Wed. Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m.
280 Meeting St.
Who, pray tell, has local improv vet Timmy Finch paired with for his two-man long-form show, Big Dicktionary?
A chilled-out complement to his manic manner?
Not exactly. His partner is 23-year-old John Brennan, who, some say, may actually have more energy than Finch.
You may know Brennan already. He’s the kid in the baseball cap clowning for the camera and harassing passersby in the Jones Ford commercials.
“We shot that all in one day, eight hours in Mount Pleasant, downtown, and Summerville,” Brennan says. “They paid me 400 bucks and got so much stock footage they’ll probably never need me again.”
Big Dicktionary is currently on once-in-a-while status. Brennan moved to Chicago last month, getting an apartment near Wrigley Field and hoping to take his game to the next level. He’s studying at The I.O. Theater (formerly ImprovOlympic), starting at the third of six levels, but he says it’s not like he’s a chosen apprentice.
“They want your money and it’s a school, but you do get to see some great shows,” Brennan says, talking from his mom’s Saturn, stuck in traffic in Kentucky on his way to Charleston for the Comedy Festival. “Everyone can make it to about level four, you have to be god-awful not to make it to level four, and from there you can get asked to keep going.”
So things are happening for Brennan. Besides looking good in the Jones Ford ads, look for him as Friend Number 2 on an upcoming episode of One Tree Hill.
“I get maced!” he says.
Three years ago, Brennan put his credits on hold — “it’s a sexy way of saying dropping out” — at Virginia Tech, and came to live with his folks in Charleston, trying to save some money.
He took one of Theatre 99’s first improv classes, formed the group Fishing with Dynamite with his fellow students, and then was selected to the become of three members of The Have Nots! Touring Company, the first group to fill in for Finch, Greg Tavares, and Brandy Sullivan on the grueling college circuit.
“That’s when you really get your chops,” Brennan says. “One day you’re playing for 2,000 people at the University of Maryland, the next you’re at the DeVry Institute in New Jersey at lunch time, playing for two people who didn’t know you were coming and are trying to eat.”
Finch and Brennan, wanting to start a long-form show, came up with Big Dicktionary over a year ago.
Since terminology is always getting thrown around by improv actors, here’s a quick definition. Short-form improv is Whose Line is it Anyway-style, short games based on audience suggestion with defined rules. Long-form improvises off of a single, simple cue into a long narrative, often as much as an hour or longer, with few to no rules.
To start each show, Finch or Brennan will randomly select a word in a huge Webster’s dictionary at a podium on the stage and begin improvising from there. When they feel a scene has run its course, they return to the book, usually just two or three times total in a 45-minute show.
The spelling of their act’s name, and their main prop, are ironic nods to the reason why they don’t rely on audience suggestions.
“It’s so that we can get weird words — we don’t have to worry about the audience always saying ‘Dick!’ or ‘Rocket!’ The drunken magoos in the back, this stuff that’s so overdone, it’s new to them.” Brennan affects a dopey voice. “‘I’ll bet no one’s ever yelled a curse word.’“ Keep the City Paper free We don't have a paywall. Each week's printed issue is free. We're local, independent and free. Let's keep it this way. Please consider a donation of $100 to keep the City Paper free. Donate: chscp.us
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