DESTRUCTION OF FAMILIES
Before I reach my conclusion in the following section, there is one more difficult subject we have to discuss. No cult is complete unless they also try to destroy the family unit. The improv cult is no different. To improvisers the cult is more important than their marriages. And the people that run improv/sketch comedy theaters continually try to destroy marriages to help their profit margin.
Here is how it works. The company claims to prefer improv couples who meet at the theater so they can all work together. That way the company can send them on tour together, or corporate shows, and only pay for one room. “We look for that,” said one of the recent producers. For a long time they would send couples onto cruise ships sometimes for years. And the “we only need one room for them” reason was used to my face. Not to mention, if the couple meets and gets married while working for the company it only solidifies the control the cult has over the relationship.
Where does this kind of thinking go wrong? There are several well known examples from the theater I am discussing where the theater itself, and the other improvisers, went out of their way to destroy marriages.
The first example, and this happens a lot, is that if it is a marriage between someone who is an improviser and the “other” person is not an improviser, the theater and the other improvisers will eventually ostracize the “other”. This is because the non improviser cannot further anyone’s career so they are basically useless. The improvisers will support the new relationship by saying things like, “Well they were meant to be together”. They will justify it because it works better for their business. There are some unions that forbid this, and the theater can get sued if they do this in some jurisdictions. But I am witness to the fact that if there isn’t a strict union rule against it the theater will exploit this weakness.
Where it gets more complicated is when there is a love triangle within the improv theater. This has happened in two cases I have witnessed. The story was the same in both cases. A couple is married and they are both performers. However, one performer gets onto the main stage and the other doesn’t. Then they start having an affair with another married performer on the main stage. Maybe they will even pretend they are just really strong comedic partners. When the affair was revealed in both these cases the theater ostracized the performers that were not quite as high up on their ladder in favor of the new “main stage” relationship. Even when the “other” partner struggles to put the marriage back together, the theater will push the illicit affair couple together by giving them work. This effectively destroys the other relationship. In both cases the performers who were left behind by their marriages were also left behind by the theater as they had outlived their use and were now a hazard to the life of the new “Comedy Couple”.
It often reminds me of the show 90210 where there was a “core group,” and anytime someone started dating outside of that tight knit group you knew there days were numbered. They might be made to feel they are a part of the group for a period of time. But in the end Kelly is going to end up with Brandon or Dylan. There is no avoiding it. And the theater I am discussing often uses the phrase “core group” as a way to exclude people. I’d just like to point out that with an apple, the core is the least delicious part and can be poisonous. Beware the CORE GROUP!
Another example of this was a situation where one “mainstage” performer fell out of favor with a new regime of producers. Only problem was, her husband was still working for the theater. For at least a year I watched this guy struggling to figure out why the theater had turned on his wife. No reason was ever given and in fact, he was the one who had to tell her she had been fired. What a nightmare! They had just bought a house and now the whole financial burden of it fell onto his shoulders because the theater had simply refused to work with his spouse, who was an alumni. They even tried to send the poor guy onto a cruise ship for six months without her, even though she was easily more qualified than him. The good news here is that the guy eventually quit the cult and stayed with his wife. The theater and the improvisers failed to destroy the marriage despite numerous earnest attempts. The couple has actually been completely ostracized from the theater for almost a decade now. This is what happens when you don’t tow the line. Does it sound like a cult yet? Does this sound like an episode of The PATH?
Is this a big deal that they do this? Is it okay for the theater and improvisers to celebrate one couple that cheated and lied for years to their spouses and friends, while at the exact same time ostracizing a couple who remained married and had to leave the theater to save their relationship? If you think it’s okay I’m going to take a wild guess that you are an improviser who works for that theater.
Here are three clues about which assholes I’m talking about here. Whose line is it to destroy marriages? There is not one “theater” in all the “nations” of the “world” that should be allowed to do this. I don’t care if your theater is in a “first city” like New York, or some other, lesser known “city”. Take a “second” to figure out who the cult assholes are.
READ NEXT WEEK FOR MY FINAL CONCLUSION!!!