I haven’t written in quite some time due to my all-encompassing job which was busy occupying my soul and stealing vast amounts of my time and energy. Not to fret though, since I’m basically done at the end of the month (if not sooner), I’ve started taking liberties—which include leaving early to see shows I wouldn’t normally be able to. I’m happy to report one such show included Lloyd Night last week for Molly Gaebe’s final performance with the team.
Off the bat I will say this, Spooky Ghost is crisp and efficient—they ran a FULL Harold in 20 minutes and 15 seconds (yes, I timed it). I haven’t seen Lloyd Night in awhile but from then until now, there have been marked improvements. Last Wednesday, SG got straight to the point, followed the fun and didn’t waste time on semantics or getting caught up in silly arguments. For what people might consider a “young team,” they are attacking the stage with clear premises from the top and then just playing fast in second beats. So i’m pleased to report, Spooky Ghost has their shit together. Here’s the gist of the Harold and what I took away from it.
Opening – Original (2:18)
It isn’t a structured opening but it is highly effective in generating ideas. They stand around in a semi-circle and just riff on the suggestion and explore it for a couple of minutes. The whole thing felt very much like when you’re doing a pattern game but just having the most fun instead of pissing about. Everyone was laughing, listening/heightening and generally, throwing out ideas that would actually contribute to a successful Harold instead of being useless—which is generally my least favorite part of a pattern game. Perhaps, most importantly, the premises SG generated in the opening were clear AND funny.
1A – Ben/Josh/Joanna/John (2:01)
This is a great first scene and a good example of just how clear the premises from the opening were to the team. Ben came out as a pilot (just with some light object work-flipping switches and what have you) and Josh immediately knew to play his co-pilot. SG gets to work immediately, starting right in the middle of the premise. Moments after clearly establishing the relationship (Ben is a dick and doesn’t care for Josh who can’t seem to win Ben’s appreciation no matter what). To further the game, Joanna enters as a stewardess and brings John into the scene as a kid visiting the cockpit. Ben, knowing what he has to do, relegates Josh to the deadhead seat and allows John to assume the co-pilot spot. I loved how Josh and John kept finding game moves. John got to wear the captain’s hat, Josh got to gush over it, Josh mentioned how he never got to land the plane so Ben let John do flight related things. A nice example of how knowing your location (despite it’s limited size) and your relationship to your scene partners can further game.
1B – Molly/Joanna (2:08)
I’m always interested to see which premises players pull to initiate with. In the second scene, Molly initiates as a religious priest/friar brewing beer prior to Octoberfest. Based on the opening, it had been mentioned that these priests brew some of the best beer in the world and as a result, people flock to it just for a taste. Joanna listening to Gaebe’s initiation in which she remarks that people from colleges/universities across America flock to this locale, responds in the affirmative, stating that she has just graduated from BU. After that, it becomes a pseudo-college mapping scene with Joanna heightening her reactions in frat-boy fashion.
1C – John/Hunter/Matt (2:37)
Hunter initiates welcoming John as the newest member to Disney’s secret society “The Epcotters.” The specifics in this scene are incredibly fun and John plays a tremendous nervous person. The gist is that “The Epcotters” located in the center of Epcott Center are a secret group populated by various celebrities with the exception of John and Hunter for the most part. Only problem is John is a big fan of virtually anyone. He essentially sets up the second beat by stating as much. According to Hunter, the one rule of “The Epcotters” is that members keep their cool—something John will clearly fail at as the scene progresses. BUT more on the first beat. Matt Dennie does perhaps my favorite walk-on of the night by establishing a space to be a secret bar—he just flips around on his heels-emulating a trap door, places his hands on the bar and greets the gentlemen in the monorail. Real great stuff. Matt’s demeanor and moves of the specific drinks (The Epcott and the Ep-ep-cott) are also on game as John fails to maintain his cool that a second drink exists despite it just being a double of his own drink.
Group 1 – (1:49)
Spooky Ghost KNOWS how to follow the fun. This group game barely lasted two minutes but SO MUCH HAPPENED. Matt initiated with a simple phrase from the opening but delivered the line in such a funny manner, “Do you think I look good in these pannnnts?” that the whole place erupted. The rest of the group quickly filled in the details—they were homeless men and women and then someone else made a strong move to ask if Matt would go to the hobo-prom with them. From there, if/then mentality kicked into high gear and we went on a tag run, seeing a variety of hobo-prom/high school related moves.
2A – Ben/Josh/John (2:41)
In our second beat, we time dash these three characters to a deserted island where the plane has crash-landed because Josh attempted to do something. The scene starts with just Ben and Josh on stage but Ben quickly gifts John by stating that he was still off in search of supplies. Trowbridge enters shortly thereafter with a stack of firewood, yes-anding the move hard by noting that he had to walk a mile inland to an oasis to chop said wood. Ben uses the move to further deflate Josh’s character as he obviously failed to even walk a mile and has been one-upped by the kid once more.
2B – Molly/Joanna/Hunter/Alex (2:02)
Molly remains a priest and Joanna/Hunter/Alex play church goers receiving communion only since this is a college-mapping scene, they are doing everything from beer-bonging the blood of Christ—which actually turns out to be beer in addition to kegstands and other such inappropriate college-like behavior. I forget what the body of christ turns out to be, breadsticks or something to the effect but they have fun with it and most importantly, everyone commits to it. It would’ve been really easy to check out of the scene (as an audience member) if I’d seen Hunter or Alex go against what Molly/Joanna had established. Sometimes, you just need a spot of peas in a pod, no matter how insane the idea seems. Very glad everyone remained on board and no one tried to police the situation/straightman away the fun!
3C –Hunter/John & Co. (1:34)
This is scene demonstrates a nice example of listening as John comes back as the nervous Epcotter member. Hunter assures him that celebrities will enter their space and John is to maintain his cool. Josh wasted little time coming off the back line and I loved the heightening in the scene as Josh interacted with John who heightened from nervously touching his legs to profusely sweating to actually shitting himself. I appreciate that Hunter called out the fact that Harrison didn’t seem to mind or notice said shit because it was obviously unusual. Also worth noting—Ben plays one hell of a Justin Bieber.
Group 2 – (2:02)
Spooky Ghost group games are RIDICULOUSLY fun. Everyone jumps on board immediately. You know how some group games can just become a clusterfuck because there are too many ideas or not enough people saying yes to the one/first clear one? Well, I forget how this one starts exactly, well, with two people speaking in the middle of the stage about something, but at one point, someone says “COOL YOUR JETS.” It’s funny, the audience gets a huge laugh out of the delivery so someone makes the choice to just repeat that cycle. One by one, each member of the team takes a turn telling the last person who said the phrase to cool their jets as well! So simple yet so funny as they find new reasons to say it to one another. The edit comes when Trowbridge calls Hunter, who was yelling at Ben to cool his jets for being in a phone booth for too long, if he’s picked up the kids yet…COOL YOUR FUCKING JETS.
There’s just enough time for one or two third beats. The one I remember is Josh initiating as the pilot at a church confessing that some kid is basically ruining his life by taking everything meant for him. Naturally, Trowbridge walks-on and informs the priest he’d like to have a shot at the whole priest thing, much to Josh’s chagrin. BLACKOUT.
What did I learn from Spooky Ghost?
- Follow the fun! When SG gets going, they steam-roll. You can almost see them chomping at the bit to get in there and further the scene or heighten moves. It’s awesome to watch.
- Seems pretty obvious, but listen. There isn’t as much time as you think, so being clear but also listening to your scene partner’s offer will go a long way in not wasting precious moments.
- Get on board with the first idea in the group game. SG had so much fun and got to explore so much more of their world in the group games because they just took the first thing that came along.
- Take risks—if you find something funny. During the opening, I wasn’t sure how half the premises would work because not everything was “fleshed out” as they say. Know that if you find something funny—even if it’s just a line a la the first group game, go with it and hopefully, you and your teammates will build it together and make it fucking hysterical.
- Don’t be afraid to edit once the game’s established. I credit Spooky Ghost for their timeliness. The backline never let a scene drag on, assassin-like edits the whole night.
- Be supportive! Do what you can, when you can to make the harold better. Not everyone was in every scene but people found ways to insert themselves and help out where possible. Everyone is responsible for the Harold so it was cool to see people step off the backline and support scenes when they needed to.
Check for Spooky Ghost (and the three other Lloyd Teams—Graceland, Kinsey and Hoops) at 7pm on Wednesdays at UCB East. Each team performs twice a month, for reservations, click here.