FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

The Really Awesome Improv Show

Written By: Scot Butwell - Nov• 23•17

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“Where are you?” L’s text says.

As I glance down at my phone screen, a girl in her early twenties clucked like a chicken as she officiated a wedding ceremony for Michael Jackson as part of a hilarious improv comedy scene.

I type the words “kids’ comedy show,” leaving out the location in Hollywood, and tap the “send” button as the bride and groom slide backwards on their toes moon-walk style across the stage.

“Where?” her text back says.

I watch as a smile spreads across D’s face and bursts into heartfelt laughter, and in that instant, I am reminded of what I’ve learned about D: he has an incredibly creative, imaginative mind.

“It’s in Hollywood,” I text back.

“Want to go to Hollywood?” I asked D, as he ate his usual Saturday breakfast of two eggs and two boxes of hash browns at Chic-Fil-A. I had googled “kids’ comedy show” and “Hollywood.”

There was a show in an hour at noon.

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“Yes,” he said.

“We are going to HOLLYWOOD,” I cheerily boomed as we turned on the freeway for the 30 to 45-minute ride. “Hollywood, here we come! Woo-hoo, we are going to…HOLLYWOOD!”

Okay, so. My enthusiasm was over the top, but it represented pent up frustration from adhering (mostly) to L’s five-mile radius for our father-son adventures for the past five years.

A week ago, after going to Chic-Fil-A, D asked to stop a baby store to see books, plush toys and, um, baby stuff. He asked an employee if she could help him find a Sesame Street book.

I listened as my nine-year-old son asked about a book for toddlers. On the one hand, he took initiative to ask for help. On the other hand, he wanted to see a book for much younger kids.

It felt weird. Maybe, he missed the characters from his early childhood. However, as the employee searched for the book, I pretended it was a birthday present for his brother–if she asked.

THE REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW #5 photo by Joe Funk

So this is what prompted our trip to “The Really Awesome Improv Show,” voted the best kids’ comedy show by LA Magazine, at Second City theatre on the famed Hollywood Boulevard.

We parked and had ten minutes till showtime. D and I started running, and I pointed out the names of a few stars on the sidewalk, and we reached the theatre with one minute to spare.

The black box theatre had seats for 50 to 75 people. We sat in the front row, and our feet rested on the stage. It felt like the actors were performing in our living room since they were so close.

The actors played improv games, taking suggestions from the audience to create zany characters and scenes, and encouraged kids to participate. Wackiness ruled the one-hour show.

REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW photo by Second CityI wanted to nudge D to be part of an improv game on stage, but I sensed he was not quite ready. I figured, this would be an intro to improv and one day he would be ready to go onstage.

I wish I could describe more of the scenes, but all I can remember is the they beautifully demonstrated the principles of improvisation theatre  Listening, responding, saying yes.

The biggest surprise, though, is: L was not upset with us going outside her five-mile radius without me discussing it with her in advance or, at least, she didn’t seem to be bothered about it.

She loosened her five-mile radius in the past year, allowing D and I to go to the Malibu Wine Safari and Griffith Observatory—both an hour from our home—but she vetoed some of my other ideas, so her five-mile radius seems to be arbitrary, depending on her mood or view of my parenting.

THE REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW photo by Second CityShe suggested I take parenting classes during a recent heated argument; and whenever she walks in on D and me doing an “improv” scene, which are by nature ridiculous, she says, “do you guys ever have normal conversations?”

She apparently is not an improv fan; and I will be the first to admit our scenes are non-sensical and lack any logical progression, but they foster a social reciprocity like nothing else.

And that’s what’s important–especially for a kid on the spectrum—and they connect us in our hearts, unlike anything involving normal talk.

This is why I love our “creative” conversations. It’s the way D and I bond with one another, just as L connects with him in their deep conversations–though I am capable of having serious talks with D, too.

I wrote a year ago that I thought an improv class would improve D’s social skills, and I think it is time to test my theory and take D’s improv acting from the living room to the stage.

He came in the bedroom as I edited this with a towel around his body, no shirt, pretending to be a caveman, and I volleyed lines back and forth with Jack the Caveman for ten minutes.

So, yeah, I think Jack the Caveman is ready for an improv acting class.

The Really Awesome Improv Show is every Saturday at 12 pm for only $5.

This show has been running for eight years straight and is great for the whole family. No scene suggestions are accepted that are inappropriate for kids (my diarrhea idea was rejected), and because there is a rotating cast, you’ll see a different cast and games if you return a second or third time.

Second City’s is located at: 6560 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Phone: (323) 464-8542.

Visit their website for a wide range of acting classes: www.secondcity.com.

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