By Chris Albano
On February 1, 2014, I played my first show with the cast of What The Fuck. I didn’t realize until the next day that there was basically no better way for me to spend that night: I moved to Austin on February 2, 2013, and I can’t think of a better way to close out my first year in this city.
When I decided to move to Austin, I remember thinking that it felt too crazy to not do. I was living in Connecticut at the time, and I was comfortable. I had a good job, I had friends, and, perhaps most importantly to me, I had a wonderful improv team. We met together in a class, and from day one we loved and trusted one another. But I had lived my entire life in the northeast, and I wanted to push myself to grow outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t know much about Texas, but I had heard rumblings about a good improv scene from my friends, so I decided to try.
One of the hardest parts for me about moving to a new city is that it takes time to really find the people who will be your real friends. Like, in college, I always heard that you will spend your freshman year hanging out with people who are great but who you don’t fully click with, and then at some point in your sophomore year you will look around and say, “Holy crap, I have a community now.” It is the same when you move to a new city. When I first came to Austin, I felt lost without the strong community that I had left behind in Connecticut. I had assumed that that kind of kinship would take care of itself. I am a personable guy, I get along well with folks. I figured within weeks I’d meet a new team that I got along with as well as my old team. I realized quickly how special and rare it is to find a team that becomes like your family.
I will always remember the first rehearsal of What The Fuck. It was a room full of strangers, and yet our work was deeply intimate. We were real, we were honest, and we were vulnerable on stage, in a way that I hadn’t felt since I moved. I even kissed one of my scene partners on stage, which was a first for me. I felt connected to all of them, and I barely knew them.
Over the course of this project, I have taken steps to spend as much time as possible with my fellow cast mates. We have Whiskey Wednesday every week, where we play games and have strobe-light dance parties, we have movie nights, where everybody gets upset at me because I haven’t seen Bridesmaids yet, we sit around a table and play War, and the winner has to tell everybody a personal truth. The What The Fuck cast has become some of my best friends in Austin in two months. They have become my family, and I feel so lucky.
Throughout this process, I keep thinking of a blog post my friend Julia wrote about improv. She wrote, “The trick is to improvise with a team you know, trust, and love, in that order… That is, for me, the real joy of improv: knowing other people. No, no. The real joy is learning other people so someday, somehow you will know what they are going to do.” I first read this on February 9, 2013, it has taken me the full year to understand what she meant.
Thank you, What The Fuck.
What the F@$# runs every Saturday at 6pm in February. Get tickets here.