The finer art of Transcription.

Since returning to Portland, I’ve fallen into transcribing the 45 hours or so of one-on-one interviews I compiled during my fieldwork studying the improv scene of Rochester, NY.  When I look at the numbers, it seems daunting.  When I look at how much time I have before I absolutely need to have a job, it makes me a little panicky. When I look at the words and listen to the interview as an analyst, I become very excited and intrigued. Sometimes I laugh out loud, and sometimes I hiss “Yessss” through my teeth while clenching my fist.

I started the draft of my thesis today, and it was exciting.

Here’s some quotes from various audience members and performers:

  • I find it very interesting to see the stumbling and recovery skills.  That’s terrific, really fun.   (Why do you think that’s terrific?)  Well because in real life we always get ourselves into jams, and, you know, the temptation is to feel terrible, just ashamed, and you know you want to disappear, die.  Please kill me. Take me now! But you know, children have this task to develop recovery skills from jams, you know, things that go on. And, you know, the better you do that, the easier the world will be.
  • It’s kind of like going to see a movie. You might not even be interested in it, but, you know, your favorite actor’s in it. You know, you know the person. You know their work.  They’ve made you laugh in the past. So you go and see them this time.
  •  Music or opera that involves a number of musicians and talents done to the Nth degree would be comparable to the best improv.
  • It wasn’t the sexual titillation of it, it was the horror of watching two people give themselves over to what developed between them in that space.
  • I was very touched [by a show]…I mean, that’s no lie, and I just said, “What if I lived that way?”   And it caused me to examine, on the lowest level, what if I said “yes, and..” to you and you [pointing randomly at people].
  • I wasn’t falling asleep like I sometimes do. In fact, they kept me awake, and I have narcolepsy. The guy that I was with kept looking at me to make sure I’m awake because he pokes me. And I said, “I’m not falling asleep”, and I stayed awake through that whole thing.
  • Man, it goes dark and dirty quickly.  It always does.  Comedy always does.  People relate to it somehow.  It breaks the ice.  It’s like ‘we all have this in common. We all love dirty jokes’. 
  • If the audience never saw human sacrifice Canasta, then I think they would be cheated.

There’s more, and only some of it will end up in my thesis.  I started writing it today, and I’m going for a draft by March.  Wish me luck.

Published by bradfortier

Educator, Anthropologist, Entertainer who lives in Portland Oregon.

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