Of pickups, hiccups, and late night talk show hosts

In a previous post, I wrote about how I started photographing improv during the 2000 Chicago Improv Festival.

From 2000, Pick-ups & Hiccups, with Jill Benjamin and Seth Meyers

From 2000, Pick-ups & Hiccups, with Jill Benjamin and Seth Meyers

This image was from the show Pick-ups & Hiccups, starring Jill Benjamin and Seth Meyers, during CIF 2000. Its this performance that – unknown to Seth – would change his life.

It was part sketch, part improv.  Towards the beginning of their show, Jill and Seth interviewed two members of the audience.  Based on the information that they were given, it created the basis for two characters in their show.

Granted, I was new to improv.  But what blew me away was that both Jill & Seth remembered not only their answers, but the mannerisms and quirks that the people they interviewed had used to answer their questions.  Jill and Seth used both those quirks and the answers, in a sketch about two people on a date.
It killed.
More importantly, someone from SNL noticed Seth. -And a year later, they bought him out to New York to become a writer.

I mention this for several reasons.

First, its always cool when you sorta-almost-kinda met someone who – far later in life – gets their own late night television show.  I was a complete fan-boy for improv that year. I had an “improv crush” on Jill, and I wanted to be Seth.  Both performers couldn’t have been kinder to those of us who worked behind the scenes.

Second, it gives me an excuse to use this completely grainy photo of the two of them. I have tons of photos of improvisers from past years. This is a great excuse to bring another one out of the archives.

Third, it reminds me of how much I’ve learned.  While I don’t think that I could duplicate that show, there are things that I do in improv where I have to remember a lot of details, or mimic another person’s mannerisms. Today, I get how they did it, even if I still admire the amount of skill that it took to make it look easy.

Fourth, I’m struck by Seth’s journey.  There are a lot of performers that I’ve run into who want their own talk show.  I’m not here to kill anyone’s dream. I would, however, like to remind you that it didn’t happen to Seth overnight.  He was hired to work on SNL, which is the dream for a lot of people in the business of comedy.  Still, he was working there for a dozen years before he was given his own show.

What I’m saying is be patient.  Work your ass off, yes.  Create content every day, yes. Do creative things that will get you noticed, most definitely.
But don’t freak out if its been a few years, and no one has given you a talk show yet.

And yeah, let’s give some applause to the local kid who made it… big time.