Why National Comedy Theater? – 15 Years of NCT

My journey to NCT started about 8 years into my improv career. While doing research on my Master’s Degree in 2001, I stumbled across the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? I discovered improv comedy and I eventually started taking classes with my first teacher, Pat Dade (who teaches now at Stella Adler in Hollywood). I moved on to South Coast Repertory learning from Greg Atkins and after spending hundreds of dollars on classes, I joined my first team, Just Us Improv in Orange County.

Soon after getting married, I realized I needed to up my game. I had to join a troupe that matched my personal philosophy of improv–good scene work being one. On vacation, my wife and I stumbled across NCT San Diego, which starred many members of the same improv show we saw in Santa Barbara. In 2001, NCT held auditions on a Sunday Morning and it was time. I auditioned. And to be completely honest, I knew I nailed it. Later that night, I got a call from owner Gary Kramer with the good news. He, in fact, knew my teacher Pat Dade from Washington DC.

Now, I was making two trips to San Diego every week for rehearsal and shows. I met my good friend Dorian Lenz, who runs NCT Phoenix. I also met my producing partner, Loren Kling. We are now working on the second season of 5 Important Things Podcast. I wish I could mention everyone but the list is huge and I’m going to forget someone.

Luckily for me, the owner and a few of the performers were commuting to San Diego from Los Angeles. I got to hitch a ride and got to know Gary and the operation better. I know it was these trips that help me get on stage as first in my class. In fact, I was not prepared to perform my first time in January 2002. It was surprised on me by Gary and gang while we were getting dinner at Phil’s BBQ.

I did it and fifteen years later, I still cherish being on stage with an ever changing cast. I don’t remember much about the show, other than I played a redneckĀ at one point.

Why NCT? Sure the years have not passed without controversy. There was also the three years, that I tried and failed in reproducing the show in Orange County. But after fifteen years, I’m on a team where were all on the same page. We agree on how scenes are built and we have healthy discussions of what’s funny, what works and a leader, we respect to make the final decision. Having been in many troupes, this is the most important factor that has kept me in improvĀ all these years.

Why NCT? Ultimately, it’s the one who pays the bills…the audience. There’s nothing more intoxicating that hearing 100 people laugh at you. There’s this debate in Improv Comedy. Who is improv for? Yourself or the Audience. To me, there’s only one answer…the audience. I have but one gift to give to the world and its laughter.

This Saturday, I will step on the same stage, I stepped on 15 years ago (sans the green carpet). I will perform the same show, I performed in 15 years ago. I will step on that stage with 15 years of experience and with all humility know that I’m still learning what it takes to make people laugh.

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