Posts from April 9th, 2013

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Fools Play Improv’s 20th Anniversary Special

It was… special.

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:

http://youtu.be/ffD6A85LkR4

And that’s how the last 20 years happened.

The 2nd documentary was about all the colored-shirt Fools, and you can watch that one here: http://youtu.be/v1ICgMkSvwI

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:

IMG_0146

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

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:

http://youtu.be/J39TxBRh76o

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.

Thank you.

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.

So that happened.

Categories: Fools Play, Life, Videos.