tie ins were especially helped by Chris B, Jen and Jim.  The three of them thinking together is what made it happen.

The audience seemed to like it, but I was tempted at that point to end. ¬†We had planned on doing two, but I was afraid that the audience wouldn’t be interested in watching a second one. ¬†I was wrong.

After a quick break for BYOB imbibing, we settled in again. ¬†The suggestion was “love” and I did the monologue touching on what love means to me and how it can compel even the youngest of us to break down barriers to be together. ¬†Again, everything went extremely well from there.

We’ve all performed in various things for most of our lives and we are very familiar with the feeling you get, how you draw on the audience and how you feel grateful for them. ¬†It was different this time because we were unsure if the form would resonate or if we would pull it off. ¬†Would they know what was happening? ¬†Would they get edits, dashes, beats? ¬†Could they follow people as characters, multiple characters across different scenes?

Would we be funny?

This was a special audience and they seemed to love it.

There are a few things that I’ll take away from the night. ¬†First, we’ll be doing it again and more regularly. ¬†We are beyond ready. ¬†Second, my friends The Sticks are the best bunch of people you could know. ¬†Third, the funny stuff happens when we connect details from the monologue, our relationships, and through listening. ¬†Fourth, quick edits, time dashes etc. are funny.

Most importanly, I will take away that this is freaking fun as hell.

I am grateful to all of The Sticks for doing this and I am very appreciative of the audience who came to see us.

Last Rehearsal And Last Supper

Sticks Author: Steve

No seriously. ¬†I just ate dinner and it’s probably my last one. ¬†It was pork that I grilled for my wife and kids and I think I undercooked it. ¬†So, it’s obvious that I’m going to die probably right after rehearsal tonight.

What does this mean?

First, it means that I’ll probably have really bad diarrhea. ¬†I think that’s what happens when you get Porcine Poisoning. ¬†And then it means that my fellow Sticks will have a really tough decision to make because we are supposed to perform for the first time this Friday night.

Here’s how I think the discussion will go:


Chris M: Okay guys <wipes tears> Steve is… <severe lip tremble> gone.

Allison: Whatever.  Screw that guy anyway!

Rachel: Hey! <drops to knees> No!!! No!!!!!!!! Don’t speak of him that way! <makes imploring gestures to the heavens>

Chris M: <comforts Rachel> It’s okay. ¬†It’s okay.

Kendra: <politely raises hand> Does that mean he’s not going to nitpick us anymore?
Thom: Speaking of nitpicking, what is the deal with people picking their noses in cars while they drive? Do they think we can’t see them?

Everybody: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Chris B: Well, I’ll be the one to say it. ¬†Do we still do our performance on Friday? ¬†Maybe make it in tribute to him?

Jen: <wipes tears that are probably from lauging at Thom’s joke rather than the loss of Steve> I think it’s what he’d want us to do.

Kim: Wait a second.  Wait.  He left me this letter that says to open only upon his death.

Jesse: You mean like you have to open it up on his death, noun?  Like his body?

Marilyn: <sigh>

Kim: <opens letter> ¬†Dear Sticks. ¬†If you’re reading this it must mean that I’m dead. ¬†I bet I went in some super cool way like rescuing milfs or choking at a hot dog eating contest. ¬†Here’s the deal. ¬†Under no circumstances do I want you to perform without me. ¬†Do you understand? ¬†What I want is for all of you to enter a formal period of grieving for 60 days. ¬†For the men, this means no shaving. ¬†For the women, this means extra shaving if you know what I’m saying. ¬†For this 60 days, you aren’t allowed to use the words “moist” (that’s for you Rachel), “huzzah”, “internet”, “I love my children”, or “cornucopia”. ¬† Once the 60 days are up, I want a formal day of remembrance on each Wednesday in perpetuity. ¬†That reminds me, you can’t use the word “perpetuity” either. Okay? ¬†So, no performing without me. ¬†Ever. ¬†You are to tell the public, because they will most certainly inquire, that it just wouldn’t be the same without the heart and soul of the operation. ¬†Anyway, have a great life stinkers!

Everybody: ……….

Jim: I’m with Allison, screw that guy!

Everybody: Huzzah!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-I’m already feeling a bit nauseated. ¬†I’ll miss you all!If you’re interested, come see the Steveless Sticks perform this Friday October 21 from 7 to 9ish at the Joseph N. Goff house in East Hampton CT. It’s technically an open rehearsal, but you’ll see at least two Harolds and a few games. ¬†Bring something that we can donate to the local food bank. ¬†They are most in need of shampoo, hand soap, toothpaste, and canned fruit. ¬†The performance is free and BYOB. ¬†Parking is weird. ¬†Good luck with that.

Back In The Saddle On A Horse With No Name Because There Weren’t Any Actual Horses

Sticks Author: Steve

Well I guess we were on a break. ¬†It’s not like we planned it and it’s not like it was anybody’s fault except that it probably was. ¬†It was probably Allison’s fault. ¬†That’s what I’m declaring now anyway. ¬†It was Allison’s fault that we just couldn’t get along any longer. ¬†You know it’s just that it’s hard to maintain a relationship these days with 12 people. ¬†Right? ¬†That’s a lot of people with a lot of issues. ¬†Mostly Allison with her issues really. ¬†SO MANY ISSUES with that girl. ¬†God!

Okay. ¬†It wasn’t really all Allison now that I have taken a moment to just calm down a little bit. ¬†I mean it was probably mostly her, but if I can turn the blame attention elsewhere and in a place that is other than me, I guess I can say it was also very much Jesse’s fault what with his good looks and his way with the women in the group. ¬†Especially Allison. ¬†Man! ¬†Can’t you just control yourself Allison? ¬†Really? ¬†Jesse? ¬†He’s married to Marilyn for goodness sake. ¬†Did you ever stop and think about that Allison? ¬†No. ¬†You didn’t. ¬†You didn’t stop and think about that.


We haven’t rehearsed for a good long while. ¬†There was a hurricane named Irene that probably just should have been named Allison. ¬†There was also just summer things like vacations and complicated schedules and illnesses and football season starting and odd temperature fluctuations and community theater performances and all of that stuff that went down with some celebrity that made headlines during this time period and meals to cook and things to eat and lists of excuses to be made. ¬†There was really a lot of stuff that caused us to not rehearse for a while. ¬†But it was just a short while comparatively speaking when you stop and think about the age of the Earth (6,000 years) and the universe (6,000 years and 7 days).

In that time (this time that we haven’t rehearsed, not the time of the Earth or universe) we never really stopped caring about improv. ¬†At least I didn’t. ¬†I don’t really know about the rest of these a holes, but I cared a lot.

Tonight we got back on the horse.  And we did it in style!  We played Zip Zap Zop because you have to do that to be an improv group that is taken seriously.

We also did two Harolds.  They were good.

But the real highlight was a little wrinkle called Mirth In A Box. ¬†Mirth In A Box is a Connecticut company and we are also mirthy in Connecticut so it’s like we are soulmates. ¬†Mirth In A Box provides gift boxes/baskets etc. filled with funny items like Whoppie Cushions, Joy Buzzers and all genres of fake human excresions. ¬†It’s a pretty damn awesome idea and they sent us a box of stuff to play with. ¬†We filmed some of our adventures in our highly-professional studio with our high-quality camera and our many compound adjectives.

Two games. ¬†The first was great fun and involved two people in a suggested scene. ¬†As they performed, we would holler “Mirth In A Box!” and they would have to reach into the box and incorporate whatever silly object they pulled out into the scene. ¬†The second game made use of a sound machine they sent. ¬†Throughout the scene, random sounds would play and the performers would have to react.

In any event here’s some stuff we did.

The first video is our “Mirth In A Box” game with Chris M introducing, Rachel playing the weary NASA worker, and Jesse playing Lou the bartender.

The second video is the “Mirth In A Box” sound game with Chris M introducing, Allison playing the smothered girlfriend and Steve playing the boyfriend.

Many dozens of thanks to the good folks at Mirth In A Box for the props.  Especially the slingshot monkey.  That thing is just outstanding.

More to come from The Sticks. ¬†We’ll be performing the Harold some time in October in our home town of East Hampton, CT. ¬†It will be like Woodstock and Woodstock 2 combined with opening night of Twilight Breaking Dawn.

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