Last Saturday, April 6th, something pretty spectacular happened. Fools Play Improv celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary. Now, how did we come up with that math? Because that’s when Me, Mike, Ed, Geoff, and Josh first got on stage. Sure, we weren’t Fools Play at that time. We joined another troupe. But the five of us getting up on stage was the beginning of our improv career.
And that was in April of 1993. Hence 20 years.
We’ve known for a long time that the 20th anniversary was coming, and we knew we wanted it to be somehow special. Not a bullshit “special” like most of our anniversary specials have been, but an actually-special special. And we figured one of the best ways to honor the last 20 years of improv was to include for reals as much of that history into the show as possible.
And so we reached out to performers who had been on stage with us at at all points in the last 20 years and asked them if they could come re-join us for one special night. And many did.
But that wasn’t special enough! Oh, no! Not nearly! We also reached out to past (and many lapsed) and present audience members, especially ones who had seen us at more than one venue, and asked if they could participate in the show as well. But not as performers. How, you ask? As interviewees for a set of “documentaries” that we produced about Fools Play, and aired live during the show.
Here’s the documentary that opened the night: The Story of Fools Play. I’ll let it speak for itself:
It was an incredible night. I was surrounded by friends and people I love, both up on stage and in the audience. An audience that was so packed that we ran WAY out of chairs, and we may have exceeded the legal, fire-code limit of the building (I’m not saying that we did… but…). Just take a look:
But the most special moment of the night for me came at the very end. You see, Fools Play has been around as an entity for 20 years, yes. But not everyone has been in Fools Play for all those 20 years. Josh split off with Joel to form their own troupe over a decade ago. Ed retired a few years back. Geoff took a hiatus one year to go to China, and now only performs part-time. Mike took an entire year hiatus to go to film school. So even though Fools Play has been around for 20 years, nobody has actually been in Fools Play for all 20 of those years…
Except for me.
That’s right: I am the only Fool who has never taken an extended hiatus or retired in all those 20 years. Sure I’ve missed plenty of shows here and there (probably more than 200 missed shows total), but the only break I took was when I was hospitalized for three weeks and the recovery afterwards… during which time I still performed in a show by phone, so that was more like taking sick days than it was taking a hiatus!
So I knew that this fact was going to be acknowledged. In fact we had a bit planned where the Whales would come interrupt our show and complain that none of us had been there for the full 20 years, and then my puppet “You” would show up and explain that I had! And that happened. But then something surprising happened after that.
My brother brought out a box and from it drew forth an award. An actual award that had been made just for me… and it lights up!
20 Years Full Time Performing
And then the over-packed audience full of friends and loved ones gave me a for-real standing ovation. Holy crap:
It was a very moving moment. I gave a speech. A surprisingly, honestly heartfelt speech! I transcribe it for you here:
Me: This is really awesome.
A lot of people have asked me over the years why I’ve done this every saturday night for more than half my life. I don’t know what idiot put a 15 year old kid on stage, but I think he’s somewhere around…
Ed: [Pointing at Howard] He’s here…
Me: He’s here! But I am eternally grateful.
Y’know, there’s many other things that potentially one could do on a Saturday night. But I don’t know why. Because this is, look around here. I met my wife by doing Fools Play. This audience is full of my friends and loved ones, and it’s just an amazing thing.
And, uh, this is actually heartfelt. Weird.
But it’s more than just a social thing for me. I heard a long time ago, I don’t remember who said it, but there’s a phrase that goes, “Happiness is an organism doing its intended purpose efficiently.” And I’m one of those rare people who know, I know what makes me happy.
What makes me happy is entertaining people.
Whether, you know, I have a blog that I update every once in a while. I write music. But Fools Play is so immediate. I get up on a stage in front of people and make them laugh. And it’s a huge, huge source of happiness for me.
And that’s really the reason that I’ve been doing this for 20 years, is because Fools Play is happiness for me. And I don’t see why it’s weird to do that for 20 years.
Mike: So chris, would you say that fools play for 20 years, that just isn’t weird?
Me: [In Weird's voice] “That’s not weird.”
So I just want to express my unbelievable gratitude to Fools Play for allowing me to do this for so long. And [to the audience] thank you for allowing me to be happy.
I of course said all of that while a puppet was on my hand. And, yes, I got a plug for this blog in the speech
Seriously, I cannot truly express how grateful I am to have been able to do Fools Play for the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more.
Good pal and Fools Play member Esa Hakkarainen (the Periwinkle Fool) has become the third Fool to be in a band that has had a Kickstarter campaign (after Geoff the Yellow Fool and Nathan the Orange Fool). Esa plays bass for the band “Simon the Leper,” which I can best describe as kind of a cross between spacey post-rock and screaming metal.
You can head over to their Bandcamp page to listen to an EP and a live album. Here’s a sample from the “You Are OK” EP (mixed by Geoff the Yellow Fool, incidentally):
And if you like what you hear, of course head on over to Kickstarter and toss in your two cents.
Hello, everyone! Today is my favorite holiday of them all, Halloween!
This was my first Halloween in which I actually owned my own sewing machine, so I went for a much more ambitious sewing project than usual. After looking around the internets for a few minutes trying to find a good template or instructional video, I figured out how to sew the head of my costume. Here is my costume for Hween 2012!
Super Mario Mushroom coming out of a Question Block
Just by happenstance the cardboard box I chose to be the Question Block ended up being 16″ × 16″ and the original Super Mario sprite for the Question Block just happens to be 16 pixels × 16 pixels. So I just made a one-inch grid on the backs of a big piece of orange and a big piece of black paper, and cut out all the shapes for the question mark and shadows. Easy-peasy!
Continuing with the same Super Mario theme, here are my punkins for Hween 2012:
The Big Boo punkin is so shy when you’re looking at him!
But when you look away, Big Boo punkin is gonna getchoo!
I was not, of course, the only person to have a costume. On Saturday night Fools Play had its annual Halloween Show, and the whole cast was all costumed-up:
Lookit all dem Fools!
And, finally, here is Baman Piderman’s Halloween episode, “Ghost Night!” Enjoy!
Every year, Fools Play Improv declares war on its hated enemy: Olympia’s Capital Lakefair. Why? For having the temerity to occur at the same time as Fools Play’s show!
And every year Fools Play is successful in COMPLETELY DESTROYING Lakefair — Lakefair is always gone by the end of the weekend in which the Fools Play War takes place.
This year the audience chose two key components of Lakefair to attack: the lake itself, and the corn on the cob. Watch the battle footage here, and see just how Fools Play COMPLETELY DESTROYED Capital Lakefair!
Much of Saturday needed to be spent doing yardwork, seeing as how the yard was getting a li’l bit outta control:
Before (Left) & After (Right)
It’s coming along much better now, though! Soon it will actually be a nice place in which to hang out.
My front yard, however, I think is just a lost cause. It’s so, so, so gross. Just take a look at this:
Anyway, there were also a couple of barbecues to attend. One on Saturday afternoon, which I had to leave early to go down to Fools Play and perform a very fun show that was attended also by the Yellow Fool, in which we all got to play a bunch of our recurring characters. I always enjoy Character Nights at Fools Play.
Carrie and a couple friends, meanwhile, left the barbecue and headed down to Wingman Brewers, which is a young local brewery that just opened a tiny taproom in Tacoma near the Dome. They were having a really cool “Made In Tacoma” event where they invited some other local businesses down and had a little fair of a sort: Madrona Coffee (Wingman has a beer with this coffee in it), 21 Cellars winery, Barrel No.51 BBQ Truck, and Backcountry Creamery cheeses. Much fun was had.
The next barbecue involved the setting up of a net for the playing of the Two-Sticks, the best possible net game ever:
Two-Sticks Net Ready to Go! (No, that's not my backyard)
Monday was my real day off; no plans at all (except for a couple of quick chores and a trip to Trader Joe’s). So it was supposed to be my day to do all sorts of creative stuff: blog, write, compose chiptunes, etc. And it all fizzled. I was completely uninspired, and everything I started just seemed like dreck to me. Bleah. So instead of getting anything important done I went to a Red Box and rented Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which is really excellent.
I think I’m going to start a new series on this website where I quickly review movies that I see at home (DVD, OnDemand, Streaming, etc.). It won’t be its own section like my Movie Reviews; it’ll just be it’s own Category like my Great Ideas on the Internets Category. I just can’t figure out what to call it; I want it to be some horrible pun that somehow combines the idea of reviewing movies I’ve only seen on video/DVD/Streaming in my own home. Something awful like “Vidreoviews.” Hold on… there, I just did a Google Search for Vidreoviews and it didn’t come up with anything! IT’S MINE NOW, SUCKAS! BAM!
Ahem. Anyhoo, watch for my M:I-GP Vidreoview later this week.