We were a bunch of fairly talented people. We wanted to do something new and exciting. But we really didn't want to put in the work. So we thought: Let's improvise! We got together for a weekend with nothing to do. And we did it.

 

HISTORY

by Alek Lev, series creator, Phi Beta Kappa, dresses left

I was at my day job, stealing moments between my tedious work and my cosmic misery, trying to write yet another script I would never finish for a short film I would never make. On my birthday. Okay, it wasn't on my birthday. But it sucked.

In what could only generously be called my "career," I have made one feature film, acted in another, a catered yet one more. I've made a few brief appearance on the TV machine, and had a great job making DVD extras for a network show about how this guy who met your mother. I can't remember what it was called. I was a theater major back in college -- thank you, one hundred thousand dollars -- and I've been able to do some exciting work on stage as both an actor and a director. The point is, I've had fulfilling, creative outlets, but they were few and far between. Too few and too far, in fact, to satisfy the deep need that so many artists have: to be famous enough that Amy Adams will hang out with you.

I needed a change. And Barack Obama told me to Be The Change. And Paul McCartney told me to Let it Be. And Run DMC told that I Be Illin'.  So: 

What I really wanted to be doing was to be Making Things. The hardest thing about being a Struggling Hollywood Type isn't the lack of recognition, or lack of money. Recognition and money are byproducts of that thing you really want: the opportunity to work. To be on set, creating. I knew I wanted to be creating funny things. And I knew that the funniest part of whatever I created wouldn't come from me, but from my friends; the people I've worked with before and wanted to work with again. I knew that I could orchestrate the comedy -- I could direct it and edit it -- but the best and funniest stuff would come from the brilliant minds in front of the camera, not this addled mind behind it.

An equation started to develop. I didn't want to write. I did want to shoot. My friends were funny. And, like me, they are not yet hanging out with Amy Adams. What did it all add up to? What could we do in front of a camera, without a script, with funny, available actors?

Improvise. Or, I suppose, do the nasty. But, I wasn't really in the mood for to hear "No, I'm not going to have sex on camera for you." Again. I get enough of that at home. But improvisation might be the solution. It's a perfect mixture of all the elements I had at my disposal. And it was time to dispose of them.

Sure, improv sketch comedy is something you're more likely to see in the multi-purose room at the other end of the quad after Psych 101. But our aims are a bit more lofty. They have more loft. We're thinking about the intellectual inanity of Monty Python, the strutural innovations of Mr. Show with Bob and David, and the sheer balls-out-ed-ness of Saturday Night Live. Just... without writing anything down.

And so, NO PLANS THIS WEEKEND dares to ask the question: Who needs money, scripts or any ideas at all when you can improvise now and spend months editing later?  The answer?  We do.  We need money, scripts and ideas.  Text us if you have any.


One man’s torture, dot dot dot
— Mayor Relling, Episode 1