Cut. Again.


Three years ago, iO Chicago decided they’d had enough of my first Harold team, Whiskey Rebellion.  Moments ago, I learned they’ve dispensed with my second – ButchMAX.

I take this news with more stoicism than the first announcement.  Objectively, our shows haven’t been cohesive for a while.  I accept my role in that.

Unlike 2010, I’ve learned that I will not be placed on a new team.

Of course, I’m confronted with the sadness of the situation.  I love improvisation more than anything.  I moved to Chicago to pursue it.  Hell, I write a blog about it.  That’s taking a nerdy pursuit and elevating it to obsession.  And now, my only outlet for performance has been severed.

To be honest, I’ve noticed my own performance slipping over the last few months.  I have my theories about why that happened.  But I also noticed a dramatic increase in the quality of my scenes after my workshop with TJ Jagodowski.  I felt that I was breaking through barriers previously thought impenetrable.

The question for a performer in my position is, “What now?”

Well, I intend to continue coaching.  And I have at least one audition lined up at another theater.  Beyond that, I don’t know.

I’m really over the notion of having a mysterious group of theater police deciding how much stage time I get.  For too long, I’ve waited patiently for opportunities.  And they haven’t really come my way.  It’s time for me to chart my own course and seek the stage time I deserve.

More than anything, I’ll miss my weekly rehearsals with Tim Reardon, Karisa Bruin, Mike Brunlieb, Julia Weiss, Nate Parkes, Allison Yolo, Amy Speckien and Jeff Murdoch.  They are wonderful people who’ve made my life better.

One day, I’ll look back on this and laugh.  I can’t believe I spent six years performing for free and praying I might get more than two shows a month.

Got an improv question?  Or, seriously, got a team for me to join?
E-mail me at boilingpointimprov[at]


4 responses to “Cut. Again.

  1. Bad luck dude, hope you can pick yourself up. Can’t you throw your own team together and find a venue to play at? Then you can play as much as you want. (I don’t fully understand the “official” team stuff!)

  2. Be grateful that you had such a long run with a team! That you were on a team at all! Finally do what everyone tells you to do – make your own teams, perform your own shows, and have fun.

  3. Ben, I feel for you. I’ve seen many ButchMax shows and have never left one thinking the group was ‘slipping’ or not as ‘edgy’ as they may have been before. There’s all sorts of possibilities as to what combination, modification, shortage and/or lackluster moment causes them to pull the plug. Sometimes, I honestly think they flip a coin because it can’t always be on a certain factor. There are far too many variables to press a team into shape. Over the past three years now and the 50+ teams that I’ve watched, there was only one that literally came out as a flop and they were cut after a single run at bat. Perhaps they weren’t ready? Perhaps the prospects of that team not caring enough was more of a fluke than anyone had realized? I’ve seen perfectly good teams get gutted, performers go on to do great things in other places. Some come back to play again in other teams while others grow and move on to greener pastures. It all depends what we want to do with this stuff. It’s also never really about the loyalty, the hunger or the desire. It’s the capacity to pretend by maintaining ourselves on stage within a collective for the purposes of having an ability to delight and impress while being blind to the moment where we are measured. The irony for me is that I’m still on the other side of the fence right now. I’m equally obsessed with ‘finding the fun’ but also set on ‘making the cut’ and/or getting the blessing to do it in that building-for free. Again, the constant is the fact that we know full well that it could get taken away at any moment. It’s this special dance that far and few between get invited to take part in. For some folks this may all sound like a stupid club. Some people don’t get it and others may never really care for it all that much. Yet for those of us who fall in love with it. We never want to let go. There’s such huge stakes for us. We really want to get a shot at it. Like a bucking bronco that throws us off again and again. We just keep getting up, dust ourselves off and get back on the horse because to be in that moment is not unlike anything else we do in life and if we can keep going back to do it-We Will!

    Also, the most important words that were attached above the rosters in the past that has been lost over time on all those who perform seem too often been forgotten; “Nothing is permanent.”

  4. Pingback: Never Enough | The Boiling Point: A Journey in Improv

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