Jul 10, 2013

Why Attempt a 380 Minute Solo Improv?

So I have decided to attempt a solo improvisation lasting 380 minutes, or nearly 6 and a half hours.

What possibly could have induced this insane idea in me?

A few things, actually...

It can, in theory, be done.

First, I performed 13 hours of improv as part of my friend Jeff Swearingen's attempt to raise money for Orphan Outreach. His event was called Whole Lotta Improv and was billed as a single-story 48 hour longform improv set. The press was told it was an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Record for longest improv, but that was just a marketing point, since this sort of thing has been done before (see below). Besides, due to venue rental troubles, the event only lasted 30 hours, not 48. I performed 7 hours one night and six the next evening. There was a kind of rotating ensemble of many improvisers who subbed in and out. Many times the audience was non-existent and I doubt a great deal of funds were raised. I had fun, but also had mixed feelings about the event. The improv was extremely repetitive in places, but it showed me that a long story could be improvised at great length. 

The good folks that are part of the improv community in Austin kind of regularly do really long improv shows. The Well-Hung Jury (later to become the Available Cupholders) tried to break the Guinness Book World Record for longest  continual single-narrative longform improv years ago (27 hours, in 2000). Just recently, the Hideout sponsored the 44 Hour Improv Marathon. And even though, technically it was 44 one-hour shows back-to-back, the feat was still impressive since eight improvisers performed the whole thing the whole time.

Even including Swearingen's Whole Lotta Improv, Well Hung Jury's 27 hour feat and the Hideout's 44 Hour Marathon, I have never heard of anyone attempting a 6+ hour solo longform improv. If I can pull it off, I'll aim to make it a single continual narrative as well.

Also, I heard about Mike Daisey's 24 Hour monologue All The Hours In The Day just a short while after he did it. He performed it in a high school auditorium in Portland back in September 2011 at the TBA Festival. This was an amazing feat, even though he took a fifteen minute break every hour, sat at a desk the whole time and had prepared the whole thing beforehand. There's a good recounting of it HERE (with video). Here's my initial reactions to it HERE.

My main reason for wanting to attempt a 380 minute improv is because I am turning 38 years old in September. I have been in the theatre now for over 20 years, or half my life. As I get older I look around and wonder if I am where I wanted to be. I wonder where it is I wanted to be?

I have become hungry for some big thing to challenge me, to push me, to scare me. I have grown lazier and fatter and less capable of being astonished and I want to once again really feel... risk! Risk failure! Risk everything! Risk amazement! I want something to get behind and strive for. So, how about the impossible?!

Since doing a 45 minute set of Dribble Funk solo improv scares the crap out of me and pushes me to breathless physical and mental drain, a 380 minute set ought to dredge up whatever it is I'm made of. I will pit myself against myself, and then see what comes of it. Or totally fail in the attempt.

Either way, I'll be on stage, alone, for over 6 hours on Septmeber 1st, for the life of me, unwinding a made up story.

Details and such on DRIBBLE FUNK 380... HERE

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