Ready for something a little different?*

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I was gearing up to write about how today, February 1, is my 10 year anniversary of professionally performing comedy, and I went back to my old Capitol City Improv portfolio and was flipping back to the original audition notice, only to find that today is my Eleventh anniversary! Wow! Happy decade plus one to me and all my other CCI BFFs. It was my first year of college, and Erica** and I had started working at the local professional theatre in Jackson, New Stage Theatre when we saw an audition notice for "A merry band of improv players." Little did we know it would forever change our lives.

Capitol City Improv was a force to be reckoned with. Under the direction of Jamie Phillips, we learned long-form improv, we performed Harolds (our typical show was 3 Harolds in a row), and we learned more and more with every performance. We started first by doing free shows in the second stage room of New Stage (our home base), and over the years that we performed and grew, we performed at numerous coffee shops, concert halls, Jubilee Jam, and more and were able to charge more and more as we grew. We developed a huge following, we featured frequently in the newspapers, and we inspired many other improv groups that started sprouting up all over Mississippi. Over the years we added more and more people to the group, but the original crew was Erica, Topher, Mary and Jamie, Brett, Tripp, Cindy, Sara, (Harrison) Scott, and myself. I hope I am not leaving anyone out. Capitol City Improv really started a number of our careers. I am happy to say that I am still close with a number of these talented and hilarious folks. Gosh, we had such fun. We developed ridiculous games like The Bottom Line (based on not-at-the-time Jackson Mayor Frank Melton***), the Doll Hour, Swap and Shop and so many more. Mom and Dad were loyal attendees, and Dad would spend the whole week before the show trying to think up the best possible topic. We always went to him for topics--they were the best.

In April of 1999, Cindy, Sara and I came to Chicago for the Chicago Improv Festival, and I decided that weekend, the weekend of my 20th birthday, that I was going to move to Chicago the following year. I scraped and saved and researched and studied, and I moved here in May of 2000, and have been here since.

I am very proud of my career in Chicago. I have accomplished so much and learned more than I ever thought possible with my tiny pea brain. I have improvised, written and performed in my own 2 woman show, choreographed a number of musicals and shows, helped create an amazing comedy force, done dramas, sketch, movies, variety shows, burlesque shows, DADA, and so much more. Although I am currently not performing, and probably won't be any time soon, it is still and will always be in my heart. My relationship with improv is so used to be so exhilarating, it started my career, it introduced me to my husband, and yet now, I don't enjoy performing it or watching it. Yet, I still love it.

In looking in that old acting portfolio of mine, I ran across this article from my old college (Hinds Community College in Raymond, MS) newspaper. I think 20 year old Erica would be very proud of 30 year old Erica. I am amazed as to how true to life this is; it very well could have been written just last year (except for that whole "school" and "class" thing and the "deserving the spotlight" thing.)

Hindsonian - March 8, 1999

*The old CCI Slogan
**Because we worked together, went to school together, lived together (for the most part), performed together and were inseparable, people just called us Blondie and Red.
***Please click that link. It is hilarious and sad.

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