Connection Conversations – Student Ally Shea

Hosted by Tyrus Grooms

This episode of Connection Conversations features special guest, Ally Shea, a fellow TCC student currently enrolled in the Theatre program based at the Southeast Campus. Topics range from her improv origin story, academic career at TCC, participation in Die Laughing, the improv troop, as well as a segment featuring her improv skills.

Connection Conversations is an ongoing series by the TCC Connection, TCC’s student newspaper based at Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Edited by Sam Levrault

Check out The TCC Connection online at http://tccconnection.com/

The TCC Connection is a student newspaper based at Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Welcome to Connection Conversations, a series apart of the TCC Connection podcast. Today’s host is Tyrus Grooms, West Editor for the TCC Connection. Today’s episode covers a recent interview with Ally Shea, a theatre student at TCC as well as a member of Die Laughing Improv Troop hosted by TCC.

Welcome to Connection Conversation, my name is Tyrus Grooms, and I am the West Editor.

I am Ally Shea, I am a student here at TCC with the theatre department, so I am a theatre major. I do various things, mostly I am involved with the improv troop here at TCC, Die Laughing, which is pretty exciting, I’ve been involved with that for a couple of years now.

I’ve been in productions here at TCC as well, and I graduate this semester.

So, when did you recognize you like/had talent in improv?

I was younger, I was in seventh grade and I remember it, we were doing, I went to Union for school, and we were doing this fine arts wheel, you know… you take a class for eight weeks then you switch over. I took this drama class, that eight weeks came up, and we were doing these silly improv games and I realized I can make people laugh, and I liked the feeling of making others laughed. So, I kind of always stuck with that. That’s like thirteen or so.

So how did your mentors/parents/teachers sort of help you with this path?

I really just stuck with it. It struck a chord back in seventh grade and I started getting more information on it. In eighth grade I decided to stick to drama for one full year. My freshman year I auditioned for some classes, some higher-level classes, and I got in. I just stuck with it throughout high school and then I decided I wanted to do some school for it as well.

So how do you feel on stage? Are you just swept up by some sort of energy or, like, what happens?

Oh, absolutely! It’s energy, it’s palpable, you know, you get this feeling not only from the crowd, whether its three people or seven hundred people. You get swept up by this energy, you just, and an adrenaline you can’t explain.

So where do you draw inspiration from?

From so many places, I could be having a conversation with anyone. I could be in a coffee shop and I’m like, this is funny… There’s small mannerisms that they happen to be showing that could inspire me to make a silly character later. I think I get most inspired just by sitting back and people watching.

I love people watching. [yeah!] It’s a great experience, right? I was at a driller’s game and just watch people…. I don’t watch the game, I watch people watch the game. [exactly!] and it’s much better that way.

Oh, it’s so much fun! Or, like going to the mall, it makes the most mundane chores so much more fun, just watching people in their natural habitat.

And you never really notice that they are very interesting…

All the while someone could be sitting back, watching us, watching people.

Inception right there…

Inception….

[laughs…]

So, how do you prepare yourself for any improvisational set?

When I know I have a show coming up, one thing I like to do is stay up to date with pop culture. So, what’s going on in the news, what’s trending right now, cause that’s something good you always want to have in your back pocket to make a joke about. Make, like, a trendy joke that you can tie in, it’s funny….

So, I was hoping to have you do a few characters real quick….

[nervous laugh] Okay….

You cool with that?

For sure! Just coming up with them on the spot?

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Or if you have any characters that you are inspired by right now.

The first one is…. Astronaut who believes Earth is Mars.

[Ally laughs as she gets into character]

So just astronaut who believes Earth is Mars…

[Tyrus provides sound effects imitating a ship landing to set the environment.]

psshhh…pssshhh…pshhhh

[Ally starts talking with a mix between a Bostonian/New Yorker accent]

I…uh…I… Houston? I just now landed here on Earth, what we suspect is earth…Listen, I got somethin to tells yous guys…

It’s looking a little warm here…I think this is looking to be, uh, Mars… I don’t know, we don’t have many photo evi’ences of Mars existing, I’m just saying… this might not be the best place.

See any buildings around you?

Yeah, there’s tons of buildings, there’s one that says bawk center… I don’t know where I am…B-O-K? The bawk center? That doesn’t sound, uh, that doesn’t sound very, uh, Martian-like.

They’re so like us though…

[Ally’s eyes go wide as she leans in and responds in a serious voice] They are….

Yeah, it’s so creepy… Maybe we’re the monsters though…

Another inception…

You are…a 19th century gentleman who then wakes up in 21st century Tulsa.

[laughs… and takes on a posh voice]

Well I do say…Well I DO say…What is that beeping off? It’s an alarm I think of some sort… It’s a little clock, ha! Little red numbers. I can’t seem to get it to stop… There’s a button that says snooze. [looks rather slighted] Well, I don’t want to snooze, I’m done snoozing, I’m awake.

How would one say to turn this off? Do you have any idea?

What is this little blue bird here on my phone screen?

[Ally looks surprised and slightly startled]

There’s a blue bird on a…what… what is a phone? A phone?

What is this device? It’s magic!

We don’t have phones in the 18th century! [takes a wistful breath] One simply writes letters with your… [trying not to break character, Ally attempts to hold giggles in] feather pens…

[they are not successful in holding in their laughter]

My feather quill… Where’s my ink blot?! I need my ink blot…

Where are the flying cars though, right?

[Ally has a realization and drops the character without a second thought.]

Oh my gosh…, really, like where ARE the flying cars?

I know, right?

It is 2019, I want a flying car! They’re never here… Then the world was supposed to end in 2012.

[Ally’s frustration gains momentum]

Why am I still here? Why am I still paying taxes? [now she’s just upset] That’s what I want to know…

Right, so, last character…

[Ally laughs as she remembers the challenge]

Italian person who just fell in love with pizza rolls.

Hey! It’s a tost-a-tinos! [she seems to be imitating Mario]

But when I bite into the middle of it, it’s COLD! Ahhh!

But for some reason… [a single giggle breaks through for a second until they both burst out laughing]

I can’t…. I have no idea! [we finally stumped her!]

For some reason, I just… tostinos! Ah-taliano! You know? [laughs at her own impression]

That’s so stereo typical, Italians everywhere in Tulsa are probably rolling their eyes at me.

They have to be. You’re right, they have to be, there’s no way that’s not happening

I apologize to Italians everywhere in Tulsa right now.

Yeah, we’re butchering their culture. It’s so beautiful, but it can’t be done in an American accent.

It really can’t.

Wanna just wrap up right now?

For sure, yeah…

No, I’ve never done a podcast before…

[Ally, surprised, looks at Tyrus]

You’ve never done a podcast before? This is your first time?

Yeah…

Shared a first time together….

Aw, that’s nice…

[they both laugh at the implication…]

What does that mean though? Like, what does that mean, first time?

[Laughter dies off as Tyrus lets a final giggle out]

So, what was your favorite impression, though?

Uh, the one that took me back the most was the astronaut, I don’t know… it threw me for a loop. I was like… thinking…

Maybe I should have gave you them.

Maybe. I feel like I bombed some of them… Like, but that’s just my improv brain.

Or, like we could do it again real quick…

The hardest part is me doing it by myself. It’s the hardest part.

Yeah, because it’s not a very…you know, stage-y environment.

Yeah! It’s not, I’m like so relaxed, ‘cause it was the man from the18th century, or 19th century, waking up to the 21st century, the astronaut thinking Earth is Mars, or thinking Mars is Earth…

[Ally seems to attempt to recollect the prompt only to end up more confused]

Who knows? [Tyrus is no help with lessening the confusion]

Who knows? [Ally responds rather affronted] I don’t know…

I was, just like, okay this is a thing that’s happening…

I like failed science so, who knows?

I did too!

I literally do NOT know…

[the duo share laughs as they reminisce over their grades]

This may be Mars right now and I wouldn’t know…

And then the Italian tostinos pizza rolls… [Ally can’t help but laugh in shame…] I just can’t get over that…

Imagine though… like an authentic Italian who lives off of Margherita pizza…

[Tyrus isn’t even attempting to hold his laughter anymore]

…from a wood fire oven coming to America for the first time and eating a pizza roll, and, like,

Aw… this is amazing!

…this is better than anything I’ve ever made back home!

This is better than AUTHENTIC Italian food, right…

Yeah, this is better… than anything my little village, with my goats [really?] can make. I would like to see a sketch of that.

I would love too, you should do it.

And that’s what improv can lead to, you know? Because a lot of sketch comedy that you see, like a lot of the sketches you see on SNL (Saturday Night Live), they all start with stuff like Improv.

And it just happens, right?

And then, yeah, that happens and then they take that idea that happened and they build upon it and write about it.

See, the thing is though, I never really assumed that would be a thing. I just watch a sketch and assume it’s so well done it has to be, like, planned, years in advanced [Tyrus gets a little sarcastic], centuries upon centuries [Okay, really sarcastic], the ideas boiling underneath the surface.

Absolutely! Well, I mean, like, when you came to the show on Monday, did you saw that, and was like, oh yeah?

The thing is, right? You know the sketch where you have, like, five different characters who play different genres, I really wanted one to play a podcast genre… [How would that work?]

You should’ve… You should’ve yelled it out!

I yelled it! [not loud enough]

Oh, sometimes it’s hard…that honestly would’ve been cool….

But, like, what were you feeling during that on-stage appearance, Monday night?

Oh, my goodness… it’s that energy we were talking about.

You get in the zone, right?

Yeah, you get in the zone, you get in that mental headspace, like, and I knew I had a lot of people in the audience that were there for me for my last show, and that’s why I was so energized too, because this was my last performance at TCC, and I’ve had some really good years here, and I’ve made some really great friends. So, it was kind of, like, saying goodbye to that.

I went to World of the Worlds, right? And I recognized one of the improv-ers…

Quinton! Yeah, he was the one who his face burned…. [in the show]

That is an amazing, very English name… [random thought…]

Yeah, he’s…

British….

A great guy…. Yeah, he still has many more years here.

I was, like, I liked the anime thing he was doing, but he died instantly, right?

I know! He died, he hesitated, he choked on a word…You cannot choke in that game and the audience, they love that power to be able to kill someone off…

That’s an amazing power, like, should I use that power?

Exactly!

How should I feel about being able to kill a character?

The audience loves that. They’re just itching for someone to mess up.

Imagine watching Game of Thrones with that power, that would be amazing right?

[Ally’s face lights up at the implication]

Oh, my god! Yes!

Joffrey, dead, first season…

Game…of…Thrones! [Ally struggles with the just getting the name out until the mention of killing Joffrey]

Yeah, Joffrey’s dead right away, that’s it, there’s no questions, ifs, ands, or buts.

I’m reading the books right now, and…

I need to read the books

I’m one of those people that reads books and I’m on the fourth book and I’ve only watched the first season.

[music starts to fade in an attempt to keep the show from going on for another hour…]

You need to… get it together

…catch up, I should, yeah.

Well, thank you for having me, I do have to go, I have to get ready for the theatre awards tonight.

Nice!

Yeah, I’m nominated for some awards!

Good luck with that, though!

[main interview portion is over and ending credits begin. Sam, the narrator returns with the farewell]

Thanks again to today’s host, Tyrus Grooms, as well as Ally Shea, for joining the show. Be sure to check back for new episodes on our website, podbean, as well as most places podcasts are available.

[music fades out until Tyrus & Ally’s voices come back]

Is this like a blooper reel? [barely containing laughter]

[Giggles continue as they try to catch their breath]

You just leave two idiots alone on a podcast….

[Giggles are no longer distinguishable between the two]

We make a podcast!

You just say things, right? And things happen…and then, like…

[a random jar opens and pops?]

All of a sudden….

It gets uploaded online…

She’s gonna have a hoot editing this [a hoot was had]

A hoot. Yes, she will, she will. She has to…. [Indeed.]

Transcript by Sam Levrault