It was the summer of 2013. We were on BART headed back from Matt Nelsen’s Level 3 class at EndGames when the topic shifted to Hanna-Barbera. There was something about those cartoons that engaged all of us, and we left no stone unturned, covering the different styles of animation in their canon, the Laff-A-Lympics, and recurring characters from Huckleberry Hound to Snagglepuss.
“Heavens to Megatron!” called out another BART passenger in an attempt to join our conversation via malaprop. Yet another person followed up and asked us about our views on the situation in Somalia. For better or worse, we had turned into a source of entertainment for our BART car.
That wasn’t the only evening we had a spirited conversation, nor was it the only evening our conversation attracted the attention of others, but it stuck out in my mind as a particularly fun thing to do with this group.
A little over a week ago, I recruited a couple of the people involved in that Hanna-Barbera conversation to see if we could create a form that would naturally lead to the types of conversations we had while riding BART. We went to a jam, signed up for a team spot as The Pedestrians, got some encouraging feedback, and left the experiment wanting to try it out again. Heavens to Megatron! It would appear that taking what we naturally enjoyed and fitting a form around it worked.
I tried to use this observation when coaching a local improv troupe this past week. The challenge in fitting a form to a troupe is to find one that highlights the troupe’s strengths but not constrain it so much that it prevents the troupe from showcasing new talents as they emerge. While I’m not exactly sure how to do that, it’s something I’ve been thinking about when trying to evaluate what a troupe is good at and find ways they can grow together.
I hope to have more to stay on this topic later. Until then, exit stage left!