Last night was the second of six performances in our run of “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, a Star Trek original series-themed improv show. When we go to the audience for suggestions, the one that tends to be most impactful is the suggestion of a thing for the alien planet to worship. Last night, as luck would have it, the deity suggestion was “Eminem”.
Now, by the time our redshirt is getting the suggestions, we’re all backstage. No computers, no phones – it’s one of the things that makes improv so hard, the likelihood you’ll be asked to deal with a suggestion you’re not too familiar with. In this case, once we had clarified that the suggestion was not, in fact, “M&Ms”, we all had some varying level of knowledge – enough to get us through, and miraculously it seemed that we all had different sorts of knowledge on the subject. I like Eminem well enough, and use “Lose Yourself” as part of my frequent pre-show driving music selections. It was a bit odd to be sitting next to Captain Kirk with romantic music playing as he quoted lyrics from that song to my character as a part of the wooing process. OK, more than a bit odd. (But I deeply enjoyed the absurdity of some of those moments, like when I got to ask Kirk how deep he rolled.)
But most surreal of all was intermission. You see, before I could stop myself I had blurted out that my character was due to participate in a life-or-death rap battle, which quickly became the targeted climax of the story. So, during intermission, we all needed to listen to Eminem songs to get warmed up. This was the first time that the promise of having my Zune Pass subscription available on my Windows Phone 7 really took tangible form. I hopped into the Marketplace and streamed the full length versions of a bunch of songs that weren’t on my phone on demand.
Sure, services like Pandora exist, but they’re not good for targeted listening; you get one song as the basis for the channel and then no control afterwards as it switches to related artists. Plus there are commercials. And in TheatreSports, we sometimes use Youtube videos when we need specific songs over the sound system, but they have a PC and sound board where we can queue tracks offline and make sure there are no commercials or interruptions. No such thing last night in the dressing room. Zune was exactly what we needed in the 10 clandestine minutes we had for inspiration.
As strange as anything else onstage last night was (and there is always strange), the most surreal moment was sitting in that tiny dressing room with the crew of the Enterprise in uniform, my own hair piled 6 inches on top of my head with a plastic knife on my belt, holding my phone out as we all bopped our heads along to songs like “The Real Slim Shady”. That image is burned into my brain, even though the room was too small to capture the moment on film.
(And to top things off, while we were boning up on Eminem songs, our intrepid sound technician was actively purchasing and downloading a karaoke version of “Slim Shady” to use as the backing track during that end rap battle.)
So, in partial thanks to the metaphorical “cloud”, we put on a fantastic show last night and left the audience laughing endlessly. A great feeling all around. We were also filming last night, so I fear video of me ‘rapping’ poorly as an alien with a Federation entourage may live longer than I do. Regardless, a night like that is why we do improv in the first place.
The Cloud: Saving your butt on the final frontier since 2011.
(Seattle area folks, only 4 more chances to see this insanity unfold before your eyes! Buy tickets early; even with insane traffic last night we had a line at the ticket booth and interest is only increasing. Check out this earlier post for more info, or visit our Facebook page.)