Tag Archives: blogging

Thank you for the Good Times Rusty

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Sadly, an improv show has been canceled. We would like to take a moment to thank Rusty Petersen who hosted the THORprov (formerly Good Times) improv show for the past 4 years at the Horseshoe Pub. Anyone who has performed in Chicago knows about the Horseshoe because it was a place where you could regularly perform every Tuesday night. Finding a venue, securing a time slot, and maintaining that in Chicago is a pretty damn hard thing to do. For someone to do that for 4 years in a row is an amazing accomplishment. A lot of independent teams owe thanks and appreciation to Rusty for creating this show because this was where those teams got their start. We are one of those teams. This was where we had our first show. We remember the moment we first got there like it was yesterday. It was a dimly lit bar with shudders (literal shudders on the wall). There were album covers on the wall outside the bathroom, which of course was after you went through a ‘horseshoe door’ to get to them. There was a sick PBR/Chicken Tender combo deal that was a steal. There was a giant bar on the stage that provided a visible blockade between the performers and the audience (which was mainly the other performers and a few townsfolk at the bar). To us, though, it wasn’t a blockade….it was something to climb on. More importantly, it was an opportunity to perform. It was a chance to get on stage and play with one another for the first time ever. That night we had our first show and we loved it. So much that we stuck with it and came back to perform there regularly. This was where we got our start and we thank Rusty for providing us a place to perform and grow as a group. There are a variety of places to perform in Chicago, but this was a regular spot for us and one that we enjoyed playing at every single time.

Thoughts from the guys:

Collin: Rusty Petersen is one of the reasons groups better themselves in this community. I believe that becoming proficient at performing comes from taking classes, watching shows, and most importantly, doing shows. I was able to perform my first week in Chicago because of Rusty and independent show producers like Rusty. I’m very grateful for all he has done for so many, and all he continues to do.

David/Alan: The Horseshoe, the Underground Lounge, Upstairs Gallery, Bughouse, the Playground and more were not just “spaces” to perform in. They were homes. People like Rusty ran shows that welcomed and encouraged performers of all levels to come in and grow. Whether it was them asking us to perform or us asking them and always receiving a yes, knowing you had a place to perform consistently and with support is an incredible experience that is too easy to take for granted. We had 31 shows in April 2012, all of them booked through the independent theaters. If you want to perform, they will let you. They don’t give you an excuse, they give you the playing time and they help you by offering a nurturing environment. We are happy to have taken advantage of the huge opportunity Rusty and others provided, and will  never forget where we came from.

Dave: The Horseshoe was where we got our first start performing as a group together, so I’m incredibly thankful for all Rusty has done. He’s worked incredibly hard to organize and host those shows, week after week, for four years. Rusty was always so accommodating for us, and we played there frequently while we were trying to figure out who we were as a team and to get our legs under us. And he’s just so incredibly nice and supportive.

Ryan: I remember the first night I stepped into this place. I was terrified yet so excited to perform. It was my first improv show in Chicago (I’d done improv in college, but never in Chicago). When I read the email from Rusty saying the show’s been canceled I said to myself, “well this sucks.” Why? Because I know the power this place has and how it has helped to fuel the independent community for years. I’ve done a ton of shows at this place because of what Rusty created and I’m sad that I won’t be able to do it again. This is where we had our first show. It was where Switch started. When I did 31 shows in January, Rusty was one of the people who helped me schedule some of my Tuesday nights. He has been an asset to the community and gave countless groups the possibility to hop on stage (for free) and play with their friends. Not to mention, he’s a damn nice guy and a joy to talk to. I’m grateful for everything he has done for not only me but the countless number of improv groups that have come and gone through the weekly independent show that he produced.

In the end…

Thank you Rusty. We’re sad the show has been canceled, but you’re awesome for putting it on for so long. It was a major accomplishment and springboard for a lot of people’s success. With every show, we grew closer together as a group and it is because of you and people like you that we are where we are today.

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NEW PODCAST!!!

We’re getting back on the podcast bandwagon after a real long hiatus. Here the guys ramble about the upcoming Star Wars films, customer service, violence in video games, football/soccer and the astronomical cost and uncontrollable power of cable companies in Chicago. They even agree to kill each other via a ‘euthanasia pact’ should the time come. Nonsense.

Thank you Big Little Comedy Fest!!!

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We’d like to thank Big Little Comedy for having us at the Big Little Comedy Fest this past weekend in Cleveland. We (Dave, David, and Ryan) had a ton of fun (Collin and Alan couldn’t go. They are trash). The trip definitely had it’s ups and downs. During the ride there, we got a ticket for something called the MOVE OVER LAW. Apparently, in Ohio (and other states that have the law), if an emergency vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road you have to slow down to 25mph or move into the other lane. We had no idea that this existed. The ticket was non-negotiable (despite us not even knowing about the law). Ridiculous. In the hotel lobby, we saw a drunken man in a top-hat who looked like he died 3 days ago banging on the door trying to get a room. The front desk person said, “I’m not dealing with this” and called the police who later removed the man from the lobby. Once we got to the room, we got the honeymoon suite, which consisted of a walk-through shower. You could literally walk into the shower from the living room and you’d be in the bathroom. Needless to say, anytime someone went to the bathroom at night everyone woke up.

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The Workshop

The workshop went great. We got to teach a lot of the stuff that we as a group do that works for us. Like how denial (with additional information) can actually progress a scene rather than halting it.  We shared some of our tips and tricks for what we have done on the path to becoming who we are today. While we were just having fun doing our thing, it was blush-worthy to see others take interest in what we had to say and, even more so,  actually writing it down. We would have liked to get feedback, but we refused to use the printer in the hotel, which charged a $19.95 pre-authorization fee to make copies. Not happening.

The Show

The show was spectacular (there will be a video of it coming soon). Before we get into it, let’s just say WE LOVE CLEVELAND COMEDY AUDIENCES. On numerous occasions, everyone in the green room was saying, “this crowd is hot.” We got to play an array of characters in our set. Characters like Sylvester Stallone (as Rocky), Demons from deep-Hell, a Sheriff who fired his gun and showed his badge every time he got drunk, and a Mill Man that just wanted to get to work. The Mill Man was created because Ryan is def and thought he heard Mill when we actually said Mail. We also created a door to another universe by just drawing a door on the wall with chalk. Think Beetlejuice. In fact, we even said, “just like they did in Beetlejuice.”

In the end, the trip was hilarious, the workshop was great, and the audience was amazing. We loved it. Thank you to the people of Cleveland for coming to the show and most importantly Big Little Comedy for having us. We look forward to coming back next year (as long as we don’t get any more tickets)!

The Work of Play

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For this installment of our ‘interviewing members of the group”, we sit down with Dave to discuss his history with improv, what keeps him motivated, and advice he has for improvisers who feel like they’re in a slump.

1. Hello Dave! How are you doing?
I’m great! How YOU doin’? (wink)

2. You’re currently in a pretty good place improv-wise. Have there been any times in your life when you felt you were struggling to make any progress?

Oh absolutely. I think I feel myself going through lulls and plateaus every so often. I think as artists, we’ll always find ourselves in these situations. We are generating so much creative output, we need to remember to recharge and have some input, and as Uhlir says, “Fill our heads with stuff.” I actually feel like I’m in a current lull at the moment, so I find myself evaluating what I’m doing or not doing.

3. What keeps you motivated and working?
Seeing shows is incredibly motivating. It can be the best show ever, or just a complete disaster. They both have their own way of motivating me and driving me to work harder.  The friends I work and perform with are also amazingly motivating who keep things fresh and feeling new. Excitement is contagious, and once an idea or a sense of play enters the room, it’s the best thing in the world, and everything else gets blocked out. Focusing intensely on a project with people you love being around doesn’t feel like work – it’s like fun playtime.
I honestly can’t picture my life without theatre. This is something that I absolutely love and when I’ve tried to picture it not being there, I honestly get really sad – and that, in turn, motivates me to work harder so that I don’t ever lose it.
4. Any advice for improvisers who feel like they are struggling or are currently in a slump?
We are our own worst critics, and though that can be a good thing, we also need to learn how to give ourselves a break. I think it’s great to analyze rehearsals and shows to figure out what’s going on, but after a while, you just need to just put it down and walk away.
When I’m in a slump, I like doing non-theatre related things – tinkering with and riding my bike; writing, reading; working out, playing music…I’m a huge movie buff, so either throwing one on or going to see one. I find simply stepping away for even a day or two can be a nice reset. Also, just getting away from all the distractions of life and over-stimulation of being a creative person is important. I love taking some “Dave Time” and just holing away for a few hours, or just being silly with friends. Also, it’s important to surround yourself with strong, supportive, and understanding family and friends that will help you get through the trying times.
5. Anything else you want to add?
 I feel that this is a life-long journey and lifestyle. You should do this because you love the work, the people you’re working with and admire, and absolutely can’t see yourself without it. This can be a viciously draining and mentally painful life to have… to be an artist. We’re constantly rejected and told we’re not good enough, or not what they’re looking for… But at the same time, it is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing in the world. We should treat it, and our fellow artists, as such.

Taboo Topics

Here the guys (Switch Committee) talk about some of the suggestions we (improvisers) get from the audience from time to time. Some times they are vulgar and down right WTF! We discuss different approaches to handling these situations and talk about times where suggestions like these have come up.