Friday, August 19, 2011


      I just enjoy saying the word monologist.  Who's the monologist tonight?  Anybody want to be the monologist?  We're doing a show and we have to have a monologist.  Yes, we need someone to tell a story.  A story we call a monologue.  Hence, we need a monologist. 
     My improv team, who is being shoved from being a practice eff around group into an actually performing troupe, is adopting this monologue opener format.  It serves us well since we have a short performance time- only 10 minutes.  And rather than having a dedicated monologist, any one of us can step forward and take on the role.
     We can get to some wonderful places from just one word.  The word was penguin.  A teammate stepped forward and told a story about a penguin who got lost on its way to Antarctica and ended up in New Zealand.  And we were off.  We spent a great deal of time in a scene in 1963 Germany.  A few of us (me) didn't really understand the history of the time.  We ended on my personal crowning moment with the line "first let's see if the pie is moist, then we'll work on you." 
     We were given the word precipice.  I stepped forward simply to announce it was one of my favorite words but I don't get to use it often enough.  Sometimes I stand on the street and say "I'm on the precipice of this curb." 
     For the word rainbow, Abby stepped forward to tell a story about a wonderful poem she wrote as a 2nd grader and how all of the colors were just too beautiful and as a 7-year-old, she couldn't decide on just one.  By the end of the scene, I was writing acrostics in a card factory that employed 1-year-olds, the division Abby was relegated to for being too stupid to make a poem from the word orange.  Somewhere in the middle was a wonderful tag-out game where David couldn't choose between ten different things.
     He was given the choice of ten cereals and he said "I don't want to choose, I want all of them, mixed together, in one bowl, mix them all together."  Colleges: I don't want to choose, I want to go to all the colleges.  Wives:  I want to be Mormon, I don't want to choose, I want them all.  Caskets:  I don't want to choose, put me in all of them.  Circles of hell:  I don't want any of them. 
     We spent a lot of our rehearsal working on monologues and mining themes from them.  I prefer the monologue opener because 1. it provides more fodder to mine from and reach a theme and 2. it doesn't get the audience so stuck in their heads about the one damn word they said.  I've been to shows when people walk out saying "the word was pumpernickel, and they hardly talked about pumpernickel at all."  But honestly, if you had just watched 30 minutes of people talking about pumpernickel, you kind of would have wanted to scrape your face off, no? 
     This is why themes are important, and why I like having a monologist so much.  You can pull so much from the story, as well as the way the story is being told.  Even if it's just a small tale about a lost penguin.  

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