We've asked some of previous performers about their Out of Bounds experiences. Here's what they've had to say:
The Doubtful Guests, Mayfly, teacher, actor. Seen on TV's The Riches, Heroes, Justified, Supernatural and currently can be seen as Father Kieran on the CW's The Originals.
Improvisors are a tribal culture. There is a bond, an unspoken understanding amongst us. Like surfers. We do it for the love of the game. We would have to. It takes a special type of person who is truly has nothing better to do than to thrust themselves out in front of a paying audience with the faith that nothing short of theatrical alchemy is going to occur between the players. Hoping to the gods that those wednesday night classes, space work and zip zap zop would be there to support the ensemble. If I can take another hit off the metaphoric surfing flask, improvising also often results in spectacular failure. Arms, legs and 80s references going every which way. But just sometimes, you and your troupe will tuck into that curl and ride that baby all the way to the beach, and then there’s claps. A lot of paddling for fleeting moments of bliss….and you had to be there. You can’t describe it to people, you just had to be there, audience and players, at that time, for that night, man o’ man, you had to be there.
One of those “theres” is in Austin, in August, at The Out of Bounds Comedy festival (Oob to the tribe). It’s like the conch shell is blown and the tribes are called from afar to pilgrimage southwest. First off, it’s Austin, that oasis of cool in the big hot state of Texas. That-Bat Bridge-great-tunes-boozey-Torchy’s-Tacos-keepin’-it-weird-amazing Austin. Second, it’s a gathering of the best and brightest of the tribe. I have been to Oob twice now. I’ve taught classes, performed in Stool Pigeon, and seen some great work. This last year I was invited to perform my ad-hoc clusterfunk Mayfly and also with my macabre, victorian, improv troupe The Doubtful Guests. Those shows had those alchemic moments I spoke of. Mayfly gives me a chance to throw down with players from all over the country. That doesn’t get to happen that often. We burned down the institution theatre, the place was jumping, it was…it was…o’ man. Then we did two Doubtful Guests shows, which may have been some of my favorite times improvising with them in our twelve years together. Hoo boy.
I think, though, the best thing about Oob is the people you get to hang, throw down, laugh and drink with. We all speak the same language, let’s call it “Spolinglish” . You just know each other, even if you just met that night. We share DNA. For those few days you are with your long lost family. Swapping styles, ideas, bits, stories and hot sauce. So go! Take a class, teach a class, see some shows, yes and, make the funny and remember to hydrate. Man o’ man, you just have to be there.
Former artistic director of the Second City Los Angeles. ADD Comedy podcast.
The Out of Bounds Festival is one thing: inspiring. From a performer’s perspective it’s professionally executed, well-orgainized, and nicely scheduled. the crew and staff and volunteers rock, no matter which venue you’re at.
It’s also an honor to be amongst the finest actors and artists in the country. To be honest, I couldn’t believe who they brought to perform at the fest.
And, from an audience perspective, well, without hyperbole: inspiring, bold, smart, surprising, delightful, funny, poignant, and true.
The quality is, um, out of bounds.
Festivals are like people. They have their own personality, energy and uniqueness. I love going to festivals, as you just never know what the experience will be or whom you may meet.
The Out of Bounds Festival is big. I remember looking at the line up before going and thinking how will I deal with the size? It seemed so overwhelming. The sheer amount of programming and its diversity is wonderful. I hope the festival organisers continue to expand the range, especially embracing more theatrical improvisation work.
I’ll admit I definitely felt like the new kid at the school dance. Those massive parties were fun, but a bit overwhelming when you are not someone who tours the USA comedy/stand up / improv circuit. Yet this festival captures a true southern hospitality and underneath the size there is a genuine hand of friendship extended. I was embraced and looked after by such warm and welcoming people. Shana Merlin, Asaf Ronen, the Hideout Theatre and the P’Graph folk all greeted me with open arms, and took me under their wings. It was this warmth that shifted the festival from just another big event, to an event with heart and generosity.
When I think back to the Out of Bounds festival I think of the many great experiences like seeing a great variety of shows and doing the Improv Monologue Project. I’m still glowing that Mike gave me a light sabre! But it’s the personal connections and experiences I remember most. I smile when I think of those I’ve already mentioned or think of the look in Kaci Danger & Kareem Badr’s faces when we asked them to play just hours before our show. I also reflect on my new friends like Jill Bernard, the On The Spot troupe and especially Joe Bill. It is because of Out of Bounds that Joe and I have begun collaborating and creating projects like our show Our Play. Thank you OOB for the inspiration and opportunity.
I can’t help but end by using a old line ‘its not the size but what you do with it that counts.’ Sure OOB has size, so do many other festivals, but it is what they do with it that counts. It’s the heart and warmth underneath it that makes it extra special and not like every other festival out there.
Thanks OOB, I hope to see y’all again soon.