I don't think I've ever felt happier to be in the improv scene than I did during last night's Micetro.
It wasn't because I came in second, with the extremely talented Ariel Diccion rightfully winning the Micetro that night. It wasn't because I had a breakthrough night where #hugot became the order of the day, and in telling the truth, I was connecting with audiences in ways I never have before as a comedian, whether in standup or improv.
It was because after the first elimination of participants to the final six, four of them were from Switch.
And therein lies the rub: as Gabe Mercado himself put it, even winning the Micetro doesn't necessarily mean you're the better improviser. But getting that far in Micetro means that Switch Improv is here to play, and here to contribute to this burgeoning improv community in its own way.
After all the growing pains of Switch Improv, the most important statement we could make is "we're here to play." Whether it's within the group or with the rest of the improv scene both here and abroad, it's that willingness to just throw yourself out there that really marks the turning point for our group, and I couldn't be happier.
There were times where playing was something we feared. Oh, no! Could we remember the rules? Could we memorize our lines as we're asked to reverse our scenes? Could we make a scene without just standing around like aimlessly talking heads?
Recently, though, a lightbulb collectively went off in our heads, and we realized that asking "could we?" was the wrong question. The right question to ask was "why couldn't we?" and then we proceed to not answer the question. Ever, because apparently, we could.
And yes, it's obvious we have a lot more growing to do as improvisers, but the growth we've managed in recent months really showed how hard work pays off. A few months ago, I was never comfortable with making myself feel so vulnerable onstage, with everyone seeing me for the bag of issues I can sometimes be. But that's my truth. I am a self-aware Reader's Digest, with possibly even more issues, but it's that self-awareness that allows me to learn from it, and impart what I learn from every misadventure my life inadvertently finds itself in.
You had to be there. Even if I put the entire show on video, it wouldn't do justice to the moment that has already passed, when a chance reference to "cheesecake" in the middle of a conversation about Sugarfree led to a perfect retort. Or when "sexism" gave way to "gender racism," because improv isn't about being always correct. Or when a person who only took improv workshops debuted in impressive fashion in front of a live, appreciative audience for the very first time. These were moments that you could never quite recapture again, but they will remain in the memories of everyone in that room for a very long time.
SPIT. Switch. One And A Half Men. The Katipunan Improv Collective. Anthony from New York. It was a night where improv utterly lived up to its own name, as nobody watching that night knew if the people playing onstage have been playing with each other for years or only for the first time in their lives. Everyone was in sync. Everyone was about making their partners look good. Everyone was about building something. The so-called star players weren't just scoring 30 in a night. They were dropping 20 dimes and collecting 20 boards, triple-doubling their way to making everyone onstage look great, and not just themselves. And yes, I can safely say there were 13 star players that night.
But allow me to dwell on my #hugot night, not because I managed to become the runner-up Micetro for the night, but because everything I drew from that night came from, believe it or not, a good place. It came from a place of hurt and hope. A place of shadows because you need light in your life to find shadows. A place of despair and optimism. And it was through Switch improv that I felt a kind of trust in laying it all out there with my improv partners and the audience, without fear of rebuke or exploitation, but only in perhaps touching someone's life in that manner. Maybe they would laugh. Maybe they would hold back a tear. Either way, that connection comes from something deep within all of us, and that is the magic of improv.
When I was left heartbroken earlier this year, I was hurt. Angry. Devastated. But it was the first time in my life, where I looked forward to rebuilding myself instead of just wallowing in misery and self-loathing. So each time I drew from the most bitter of moments in my recent history, it wasn't me reliving the pain so I could just stew in self-pity. It was me laughing in the face of it, because I knew I was better than that, and I deserved better than that. It's in all of us: the pain. The pessimism. The cynicism. These are part and parcel of us, but in channeling that energy towards telling the truth, towards telling the world, "this is real, this is me, and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be now," we create something beautiful from that morass of wretchedness.
So thank you. Thank you, Switch, thank you, SPIT, thank you, Ariel, thank you, Agnes and JR, thank you, Katipunan Improv, thank you, One And A Half Men, and thank you, Anthony from New York. Thank you, "One More Chance," thank you, "English Only, Please," thank you, "Starting Over Again," and thank you, "That Thing Called Tadhana."
And yes, thank you, to the people who broke my heart, and I don't just mean that romantically. The people who have hurt me have only proven the saying that what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, and I will keep on keeping on. And I say this with no hint of regret or even ill will towards these people. For the chips on my shoulder, for the monkeys on my back, for the fire in my gut, thank you.
If there was one thing I have won last night, it was my never-ending battle with being my own worst critic. That, in and by itself, is something I treasure from Micetro night.