Thursday, March 30, 2006

Improv Under Where?

This week I've been back in contact with a couple of friends with a background in improvisational humor, and so I've been reminded of how desperately I covet a background in improvisational humor. A few years back I was hearing a lot about "flash mobs," which are nicely described at the following link:

http://www.satanslaundromat.com/sl/archives/000108.html

That's right, I'm directing you to Satan's laundromat, which probably is not terribly dissimilar from every other laundromat.

Anyway, more recently I heard something similar described as "improv anywhere." So I figured, if improv can take place anywhere, why can't it take place where I work?

For a while at my office, then, several of us were meeting intermittently to take a comical/critical look at Christian publishing. We intended eventually to share our hilarious observations with our coworkers, but over time the chief offenders "left the company," and our essentially subversive cultural analysis left with them.

Somewhere along the way, though, we met up with some like-minded folks from yet another Christian publishing outlet, and now that I've recently heard back from nearly all the concerned parties, there's a chance we may be able to get something going again. Because we're also publishing nerds (I mean no disrespect), our get-togethers will likely devolve from practicing improvisational humor to reflecting theologically on improvisational humor. That would be fine with me, though; I approach it more as social experiment than as performance art anyway.

For example, I attempted my own "flash mob" some time ago, recruiting several friends to pretend to help me search for a lost contact. Some people helped look, others stepped lightly so they wouldn't crush the contact, others just thought we all looked a little weird. I had hoped to uncover (a) who's willing to play along with such games and why, and (b) how people respond to an unusual but arguably explainable phenomenon. We only did one flash-mob; I haven't been able to come up with any other ideas, and nobody else (to my knowledge) has volunteered anything, so the experiment seems to have failed. It was fun while it lasted though.

More recently I've conspired with a pair of coworkers to do something unusual right under the noses of our colleagues during our weekly departmental break. That's been more manageable and arguably more fun; it's a more controlled setting with an easier debrief process, and we've nearly been caught a couple of times. What I'm not sure about is where to go with it: am I serving some larger purpose by pursuing this life-improv, or am I just entertaining myself?

I'd say that I am learning something about myself on the way, and probably a bit about my coworkers and the group dynamics present in our department. There's another concern, however: I am generally, unconsciously tempted toward a sense of detachment in a lot of my relationships, so to do experiments like this may be reinforcing an otherwise subtle superiority complex. Maybe my co-conspirators mitigate that part, since I'm at least accountable to them, but who really knows the limits of the soul's capacity to cajole and delude itself?

This week we forgot to come up with something, which is a bit funny in itself--I feel irresponsible for having not played a trick on my friends. Maybe that's why I made all of you think "underwear" when you started reading this post.

Ha ha! Burned!

1 comment:

Pete Juvinall said...

Probably not as bad as my friends Randy and Amy (http://www.ounism.com) who posted that they had a new baby girl that came into the world a couple of days ago...on April 1st. I talked with Amy briefly on Sunday night when she mentioned it and she totally had me for a couple of seconds and I'm not entirely sure why...because the baby isn't due until late april.

*sigh* I'm so gullible

--pete