Technically Speaking

Can you name a show that you’ve seen in the past year that was saved by the tech guy in the back?
Can you name a show in the past month that started and ended awkwardly because of the tech guy in the back?
Don’t answer those two questions because I can’t hear you and it’s a little strange to be verbally responding to a written rhetorical question. But you and I both know what I’m getting at. It’s incredibly rare to hear stories at the after-party about the amazing tech work. It’s a thankless job.
Well no more.
I’m here to say that working tech may in fact be the best thing a performer getting their start in improv could do. It’s easy to learn, easy to master, and ladies love a guy who can pull lights like a rock star. I got started doing tech at TNM months before I did my first show and it forced me to learn the ebb and flow of an improv set in a way that you just can’t see in a level 1 or 2 class.
All that running tech entails is handling the lights and sound that go on at the beginning and end of an improv set. For 90% of shows that’s your only concern. The reason why I believe most people get scared of running tech is the amount of variations that are available outside of these two very simple goals. Yes, you will have to run a sound board and a light panel, but with a little preparation these tasks can be reduced to a single button press during the show itself.
Bad tech comes from bad preparation and fear of disrupting the performance.  Good tech comes from trust in your instincts. Great tech comes from having the perfect Hall and Oates song ready to go.
Over the next few columns I’ll go over the nuts and bolts of tech, sprinkling in some real-world case studies as well as fantastical stories of how I out-drank Andre the Giant in Des Moines.