I haven’t forgotten about you. I never do. I remember a lot. I remember when we all used to post on the forums. Especially Bron. Some years after tournament I’d type out a long Word document and post it on the forums. And although Championship was weeks ago I am on a long conference call where my line is muted and all I’m expected to do is verify at the end of the call and confirm I was here. It is implied that I have to pay attention, but not enforced, so I think instead I’ll cast my memory back to our time together at Laugh Camp.
One line I repeated to many of you all week long was, “I should be home filling boxes.” That turned out to be a slight overstatement, but I did move from LA to Berkeley less than a week after I returned from CWC. In fact, when I arrived on the SJSU campus, it was after filling my car with 14 moving boxes (books mostly), driving those to Berkeley and loading them into my otherwise empty new house, then turning around and driving south to San Jose. The first person I saw was Chayton. It was 2 hours before I got to San Jose, he’s really tall and can be seen from far away. No, just kidding, but it was rad that I knew exactly where to go and what to do because of Lizzie, Lucinda, Laura, and everyone who helped pull off the planning.
On Friday I blew off an afternoon workshop and went to the Games Garden where I got a chance to sit quietly, stack a pile of game boxes so their first letters spelled out a vulgar word (no one noticed) and write down a few thoughts about what I loved so far. Here’s what I wrote, which keep in mind only goes up until Friday afternoon:
· Rick Steadman in the Quad Cities Forward Reverse
· Vicki from Manchester: “We all know a moist apple is just an avocado”
· Josh from Twin Cities to Ref Betse: “Not so easy, is it?”
· The following from Lionel Twain and our 2 games of murder: Twain’s sing-song inflection of “Doctor,” the rope around the Disney princess’s foot, the vampire, Salem Harold, the second coming of Applesauce, and Baron Dark (Micah): “Well we’ll never get anywhere if we don’t start randomly accusing people”
· The Manchester game of Finishing School
· All the hugs
· Kelly Scruggs and MJ in the Baked Beans scene
· Starting things off with Kelsey’s workshop, in which we shanghaied John Cooper and ambushed him with an ovation, then turned out the lights, turned over all the furniture, and destroyed the room, including a newspaper catwalk runway fashion show. And this is the workshop where I learned there is a Cassie, which was a highlight
· Jeff Kramer’s morning perorations: that opening day talk was really spot-on. I was proud to be the first person to join Rachel Garmon’s “iMprov” chant
· 12th place out of 17 teams playing Trivia.
But that was just what I could capture during a few quiet moments in the Games Garden. Now that I’ve had over a month to reminisce, I have so much more that I want to commit to memory and to celebrate.
I love our four values, I really do. I think next year those of us who teach workshops should think about how the values can be more evident in our lesson plan: e.g, this is the Collaborative part of our musical workshop, this is the Fun part of Shakespeare (which in case you are wondering is kicking Rick Steadman in the balls and saying “Forsooth!”). Anyhow, that being said, the rest of this blog post is going to rely heavily upon the Gratitude value.
I’m grateful that we had two excellent games of Murder this year, and neither of them went on for a billion hours, and both of them had Mr. Lionel Twain in fine fettle. What a national treasure Rich Prouty is. I love that dude. And exciting that we had some new players seeing their very first handshake endgame. I remember that Chris Crotty was the murderer who made it to the end: who were the two civilians that shook hands? It was a late night, sorry I don’t remember.
I’m grateful for the other games we played in the Garden this year. I especially liked playing Beasts of Balance, Concept, and Exquisite Fruit with you all. The latter in particular: does anyone still have any good photos of the best Q&As, like the Guy Fieri one?
I’m grateful for the smooth production and powerful razzle-dazzle of the opening ceremony. All those flags and everyone marching in uniform. And a lot of you lost confidence when the mayor’s opening joke appeared to take a dark turn but then it all came together. And that’s like watching a ComedySportz match, n’est-ce pas? And then there was a huge ribbon and a tiny pair of scissors, and that’s definitely perfect to kick off a ComedySportz match. I didn’t miss the national anthem this year. No, not at all, and not only did I not miss the anthem but what’s more the video ref shpiel worked so, so well: better than I would ever have predicted. Not anyone could pull that off, but with a talent bench like San Jose has, it’s no surprise. This was my first time seeing Lizzie’s talent, and she is amazing.
I’m grateful to Rachel Kottcamp, attending her second championship, who graciously and skillfully ironed all the arm patches onto the uniforms for the CSzLA players. That was critical, you really came through when we needed you. Since I started writing this blog post, I read another long screed that you had to say about a different organization. I am very grateful that you and I are part of ComedySportz, and hope that all that other junk will soon just be an unpleasant memory.
I’m grateful to the two bald guys in the balcony. The musical gifts throughout all the matches brought everything to this heavenly level, such as when they played “Auld Lang Syne” after Courtney Pong had 1/3 of the audience cheer “Happy New Year” while the other 2/3 said “HALF TIME.” My understanding from Pat is the reason that song was a trio was because a friend of Pat’s whom he had not seen in years popped into the balcony to join them for a few numbers: “I just happened to bring my saxophone.” With Pat on the field with us as ref during our match, it spoiled my opportunity to refer to the 2 bald guys in the balcony as “Pat-ler and Scott-dorf” or possibly “Scott-ler and Wald-short.” I couldn’t decide which one was funnier, but I didn’t get a chance to anyhow. That was the ONLY downside of having Pat Short as the ref. What fun to play with him in “I Dream of Genie” as well as our mat chat (“Take a point away for saying The 580”). Pong caught that the set-up included “hella.” I was surprised the San Jose fanz didn’t have a bigger reaction to that, but they did when I told them Silicon Valley excludes women and too many startups are all-male, so that was OK. ScoldemySportz, it’s not comedy about scolding, it’s scolding played as a sport.
I’m grateful to Captain Rachel Garmon and CSz Richmond for a grand match, valiantly played fought. I’m not sure where we went wrong and why we lost, but I think probably our fatal mistake was winning both audience voting rounds. Kididng aside, playing Dance Party Freeze with your team was among the best improv experiences of my life, and you’re talking to a guy who played combination Moving Bodies/Replay at Bernie’s with volunteer player Spiderman. Also against Richmond, I believe. Thanks for a fun, collaborative match.
I was sorry that we didn’t do the “Eveyone stand up, now sit down if it’s your first year at championship, sit down if it’s your second year, etc etc” activity. I hope that comes back next year in LA. But I am grateful that when the managers introduce everybody, Kirk Keevert and Mary Ann Rambo get chanted. They deserve that, and all the fine things in life. It’s amazing to see what Kirk is achieving, and my heart just swells with pride for him – he was a founding member of the Games Garden in Quad Ciites. And Mary Ann: it’s a good thing the league has her, it seems like she is personally and specifically holding together about half the players and staff. Seems like a lot of work, but we’re all grateful and inspired.
I’m grateful for our host city. San Jose was on such beautiful display. I love the weather there – I think rain was in the forecast but it never came – and the Super Tacos at Iguana’s and the Dutch Crunch at Ike’s, and the milkshake place, lots of easy parking: Downtown San Jose seems like a really cool place to visit, I’m glad I’ll be spending more time there.
Even though I was sore about missing out on participating in some of the workshops, on the whole I am grateful I taught a workshop, to spread Clapenhaagen and Hue Goes There. I remember in the first class talking about the “butt pizza people” and in the second class we discovered a new way to play String of Pearls where we all chant “Once upon a time” and “And the moral of the story is” and “Seminal fluid.” And I won you all over when I said, “Three characters? What is this, Game of Thrones?” and then I lost you when I said I don’t care for animals but then I said, “Remember when I said the Game of Thrones thing and you all liked me?” and then it was all OK. I was particularly happy to have Steph DeWagener join us because I think her input is so intelligent, and I was gratified that J’leen and Eric’s mom (who I know has a name) mentioned to me that they had some good breakthroughs. Remember that you have to read the “Impro” book and you cannot get too good at String of Pearls. It is a different game with 6 people, 7 people, 8 people, 9 people. Congratulations to Jaclynn and to Kate, the Clapenhaagen champs, and Eric from Detroit who is the indefatigable Ninja champion. I really enjoyed our awesome game of Zombie Tag also.
I’m grateful we played some practice Only Connect clues in the quad. You guys got the Wizard of Oz and Zodiac clues correct, good job! Getting to gab about Only Connect with a proper British Victoria was a real privilege. If you haven’t started watching, follow YouTuber WheelsOnGenius for the new episodes most Mondays. You won’t regret it. And it might help you prepare for a game in LA next year.
I’m grateful for Eddie Quintana, who gives so generously of himself to our team all year round, and this year gave me the opportunity to surprise James with a wine bottle opener.
I'm grateful to Joy and Eric for joining me and Konstantine in the championship match. I particularly enjoyed being dueling DJs with Joy. "I DJ'd his Bar Mitzvah last year" "I'm 14."
I’m grateful for what Tammy whispered to me at the toga party.
I’m grateful for Diana Dulaney, who was missed. And for Rachel Wareing, who I hope got my video greeting card from Bron. I felt these two women’s absence strongly and I love them all the way to Europe. What a fine showing Manchester had in its match to honor Rachel, and what a fitting tribute that Diana’s Houston team played in the championship match with so much distinguishment.
I’m grateful for the woman who volunteered her phone for a game and we read this text: “I’m getting in the shower, feel free to join me.” So good (I say “we” even though I wasn’t on the field – but it’s like if you root for the Giants or something and you’re like “We won!”).
I’m grateful I dipped Jessica Carson after her first-ever performance in a championship match after attending as a free agent more than I have as a player.
I’m grateful for Sean M. who told me “I heard your first ‘Endgame’ joke” and for Sean S. who appreciated my accent/language endowment and “garrotte cravat” which I’d already… forgot.
I’m grateful I made Jill Bernard laugh by doing a goony dance with my arms. I’m grateful for ALL the dancing on the dance floor on the closing night party.
Also from that final night, I’m grateful I played Frisbee with Kate in her Xena get-up. And for those of you who felt like joining in tossing a disc to a hero but for some reason didn’t: next time, do.
I have to say that I can’t say enough about my affection for John Kehoe from Buffalo, Matt Garnaas from Milwaukee, and Darryl Fishwick from Manchester. I could talk to John about anything, I wish more people were like him. Matt is the kindest, gentlest soul in the world, and maybe the most true-blue person I ever met. I was proud to hold Darryl’s hand and hold him tight during the finals match.
And then there was the closing ceremony. I stuck around for the morning meeting where we rehearsed it, and after our 7 PM match on Saturday night was over and the announcement about Houston vs. San Jose got made, I changed out of my sweaty uniform and into my comfy waffle shirt (I do love the weather in San Jose). I forgot all about the Les Miz ending until the last chance round was almost over. I scrambled backstage and scurried under the light of the projector, crawling like volunteer player Spider-Man, and joined the stage right players. The only other representative from our team was Konstantine, who was appropriately wearing his uniform. “Hi, MYLES” he said, in the tone you say to someone who almost forgot to show up, leaving one person from your team to represent the entire city, one person alone standing between a total flake-out on the finale, which would just be too fitting for Los Angeles. We were both grateful I’d made it.
So Konstantine, my great buddy, fellow LA dad, and previous Championship teammate (he was in the Spider-Man game) and my former summer camper whom I nickdubbed Kelsey “Scala” Wagner – who got to dominate in her match with her home team, even when her mic pack fell into her butt and Brian pulled it out - looked at me and frowned because I wasn’t wearing my uniform. “Are you still going to go out there?” they said.
Konstantine moved the flag through the air in a proud arc. It was a hell of a moment when that music played. I wish the songs from Les Miz were always that short. Boom, roasted.
When it was time to say goodbye and drive home I listened mostly to the show tunes station on satellite radio, because I love showtunes and singing along with those big emotional songs for 5.5 hours is about the best thing I know to match the big feelings I have when I’m with all of you. And I would often think back on all these things that I’ve been writing about for 9 pages now and I’d laugh on purpose, a big belly laugh, all alone by myself in the car driving home on the freeway, so that I wouldn’t get the bends as I readjusted to the altitude of life at home. And even though it was technically in Indianapolis, I still sang to myself, “Gepeppe no drive a car.”
Probably the thing that made me laugh the most on that drive was remembering back the reaction to the prompt “robbing Rob”: “MAY I ROB YOU?” #consent
And if you have read this far, and if you have also enjoyed casting your mind back to Laugh Camp and steeping in all the memories, I have a suggestion – nay, a request, from a Scoldypantz All-Star. Next year, before “paws up” and you get on the airplane, try this: deactivate your Facebook account. Just try it. After the first day or so, you won’t even care. I recommend this because 1) I am an alter cocker 2) when I do it, it permits me to more deeply and fully connect with you all. There will be time for phone phun later. So just think about it. Try it for a year. See what you think. Maybe over time it will become something that you look forward to every year, like reading Courtney Pong’s “How to get ready for CWC” blog post.
One person who will not take me up on the advice, but whom I love unconditionally anyhow, is my manager James Thomas Bailey and oh boy am I grateful for him. James chose me out of all the people who auditioned in 2002 along with Lauren Pritchard, Jen Bascom, Adam Fisher, Dawn Stahlak, Greg Beirne, Massie Ritsch, that guy Britain, that woman Katie… and I think that was it. On the day I auditioned 2 other guys from UCLA showed up without having RSVP'd and tried to drop Andy's name to get in and one of them was wearing shoes. But James still cast me instead and I can’t think of a better gift a person could receive than the kind of leadership James has demonstrated during my time with him as Artistic Director of the company. He gives me stuff to live up to. Before our team took the stage to compete against Richmond, I said, “Make James proud. Do good improv.” I will keep trying to make James proud when I play with CSzSJ. James remembers what I asked him about next year.
Since we attended championship, I am sorry to learn that James’s mother passed away. I never met her but I am grateful for the role she played in James’s life in making him who he was so that I could have him in my life. This is all all about me.
And in the same breath where I tell my teammates to make James proud, I follow that with “Make Dick proud. Make mischief.”
We were all there when Dick reffed the Saturday 4 PM show. I’m not sure Dick was all there, but we were all there. I was also there for the Milwaukee-Twin Cities championship match that ended in a draw after 40 hours of consecutive ComedySportz. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I also remember: Dick plunking down a crinkly plastic shopping bag on the field; Dick’s fanny pack; Dick dispatching a kid to get him a drink (and putting a mustache on him when all he got back was pop); hula hoops materializing; Dick giving out bath lotions from his hotel room (but coquettishly declining to say “douche”); Taylor as the announcer (“This will be our last suggestion”). But I didn’t get to see much of the second half of the match where Seattle played because I was getting ready for our match, which was timed very well to give the earlier match enough time to run long. Anyone got any good stories from the second half? I remember players saying of Dick’s reffing, “Is the audience with him?” and I think they were. I also remember Dick saying to Jeff Kramer, “You could have been a big star if you hadn’t started with this crap” and Jeff saying of Dick, “Everything I have, I owe to him. And everything I don’t have I owe to him, which is only money.”
I told Dick stories all week long. I don’t mean stories about seeing Dick do something crazy, although the best new one I heard this year was from Matt Garnaas and involved a chafing dish and a wedding guest. No, I told stories to Dick about Dick, new old-sounding stories: I’d do an old-timey sea captain voice and tell him a story that took place on a dark and stormy night, 100 years ago, when the moon shone just like this, and most of the stories – well all of them actually – ended up with finding Dick dead. He couldn’t get enough and kept asking me for more. He told Jill, “Ask Niles to tell you a story.” After the last night’s last show, I told him a story that went kind of like, “Thirty years ago, a bunch of dopes started doing a show around here. It was never a good idea. And then, when they least expected it, they become a bunch of alter cockers and made everyone happy.” Dick pouted, so I added a part about how he fell into a volcano and that seemed to mollify him. Anyway, I thought it was cool Dick came to San Jose and reffed and founded ComedySportz instead of furthering his career as a scrap metallurgist.
I think it is only fitting that the last word should be one of more appreciation and expression of gratitude to CSz San Jose, to Jeff and Lizzie and Lucinda and Laura and everyone on the committees who worked so hard to make the event a success. Laura you are welcome for the room temperature LaCroix I gave you while you were practicing yoga. In my defense, I did give you a cup of ice a minute later. CSzSJ, you gave us a gift beyond measure, an experience too valuable for words (but that didn’t stop me from writing at this point 11 pages of them). I am grateful for you, thanks for the collaboration, inspiration, and fun. See you next year in LA. Nice shoes.
P.S. You all know the Happy Birthday bandit was Mary Ann right?