This week Pam Victor released her work Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book. The reviews are really positive, and I can't wait for my copy to arrive. I wish Amazon Prime already had those drones services available so I could read it yesterday. Am I hear to complain about first world I-have-to-wait-two-days-for-a-book-to-arrive problems? No. That would be a terrible blog post.
Nope, I wanted to talk about TJ and Dave. The book release reminded me of the first time I saw them at iO Chicago, and how much I learned just watching them. I was attending the iO Summer Intensive program (I highly recommend it. They offer the program in LA too!), and loving my time in Chicago. My teachers, and other students said, "you have to see TJ and Dave," "have you seen TJ and Dave? You have to see TJ and Dave!" "Cancel your plans! Come with us and see TJ and Dave!"
You get the idea. It was must see improv.
And then I saw TJ and Dave.... TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi blew me away. I know, "blown away," sounds hyperbol-ish. It's not. (They blew me away when I was new to improv, and they continue to blow me away every time I see them. I'm in a constant state of, "wow!")
They are patient, and kind, and empathetic; incredibly focused, discovering a character, and living a life. It really is improv theater...that happens to be really, really funny too. I still recall the story characters; two beat cops. What sticks with you is the characters. They're vibrant, and evolve. The story just flows from that.
There was one moment though, I'll never forget. It reinforced: there's a lot of beauty in the detail work. TJ's character, the beat cop, was eating some red rope. And, you knew it, because you saw it! You saw the length, and the packaging. TJ took time to unwrap a red rope. Have you ever tried unwrapping a red rope versus red vines? It takes some patience. TJ was patient. You could see his coil the rope on his wrist, and play with the wrapping, working to separate the vine from it's plastic sheath. He wasn't immediately successful. He had to work at it, at getting at his red rope. He was struggling onstage. He chose to struggle. We can choose to do anything onstage, and he chose to struggle with a tiny bit of plastic and rope. It was beautiful to watch, because he let us see the world, with all it's little annoyances and quirks. We also learned a lot about the character. He wouldn't stop. He wouldn't complain. He knew what he wanted, and he was going to get it. Yeah, I agree...maybe I am looking to deeply at a brief moment on stage. But, then again, isn't that exactly what we're trying to do? Give people moments, funny or not, on which to reflect?