By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
CHICAGO – I am standing onstage, front and center. Members of Sears Tower, the night’s featured comedy improv troupe at Chicago’s io Theater are grilling me on the details of my personal and professional life:
“What did you eat for breakfast this morning?”
“Where do you live?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“What’s that ring on your finger?”
“What do you write about?”
Granted, I had some idea of what I was getting myself into when troupe member, Jo Feldman asked for an audience volunteer to come up onstage and talk about her or her day so that they could transform it into an improv about a dream that person might have at night. I did not, however, anticipate the level of interest and enthusiasm being a blogger for a private investigator in Denver would arouse in both troupe and audience.
“I asked what you did and you said you write blogs for private investigators,” Sears Tower company member, Jon Forsythe later told me in a phone interview “and I was like cool, that’s like Watson.”
"Watson?" I asked Forsythe to elaborate.
“Watson from Sherlock Holmes would write journals about what Sherlock Holmes was doing.” Forsythe also referenced Nancy Drew, Moonlighting, Veronica Mars and Encyclopedia Brown.
The raw material I provided –ie- my vocation did not result in an improv about a Holmes and Watson dream. The hysterically funny ten-minute improv they created was about a blogger for a private investigator who was eager to protect herself from potential misconceptions about what she did and was quick to clarify, I'm just a blogger.
The private investigators are the ones who go under cover, visit crime scenes and track the bad guys down. I'm just a blogger. My tasks, comparatively speaking, are quite mundane. My insistence that most of what I do entails typing on a laptop made it into into the dream sketch along with I'm just a blogger.
Live pianist, Anna Torregrson, set the scene with a brilliant (and also improvised) film noir score, Feldman jumped in to supplement the score with a voice-over describing Denver at night and pantomiming she was typing on a laptop.
As the improv continued, Sears Tower trope members threw together a mash-up of stuff I’d told them about my day (eating two scones for breakfast, flying through Baltimore to get to Chicago) before again cycling back to the I'm just a blogger refrain.
The accidents the PI firm gets hired to investigate ---mostly Colorado automobile, recreational, hospitality and resort industry mishaps (skiing, boating and zip lining)--- were recreated on stage.
“We listen to the dreams and try and find key points in the dream” Forsythe explained. “I think in your case you talked about private investigators everybody grabbed onto the idea. This is the first time in the dream that we interviewed someone who had a connection with a private investigator,” he said adding, “it’s a rich and well established genre."
Does the Sears Tower comedy improv and iO theater have anything to offer Denver private investigators other than hilarious staged dream enactments?
“We travel all over for workshops,” according to iO theater founder and Artistic Director, Charna Halpern was flown to Switzerland to teach improve to theoretical physicists at Cern and has also taught comedy improv to the Chicago Police.
“One of the things we do is teach people how to listen and stay in the moment and listen and see where that leads you.” Halpern continues, “it’s really listening. Listening is the most important thing in our work. People are saying things they’re not really saying. Focus on body language and be aware of what’s being said. Sometimes what’s being said isn’t really being said.”
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