Thursday, February 28, 2008

March's Player of the Month: Brett Merritt!

A fixture of local theater, Brett is quite a busy guy. Brett spends his time between working as a copywriter and being a husband and father. He's got his plate full, for sure, but somehow he managed to squeeze in an interview with us. What a swell guy.

You grew up in Orem?

Sorta. I was born in Salt Lake City, moved to Littleton, Colorado, when I was one. I lived there until I was about ten, moved to Meridian, Idaho (just outside Boise) for two years, and then my family settled in Orem. I consider Orem home because that’s were I went to junior high and high school and “grew up” there.

My wife Amelia and I tallied up all the times I’ve moved. I think it was something like twelve times in nineteen years. Even in Orem, I’ve lived in five different houses.

You became a step-dad when you got married two years ago.. How has it been going from living the single life to being the head of a family of four?

I was single for about 35 years. I’ve experienced all the—ahem—glories of single life. But when I got married, my wife already had two great kids. That’s been a huge adjustment. When you get married, you’re adjusting to the person got married to; the two of you are learning things about each other. Add to that two kids, who are individuals and have needs and interests, and it can make for an exciting, electric time bomb that can go off at any second. I think I’ve adjusted to it okay. It’s a lot of fun being a dad.

You’ve been with ComedySportz since 2001. How’d you get involved?

One of my best friends, Jake Suazo--we've known each other since 1997. We actually met on a double date. (We weren’t on the date together.) We got along really well. Eventually our girlfriends broke up with us, and I lost touch with him. I ran into him because we were in the same theater circles in the area. He told me he was doing ComedySportz when it first opened [in 1999]. He said I should come see a show. I did. It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t jump on the workshop wagon—I was doing a lot of theater and going to school; I didn’t think I had the time.

In 2001 I rekindled my friendship with Jake and he told me he was still doing ComedySportz. I started doing workshops in Salt Lake at the Hale Theater in West Valley. That’s actually where I did my first show, at the Hale Theater’s black box theater.

What was your biggest challenge as an improv actor when you first started at CSz?

I can think of two things:

One, I wanted everyone to like me, and that causes a lot of pressure if you do that. Not everyone is going to like you. I had to get over that and not care.

The other thing was I found it really hard to take risks and to put myself out there, playing certain games; things that were outside of my comfort zone. A lot of players have strengths in different areas, and I used to lock up and get really fearful about some of the things I wasn’t as strong. It took me a long time to attack improv without any fear. That was the best thing I ever did. Once I started doing that my shows started getting better, I think I got funnier, and the audience liked me more. I think.

Share with us an improv disaster.

My biggest disasters happen backstage. My most memorable was my fourth show—ever. I think I had been doing ComedySportz for like, a month, and I fell down the stairs during half time and bruised my tailbone and back. I think I still went out and finished the show.

Share with us an experience where everything worked out magically.

There have been a lot of nights where I felt really in sync with everybody on stage, and we could do no wrong. Those are always fun to have.

Have you always wanted to be a performer?

My mom had a dress-up box of old clothes and wigs and jackets and dresses—yes, I wore dresses sometimes—and I’d pretend stuff. I wanted to be Indiana Jones so bad when I was a kid. I had a hat and a whip. That was a huge part of my childhood: being something else. Not for any traumatic reasons; I just loved performing. I was a very shy kid, though, so I never did anything in front of people. I just did it with my brothers and sisters and parents.

I grew up always watching Saturday Night Live and Abbot & Costello and Laurel & Hardy and The Carol Burnett Show. My family loved to laugh. I think I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh in my circle of friends. In the late 80’s I’d get out a video camcorder that weighed as much as I did and my friends and I would shoot skits.

What's the best advice you've received?

Don't be afraid. Fear is the number one killer of dreamers aged 18-36.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Classy improv at dollar movie prices!

That's right, folks. You can come see CSz's Thursday night show, YELLOW #2, for as little as $1.50. Click on the coupon, print it off and bring it with you to one of our shows throughout March. Shows are Thursdays 8:00 pm. Call 801.377.9700 for more info.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love Stinks. Don't choke on the fumes.

No Valentine? No problem. Spend Single Awareness Day with us this Thursday at 8:00 for a special YELLOW #2 show. We're putting on a special improv show about the highs and lows of dating and romance...or the lack thereof. Admission's only $3. Call 801.377.9700 for more info.