There are rehearsals for weddings, plays, speeches and concerts. But, how does one practice for those off-the-cuff moments in time?
Luke Field, a 2007 University of Pittsburgh grad raised in Hatboro, found his funny bone two years ago and has been trying ever since to perfect the art of seemingly unpracticed improvisational comedy.
Field, who now lives in Philadelphia and works in a law firm’s records department, rehearses weekly to prepare for various scenarios hurled at him and his troupe, Asteroid, while performing.
“One thing that’s nice about improv is it’s a group activity. If there’s a night where I’m just totally lost, out to sea, we have seven other performers,” Field said. “Going onstage with nothing planned and nothing in mind can be scary, but for me, now I find it thrilling. We’ve had bad shows. We’ve done quite a few. It’s chasing that good one … that makes it really exciting.”
Asteroid performs long-form improv, which entails taking a suggestion at the beginning of the performance from the audience and acting it out in three unrelated scenes during a 25 to 45-minute show.
“We’ve gotten strange suggestions,” he said. “We’ve had people yelling out during the show.”
Once, someone threw $5 onstage and shouted something, Field said.
Wouldn’t it be easier to act in plays, or formats where material is scripted, allowing for fewer surprises?
Field’s answer is decidedly no.
“What improv is doing is looking for the truth in life but heightening it,” said Field, who attended St. David’s Catholic School in Willow Grove prior to La Salle College High School. “I start looking at everything that happens to me through a different lens.”
Field “stumbled” into the improv world in 2009 while visiting his sister in New York. The siblings sat through a 14-hour improv marathon and, upon leaving, Field said he vowed that one day he too, would perform there.
For his New Year’s resolution in 2010, Field had promised to take improv classes. That year has come and gone, but Field’s passion for spur-of-the-moment performance has grown stronger.
“I’m either at practice, writing, taking a class, teaching classes with improv theater, or traveling to New York to take classes there as well,” he said. “Right now I’m trying to hone my craft. Trying to put words or give value to something that I find invaluable.”
If you go
Luke Field, along with his troupe, Asteroid, will perform July 31 at 9 p.m. at the Philly Improv Theater's home within Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St., in Philadelphia. Click here for more information, or to buy tickets.