Fearless Comedy at the CONvergence Masquerade Halftime Show

Photo by Megan Slawson

We walked into the backstage area. As the tech crew clipped on our microphones one by one, a Diablo was exiting the stage. A Beetlejuice was heading up the ramp to enter. We all had our own way of coping with the energy, taking deep breaths, bouncing, stretching, anything we could do to keep things going but remain respectful and silent.

We took the stage, and I read the one thing I had prepared. With a room full of so many people at a place as amazing and welcoming as CONvergence, improv poses a challenge. I asked the audience to suggest anything they wanted throughout the show and made the promise that, even if we weren’t familiar with it, we’d do the best we could with whatever they suggested, a promise that I can confidently say that we kept.

There is nothing that compares to the CONvergence audience. Whether they were just waiting for the judging to be over or if they came specifically for our show, they are the biggest, kindest, and most enthusiastic audience I have the pleasure of performing in front of all year. They’re also the loudest when I ask for suggestions, quickly becoming an eager cacophony of joy and enthusiasm. David Rand-McKay and Megan Slawson were kind enough to give me a hand from the audience in collecting suggestions.

You never know what to expect, which is probably why we started by telling a story about Zoidberg looking for Green Acres. We got so many amazing contributions that included Hot Pockets, Soylent Green, a Seinfeld DVD collection, Pepe le Pew, a movie named Tentacles at the Opera, and so much more.

This is always an odd show to host. Our performance happens while the judges are deliberating, so it could be over at any time. Any game could be our last of the show, so everything has to be strong. Our players never missed a beat. Matt Allex, Kayla Sotebeer, Andrea Ropella, Kyle Dekker, Nathan Gerber, Bob Alberti, James Fairbairn, and Salsa Sterling made up movies, told stories, created a soap opera, argued, laughed, and granted wishes.

It was stressful, unpredictable, thrilling, exhausting, and worth every moment. Thank you to the kind audience. Thank you to the main stage tech and staff that made the show possible. Thank you to CONvergence for having us. And thank you to my cast. If they’ll have us next year, I look forward to doing it all again.

-Eric Thompson

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