The High Wire Act

by Jenny Lovell on 29 March, 2018 in comedy festival, shows
I remember as a nine-year old going to Ashton's Circus in the carpark of Parkmore Shopping Centre. There were the requisite animal acts, dogs jumping through hoops, ponies being ridden by monkeys, but it was the trapeze that captured me. The Amazing Flying Gampinis. Two bedazzled ladies, their brother and the silver-haired dad as the catcher. They climbed the scaffolding, did all sorts of fancy waves then spun, swung and tumbled through various routines. The only problem was, when the act began, the circus roadies raised a broad safety net. My little nine-year old heart felt right ripped off. The 'Amazing' Gampinis?' What's amazing about having a bit of a swing above a net?  And while you're at it, put asterisks on the word "Flying" too.
Then the ring-master announced they would be attempting a world-record triple somersault catch. We all went 'oooh', and then he pointed to the net and the roadies lowered it to the ground, exposing a fifty-foot fall to the ground. I remember that feeling as the net rested in the mud and straw. It was terror that one of the Gampinis would go splat, mixed with the breathless anticipation of witnessing the attempt. The cliche is true. The world slowed down as Gampini Jnr. spun through the air to his dad. One, two, three times, then boom, their arms locked and he was caught.
We went nuts.
Okay, sure, the roadies might've kept their hands on the ropes so they could snap that net up quickly, but that's not the point.
It's not the landing that counts. It's the leaping.
And so it is with Impro Melbourne's new format Wild Card. Five performers take the stage. Random suggestions are gathered and placed on cards and those cards are dealt randomly into scenes. The performers must incorporate them and keep that scene flying. A contrary plumber scene that must continue as a musical? Let's go! Rewind the scene backwards then replay an alternate future? Sure thing. Play the scene in triple-gravity with an extra leg made from homeless squirrels. No problemo.
 Our skill is in embracing chaos, relishing it actually.  All we have is our imagination and our scene partner. While the fall if we fumble is figurative, there's no mess of mud and straw waiting to snap our bones, the desire to spin without a safety-net must be the same. We must rise to the level of those sequinned siblings I saw next to a partially built K-Mart all those years ago.
Will we tumble? Yep. Will we fall? Yep. We can promise both, and we'll do them with a grin and a glint in our eye. But every now and again, we'll also drop the net and land that triple. Something reckless, comedic and strangely graceful.
It's not called Wild Card for nothing.
And it's not the landing that matters, it's the leaping.
WILD CARD at the Melbourne Town Hall, Friday and Saturday nights 11pm, March 30th to April 21st