By Ian Levy
I always had trouble getting people to see my improv comedy shows, but now that I lead an organization of thousands of mindless zealots, it’s relatively easy to fill a theater of 20 people on a Tuesday night. When I first started performing improv, my friends and coworkers were very encouraging. They constantly said, “We’d love to see a show, when are you performing next?” But as time went on I realized they were just being polite. After a few years of performing for nearly empty audiences consisting of janitors and confused tourists, something needed to change. After thinking long and hard, I came to the conclusion that the audience would come see our show if they thought I was the living embodiment of a god.
I began telling people I knew the secret to life and I’d teach others my secret as long as they followed my three decrees:
- Give up your worldly possessions.
- Cut all ties with their friends and family.
- Come to The Wacky Banana comedy theater 8pm next Tuesday.
Immediately, this new plan started to work. The next Tuesday there were seven people in the audience. It’s hard to tell if they enjoyed the show because they didn’t laugh. However, after the show was over they each kissed my feet and then sacrificed a baby lamb to honor me. So I count that as a positive review. I anointed each of the seven to the position of my apostles. I commanded them to travel the land and spread the teachings of my improv team known as Gary’s Got a Hat.
As the cult grew so did our shows audience. Within a few weeks, we had enough members to register as a religious organization making us tax exempt. Not only were we tax exempt, but my worshippers were also giving me their life savings as a way of showing total devotion. This was nice because it meant I was finally making a profit from comedy. Pretty soon Mr. Peltin, who owns The Wacky Banana, said we could move to the main stage which seats upwards of 65 people. We’d outgrown the 20 seat room now that I’d amassed a following of 2,500 worshipers. Even on the main stage, we ran into problems. My worshippers started stoning each other to death to increase their chances of getting a seat and basking in my glory.
While audience turnout was great, it took time for the core ideas of improv to sink in. When asking the audience for scene suggestions, the main thing people would yell out would be, “Overthrow the government and install our one true leader as an emperor of this land.” The first time this was suggested we tried our best to create a funny scene. However, my followers become too excited, and they rushed out of the theater and started attacking the first authority figure they could find. Eventually, we had to add government coup to the list of banned suggestions along with sex jokes and bad doctor scenes.
Our show began getting very positive reviews. The reviews may not seem very genuine considering they were written by people who think I’m the physical embodiment of God; but good press never hurts. We did receive one bad review from a high school newspaper that said the show was “meandering” and “just not funny.” At first, I was upset by the bad review but I came to terms with it. A few weeks later that high school mysteriously burned down, so what goes around comes around.
It would be easy for an outsider looking in to by cynical about me starting a cult to get people to my improv show. I want people to know I did it for the love of comedy – I couldn’t care less about the power and glory that comes with total domain over the souls of my fellow man. Sure, there are perks to running a cult; The money, the power, being able to sleep with my followers’ wives — these are all nice. But none of that compares with the feeling of standing on stage and creating from my mind. I always tell people to come see my show because with our joy for improv, it’s a guaranteed good time, and if they don’t come I’ll mark them for death and declare them an enemy of the people.