How to get a head in life
I never really know what is going to happen next. Life is unscripted. I suppose that makes it an improvisation. You just have to roll with it and see where it goes.
Of course I realise that some of you plan every moment. You may have scheduled your visit here (for which I am grateful) and in that case I'm on the clock, so I'll keep this brief.
I read a story in the New Yorker magazine about the (apparently) legendary improv comedian Del Close. I have to 'fess that I had never heard of the guy; though I had seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off in which he plays the deadpan English teacher..."Bueller?…Bueller?......Bueller?. He taught improv to an impressive list of comedians including: John Belushi, John Candy, Andy Dick, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis (some of whom are still alive).
When he died he asked his longtime creative collaborator, Charna Halpern, that his skull be donated to the Goodman Theatre in New York, so that he could play Yorick in “Hamlet.” The skull was donated - but it turned out the skull may have been Yorick's but, alas, it wasn't Close's. Not even close. The problem was that no one in the medical/funereal business was prepared to detach the head and rend it for the role.
The part of the story I liked, aside from the slightly black humour of the dying wish, was Halpern's reasoning for handing over an understudy skull. She says the substitution was never intended as a hoax: “Del and I were improvisers, and improvisers always say yes to each other’s ideas onstage, make them work. ...Try to keep it all going.”
Actually it reminds me of a line I've been known to trot out from time to time:
You think I'm improvising here, but I'm really just making it all up as I go along...
Read the article in the New Yorker here