Together/By Myself: A Solo Improv Experience is a solo show featuring LD Madera. Based out of Coconut Creek, Florida, Madera will perform in the 7:20 pm block on Saturday night of the 2020 Countdown Improv Festival. In this spotlight interview, Madera discusses the genesis of his format, the link between improv and stage magic, and his choice for the 2020 Countdown Improv Festival Hall of Fame.
We absolutely love your solo show, and we can’t wait for everyone to see it on Saturday, August 15. Tell us a little bit about how you conceived your solo format, and what you enjoy most about performing it.
LD Madera: I became very fascinated with the concept of solo improv ever since I saw Jill Bernard’s Drum Machine. It was very inspiring to see, and since then I’ve always wanted to try it. It’s taken me some time to come up with a format I enjoy for this show. I tried it for the first time about five years ago, and in the beginning I had no format to it. I just kinda went into it with the attitude of “It’s improv, man! Whatever happens happens!” It turned out I needed to find something more structured, because I was feeling too lost. As the years went on, I educated myself more on what makes improv special. And so, I was able to conceive the show with the focus being more on the character’s emotions. I also had lots of help in creating this. It was thanks to many conversations with David Christopher and Mark Mochabee in Just The Funny Theater that I was able to create the format as it is today. It took a few times for me to lock in on what I feel works. What I love about doing this show is that I feel surprised every single time. It really feels like being a kid and playing make-believe in my room creating different people. I also love the fact that I surprise myself every single time. The fact that things can happen that I could’ve never anticipated is such a thrill, and there’s a big rush that comes from doing solo improv. I always like to be adventurous when it comes to performing. I love trying new challenges.
How did you come up with the title of your show?
LDM: I had a few titles that I came up with. “Together/By Myself” came from the fact that when you see the show, you’re seeing people that are being brought together, yet the whole time I’m by myself. It’s a title that describes the show both artistically and literally.
Your improv philosophy is “Feel Honestly.” Can you tell our audiences a little bit about what that means to you?
LDM: Certainly. To me, I find so much benefit to acknowledge what I am honestly feeling the moment I feel it. I once heard a quote that says “There’s nothing funnier than the truth.” And it’s so true! You can either take time to process what just happened, figure out the best course of action, re-decide what your intentions are, etc., etc., etc… Or, you can just be honest with what it is you are feeling and let that guide you. I’ve adopted this phrase: Be less in your Head, Be more in your Heart. I can’t do anything in any scene until I know how I feel. And once my feeling changes, I can’t run from it. Even if it makes no sense. Improv is not a place of logic; it’s its own parallel universe where my emotions are in full control. All I have to do is let my heart tell me what to do, and as long as I allow myself to honor what I’m honestly feeling, I can never be wrong.
What excites you most about performing online in this year’s festival?
LDM: I’m very excited to be a part of this festival for a couple of reasons. First, I just love to be able to see friends again! I miss being with a community (any community!), and it’s so wonderful that this festival is bringing people together. I feel very excited to be among the great amount of talent that’s performing. All of this year’s performers are wonderful at what they do, and on top of that just all-round good people. I’m also thrilled with the challenge of doing the show online. How do you take a show where you’re on stage and active and in constant motion, and condense it all on a small frame in Zoom? I love the chance to do something new. So I’m excited to see how I can make Together/By Myself into something that can be special for people, even on a computer screen.
In addition to being a great improviser, you’re also a magician. We find this fascinating. How did you get into doing magic?
LDM: When I was 5 years old, my mother took me to see David Copperfield when he came to town. I had never seen or heard of a magician before then. I became so captivated with that show, it left a huge impression on me. After that, it became a tradition every year to see David Copperfield when he came to town. For me, it was the big moment every year that I always looked forward to. It was more important than Christmas for me! I somehow knew this was something that was for me. So, since I was young I wanted to learn everything I could about magic. Performing magic naturally led me to want to be a stage performer. There’s nothing like the reaction you get from people when you do a great trick for them. I feel like improv is a great parallel to magic. In both performances, you amaze the audience with surprise and shock them with something unexpected.
Finally, who do you think is going to be inducted into the Countdown Hall of Fame this year?
LDM: Batman…….because why not!