Monday 28 January 2013

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Behind the Gum Wall - Our Night at the Seattle Improv

Seattle Theatresports Gum Wall
If the Gum Wall made my wife uneasy, taking my kids to the Seattle Improv had the same effect on me. Don't get me wrong...I love's just that in a completely improvised atmosphere, you never know what's going to get tossed out there. All it takes is one person bent on sending the show in an adult direction, and I'm spending the rest of my night explaining things to my children that I really don't want to delve into. This could very easily have ended up being the newest entry on our list of places we shouldn't have taken our kids

Fortunately, that's not what happened. It might be partially explained by the early hour (7pm) but the show we attended, An Improvised Christmas Carol, was clean, funny, and perfectly suitable for kids. In fact, our children were far from the youngest in the crowd, which even featured a pre-teen birthday party a few rows in front of us. Any suggestions given that could be construed as grown-up or off-color were neatly bundled down to something more suitable of a PG rating, and judging from the laughter of the crowd, it was done very successfully. Bravo to the cast members of Unexpected Productions

Seattle Improv Unexpected Productions

Of course, that doesn't mean that I didn't have some explaining to do. While no teachings of the birds and the bees were required, there were other things that I needed to fill my kids in on. For instance, apparently the only version of A Christmas Carol they've seen is the one starring the Muppets, so a quick briefing on the actual Christmas Carol story and a reminder that Kermit probably wouldn't be a part of the night's repertoire were in order before we began. That was the easy one. Then came the explaining of the audience suggestions...

The Suggestion - Scrooge lived in a tent and collected video games.

My kids fully understand video games, but at one point a reference was made to a rare edition of "Pong" being in Scrooge's collection. This led to me having to explain just what Pong was, and that it was a high-demand game for a while in the early 80's. Having children who didn't know what Pong was left me feeling a little ancient, but just in case that didn't make me feel old enough, my daughter decided to throw in a "Why wasn't it a free download?"

Seattle Theatresports Improvised Christmas Carol

The Suggestion - The Ghost of Christmas Present travels by Ferrari. 

Although we travel by far more pedestrian means, apparently somewhere along the lines my kids have actually been exposed to Italy's finest car. So while it was nice to not have to describe the look of a Ferrari to my kids, it fell to me to explain why Scrooge decided to ride on the hood of the car, clutching desperately to the windshield while the Ghost of Christmas Present took corners at high speeds. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have told my kids that's how you have to ride in a Ferrari, on the off chance that somebody ever offers to give them a ride in one, but realistically what are the odds of that happening? (Although I am currently looking for somebody who owns a Ferrari and wants to scare the heck out of my children.)

Seattle Improv Theatre sports

The Suggestion - The charity solicited for was called "Homeless Wi-Fi".

You know what makes a really good improv suggestion? It's when somebody shouts out their idea and everybody laughs, and then slowly everybody stops laughing and thinks "Hey...wait a minute..." That's what happened with this suggestion, and it left me having to explain to my kids why it wouldn't be a good idea to set homeless people up to be roaming hot spots within city limits, although the boy's plea to "imagine how good the reception would be" was almost convincing.

Written by Steve Pratt