With the iO theater’s annual audition for Harold teams right around the corner (sign-ups are Friday, August 16 at noon), Pat Ivansek (Second City HouseCo, Potential Boyfriends, Smith & I) and Trevor Martin (Oh Theodora, PlanetTown) decided to have a conversation about being placed on--and cut from--their respective Harold teams. What follows are portions of that conversation.
P: So the two of us went through 5Bs together.
T: And ours was a very big, VERY talented class.
P: It was a talented bunch! I think enough talented people to make up more than one team, so we were kind of shocked when they only formed one team--Berserker--out of our class. But as we figured out later on, there is no set number of teams being created each round.
T: Right. So you made the cut and I didn’t...
P: Well don’t say it like that !
T: Ha ha.
P: But what was that like, not getting in?
T: Well, no matter how hard I tried to prepare myself for that happening, it was still a gutpunch. And something I was NOT prepared for was that the rejection e-mail started with “congratulations”, meaning congratulations on making it through the training center. So it was just the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows. And I know it’s egotistical, but you always get encouraging feedback during your time as a student there so when I was rejected I literally thought “there must be some sort of mistake.”
P: Which is not specific to you, I’m sure! I can think of a lot of theatre auditions in college or after college where I was just like “whaaat is happening?”
T: Oh yeah, absolutely! So then eventually that moment came where I just said “well, I can’t go back to the last save point or press Control-Z, this is just how it is and I have to move forward.”
T: But I was bitter. OOHHH BOY was I bitter. There were things that only bothered me a little while I was going through the training center, and then suddenly they were HUGE problems once I didn’t make a team.
P: Well then it’s good that you didn’t retake 5B right away! Because then you would’ve been a bitter asshole. And also you eventually realized that maybe there were some things you could have changed, in terms of what you were doing onstage in order to get on a Harold team.
T: But that was something I had a problem with! When I retook 5B and got on Echo I got the note that I was more mature, but in my mind that second time around I was just restraining myself and thinking about the “right and wrong” way to do things. So then it went from “I have to play like this or I won’t get on a team” to “I have to play like this or I won’t make it if Echo gets cut.”
P: And that mindset goes completely against the essence of improv.
T: Completely! But it worked!
P: Well did it though?
T: ...Ouch, man...
P: No no no, not like that! I meant it like...you never really know who from the Harold Committee is watching your 5B and Harold team shows. Yet it sounds like you were thinking of “right vs. wrong,” while what they’re looking for are one, good improvisers, and two, team players, players who fit iO’s STYLE of improv. Because each theater in this city has it’s own style of comedy--
T: --and obviously that’s a good thing--
P: Right, but when we want to be a part of these theaters so badly we lose sight of that and think of “right vs. wrong”, which makes it more about “success” than the art form. And I’m just as guilty of it! Like I know in 5Bs and Berserker that was something that held me back, to the point where I would walk offstage after a show and be like “why did I play so off tonight?” And the reason was that I was in my head too much.
T: And that’s a universal problem! Echo had a rehearsal where our coach was telling us how we did so well in rehearsals but we were playing scared in our shows. And I remember so vividly him saying “we’re gonna get cut, eventually. Could be next week, could be a few months from now, but we’re going to get cut.” And even with that, when I got the e-mail that Echo did get cut my first thought was: “That’s crazy, we just hit our stride.”
P: Bitter and angry?
T: Actually no, I was more taken aback and saddened by it. The Harold Commission didn’t put me on another team because they didn’t see enough growth from me, and I actually agree with that decision because of my hesitation from wanting to do it “right” for so long. But Echo as a whole had members drop out and get replaced, and I think by the time we finally realized our potential--and we had a LOT of potential--the decision had already been made.
P: Did anyone tell you why your team was cut?
T: No. You?
P: No. I don’t think they do, typically.
T: Hmm...well that wasn’t really on my mind at the time, because I actually got the e-mail as I was getting on a plane, and then I got food poisoning during the flight.
P: Holy frijoles, mi amigo!!! [NOTE: Pat didn’t really say that, I just wanted to write that he did. --TM]
T: So Echo getting cut was the LEAST of my worries. And then once we land, after this terrible car ride where there’s construction on the freeway turning 4 lanes into 1, I’m throwing up LOUDLY in the bathroom of some bar that’s trying to close, and then I get the e-mail saying I didn’t get put on another team and I’m like “I DON’T CARE, I WANT TO DIE!”
P: Well Berseker, we had been together for a little over a year. And then we were having that conversation of “it is a possibility, you can get cut”...I’m trying to remember if we thought we were on the observation table or if we were told…but we knew we were being watched.
T: REALLY! That’s interesting, we had no warning at all.
P: So then one rehearsal we walk in and our coach says “everyone sit down, we’re not gonna warm up, there’s no good way to put this but you guys have been cut. So we can have one last rehearsal, or we can all grab a drink down the street.”
T: Let me guess.
P: Of course we went to the bar! That’s what anyone would have done. And our coach hung out with us for a little while and then left, I think to just let us soak it in and be a team, and that was that. But we were starting to, in our minds, get bigger shows, bigger houses...like our final show was I think our first show opening for Cook County Social Club.
T: WOW. How was that last show?
P: It was fun! A little sloppy, but it was clearly us having a good time together. I remember in rehearsals Harrison O’Neal would do this fake, over-the-top introduction where he’d go “I’M HARRISON, THAT’S PAT, THAT’S KATE” and he’d go down the line in this silly southern voice. So we said to him before the show “Harrison you gotta intro the show like that!” and he didn’t want to do it so I did instead, and then I said “we have been and we will always be Berserker, can I get a last suggestion of anything at all?”
T: Oh nice, that’s really sweet.
P: So then afterwards we went to Mullen’s to celebrate, but there was still this weird feeling. Especially because we had decided to find out if we made another team by asking our coach individually. And I found out I got cut. It was hard at first, but I eventually got over it because I was just like “You know, I’ve had this really great experience at iO, I can always hopefully go back, and I’ve got all this other shit going on and that’s great.”
T: It’s so funny...I’ve never thought about it until now, but I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t sick and in another city. I probably would have just gone to the lake and gritted my teeth. But now we know from experience that really, the only thing you get out of being on a Harold team at iO is simply performing improv regularly at iO.
P: Yeah, that’s true. And that’s a great opportunity, but there are other performance opportunities in other theaters that are better or worse or just the same.
P: So was it worth it?
T: You know, it was. It was.
P: I agree.
T: Yeah, because you get to do something you love for people who want to be there, instead of people in bars whose nights are interrupted by your show.
P: And you don’t have to produce the shows, the audience is already in place for the most part, and you get a coach to guide you.
T: Right. People should just have a realistic expectation about what you’re going to get out of it, and how it’s going to go. Because you really don’t get anything outside of performing on those stages. But for us, that was enough.
If you would like to date Pat and Trevor, check out their joint OKCupid account at http://www.okcupid.com/profile/patntrevor (NOTE: Only pairs of girls need apply)