Sep 2, 2013

DF380 - A debrief

I put together a short video address a few days before the event. In it, I explain my reasons behind attempting Dribble Funk 380.

Prologue - the day before
5:44 PM 
31 AugDay before show. 6+ hrs of improv. No way to prep. Quiet anxiety attacks layered with moments of panic.

Day of Show  - September 1st, 2013 
What follows is a sort of play-by-play pulling together the timelines and threads of various social media that were posted during performance of Dribble Funk 380

5:03 PM
Travis Stuebing on FB
6 hours of improv with Brad McEntire. Here we go. — with Brad McEntire at Dribble Funk 380.

Photo by Travis Stuebing. He's holding the program up in the foreground.
5:49 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
1st hour, 5 to by go-Brad showing no signs of exhaustion. Come and see if he makes it. — at Dribble Funk 380.

5:50 PM

So McEntire is about to cross hour one...five to go...

6:56 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Hour 2, Brad beginning to sweat but that is the only sign of effort. 4+ hours left. Come see history in the making at the Margo Jones Theatre. The PBJ bar is awesome! — at Dribble Funk 380.

Photo by Matt Tomlanovich. I loved playing this big, slumpy, mumbling mobster.
7:02 PM

Currently watching Brad McEntire perform SIX HOURS of solo improv at Margo Jones Theater. I can't even stay asleep for six hours. #DF380

7:16 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Into hour 3. After a 10 minute break, refreshed and no sign of wear or tear. Brad McEntire is like some kind of Improv Terminator. Still plenty of time to see history and eat PBJs. — at Dribble Funk 380.

7:38 PM

30 mins into McEntire's 2nd 2 hour set

7:52 PM

McEntire's mind is impressive!

8:00 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Three Hours of Dribble by Brad McEntire

Photo by Ruth Engel-McEntire
8:28 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Half way in towards hour 4 and Brad McEntire has created over 40 characters and has moved the action from NY to an Alien Planet to Kansas to Necropolis. Like a run-away train, he hurdles toward conclusion. Plenty of PBJ and Nuttella. 3 hours left to see history. Catch him at the finish line. — at Dribble Funk 380.

8:28 PM
Diane Miller on FB
I have to admit, I think just two hours is pretty impressive as it is...

8:31 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
It's just getting funnier.

8:35 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Best line so far; "Coffee is a dead language." — at Dribble Funk 380.

8:43 PM

Had to take an early break at hour 4. About to pee pants. Gotta use restroom!

8:51 PM

McEntire is so insane and creative...silly boy had to take his second 10 min break 30 min early #DF380

8:54 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Funnier... Like a runner hitting his stride.

9:05 PM

Brad McEntire is entering hour number four of six of his one man improv show. Aliens, and Broadway shows. Intense and funny stuff. #DF380

9:12 PM

Four plus hours or improv leads to phrases like, "Theater is done in dingy skank holes."

Photo by Matt Tomlanovich
9:14 PM

"You're building space/ time machines for the government? HA! YOUR SISTER'S A PROSTITUTE!!" -fifth hour magic. Brad McEntire 6 hour improv.#DF380

9:19 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
New best line: "You make space/time machines for the government? HaHaHa Your sister's a prostitute!" — at Dribble Funk 380.

9:23 PM

The memory on this boy!!!

9:25 PM

McEntire is telling a story of an alien superhero during his six hour solo improv. He's daring me to tweet.

9:26 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Entering hour 5 (260 minutes down), the Alien can speak English, cornbread has become a reoccurring motif and a bus load of children have been saved. 120 minutes left. — with Brad McEntire at Dribble Funk 380.

9:38 PM

10:08 PM

Ninjas have joined the story,late in the evening but...better late then never... :D

10:16 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Like a drowning man who sees the sky from beneath the surface of a stormy sea ,Brad McEntire senses an end to his historic adventure. But he's not out of the water yet. Luckily, the PBJs have distracted the sharks. 75 minutes and counting. — at Dribble Funk 380.


11:10 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
Best line: "my son...He's on the chess team...I mean he's not a starter..." — at Dribble Funk 380.

11:17 PM
Matt Tomlanovich on FB
And so it ends. 380 minutes alone and tired. The PBJs are gone but Caligula the Musical is born. — at Dribble Funk 380.

Epilogue - What I learned...

So, I accomplished what I originally set out to do. I unfolded a completely spontaneous, created-on-the-spot story involving dozens of characters over 380 minutes (or nearly 6 1/2 hours). I am extremely proud of the resulting performance. As expected there were some lame parts, but there were also some really golden moments.

It is an accomplishment that must sink in when I tell people about it. It doesn't sound that impressive or unique until the person I'm talking to really considers it. No script, no prep, no help. A single epic narrative is spun out over nearly six and half hours by a single performer... completely making it up as he goes along! To my knowledge no other solo improviser has ever attempted anything quite like it. 

The performance yielded many lessons and observations for me, nestled as I was in the eye of the storm.

Photo by Ruth Engel-McEntire

1. A Sunday afternoon at the end of the summer on a Holiday weekend is a difficult time to get audience members out to see anything, let alone a long-ass solo improv. I had at most 9 people in the audience at one point and as little as three at another. The audience was allowed to come and go as they pleased and partake of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich bar in the lobby. Still, I would have liked to have had more audience members. One guy, who left and came back commented after the show that it was too bad more people didn't come out to see it. I agree. It was also my own damn fault. Since I was so nervous about the whole thing, I pretty much dragged my feet the first two weeks after announcing it (leaving myself an out). Better marketing could have yielded better numbers in the audience.

2. I am out of shape. I stayed in constant movement and did a lot of running between characters on the stage and by the end I felt like I had been in an intense workout. I got winded once, after the first 10 minute break (at the 2 hour mark). It didn't last long, but I couldn't seem to catch my breath on stage for a bit. Kinda scary. Today, my legs burn!

3. My voice held out, but today, the day after, I am nearly hoarse. I created a few rather loud, abrasive characters. Only one with a gravelly voice. I was proud of my vocal range with the characters, actually, even more so that the physical characterizations.

4. The beginning was really difficult and clumbersome (exposition, man) and the ending was also difficult (I had a natural end point about 30 minutes before the time was up, so had to kind of Lord of the Rings out a few more endings). The middle couple of hours were the most fun. I caught a second wind and my energy level spiked. I switched in the middle at some point from doing a lot of character interaction work to telling long rambling character monologues. The monologues were much funnier and more dynamic than the character interactions, though they did not necessarily drive the story forward as much. I would not have found this out if I hadn't had to push through the barrier of my normal limits. After I pushed past my breaking point (about an hour and half), I was in completely new territory. The Dribble Funk passed from scary to really fun and exciting. 

5. I stumbled onto a narrative structure that saved my ass and did it completely by accident. Once the main objective of the main character was put into play, I kept setting up one dilemma after another, which actually pushed the protagonist further from solving his main problem. This sort of nesting doll structure allowed me to spin the single yarn out over hours.

6. I have good friends. A lot of my close friends came and sat in to watch for a bit. There were also several people I didn't know. Local solo performer John Michael brought me a "birthday" pizza. Fellow Audacity artist Jeff Hernandez came and tweeted updates. My improv cohort Jeff Swearingen caught the final half hour. My wife and chief supporter Ruth manned the lobby while Matt Tomlanovich manned the booth. He also posted a lot of updates on FB. Without support like this, I am sure I would not have been able to pull off something like DF380. I am a lucky guy.

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