Tomorrow night, New York-based-but-Philly-improviser-at-heart Andy Moskowitz returns to our fair city to debut his new one-man show, Andy, Please! Here he is to talk about why he’s venturing off on his own, how he’ll do it, and what he’ll eat if it doesn’t go well.
WitOut: You’ve been in groups (Fletcher, ComedySportz Philly) and a duo (Jessica Tandy), and now you’re performing solo. What happened? Do you not like people anymore?
SELF-DEPRECATING ANSWER: Actually, it’s the opposite. I love my friends so much that I’m sparing them the pain of working with me. This show is an act of mercy.
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: I’ve been amazed by solo improv since seeing Jill Bernard in Drum Machine at the ’09 Del Close Marathon. She built a believable, fully populated world using only her voice, her body, and a few chairs. It was incredible and looked impossible, but it planted the seed. Since moving to New York, I’ve seen beautiful solo work from Andrew Yurman-Glaser (Upstate), Shaccottha Fields (One Deep) and many others at the Magnet Theater. Somewhere along the line, I decided to stop day-dreaming and start practicing. That was about five months ago.
WO: What’s it like working with Rick Andrews as your director? How did you guys find each other?
SELF-DEPRECATING ANSWER: Every second I spend with the brilliant Rick Andrews is a painful reminder of my own mediocrity. My mother picked him for me so I’d never forget my natural limitations.
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: I’ve known Rick since the first Duofest. He’s a true professional. As a performer, his work is consistently excellent. As a director, he’s really helped me get over bad habits like thinking and pre-planning. (You wouldn’t believe how easily solo improv can put you back in your head— even if you’re an experienced performer.) Working with Rick, I’ve been able to surprise myself just by reacting naturally to own my choices. It’s a great feeling, and apparently it’s pretty fun to watch, too.
WO: How many characters do you think you can handle playing at once? Do you have a certain number as a goal?
SELF-DEPRECATING ANSWER: I can do parodic and satirical versions of myself, so two. I can also do decent impression of me, but I don’t have the voice down yet. (It’s nasal and Jewy but weirdly feminine—a heinous mix.) So two-and-a-half?
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: There’s no set goal, but I tend to play five. In one practice set I managed six, although the sixth guy was just a river cop who sped by on a water-Segway. The show is a monoscene in a single location, but it’s structured like a Harold in that I start with scenic “beats” featuring pairs of characters. Ultimately I try to pull things together, and that’s usually when unexpected characters pop up.
WO: Why did you choose Philadelphia as the city to debut this new show?
SELF-DEPRECATING ANSWER: If the show bombs, I can drive to Geno’s and eat my shame.
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: I love PHIT and still feel deeply connected to the theater and its community, even though I don’t live in Philly anymore. Debuting this show anywhere else just wouldn’t feel right. Also, I’m only half-joking about Geno’s.
WO: What are you most looking forward to about doing a show all by yourself—and what about it most scares you (if anything)?
SELF-DEPRECATING ANSWER: I’m so relieved I won’t have to face any disappointed teammates after the show. (I’ve already covered up my mirrors!)
NO, BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: I’ve made a conscious decision to feel zero anxiety about the show. Looking back on my best practice sets, I was never worried about where the show was going—I was just having fun exploring my characters, listening to myself and responding honestly. As long as I do that, the show takes care of itself. As Jill Bernard recently told me about solo improv, “ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.” It’s so true.
‘Andy, Please’ is this Tuesday, March 5th at Philly Improv Theater at The Shubin (407 Bainbridge Street) at 7pm. Admission is $5 online in advance; $8 at the door.