F&^% Your Tired, Yeti Says Double Down

A Reflection on MashUp at the Performing Arts Center

This morning I got up at about 7:00 am after five hours of sleep. Mallory and James drove me to the airport where I boarded a flight to the frigid north: Prudhoe Bay. I stepped off the plane to a -50 degF wind chill. An hour later I rolled into camp, geared up and headed for the west side of the field where I met up with a team who I worked with for the next eight hours on piecing together a mystery. I am now sitting in a conference room typing away in an eerily quiet camp where almost everyone is sleeping after a 12 – 16 hour shift…

And I’m still pumped from the energy of dat show last night yo.

There is no more perfect way to cap off an incredible year for Urban Yeti than the MashUp at the Performing Arts Center. 300 people in the audience, bringing together the improv brands in Anchorage, folks leaving happy and wanting more. I’ve never seen a show in the Sydney Laurence where they had to open the mezzanine. And box seats!

Yes, I’ve been a bit cocky today with the number 300. But that is just so people understand. The real gold? I have never in my life done a show with that much energy pumped into a stage. And it was fun as hell. Every performer had a moment, the ushers and house staff were even in on the fun. Sure, we can find show notes and there are always things to improve, but screw it. Just hold on to the feeling and let it fuel your creativity for years to come. Do you know how many improvisers are out there who won’t get to experience something like this? Anchorage is a city on the boundaries of the artistic world where you can play and find your own voice. This show was not for Urban Yeti or Scared Scriptless. This show was for you, the audience. The community of Anchorage supports local comedy and we are willing to serve.

A Reflection on Urban Yeti Improv in 2015

John Hanus, 5 things you adored about Urban Yeti in 2015.

Getting accepted into Juneau, New York and Austin festivals. Representing Alaska improv comedy at the national level. 


The feeling you get when you shake an audience member’s hand after you know you had a great show and people genuinely want to tell their friends about it. Most notably our PAC shows, Iditarod Harold and 2 Player experience.


Successfully finding a passion to play and unleashing the beast of long form improv comedy.


Teaching improv in the community through mentoring the Alchemists, directing open rehearsals and teaching a course at ACT.


Merging improv, business and friendship. The strength of the Yeti family endures.


It has been a hell of a year ladies and gentlemen.

I have spent hours blogging throughout our previous seasons on what we have been working on, our successes, our opportunities for improvement and giving you the best perspective I can from an artistic director. At times I get introspective, others times I might tactfully scratch the surface and promote a positive message of endurance through commitment, better art through smarter rehearsal. To re-hash all of these messages in reflection of 2015 would be repeating what has already been said. I don’t know what the future holds and I always hope for brighter skies ahead, but somehow I think 2015 will remain very special to me and my fellow performers for years to come. I have had opportunities I never thought I would get to experience and the evolution was surprisingly quick. As always, you helped. Thank you. 

As Yeti sits down to congratulate the journey taken thus far, some will wonder what path the Yeti will take tomorrow and beyond. We converted a recent rehearsal in the dojo into a conversation amongst Yeti players about where they want to take Yeti and their improv next. There were similar themes to those discussed in the past: more butts in the seat, more festivals, more community involvement, driving towards an institution of comedy with Urban Yeti as a foundation.

But more is not always better. 

I have been open about ideas I’m thinking about for Yeti in 2016 and I have made every attempt to get a sense of what our players want to do next in their artistic careers. I am forever in their debt for how positive they speak of Urban Yeti Improv and the pride they carry. My greatest fear as a director, which I suspect is the same for many, is my perception of the product does not match the ensemble’s.

Lately I have been a bit down and stressed about my position as director and owner with Urban Yeti. Some poor thoughts pop in to the ticker regarding the need for more help. Why do I have to decide everything? Why do I have to take on the burden of moving this machine forward? But I am lashing out in the wrong directions and I am just as much to blame. This has been my leadership style and I have trust issues. An exciting year for Yeti was coupled with an engineering management position and a family entering life with a two year old. This blog is about complete honesty and I have spent a lot of time in the last month considering curbing back some of Yeti’s activity. But to go backward is not fair to those who worked hard to get us here and it is not fair to my future self. Although I like the idea of a smaller weighted ball to juggle, I know myself well enough to realize once I get a bit of rest under me I’ll be ready for more and sad I let an opportunity slip. Urban Yeti will continue working an evening of performances a month starting in February and looking for more unique performance opportunities and festivals. Yes, I get wide eyed and ambitious when the gossip train and the Facebooks promote a culture of comparison. Why not me, why not us, why don’t we do gigs like that, why didn’t our show go that well, why can’t we headline, why why why why. But this gets you nowhere and hungry for ever. Why?

Because more is not always better.

I’m having some problems balancing, but we have created an efficient platform with Yeti to do what we want creatively. We will take off December and January to regroup and start the next season with a fresh perspective (although I suspect we’ll want to continue 2 Player because it’s ridiculously fun). 2016 for this artistic director will be finding a renewed happiness and craft in what we have. I’m certainly open for more people to come on board in helping with some of the foundation work and even a tighter collaboration with other groups, but my standards will remain high, I’m going to continue embracing my type of leadership for now. Helping and collaboration are not merely ideas for Yeti to strengthen with Hanus work ethic, they are for those who truly want to find that immense pride in creation cradle to grave. Not all of it is fun. To those in Yeti, even those outside, who want more than I’m offering, come to the table and show me how we can get there.

The Yeti project is thriving, the family is strong. The director is a little tired, but he’ll go away for a month and come back stronger than ever. We are open to a new way of doing things and new projects, but we won’t sacrifice our standards. It’s been an amazing year and even if we don’t do or see as much in 2016, we’ll still find ways of coming out on top at the end of it. I’ll leave you this year with what I tell everyone who says ‘John, I still haven’t got a chance to see a Yeti show yet’.

We’ll keep performing until you get here and we’ll keep giving you opportunities to come back. We know you’ll want to.