What would happen if C-SPAN were suddenly swarmed by the cast of Saturday Night Live? According to the Star Tribune you'd get something close to The Theater of Public Policy. Now, after four years of making "hard, thinky stuff" fun and engaging, we want to take this unique show to the nation's capital, Washington D.C.
What is this "T2P2"?
At weekly shows in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2 for short) invites big thinkers, policy makers, and community leaders on stage for live, unscripted conversations. Then a cast of the Twin Cities' funniest improvisers unpack and reframe the issues through entirely improvised comedy scenes.
The result is equal parts entertainment and education. Forbes described it as, "The Gen Y answer to Stewart and Colbert." But don't take Steve's word for it. Watch this short video that shows our story.
Our goal is to take The Theater of Public Policy to Washington D.C. for a week of shows this September. Will it be a lot of fun to bring the policy and politics that pervade that city to life through improv comedy? Sure.
But more importantly, we believe that comedy, and particularly improv comedy, has the power to bring people into conversations they might otherwise avoid. Time and again we hear things like, "Wow. I never really thought much about tax regressivity before this show." Or, "Tonight made me look at education funding in a whole new way." Or, "Who knew you could do a whole musical number about Asian Carp?"
We believe our unique show can help bring people together to think and talk about some really important things. And if we all have a laugh along the way, all the better.
What Exactly Are You Planning?
We would take the T2P2 cast to Washington D.C. September 20–27 and attempt to do at least six shows during that time. Washington Improv Theater (W.I.T.) has already generously agreed to host us for four of those nights in their space at the Source Theater in NW D.C.
At each show, we would invite a different big thinker to join us on stage to be interviewed by our host, Tane Danger. Then our cast would use everything that guest said as inspiration for entirely unscripted comedy theater. There would be time for audience questions of the guest, followed by more improv.
We would also look to partner with organizations and agencies in D.C. to do some more specialized, tailored events. Earlier this year, Tane Danger took a trip to D.C. to lay the groundwork for this tour, and came back with an entire Rolodex of business cards featuring ill-defined acronyms. Our goal would be to do shows that appeal to people from a variety of sectors including government, nonprofits, think tanks, students, and Norwegian bear hunters.
Why do you need my money?
Our show requires a total of seven performers: a host, five improvisers, and our keyboardist. This project will entail paying for their airfare from Minneapolis to D.C., lodging while they're there, and meals.
We will also need funds to advertise the shows and cover some of the on-site production.
Finally, and most importantly to us, we pay our cast for everything they do. We believe very strongly in paying our artists for their time and talent, and this project is no exception. We will pay our performers for each show and the trip as a whole. But we need your help to do it.
Believe us, we know the idea of a civics-inspired improv comedy show sounds strange. But the way people talk about politics and policy now–through nasty soundbites or droningly dull white papers–isn't working.
The issues are too big and too important for us people to simply tune out or walk away. We need not only to change the conversation, but change the way we have the conversation. We need to make it fun and exciting to get think about wonky issues and lawyer debates. We need to make civics sexy.
We need you to believe that's possible. We need you to help us try something so radically different for D.C. it just might work. We need you to believe a little enough in the power of laughter to click the donate button.
Or, at the very least, we need you to want badly enough for these people to be on the same stage as your favorite national politician that you'll chip in a few bucks.
Risks and challenges
Improvisers deal with uncertainty as a way of life, so we are prepared at all times for things to change, morph, fall apart, or bloom into something more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. Here are a few places we see as potential "inflection points" in our project.
-Every "big thinker" in D.C. could turn down our invitation to be a guest.
It took some time for us to build up our reputation in Minneapolis to the point where congressmen and presidents (of foundations) were joining us on stage. We won't have that lead time in this case. But we do have more than 150+ guests from the past four years, all of whom will vouch for us and the show. We believe we can leverage our existing relationships to make headway in this new town.
-No one could show up to our shows.
We're new and folks may not know what to make of this Midwestern civic-comedy troupe. That's why raising funds to promote the shows is so key. We're also optimistic that we won't get stood up like Tane Danger on prom night because there really isn't anything quite like T2P2 in D.C. right now. (Yes, it is very different than the Capital Steps). No competition is our favorite kind of competition!
-The Government could shut down, causing mass panic in the streets.
It's happened before. Except for the mass panic part. It's why we've got both John Boehner's office and his tanning salon on speed dial.
-Improv could end as an art form.
It's relatively young, only really being deployed as a performative art in the last century. What's to say it couldn't just end some time this summer? Nobody does bronze statues anymore, right?
-All of democracy's challenges could be solved.
In which case we would have very little to talk about with our guests. That in itself would be sort of a problem, so we could talk about that on stage. Problem solved!
- (45 days)