The Fossil Record: A Blast from DBI’s Past

Before I joined Death By Improv, I was a big fan of Death By Improv (which is not to say I’m not still a fan, I am, but it would be really egotistical of me to come out and say “I’m a huge fan of what I do”, even if I am. I’m a prick, but not that much of a prick”). Y’see, I go way back with DBI, all the way back to the magical autumn of 2004. It was a momentous time for our nation-the Montreal Expos announced that they were moving to Washington for the 2005 season, Belarus approved a constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits, China had won a remarkable 141 medals at the Paralympic Games, future DBI member Michelle Baker was a high school freshman (Christ I’m old), future other DBI member Eric Lipton was preparing for his 32nd birthday (but not THAT old), and I was entering my second semester at Middlesex County College.

This semester was to be a watershed one for me, because it was at this point that I became acquainted with Mike Hochman, Tim Norek, Bryan Murray, and Chris Brown. We all sort of coalesced around a part of the college student center known as “The Corner”, where misfits of all shapes and sizes met to waste considerable amounts of time. I began to spend more and more time in the Corner (and it’s hipster offspring, Alter Corner, which was like the Atomic Fire Sauce to the corner’s Cool Ranch), and less and less time in class. But really, who needed European History when I could crash my Dad’s car on the way to the Grease Trucks?

Anyhoo, these fine gentlemen, alongside Josh Yepez, Sean Chinery, and Anish Parmar, formed a group known as BSPit, or the Backstage Players Improv Thingy, the improvisational comedy arm of Backstage Players, MCC’s erstwhile theatre group best known for not putting on a hip-hop version of Oliver. BSPit was sort of DBI in zygote form, tentatively undergoing meiosis while entertaining literally fives of community college students. I remember going to one of these BSPit shows and being thoroughly amused.

Then, I dropped out of school for the third and final time. I got my first hotel job, and (so far) seven years of wearing a suit on a daily basis began.  And I lost track of the guys on a personal basis. Through the magic of MySpace (Facebook was still a figment of Michael Cera’s imagination at this point)*, I learned of Death By Improv. But they did shows on Fridays, and Fridays were usually a work night. But then one magical Friday I was free, and I got to see my first DBI show. And it was like Mozart discovering Bach, or Dom DeLuise discovering fried cheese. I was hooked. These men quickly rose to mythical status in my mind:

Hochman, the sly fox, fleet of foot, swift of the mind, and willing to cut you down with a vicious remark that makes you question not only your purpose in life, but the existence of God.

Tim, the passionate leftist with the heart of gold, willing to give you the shirt off of his back, so long as the shirt is equally divided up amongst everyone else , regardless of if they need a shirt.

Nugget, who’s mohawk towered to the heavens, a sign of man’s hubris, until it was unceremoniously shaved off and man forced to speak in various tounges.

Brown, the American Cincinattus, the noble warrior who desperately wanted to return to his family and fields, but who’s deep love of country draws him inevitably back to the fields of battle.

For several years, I watched these men, these demigods, entertain the masses. I laughed with them, I laughed at them, I volunteered to go on stage with them, I cursed bitterly at becoming a set of arms again for them. I yearned to be one of them, but responsibility hung over my heard like the Sword of Damocles, bidding me away from the theater and home to bed, because I had work early.

The one day, two years ago, I said “fuck it”, and joined them, now I’m a god.

Now, one of my godlike powers is to record for posterity the might feats we perform on stage (or “Olympus”, as we refer to it) for you mortals. And by that, I mean I tape our shit using my flip cam and put them on YouTube. Before I joined, shows were filmed sporadically, and a lot of the shows that caused me to fall in love with DBI were lost forever.

Then, one day last week, while going through my basement, I found it: an ancient DBI DVD, from AD 2006, the year we made contact (or something). Trembling, I uploaded it to YouTube, and, tears in my eyes, I informed my troupe mates of my momentous find.

Then Brown said “I have DBI’s first show”.

Say WHAT?!

Then Tim said “I have five old DBI DVDs”.


So yeah, keep watching the web, because you’ll soon see really old improv. Like THIS:

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