2011 Class Speakers
Posted by Administrator on August 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM EDT
Written by Frank Winslow, Communications Manager
Tommy Galan and Nate Starkey are performers at The PIT. These guys are great. We sat down and had a chat and a few laughs.
What attracted you to the business of improv?
Tommy: I didn't get on the baseball team in high school. (Laughter) That's really what it was. I didn't get on the baseball team, and I came home, and I was upset. My mom said, "Try out for a play." I tried out for a play and I haven't gotten off the stage since then.
Nate: That's a good answer. (Laughter) I don't know what initially made me want to perform, but I'm not good at anything else. I don't know if I'm good at this, but I'm better at it than I am at accounting (Laughter). I don't know what else I would be doing. Improv comedy for me was—my brother was a big showman. He's a song and dance guy. He's the kind of person that whenever my parents had friends over he'd get up and sing and dance. I wasn't that person. I was in the back of the room cutting snide remarks about him (Laughter). I think improv was a good place for me to go with that.
Improv is key on observing behavior and reactions to behavior. Where do you get your ideas for performance from?
Nate: I don't know if I'm coming to show with an idea of "I'm going to do that character I saw at the baseball game" or "I like that thing the guy said on the subway, and I'm going to sneak that into the show somewhere." But to be an observer, a people watcher, is something I've made a hobby of mine. So in the moment I can channel some of that stuff. I make a choice physically, and I realize that "It's kind of like that one guy I saw." Then I can channel that energy on stage.
Tommy: I agree. Everybody pulls from their lives. If I were to play a father character, I'm going to play that character different than you're going to play a father character different than Nate's going to play that guy because we all have our own ideas about what being a father means and of what a father does. And in that moment, you're going to play your character as best you can based on the pool of resources you've accumulated over your life.
What's The PIT's key to success?
Nate: There's certainly a lot of competition for great performers in the city. I think what Ali [Farahnakian, owner of The PIT] is doing is giving this theater its own identity. This place is a little more friendly sophisticated.
Tommy: Friendly is the word I was thinking also. I studied at other theaters, and they were fun environments, but here you get to know everybody. Everybody immediately takes you in under their wing, and you're a friend of the family now. There's an amazing sense of community here.
If you weren't doing improv, what would you be doing right now?
Nate: What would I want to be doing, or do I think I would be doing? (Laughter) I wouldn't being a chef. If I wasn't doing improv, I'd go to cooking school or something. Something creative would be good.
Tommy: I'd be doing something creative, too. I could see myself writing or producing. Traveling. It had to be something non-performing? Traveling and writing. I love to travel.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs or performers who are interested in getting into improv?
Tommy: Just get over your fear and do it. The number one thing that holds anybody back is usually fear. You have to run right through that fear to get anything you want.
Nate: Like these kids today. They got up and confronted a lot fear, so hopefully when they get to make their final presentations it won't be such a big deal anymore.