Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On Sunday I did my last show at iO with my dear friends the Cordoroy Whales. They have one show left while I am out of town and I hope they knock it out of the park.

For those of you not acclimated to the Chicago Improv scene, I wanted to share something my friend wrote where he puts the relatively common experience of the new improvisor in Chicago in the terms of basketball. This is taken from his blog, but I can't find the address right now. When I do, he'll be linked because he's awesome. I present to you:

"Improvising A Full Court Press"

When pursuing leisure activities one has to consider several things. Do I have the time? Do I enjoy doing them? What am I getting out of it? I have been running these and many questions like them through my head the last few weeks. I partake in a certain activity that is a bit like rec league basketball only with more smokers. I am nearing the end of our season as it were and I am thinking that it may be time to hang up my sneakers and find a new game to play. I still love the watching the game but I have come to the realization that I may not be good enough to play at the level I want. How did this hoop dream start?

I started playing in the rec league because I was new in town and had always loved basketball. Sure, I had played a few pick up games from time to time growing up but never really in anything organized. At first I loved it. I was learning how to shoot and pass from some of the best people in town. I found out that over the course of the next year my progress would be monitored and if I was lucky at the end of it I might be asked to join one of the local minor league teams. At the start of the season this seemed so far away that it was something I couldn't comprehend. I would hear other people in the league talk about playing on T.V. someday. I would always laugh it off and tell them to worry about just going to class that week.

A few weeks in some of the other new kids asked me to join their team and I couldn't believe my luck. We had a great coach and had a great time together trying to figure out how to play. I was the worst player on the team but they kept me around anyways. In practice and games I would always find new ways to screw up as I stumbled up and down the court. I went to class and rehearsal every week. I tried to see as many games as I could and really dove into this whole world with as much time and passion as I could muster. During the winter I would bundle up and spend two hours a night watching all the better players scrimmage always with the hope that someday I would get to play in their game. I devoured every book and interview I could about the game hoping that each one would provide new insight into the process.

As the season progressed I was still having fun with my team but the mandated classes became less interesting. Most of the classes involved listening to someone else try to explain how to play hoop and watching other people play while you sat out and waited your turn. Listening to someone explain how they shoot a three is like someone explaining how they fuck. Sure it's useful but eventually you just need to go out and do it. All I wanted to do was go out and play. Three-fourths of the way through the season I new most of the flaws in my game. All I could do was think about what I was doing wrong and I found myself freezing up during games. I had a hit a wall and wasn't getting any better.

All the while my team and I were picking up games at smaller parks and had a great time playing together. Then our forward moved. Shortly after one of our guards started playing baseball and couldn't spend as much time with us. Then our center had to move away as well. Next thing I knew we lost another guard. Everyone had a great reason to leave, after all it was just a rec team. One night I looked around and I was standing in the gym shooting free throws with strangers. I may have been helping my game but the reason I fell in love with the game in the first place was to play with my friends.

The more I learned about the game the less I seemed to like it. People started talking about being scouted and making teams. For some it was the only conversation they could have. My enthusiasm for the process was dwindling as the whole thing began to feel like an obligation. More and more of my time and money was being siphoned off as I felt like I was getting less and less enjoyment from playing. I began to blame the other players for shortfalls in my own game. I started skipping class and practice because I felt like it was a waste of time.

I find myself with two months left in the season. Most everyone else seems to be worried about what their uniform looks like or which scout is watching them. I look around and have never felt more disconnected from the game. With eight more games left all I want is to be done with things and move on to something else. I still love it but I don't know if it's the game for me.

Over the course of the season I have learned how to play the game competently at the most basic level that one can. I can run up and down the floor without tripping (most of the time). From time to time I close my eyes, hope for the best, and am able to score a basket. But looking back at the season I wonder if maybe, just maybe, I should have picked a different game.


Alicia said...

"Listening to someone explain how they shoot a three is like someone explaining how they fuck. Sure it's useful but eventually you just need to go out and do it."


by the way, I think everyone in the whole world can relate to that entire post. We can all only hope that we never "fall out of love" with the activities that we are passionate about.

Column said...

Thanks for the link. I never thought anyone would read that.