"so everybody put your best suit or dress on
let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
as thirty dialogues bleed into one"
-The New Year, Death Cab for Cutie
Cast parties at the end of movies or plays are always filled with sadness for me, because while we're together to celebrate the show, we're also saying goodbye to each other as we return to our real lives. Sometimes, if I've really bonded with the cast and crew, I won't even go to the party, because it hurts too much to say goodbye.
Cast parties at ACME, though, are always insanely fun celebrations, without any sense of sadness. Because we're such a small company, when one show ends, it's likely that many of us will be performing together again in another show within a few weeks. But Travis recently changed our writing and performing schedule, and because many of us are working writers and actors who can't make the commitment to a show that will start six months or a year later, last night's show could very well be our last, or at least our last together.
I could not have asked for a better way to end the run, though. Because it was a best of . . . show, I got to take a bit of a nostalgic tour through my last year at ACME: when we did Tribute, and Living and Dying in DWP, I realized how sad I was that I got sick and missed most of the run of A Day in the Life. While Kevin and I set props in the blackout between Breaking Up is Hard to Do and William's Tell, I flashed back to the epsrit de corps we had during Love Machine, and remembered how I truly found my comedic voice as an actor and a performer during that show. NOW That's What I Call ACME Volume One wasn't an easy show to do, and a couple of the performances were frustrating and demoralizing, but I love and respect these actors so much. We've grown a lot together, and I'm really going to miss them.
After we did our curtain call, and after we thanked our friends and family for coming to the show, we all gathered in the bar next door for beers and shots and pizzas and gnocchi. Shane and I talked about poker, while Annie teased us about being poker blogging nerds. Kevin and I lamented that we discovered a hilarious beat in William's Tell during its final performance, but we all agreed that each of our sketches went out on top, performed for a house of thirty that laughed and applauded like a sold-out house of one hundred.
The conversation eventually turned to the show, as we were forced to acknowledge that it was over.
"This is like the last night of high school," Annie said.
I looked at Shane, then to Kevin, and Jodi. Chris, who has always been the fundamental grounding force in any show I've done with him, sat at a table behind Annie and Shane with some friends who came to the show to celebrate a birthday. I was sad that he wasn't with us, and indulged in a bit of middle school jealousy as I looked past Anne at him. She was right, and I hated it. Though we'd all try to stay in touch, and though we all hope to be BFF, we all knew that the show was over, and without a reason to get together every Saturday night, we would slowly begin to drift apart, back into our real lives.
We joked with each other, we hugged each other, we took embarrassing camphone pictures of each other, and we teased each other. A lot. (Annie lost a bet to me, and has to start her own blog as a result. "Look, I play Roshambo with Phil Gordon," I told her, "are you sure you want to take me on?" I successfully psyched her out, pegged her as a "scissors," and busted her with my rock. I don't think I've ever seen Shane laugh so hard at anything. My middle name is William, Annie, and you're so busted. Nailed it. Elbow and Send.)
Like teenagers who don't want to go home to the watchful eyes of their parents, we looked for any excuse to stay out, to stay together, to make the night last forever, just like in a movie. But we're old and tired, and we have families and responsibilities, and just after one in the morning, I surrendered to them.
"You guys, I have to drive all the way to Pasadena, and I've got a mountain of work to do around my house tomorrow," I said, "so I have to go."
Hugs were passed around, goats were thrown, and the final curtain fell.
I walked back into the theater, and down the hallway toward the dressing room to clean out my locker. The din of the bar faded until I was alone with the lonely echo of my footsteps.