It takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Frayed cobwebs dangle from the ceiling, tinted blue by something glowing faintly around the corner. Long organ chords groan from an unseen speaker. BANG. Click. Muffled maniacal laughter. You spin around, but the door is already locked behind you.
Now you see the skull on the ground, the message "help" smeared in blood and a narrow passage--your only way forward. There is no going back.
For the past two years, The Second City Training Center has hosted a Haunted House for children and adults from 3-6pm on the Friday before Halloween. For three hours, volunteers from the staff and student community dress up and operate the twisted maze that runs through the bowels of the Piper's Alley building that Second City calls home. And at 6pm, they take it down.
I suspect that the Haunted House takes longer to assemble than the time it's open. But it's not a joke. The crew that takes on this unpaid project every year is 100% committed. It makes perfect sense that improvisers would pull this off, because, when you think about it, audacious, even foolish, commitment to something purely for the sake of fun is the cornerstone of comedy.
One of the biggest lessons The Second City, iO and The Annoyance teach their students is that without throwing yourself 100% into whatever you do on stage, your scene will never reach its full potential. That advice holds true when you're off stage as well. So when these comedians saw a chance to create a Haunted House last year to entertain the young students and Old Town neighborhood children, they jumped on it.
Watching their passion and drive through the creation of the Haunted House, I couldn't help but commit to it as an audience member. And when I stepped into the sppoky caverns, I got to have a fright filled adventure in what otherwise would have been empty classrooms.
One of my favorite things about comedy, and improv in particular, is that, when we all agree to play along, we can create amazing things out of nothing. So commit to something, and see what you can make.