Improv

I still love living in Hall. The students all returned at the weekend. After a long Christmas break, this is their second taste of freedom and they’re making good use of it. This week is “Refreshers’ Week” and we’re all on double duty. I’ve seen blood, vomit, tears, urine and pools of wine already. I’ve also seen what I think was a baby-oiled (or possibly very sweaty) torso. And it’s only Wednesday. This evening, Hall played host to a “sex magician”. And tonight I arrived home to see a group of girls in a boys’ apartment living room turning all their furniture upside down. My parents’ friends never sneak in and turn my mother’s three-piece suite upside down, and I think our home is all the poorer for it.

Today was my first improv class. I’ve been thinking about being a performer for ages. I’ve also wanted to work on my comedy skills. I hate that some days I seem to be able to make everyone laugh and other days I feel like a dramatically boring accountant. I also like the idea of doing something scary. Scary is good for you.

So I set off, nervous as hell. Like my first day at school, I was nervous that the cool kids wouldn’t like me. Was I wearing too much aftershave? I was wearing my blue, pink and yellow runners. Oh no! Were these too “funny”? It wouldn’t be great to go to an event where you’re meant to be funny and to end up being “funny” instead. There’s nothing worse than people being “funny”. Aargh! What lay ahead?

As always, directions are a challenge for me. It didn’t help that I didn’t really believe the address that I’d been given. The improv class was to take place at 30, Avenue Road. “Avenue Road”? Could that be a real place? It sounds like a made-up street, like saying I live on Street Street. It sounds a bit like Chandler, when he told Janice he was moving to 15, Yemen Road, Yemen. As it turns out, Avenue Road exists.

It was mainly guys in the class. I expecting them all to be “Dublin artsy-man” types. In my head, that means men who have black leather jackets, stubble, hairy chests, and a few plain jumpers, men who drink Guinness, probably in Grogan’s, who have huge CD collections, who loved The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad, who are always reading a book by someone I’ve never heard of and are distrustful of the internet. I was expecting men with greasy hair who read the Irish Times and don’t have Facebook accounts. Even though these men are the polar opposite of me, I actually like them a lot and I was feeling ready for that.

However, there were only one or two of those types. Most of the men there were actually businessmen. They were in sharp suits, with ironed shirts. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to combine a suit with an ironed shirt. My philosophy is that you should only iron whatever clothes are going to be in your top layer. Anyway, these were men with shiny shoes, men who slap each other on the backs, men who have subscriptions to Sky Sports, watch the Hoineken Cup and use “pilot” as a verb unironically.

There were three businesswomen too, hidden among all the businessmen. One of them described herself as “a bit of a rigid Brigid”. You’re going to hear me use that phrase a lot from now on. Mainly to describe penises.

The class was almost three hours long and I didn’t feel it. If you had described any one of the activities to me in advance, I would have rolled my eyes, but as a whole it worked.

Over the course of the class I sold magic cheese, I went to confession, I plotted a murder, I fell in love with a bouncer, I bought Spain, I had a pair of performing turtles that were the wonder of Europe’s circus scene, I went down a rabbit-hole and I tried to persuade a man to go naked paragliding with me.

Best night in ages. Looking forward to the next one lots.

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