Thank you Eau Claire Improv Festival! We had so much fun this weekend! This festival was truly a special, unique, and freezing cold experience! Here’s how the days went:
The whole trip was insane, starting with the 5 hour drive to Eau Claire Friday night through the snow! David booked us a minivan, and when we showed up we didn’t know it would be a candy-apple red, tricked out, Chrysler Town and Country, with TWO TVS IN IT! Xzibit himself would have been proud. Alan laid in the back row and slept through practically the whole car ride; Collin couldn’t stop snapchatting; Dave was continuously working on his Indian Chief impression; David couldn’t stop grumpily coughing and sneezing; and Ryan couldn’t stop coming up with ridiculous Italian names…It was a typical “Switch” car ride. During the drive we stopped off at the Pine Cone Restaurant, in De Forest, WI, which served you unlimited chicken and fish. Alan got the Porcupine Meatballs cause he’s disgusting, Ryan got a chocolate milkshake because he’s a child, and David got the only vegetarian thing on the menu…plain eggs. We also attempted to do a podcast, but things went to hell once the food came to the table.
Arriving in Eau Claire during a storm at 12:30 am is the ONLY time to arrive. We walked into the front door of what would be our home for the next two days. The best way to describe it is to have you picture a frat house in a movie after some crazy college party: Couches displayed in a Tetris-style fashion, art-deco pieces built from empty beer cans, an old school N64 plugged into a TV (despite there being 2 newer gaming systems behind it), and a vinyl record collection deep enough to insulate the house. When we asked if we could get the playlist because the music was so good, we were directed towards the record album which was, fittingly, playing The Animals. We were told to head downstairs where there was an Improv Jam going on. The basement was decked out in lights and rugs with a small space for a stage, and people were sitting and laying about, just having a good time. It was so awesome to see people performing because they love it, in a basement at 12:30am.
After the Jam was done we were shown to our room. It was one large room with three large air mattresses on the ground. Literally, the entire bedroom was mattress; if you stepped off your bed, you were on someone else’s. Naturally, Collin and Alan slept while spooning together, David got his own air mattress because he was sick, and Ryan and Dave were able to share a bed without laying on top of one-another. This has naturally morphed into the “Switch” sleeping arrangement. Leaving us in a small room like that may have not been the best idea, because it took us a few hours to fall asleep, as we were constantly jumping on top of each other and cursing. “Vincenzo Velucci, Velucci Fixtures!” was shouted as we dog piled on top of one another. We didn’t find out until the next morning that we kept the whole house up with our antics. But being amazingly nice, small town Midwesterners, they were incredibly polite about it. “No we heard it. All of it.”
We woke up Saturday and our wonderful host Elliot was making us Blueberry Pancakes. Dave said they were the best blueberry pancakes he had ever eaten. Ryan agreed…they were the best pancakes that Dave had ever eaten. We then taught our Hyper-Play workshop down in the cool hybrid basement/ theater space. It was awesome to see people show up to take our workshop even though it was snowing and 10am. The workshop was awesome. We had them killing each other and slapping one another right from the start (just like how we warm up). After our workshop, we asked some of the students where the best pizza place is, and so off we went to JimBob’s where they have a deal – Buy One Pizza, Get One pizza free! Are you kidding me!? Is this real life!? We got a Smotherella pizza which was basically a giant cheese stick, it was disgustingly delicious.
After filling our bellies, Rick Andrews of the Magnet Theater in NY, was nice enough to offer a workshop with us, so down we went again to the basement. It was so great to work with Rick, as there was an instant connection. Though we had never met him before, it felt like we knew exactly where he was coming from and he knew what we wanted. We screwed around for 90 minutes, learned some new games, then took turns taking naps or playing Super Smash Bros. and Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey with the boys of the house until showtime.
Wow! What an awesome job the festival producers did! The performances were held at Pizza Plus, a large pizza place/bar/ theater in downtown Eau Claire. On our way there Ryan thought he saw a little kid in a tattoo parlor peeing in a plant, but it was just a statue. The theater space was huge, probably had 250 people packed in, and the energy was amazing! This pizza place was one of the coolest pizza places ever. They had arcade games like Terminator and Big Buck Hunter along with a stereo system so you could hear everything that was said on stage even if you were in the way back. The crowd was so excited to see comedy and were incredibly inviting. The great people at Pizza Plus even offered us a free pizza! If you’re counting at home, that’s three pizzas in one day for the boys of “Switch.”
Our show was amazing. It started off with us lifting Alan up as a scarecrow and tying our ties on him to look like dead snakes to scare the kids away from stealing our pumpkins. Of course, in “Switch” fashion, the scarecrow came alive and killed us all, including Collin who wasn’t actually an adult, but two of those pumpkin-stealing kids on top of each other dressed in a trenchcoat. This led to a homicide scene where Alan the Forensic Analyst, and Dave the Detective, needed to get their hands up the bodies butts, to check for exit wounds, which led to a lot of “downstairs” touching. It was a series of scenes where they shoved their hands up Ryan’s ass. “This reminds me of that other murder a week ago, I think we have a copy cat! We cut back and forth to the ‘other’ murders, each one with Ryan laying face down ass up…BUT IT ALL MADE SENSE! The show was lunacy after that, with David having flashbacks to his days of getting stabbed at Miami Clubs, to all the guys shrinking down to go into Dave’s Rectum to find out who killed him, and meeting David, the Cinnabon-eating Ass Troll as well as Collin, a stripper who’d been eaten because she was inside of a cake for a bachelorette party. We also got to see behind the scenes footage from Slumdog Millionaire with Ryan, Dave, and Alan. The reaction from the crowd before and after was incredible.
We rose to the gentle sounds of sickly Schwartzbaum snores. It sounded like the engine of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. We gathered our things, as quietly as the five of us were able to do, and said goodbye to the sleeping bodies cluttered around the house. The sleepy car ride home was filled with hilarious memories of the weekend, the newfound love for Wisconsin cheese, and the appreciation for the art we love.
We’d just like to take a moment, one more time, to thank the Boys in The House on Chippewa Street – Alex Raney, Elliott Heinz, Mack Hastings, and Lucas – for being such great hosts and offering up their home to us; to Amber Dernbach and the entire Eau Claire Improv Festival for their hard work putting such a fantastic festival together; to Rick Andrews for the super fun workshop; and to all who came out and supported live comedy! Yes, it was cold and snowy, but I think the performers melted some cold hearts with warm improv performances…well, everyone’s hearts except David’s. We can’t wait to go back next year!
Thank you Eau Claire Improv Festival 2013!