CHICAGO – With garbage cans left unemptied, police stations vacant and office towers around the city abandoned, the streets of Chicago are eerily desolate as a cold wind blows off Lake Michigan, chilling the summer air.
As 27-year-old Monica Keppler steps out to greet the day, she is hit with a stark realization: she is the last person in the entire city who is not performing improvisational comedy with an improv troupe or even participating in an improv workshop.
“I would always try to make plans with people only to have them decline because they had rehearsal or a show,” Keppler said. “Finally, this morning I looked down at my phone and noticed I was the only person in my Facebook circle who wasn’t promoting an upcoming performance. All at once, it hit home. It clicked.”
As she walks through the now-deserted streets, Keppler realizes she is entering a world of near isolation and minimal human contact. Normally at this time of day, the city would be bustling with activity. But Keppler understands she must now adjust to this new age.
Walking back to her apartment, Keppler finally comes across life. A group of her former friends are shuffling into the Second City theater, muttering in unison about the merits of explore-and-heighten exercises. She offers a meek greeting, but in response to the previous action’s shocking cancellation, only receives a series of frantic, “Yes, and…” statements.
Faced with this unknown landscape, Keppler is determined to make the best of it.
“The line for the hot dog stand around the corner from my apartment is really short, but now I have to go through a ten-minute exploratory sketch with the guy every time I want one, and he won’t give it to me until I’ve ‘raised the stakes’ properly.”