Thursday, September 25, 2014

NCT Standouts

The sheer number of things that the players have made me lose my shit at is boggling, to say the least. I wish I had written more down, to keep as memories, because improv is so difficult to keep track of. When you're doing four totally different shows every week, but there's similar elements to each one, and this just keeps repeating, everything tends to blend together and you can barely remember what you did in the last hour, much less the last week. 

That being said, with last night's final practice locked away, I'm gonna try and recall some of the highlights of my short time here with the New York cast and point out some of the awesome people I've gotten to work with and play with.

Best Singer
What a terribly crowded category that I could never hope to find a single winner. 
Music is the team's particular forte, and they do it better than anything else. Thankfully, everyone gives it their all for every singing game, and sometimes we get up hung up on technique or you know, trying to rhyme lyrics, but everyone is confident and there's never a dead spot.
On the girls' side, you have Stephanie who is usually bold and brash, but manages to play both villains and sweet ingenues. Elena is the most "musical theatre-y" I would say of the girls, playing a lot of innocence with innuendo. Emily's lovably unpredictable, Bridgette will lead everyone in strong, Karen won't shy away from a Rap, and I even got to see Stephanie Acevedo belt out some massive tunes before she went off to have some sort of baby or something...

On the guy's side, Scott's always a pro (and you can hear him on Forbidden Broadway!) Dan never misses a step, Trent's never at a loss for spinning an insane solo, I've seen Jeff dominate American Idol Recap, Jay and Jason rap like crazy mofos. 

My stand-out performance that I can always think of though, was a night I don't even think I was playing, I was watching a game of American Idol Recap, and Claire and Jeff had to sing as Swedish twins to a electronic rave beat. I don't even remember what they were singing about, but it was just fantastic.

Best One-Liners
A team full of funny people is sure to be chock-full of crazy one-liners, and we surely never disappointed. 
As a ref, you could count on Dan being the sassiest ever, with one-liners full of sarcasm. 
For really any game, Josh could always catch us all off-guard with a simple one-liner. Of course, his puns are world-renowned (or -reviled, depending) but it's hard to compete with him in 185 or World's Worst. 
Everybody would always have such great one-liners to justify Blind Freeze Tag positions. I said earlier this week that that game showcases us at our most basic. You get a glimpse into exactly how everybody's minds work. Ron goes dark, Jen goes to family, Emily gets abstract, Jason goes cerebral. It's what we first jump to when we have only a second to think of something. The result is always hilarious.

Probably the one-liner that stands out the most in my head though, I was in a scene with Stephanie where she was some sort of servant, and then we replayed the scene, set in the Victorian era, we said she was a future-seer with the plague, and she said:
Wait 'til you see what my sores have formed!

Best Characters
Every player has done such wonderful, colorful, dynamic, and rich characters. 
You get to see us show them off in Good/Bad Advice, where in particular Jeff played awesome Bad/Worse characters, usually self-help gurus and douchey entrepreneurs, that were sometimes gross, often compelling. 
Traci Redmond would do some sort of ridiculous horror movie parody: the girl from The Ring, the mom from The Grudge, whatever twitchy, frightening girl you can think of. 
Josh, Don, Scott, and Stephanie were never afraid to go after accents. Proper British is usually the one you'd hear, but count on Don for a wild Scottish, and Scott for a stereotypical Native American. 
Anthony's characters also had crazy accents and were big and loud, and even better if they were just speaking gibberish.
Jason and Dan both played precocious kids exceptionally well. 
You could count on Jay being really good at the protagonist that everything is happening to. 

I saw multiple reprisals of Ron playing either his old hag character or his Franklin Soup character. The old hag you can kind of get. Franklin Soup is an entity onto itself. It's like one of Lovecraft's Old Ones, it can only be seen to be understood.

Recently, two of the most interesting characters were Jeff's autistic chess player, who spoke his mind and never laughed. 
Elena's peer mediator Claire McGuffin (probably wrong on that) was precocious, eloquent, and endlessly funny. 

But far and away, master of characters, Tracy Mull. You can't discuss characters at NCT New York without mentioning the litany of faces, voices, and physical alterations Tracy has taken on. Every scene she enters, you can always expect something special, something different, something unexpected. I've never laughed so hard at a surprise Russian lady.

And The Rest?
Lauren and I were once in a scene that went so badly, we described the reaction as "even more than silent." I think it was a replay, and the replay went south so fast, the audience just stopped laughing, or clapping, or anything. There was literally even less sound in the world because of the vacuum created by the lack of sound.

Josh could constantly turn a seemingly innocuous song into innuendo. One song escalated from a song about friendship to a gay threesome.

I can't remember who was in this Shakespeare scene, but I think Jeanette and Traci were, and it involved one of the only successful "two players play the same character but one is the character in disguise" and then we played the reveal at the end.

There was a night Josh was reffing and he was giving examples of how to play Dirty Hand Randy, and he says, "Let's say the category is colors. I'll point to the players and they might say, 'Red!' 'Blue!'" as he's pointing to the players, and then he points to Langston (who is black), hesitates and goes, "Uh, black!" and we all immediately lost it. 

There were nights where Tracy or Jason were guessing something impossible in 5 Things and they would get it and it would cause the other team to walk out.
Speaking of which, one time we got Jay to guess the George Washington Bridge, but he said:
"I'm on the bridge that was built by George Washing--- I'M ON THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE!

Trent, Anthony, and Don were all notorious for throwing in English into their gibberish during 5 Things as well. Many a person could be heard mistakenly making up a word while guessing in Schoolyard or Sideline. (Or, more commonly, making up a tense for an existing word, like stung becoming "stunged".)


And this is all just onstage. Offstage, we played ridiculous games in the green room or talked about the weirdest stuff imaginable. We would stay in the theater after the shows were over to drink and laugh. And sometimes it was for "Claireoke". But I just look back and think about how much of a blast it all was. 


I wish there were a way to remember and recount every single absurd thing we've said or done, but maybe most of it doesn't work without having been there. I wish I could explain facial expressions that Jay makes, or the epic, awesome wrong guesses Max makes in 5 Things or Blitzkrieg ("I'm in a king-size mattress!") or how many times a heckler in the darkness (probably Trent) makes me lose it onstage. 
I'm going to miss this little family of mine. We'll never all be in this same spot at this exact time again, and that makes it incredibly unique. Of course people stay in your life, of course we get to perform again sometime down the road. But it's this one unique moment that we mourn for, that we are sad to see go. 
It's the ultimate tragedy of performance, because those performances don't last forever. The reason we are told to always cherish every moment and never forget the good times, is because we don't know when those are going to end. It could all be over in an instant. And it doesn't get to be the same, ever again. 

If you happen to be in New York this weekend, come help us say good-bye. We'll be happy to see you.