We all talk about truth in comedy. Comedy=tragedy+time, etc. Never has this been more clear to me than it was last night.
The last several weeks have been a blur of hospitals and doctors and nurses and procedures and deep, dire conversations. My dad is doing better, and on Monday we moved him into a nursing home. The move is supposed to be temprorary, just until he regains his strength enough to go home, but I am not the only one who fears that we may not see that happen.
I'm getting to the improv part, I promise.
I was on stage last week, but my head was at the hospital. How could it not be? It made for a difficult show, and I probably should not have played at all, but I was grateful for the outlet.
Last night, I went to the nursing home straight from work and sat with my dad for a while and then headed to the theater to play, my mind so occupied by thoughts of family and obligation that I almost missed my exit.
With 'Swamp' as our suggestion, we began our Harold, and when I stepped out with Dave in the first scene, his initiation was "You're going to put me in a home."
I was momentarily overwhelmed by the fact that Dave was reading my mind. For a week, I have had nightmares about being in a nursing home . Then I thought to myself, "Ok, I can either shut down, or I can just take all this shit that's rolling around in my head and explore it to see what it means."
During the show, I said so many of the things that I have said or thought for the last few weeks. It was incredibly cathartic. Dave played a dad (he plays the BEST dads) who was vigorous and obviously didn't need to be in a home. I was the daughter who kept trying to impose old age on him and make him feeble when he wasn't.
Daughters always want to see their daddies as strong. In a way I can't explain, this scene helped me to accept and understand my feelings with what is going on with my dad right now. It helped me to play with my fears and thereby, understand them.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you've got big things on your mind, those things should be in your improv. What we are ultimately trying to do is explore the human condition, and it just so happens that there is much to rejoice in there. Don't hide from it.