Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saving Lupin @ The F Harold Festival

This week I have the fun (yet time consuming task) of filming EVERY act in the F. Harold Festival happening at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia.  We are in the black box on the fifth floor (not to be confused with Miss Saigon on the main stage).  One of the “rules” of WST is NO SINGING!  My guess is they are afraid that people will confuse us with the Broadway hit 5 floors below.

About 2 months ago Jim Burns (co creator of The League and possibly The Flo-be) & I formed an improv duo (by the way, I just added the word “improv” to my outlook dictionary).  We asked our friend Emily, who is an incredible improv’r, to be our coach.  Emily used to be part of our now defunct short form group, The Basement.  We went with the name “Saving Lupin” which refers to the cat Jim found dying on the streets of Wilmington.  Our friend Kerry, Julie & I took this little guy to an emergency vet hospital.  We named him Lupin because Kerry & I both were reading the 6th Potter book at the time.  3 years later, Lupin is healthy & strong, also the terror of our household.   

After a couple rehearsals Jim & I decided to put our name in for the F. Harold Festival F. Harold is an ALL Philly based comedy festival.  Stand up, sketch, short & long form improv created by the genius mind of one, Ricky Horner.  Jim & I kept rehearsing and seemed to get better and better, week after week. 

Last Sunday, Jim and I went to see some shows (along with Billy B & Sweet Julie) at Philly Improv Theater’s Duofest.  We saw two juggernauts in the Philly Improv world.  First “The Amie & Kristen Show” or “The Kristen & Amie Show” depending on who you ask.  Both are incredible artists.  So much so I almost find myself feeling star struck when I’m around them.  I usually say the most idiotic things in conversations to Kristen (“How about this weather, right?”). I assume she thinks I’m retarded, at least partially.  Then there’s Amie, who I don’t believe I have ever been able to say more than “Hey” to, which is weird because I sat across from her at a restaurant table after meeting Tina Fey (“can you pass the butter?”  “ummm…hey?” – she never did get that butter). 

The second group we saw at Duofest was “Horner & Davis.”  I am a huge fan.  Not just of the group, but also its players.  I was lucky enough to see them very early on in their incarnation.  They played a show at Connie’s Ric Rac and then we all went to one of the finest dining establishments in all of Philadelphia, Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.  It was here that I got to know the great Rick (sometimes “Ricky”) Horner.  I have a photo of Rick lying on the ground outside of the bar’s front door.  A homeless dude walked by and said, “I wouldn’t lay there.  It’s pretty gross.”  Rick then took our entire party on a quest for cheap Philly soft pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Company.  Apparently, according to the lies Rick Horner tells, if you go to the Philly Pretzel Company and knock on the door, they will give you cheap pretzels.  We went.  We knocked.  I am still waiting for my pretzels Mr. Horner.

After their performance at Duofest, Rick asked me how the rehearsing was going for F. Harold.  I told him things were going really well…maybe too well.  I said I was actually hoping to have a bad rehearsal for fear that the “bad” would show up in the actual show.  Well that night, Jim & I had what I thought was a BAD rehearsal.  Jim had to do all the heavy lifting, because I was just weird & awkward (“ummm…hey?”).  Rather than be relieved as I joked I would be earlier to Rick, I was panicked.  FUCK!  “I am going to suck on stage and bring Jim down with me.”  This would be my thought process until 8:00 pm on Wednesday night when we stepped out into the spot lights.

So how were we?  I have no idea.  People laughed.  That’s good right?  We received some very nice compliments from people that we didn’t even know.  Also a potentially positive sign I would wager.  As we walked off stage, I was in a bit of a daze.  I wanted to get to my water bottle I left in the dressing room (and perhaps crawl into it).  I walk into the lobby and there was Kristen.  The heat index was 101 this day, so a perfectly timed awkward comment about the weather would probably have been appropriate.  “Oh hey,” I said as I continued to that water bottle.

Jim & I started dissecting the show when Emily popped in with Chex mix.  She convinced us to enjoy what we had just done.  We did.  And ate Chex mix.

I was a goddamn nervous wreck all week.  So why can’t I wait to get back on stage and so this again?

My thanks to Jim for embarking on this journey with me
My thanks to Emily for her Craig T. Nelson ways
My thanks to Rick for putting F. Harold together in the first place, and allowing us play
My thanks to Julie, Bosco, Ron, Dean, Traci, Bill, Cathy & Katie for coming out to watch us  
My thanks to Jana, Charles, Tom, Mark, Cara and the guy I never saw before in the red shirt for the nice compliments afterwards
My thanks to Jason for the text almost immediately after we stepped off stage
My thanks to Erick & AJ for the Facebook messages
My thanks to Kristen & Amie, for pretending to ignore the awkwardness

Keep an eye out for “Saving Lupin.”

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