Over the last year, UQAQUA of Endgames has committed themselves to defusing disputes and rousing contrition with The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration, a judiciary-themed improv comedy show in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. After hearing two sides of an argument—any argument will do, I’ve personally heard burrito v. burrito, musicals v. not-musicals, wine v. not-wine—the group bases scenes around the contrition ranging from dramatizations to mockery. It’s a fun way to spend an hour, every other Monday @ Stage Werx Theater (446 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103).
The next one is this Monday (2/15/2016) and will most likely feature my acquaintance-turned-Tumblr-buddy-turned-real-buddy-turned-patron, and founding member of UQAQUA, Joshua Love! Enjoy this mini-interview and we hope you can make it to their next show!
How long have you been doing improv? What inspired you to do it?
I had taken a few classes in Colorado, but nothing ever stuck for me. Then in 2011, my marriage hit the end of the road [after a] steady decline, and I needed to find something to do to get out of the house so I wouldn’t drink myself to death at home. I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of 2012 to do improv for one year, even if I hated it, just to commit to something for myself. I was inspired to do it because many comedic performers I enjoyed watching in TV/movies or listening to on podcasts got their start in improv. I’ve been doing it now for four years.
Who have you learned under?
I’ve taken several classes or been coached by Dwayne McDaniel, Max McCal, Peter Kim, Chirs Bilar, Edwin Zee, Chrysteena Barton, Laura Lineback, Frankie Griffen, Dan Burt, Jon Skulski, Rachel Biello, as well as many others in the community who have done workshops and one-off classes. I am sure I am forgetting people, because I am a horrible person, and also I am old and keep leaking all my epinephrine and norepinephrine which affects my ability to form new memories.
How’d you hear about Endgames?
I looked up improv schools on Yelp. Endgames seemed to be a decent mix of low price and getting an opportunity to perform at the end of each class cycle, so they were my first choice sight unseen. I went to a Fucking Free Friday show that week at the Alcove Theater… I hadn’t seen much improv at the time and they kinda raised my expectations with how good it could be. I signed up for classes the next day.
When did you start with at Uqaqua? What was the audition like?
Uqaqua came out of a Level 3 Endgames class I was in, back when that was the end of the road for classes (they have since expanded their curriculum). So no audition, I was a founding member.
What do you think sets Uqaqua apart? Is there a unique culture or principles that defines the group?
The fact that we have existed over three years while retaining original members is a bit rare for improv groups. We have changed our format a few times to try different things. Originally we were a Harold team, then did a Shotgun format, and now primarily focus on The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration format, as well as our manifesto-churning, fan fiction writing, art house period. I guess what I am trying to say is, we are a mutable yet monolithic juggernaut.
How often does the team practice?
Once a week on Monday nights, including the evenings before our show.
Were you there for the inception of The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration? What can you remember about the show when you or it first started?
Yes. It was an idea that Dwayne had been toying with. He was our coach at the time (and still is, because he is awesome and takes improv apart in weird ways), and wanted to know if we would like to try out a new concept for a show that he had a slot for. That was a little over a year ago, and we still enjoy doing this show. I believe the first show was Kaeli Quick vs Michael Austrakas about whether or not you should wear headphones in public, and the dangers and benefits involved.
Is there any People’s Non-Binding cases that stick out to you?
I think the Nizarios Pizza vs. Arinell Pizza case still stings, because Nizarios won, which means we didn’t do our job as a team, as Arinell is far, far superior. Also, the case where plaintiff Ko Nokatsu decided fellow Uqaquan Mike Manziello looked like Liam Neeson which ended with Mike assaulting Ko in the audience as we desperately tried to pry the two apart. That was a fun one. I am glad and relieved to see that Ko has recovered from his injuries, and you barely notice the limp.
If you weren’t in the show, what opinion or conflict would you bring to the show?
I want a retrial of whether or not one should wear headphones in public, since new evidence has come to light as I got punched in the face at a bus stop a few months ago while wearing headphones. THE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH AND JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED!
Again, the next People’s Non-Binding Arbitration is this Monday (2/15/2016) 9pm, $5 @ Stage Werx Theater (446 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103). Check it out!