Titillating

Franklin Pfiffernom felt so uninspired.

A titillating exchange was what he desired.

He decided to take a trip

To see the Las Vegas Strip

But within an hour of landing, he found a blackjack table at a hotel close to the airport and lost everything. More than everything, in fact – he owes $20,000 to a bookie who’s legal name is SnakePit.  He has 24 hours to round up the rest of his money or else SnakePit is going to remove Franklin’s fingers.  I’m no fortune teller, but I’m 85% sure Franklin’s going to lose his fingers.

Brütal

Billy Kram started a brutal band

He wrote hundreds of songs and got legions of fans

With a record company he signed,

The fame made him go blind,

And he signed his contract without reading it first, causing him to forgo all rights to his songs, his name, and he receives next to nothing from album sales. He has almost nothing. He wants to walk away but he’s afraid that if he does, he’ll lose what little he has left. He finds no joy in his music anymore, and he has become deeply addicted to heroin as a result.

Opulence

King Ferdinand lived with luxurious opulence.
From his solid gold toilet, to his leather-bound fence.
Oh, the nights he did play;
With expensive large women he did lay;
Until one night when he contracted what can only be described as “weaponized syphilis” from a prostitute named “Pile-driver Peggy” The new strain of STD rotted away both his genitalia and his brain in a matter of days. As King Ferdinand’s mangled, withered body slowly faded away, he watched as these Ladies of the Night basically cleaned him out. They stole from him without an ounce of remorse; nobody even thought to call a doctor for the opulent King. He died alone, in an empty house, with nothing left but his golden toilet, which, with his last dying act, he discovered was merely gold-plated.

Whore

Claudia Formica was considered a bore,
Till one day she went & became a whore.
She loved the attention;
All the men were just smitten.
Then one day another hooker named “Razor-Blade Sharice” accused her of stealing her Johns and slashed her face with a rusty can lid. Claudia got tetanus and hepatitis from the attack, and her left eye is now useless. Every day is pain. Constant, unending pain.

Im-profit-zational comedy or “Y U No Make Me Monies?”

Here in Chicago, the big game in the entertainment world is improv, as in improvised comedy, or improvised theatre. And while ChiTown is home to some of the best scripted theatre in the world, as well as numerous opportunities for film and television, it is for improv that Chicago is most well-known. If one couples this with the fact that improv has virtually no overhead costs (design, crew, props, etc.), it makes sense to think that improvised entertainment would be insanely profitable.

But it isn’t. Not even a little bit.

Most improv actors I know, even the insanely talented ones, are as broke as I am. And most theaters that host improv shows are usually earning just enough money to get by. Unless the theaters also have a training center and a bar, profits are as elusive as Nessy.

Even traditional theatre has a modicum of profitability, especially when Equity is involved. Maybe that’s it – there’s no Union for Improv Actors.
Or maybe they fall under Equity as well. I’m not sure – I don’t know jack about unions.

But what I do know is that us improvisers seem to be gluttons for punishment, in some cases even more so than traditional theatre actors because most improvisers are also traditional theatre actors. The difference is that we routinely go on stage with nothing prepared in front of a crowd that demands satisfaction. And since we have no rehearsals or previews to determine the merit of our performance, we just have to hope that what we do will be good. We do this over and over and over again for no pay, and little reward more than a healthy applause. Are we insane? Of course we are!!!

The reason why we do it is because we love it. Our payoff is the joy, the RUSH, of performing in front of a live audience. Anything else we receive are just perks. That’s true for all actors; not just improvisers.

But improvisers and actors still need to eat and live inside of places. So we still need currency.

So what do you think? Do you think improv should be more profitable for the performers? How could that happen? Or is the art the reward?

Let me know what you think!