This blog entry might be a bit of a roller coaster ride. After all, our last show was on Dec. 5th at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts where Urban Yeti and Scared Scriptless sold out a 300 seat theater and left the audience hungry for more comedy in Anchorage. That was nearly 4 months ago. On top of that, we now pop up with 2016 shows scheduled at a different venue. Why so long? What is going on here? All in due time friends, but let’s start out with a very special experience for 170 people packed into the grunge headquarters of improv comedy last night at 49th State Brewing Company.
It just all clicked. Scene creativity, staging, show pace, audience and improviser, pre/intermission/post show atmosphere, sheltering in a crowded theater after a foot of snow dumped on Anchorage. The range of talent is what was truly inspiring to me as I watched the show from the hosting position. I saw three of our Yeti performers merge with some of the fine gentlemen of Whiskey Tango to put on a 2 Player experience that was unforgettable. Superhero package delivery men, a case of awesome elevation. Deceptionist as our first scene inspiration, perfection! The short form even looked like they had performed with each other for years. There are so many positive points to focus on that I can’t name them all. The audience left very happy and it is a production I am very proud to have been a part of.
I want to send out a sincere thank you to Jake Michels and Leon Anderson. It was not only a pleasure to watch you perform, but it was also a privilege to get to know you better. True talent gentlemen! We are stronger performers from sharing the stage with you. Over the past year, we have gotten to travel to a range of festivals around the country, meet new people and see some amazing improv, but it is special to have an event where you focus on integrating your team with some talent from elsewhere on your home turf. I immediately want this experience again, because I felt stronger connections made doing something like this than what you get at a festival. On top of that, Jake and Leon helped Yeti send a message to the Anchorage community: We are more successful by diversifying our improv experiences, for both audience and performer.
I also want to plug Anchorage audiences. I want to plug you! You are hungry for improv and we love it. Something we seem to notice more and more as we dive into this industry is several communities out there struggle with audience bases primarily built out of improvisers and close friends. But here we have a community so curious and supportive that the energy is electric. Two thirds of our crowd last night had never seen an Urban Yeti performance and everyone went home happy. The cherry on top: our guest performers can feel it too. They are on a plane leaving Anchorage salivating for another crack at it. Thank you is not enough, so we’ll continue to sweat on stage for you.
Now, how did we get here? First, a strong thank you to the Alaska Experience Theater, where we have called home for the past two years. They have supported us in our start-up and I still think their theater is one of the best places to perform improv in town. Their management and staff is some of the most courteous and professional people you’ll ever work with. We owe you, and we leave you knowing we’ll see you again. Thanks for having faith in us.
So why the change? The opportunity at 49th State Brewing was too intriguing to pass up. After our December show, Scriptless and Yeti discussed ways to further collaboration for improv in Anchorage, but the conversation was strongly controlled by the future plans of the Brewery. They were interested in making 49th State a headquarters of improv when we brought them an idea to co-locate Scriptless and Yeti at their theater. The final product for us was 6 performance nights donated to us by Scriptless for 2016. This made it so audiences would get a range of experiences on 2nd/3rd/4th Saturdays. Some might scoff at the minimal 6 show roster, but it is the perfect amount Mallory and I want to balance with our other aspirations. By focusing on a truly unique experience on these 3rd Saturdays, we can continue to replicate experiences like our Tango this past weekend. We got off to the perfect start with our new partners. The place was packed, the show was excellent, the bar was hopping.
But once again, this blog is about honesty and the truth is the negotiation to get here was difficult. Although I think our product is excellent, we are still in a certain corner of the larger Anchorage entertainment market. So you might struggle to see the significance of a ‘negotiation’ for these six performances. But our passions are approached in a manner that teaches us a lot about ourselves. It was a tense night for me on Saturday because although we got what we wanted for the new Yeti season, I made some mistakes along the way to get it. The reality is the performances donated to us are at the cost of others who are not directly part of the Yeti performer experience. On top of that, I didn’t want to be in a situation where our new partners at 49th State didn’t feel the ‘juice was worth the squeeze’. We needed to send the opposite message and we successfully did just that, but as I look around the room during the middle of the show and don’t see any of our partners in Scriptless watching, I realize something needs to change in how I approach our goals. To those reading who are more personally connecting with this, I am ambitious and I make mistakes, but I’m working to figure out the right path. Let’s talk and figure it out. I’m confident the path we set with our future at 49th State Brewing is the starting point of something greater for improv in Anchorage.
This morning at breakfast, Jake and Leon had a lot of fond reflection on last night’s show and thought it was one of their best road shows to date. That meant a lot to me. I hope it means a lot to Josh, Mallory, John, Mary Jo, Erik and Aneliese as well. I hope it means a lot to you. Let’s use this as fuel for the fire. Wherever this is going, I’ll make you a promise: It’s going to be raw, it’s going to be hilarious and it’s going to be ridiculously fun.