You couldn't have come at a better time

A quick blog update. It happened! You guys donated $5000!! That’s incredible! Here’s me handing my check to HUGE Theater President Butch Roy.
HUGE Theater President Butch Roy receives a check for $5000 from Jill Bernard. We need to work on our check-receiving faces.

(We need to work on our check-receiving faces.)

Thanks, you guys. I said earlier that people might’ve felt bad about making me spend my own money, but the truth is, it is worth well more than $5000 to me to know people want HUGE Theater to succeed. There are many of you, and you’re from everywhere and all walks of life. It’s incredibly gratifying. My heart is warmed. I cried, I laughed, I did a little dance.

Okay. Onward.

Insert Obscure Song Lyric Here

Butch normally writes these bloggie thingies, but I thought I’d hop in here for a second.

Through March 31, I’m offering $5000 of my own money as a matching grant, to try to get some traction for HUGE.   It’s true, I’m not rich.  I haven’t had a day job since I got laid off two years ago, ironically, shortly after making this video about how much I love my day job.   Since then I make money playing ComedySportz and teaching at improv festivals around the country, and doing the occasional voiceover or commercial.

I have a little bit of savings, my father gave us all our inheritance early.  He doesn’t need the money, he grew a big beard and lives in a trailer and volunteers at train museums in warm climates.  Logically, I should be saving that money for my retirement, because improvisors don’t get 401Ks.   Somehow I’d rather spend it on helping HUGE Theater.  I want there to be a home for scenic improvisation in the Twin Cities.  It’s important to me.

Here’s the question though.  Why does HUGE Theater need a big wad of cash right now?  Well.  We’re buried under construction debt, crowds are still at a tiny getting-to-know you size, and we’re still in the part of the beer-and-wine license process where the city takes your money, not where you make money.  We’re getting there, but we’re not there.

Won’t you combine your dollars with my dollars to get us over this hump?  There’s a lot of stupid things to spend your money on. Pick this one, this time.

Thank you.  You rock.

Let me get you up to speed, it's up to us to up the need. Upheaval tucked up the sleeve

Lots of new things still changing around HUGE – adding shows and time slots and special events all over the place

I am still startled by the immediacy that running our space brings to the process, much to the frustration of our marketing people – instead of the normal process of deciding what is going to come next, sending press releases, building some hype and then launching a new show we’re looking at Friday late nights after Overheard In Minneapolis and it always feels like there should be MORE. People hang out, the night clearly isn’t ready to be over yet – so we can add a show. Right NOW. No lead time, no ability to promote properly.  BOOM.

Such is the weird, chaotic process in the beginning – once we find the flow of all the evenings we will be able to follow the normal process for the next round of programming…hopefully.  Trying to get a couple months ahead while still trying to catch up from the build and keep up with daily operations can be daunting.

So, be patient with us and be sympathetic for our marketing people.  But now, the updates!


their numbers were few but they did the job of many

Credit where credit is due blog ::

Some things are changing at HUGE, many of which will be announced soon and most of them are a direct result of learning the reality of running a theater – putting things in motion and finding out that the way you planned things has many unexpected problems or doesn’t work the way you thought it would – and while myself, Jill and Nels tend to get credit for helming this big, meandering beast of a project I must point out to everyone that it is far easier to not know what you’re doing than it is to work for someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing.


The early 7 Seconds taught me some of life's most valuable lessons

opening night blog ::

Been doing a lot of talking to the press about the upcoming opening and there’s something very useful about being forced to repeat over and over again what you’re doing and and why – something that I have found coming up over and over again in the press gauntlet leading up to opening is the fact that I am not a “theater person” and how HUGE would really like people to understand that improv is theater.

First off, saying I’m not a “theater person” is a lot like saying I am not a “music person” – everyone likes some kind of theater, really, whether they know it or not.  Storytelling, stand up, TV, movies, improv, busking…all these things are essentially theater, the only difference is the delivery medium.


If revolution isn't what's in store, how can you care anymore?

HUGE build blog: Waiting

The boring updates are as follows:

The drywall guy is STILL going.  The Minneapolis electrical inspector just didn’t show for the inspection last week, which pushed everyone else back as well.  The wall guy was waiting for the inspector so he can close the walls, the electricians are waiting for the inspector and the wall guy, the plumber is waiting for the walls, tile and cement to dry, the cement guy was waiting for the wall guy to be done in the bathrooms so he didn’t make tracks in the new concrete – and all of them are waiting to find out what’s next.

Except the drywall guy, who is just waiting for the cement and the drywall mud to dry.

This week I have plenty to do in the meantime, which is better than just having to be there and trying to stay out of the way all day.

The stage is now handicapped accessible with a spiffy new ramp and some steps.  The tech booth now has the raised floor which allows the technician to literally (as opposed to psychologically) look down over everyone.  The dumpster was dropped off and filled before the sun came up, with another 2 dumpsters worth of scrap wood and drywall to go.  Now I’m waiting for it to be picked up.

In the meantime, the city of Minneapolis suddenly realized that they never had their mechanical reviewer sign off on our plans before giving us a building permit so now we have to scramble to get a mechanical engineer over to the space to certify that we meet the fresh air requirements for an assembly space – because we would hate to run out of air in the middle of a show.  Although that would provide an incredible amount of realism to the Mustache Rangers’ set….anyway.

I don’t know what day it is anymore.  It’s the side-effect of not having a “job” and all that.

I know that tomorrow the electricians are finally coming back and I am picking up the paint that will eventually adorn the lobby walls and possibly tiling the bathroom (depending on the drying of the walls) and sealing up the basement walls between our space and the landlord’s space – trying to get word back on what exactly we can get away with for one of those artsy bike racks and trying to coordinate some strong arms to unload the metal doors that are being delivered next week while I am out of town.

Show X has one more week at the Bryant Lake Bowl and I remain optimistic that it will move over to HUGE without a break and soon my blogging will be all about the fun of running shows instead of the slow march that is construction.

I cannot wait.

Our struggle still feels wonderful most days

“This shouldn’t hurt…but you might feel a slight discomfort”

We are struggling to clear the gap right now, today I am pushing out our continued effort to raise funds via the member campaign. I wish I didn’t have to badger the people I know for money and could just keep pushing out optimistic updates on how awesome this is going to be, but this is the uncomfortable part of my job.

I suspect anyone reading this blog has already looked at the links if they are going to but today I’m asking everyone (puts on Gary Oldman crazy…EVVVVERYYYOONNNEEE!!!) to pass this on to someone.

We have reached our audiences, performers, volunteers and loyal supporters as well as we can and what we need now is to extend the reach of our efforts rather than keep asking for more from the same people….not that we will turn down more support from the same people, mind you.

If you are so inclined, please consider sending this on to one or two people that might be able to give or might know someone that could. It makes a massive difference in the future of HUGE.

Humbly, I thank you all.


Just a little thought and a lot of feeling

Here it is, a little time to sit down and type before the real insanity takes hold – tomorrow morning at 7am the build officially begins in the space with the delivery and assembly of the lobby walls and the restroom plumbing.  I never thought I would be so excited about those two things.

We had another Overheard in Minneapolis rehearsal last night on the stage (it’s now actually “a stage” instead of “a box”) and it reminded me that I wanted to take a few minutes before this picks up any more speed and post some updates on what we’ve done and what is still in front of us.

The space hasn’t been inactive this entire time if we could help it – trying to get things done that we could accomplish without the builders and permits helped pare down the list of stuff we will have to worry about later but no matter how much you prep it seems there’s no avoiding the last-minute crush of the whole project slamming into the last couple weeks, days or hours.


Opening doors and closing curtains

Clearing the gap ::

This weekend, HUGE Theater enters scary territory.  This Sunday marks the final Improv A Go Go at the Brave New Workshop, our home for more than 8 years, and the new space has yet to open.  In fact the new space is yet to be completed.

We have now come to that gap that I have long feared – between the point of no turning back and the day we open our doors.

Honestly, we passed the point of making sense to turn around long ago when we signed the lease and began bleeding money into this building.  Sure, we could stop now and take the loss of money and credibility but the shows themselves and the comfortable status quo would remain largely unchanged.   Somehow the change to the environment seems so much more irreversible than something as fleeting as money.

The other scary factor is just the unknown – after tonight I am not able to say for certain when the next Improv A Go Go is, something that hasn’t happened in our long history.  We are taking submissions for the Improv Festival to happen in a venue that doesn’t exist yet.  I am still keeping my fingers crossed that if we throw all these things into the air, we can somehow pull off building a place for them to land…maybe on the second bounce.  That’s an unsettling metaphor.

In a few minutes I’m off to the open house to let everyone come see the space – I hope everyone does

Then off to take the familiar stage that has been the home of the IAGG, from which all of this has grown.