Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second City: Day 5

Following the 9 hour drive from Chicago, I'm back home unpacking, reconnecting with the Mrs, and trying to remember which toothbrush is mine. Ah yes, the blue and white one. In fairness, the past five days were as challenging as they were fun. The exercises were stretching. The process of learning to be creative with a brand new group of diverse people added to the daunting task of attempting to pull comedy out of thin air at a moments notice. I loved every minute of it.

When trying to determine the best way to wrap up this short series of blog posts, I determined that maybe the best course of action would be to simply give you a list of highlights. You know, things that stick out in my mind now that I have had hundreds of miles of Illinois cornfields behind me, giving me time to reflect.

1. I was surprised at how much I really liked Chicago. Having gone to New York City for the first time last December and loving it, I didn't know what to expect with the Windy City. I have been there a couple of times before, but each stop lasted only a few hours or at most, an afternoon. But after spending a week in the city, riding public transit, and going through the daily task of finding a place to grab lunch, I can see why people love it so much. One of our instructors, a native New Yorker who has lived in Chicago for 16 years, described her adopted home as "everything that is good about New York, with a Mid-West sensibility thrown in." The students from NYC agreed.

2. A group from the class went to a Cubs game on Tuesday night. I found myself sitting next to a fellow student from Norway. It was her first time in the country and she knew absolutely nothing about baseball. Nothing.

Me: What do you know about baseball?
She: I know that they are playing baseball.
Me: So not much?
She: No. I know nothing.
Me: Okay, let's start from the beginning. We are at a professional baseball game. These are two of the 30ish teams that play in a league called Major League baseball. Chicago's team is called the Cubs and they are playing San Diego, which is a city in southern California. San Diego's nickname is the Padres.
She: Like the Spanish word for father?
Me: Yes, umm... okay. California was discovered by Spain in 1533. The Spanish settlers brought Catholicism to the New World. It had a big influence on the the early development of the state and as a way to honor their history, the baseball team named themselves the Padres. Does that make sense?
She: Yes.
Me: Okay, now back to the game. The purpose of baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team. You score a run, worth one point, every time one of your players crosses that white diamond there. That is called home plate...

I went on like this for the first three innings, or rounds as she called them. I explained everything from foul lines, to stealing second, to the strike zone. It made me realize that baseball is complicated. I wished we were at a basketball game. Bounce ball. Put ball in hoop. The end.

3. Back in class, we read our final scripts yesterday in class. Mine was received fairly well. Which was reassuring. Looking back, it was a positive for me to write, have it acted out the following day, and then get immediate feedback from the instructor and the class. There's no time to be timid. Everyone, regardless of how confident they felt about their material, had to jump up and put it out there. By the way, pilgrim jokes are funny at Second City too.

The big lesson I learned? A script is never done. At least not when you think it is. There is always room for a re-write. Always a need to tweak something. That was a comforting lesson. The big goal is just to get things down on paper. You can work with anything once it is in front of you.

All in all, it was a very positive week. And getting to spend the night with my friends Kyle and Casie in Champaign last night was a great way to cap it off.

And that, is all I have to say about that.

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