So I've been taking these adult soccer clinics on Saturday mornings, to help improve my ball skills--and it is working out very well, I am thrilled. My game has gotten better slowly but surely--I can really feel it during the pickup games. In addition to the clinic, I also played two hours of soccer Saturday evening with the full-field guys
, and another hour Sunday morning. You definitely feel the heat but as I've been telling my fellow players, I grew up in Virginia. We had practice in heat and humidity worse than this every day in August. And what you always did was you froze a quart or so of water, brought it to practice and left it in your car, and when you had a water break you pulled it out. Voila! Lovely cool just-melted water. Anyway so although I'm sweating quite a bit, I am perfectly able to continue playing throughout the entire two hours or whatever.
Which is great because now that Pirates is winding down, I WILL HAVE FREE TIME IN MY LIFE AGAIN O YEA. Very, very happy about that, July 4 was the one day off I've had in weeks. And the show! Oh, the show is going so well--we had a runthrough yesterday, our first runthrough, and not just once but *several* times I was literally laughing so hard I was crying. They are AWESOME! There's still a ton of cleaning up to do but they're all so funny and they've worked so hard. The dances look great--my favorite is "When the Foeman Bares His Steel" which is SO MUCH FUN. But my new favorite is "Stay Frederic Stay" which Jen and Taylor are KILLING. We've restored the middle section and Mabel's disingenuous attempted seduction of Frederic is effing hilarious. And it's not just me laughing--the cast was in the wings dying as well, and several cast members were cracking up ON stage. Taylor is our Frederic--what a find! He has a gorgeous voice and takes direction so well--and he comes up with funny stuff as well! We all just love him. And I love his silly run offstage when he exits after "Stay Frederic Stay"--I have a couple of Silly Walks in the blocking and he came up with that one. He just looks so goofy.
I have several actors from The Vagina Monologues and they're all 3 killing it as well. Jessica is The Bookworm/Ethel (I gave all the daughters personalities)--the climax of "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" is just such glorious, exuberant music (the run on the piano right after the Edith & Kate soli and before the final "Let us gaily tread the measure...") that I wanted them all to dance around in different joyous dances. So Kate is doing ballet, Edith and the Baby/Molly are dancing in a ring, etc. I decided The Bookworm would be dancing dorkily--so Jessica is just out there dancing dorkily full-out and selling it for all she's worth. So, so funny! She is just hilarious--so committed, so focused. I keep telling the cast--you MUST commit in comedy. If you pull your punches or if it's too naturalistic, it's not funny. I sometimes feel with the less experienced cast members, I'm serving as much of a coach and teacher as a director, but so many people don't understand how to do comedy. It IS hard; it DOES require certain elements for the alchemy, and discipline and timing. And different kinds of comedy are handled differently--slapstick vs. character-based comedy vs. conceptual comedy. So I will set up a bit or gag, and then when I'm giving them notes I'll say things like "you have to commit--that's what makes it funny." Or "you can't run it all together here, have to break it down a little more here--that's what makes it funny." Some people think you're either funny or you're not--mmm, I disagree, but maybe that's just my work ethic kicking in there (i.e., I want to believe that anyone, if they work hard enough, can be funny). But upbringing and culture have something to do with it. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that LOVES humor, and then I've worked with some really talented actors.
Another thing I love about comedy is how contextual it is in every way. It is structurally--on a single joke basis, you establish and expectation and then violate it. But then within the show itself, it's contextual---once you get the audience on your side, they'll start laughing more quickly as the show goes on. And then finally it's culturally contextual, in a couple of different ways. First, because tastes in comedy can change--this is why we find Jerry Lewis painfully unfunny now, but back in the '50s he really was a genius. But in another way, I LOVE that comedy is all about stealing gags--in Pirates I have cheerfully lifted from Monty Python, Star Trek, The Princess Bride, Airplane!
and yes, I had an idea yesterday for a gag I'm stealing from The Empress of Sex
! (Hope you don't mind, Duncan! :) I love the idea that I'm connecting with all of those clowns from generations past by recycling their bits, and if I'm lucky someone will use ME as an inspiration!