Living The Dream

We were very lucky this week at Face2Face to have a visit from one of our former members about whom we’ll very possibly be able to say, “I knew him when…”

Dave Stripling was a F2F member from near the beginning, and about a year ago packed his bags for Chicago to try and make it in the improv capital of the world. Dave was always one of the most cerebral members of the troupe; I always respected just how much he thinks about the art and the craft of what we do — how and why things work the way they do.

But the insight and analysis of the guy I worked with a year ago was nothing compared to the guy that came back this week. Dave talked to us at rehearsal Monday for almost the entire time — nearly a three-hour lecture about things he had learned during his time taking classes from the masters in Chicago. (People whose former students include the casually mentioned Mike and Chris, among many many others. And for those that need last names, that would be Myers and Farley.)

To be perfectly honest, even though he was incredibly interesting and the material was brilliant, I couldn’t keep up. Three hours of drinking from the firehose was just too much for me. I’ll be processing things he said Monday for quite a while to come. But I imagine it will almost certainly make us all better players.

Last night was also fun, for a different reason. It was great getting time with Chicago-trained improv artist Dave Stripling on Monday, but it was also wonderful getting time over dinner with our friend Dave Stripling on Tuesday. The fact that it takes a special occassion for the troupe to get together socially is really rather unfortunate.

It was also just very cool to see how well Dave is doing. He’s got a long way to go still, but he’s gradually working his way up through the same programs, with the same instructors, that have produced some of the most famous improv/sketch/sitcom/etc. comedians. If he sticks with it, he could very possibly be somebody, you know?

And it’s all because he actually did it. Dave had been in Huntsville for years, and last year got laid off from yet another radio job. He realized that he had nothing keeping him here, and that he could either wait tables again looking to try to get yet another yet another radio position, or he could actually do what he wanted to. He had the complete freedom to pursue his dream, and he did.

People like that are a challenge to me. The people who risk everything to gain everything. Because the truth is, I’m pretty comfortable. Yeah, it would be cool to do some of these things, but not enough to give up what I have to pursue them. I still think my plan to start five newspapers in Huntsville is amazing brilliant. But not brilliant enough that I’m willing to give up my current job.

To be fair, I love what I do. It’s the best job I’ve had, and don’t know of anything that I know would be better. So it’s not really a case of settling. But it’s odd being content, being comfortable. Never something I planned on. And, also to be fair, there are still areas where I do stretch, do aspire. I’m not dead yet, by a long shot.

So I think it’s very cool that Dave is doing this. I’ll never be famous for my improv. In part, for that very reason — I wouldn’t give up what I have to pursue it. Which is probably wise, because the other half is, I’m just not that good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not half bad. But I doubt I could ever have what it takes to pay the bills with acting.

Which means, you’ll never see me on Saturday Night Live. But you might very well see Dave Stripling. And when you do, rest assured that I’ll brag ad nauseum about how I used to act with him, back when.