Ladies and Gentlemen: Science Fiction Comedy Improv!

Photo by Bluesilver on Flickr

Photo by Bluesilver on Flickr

As many of you know, last Friday Mary Robinette Kowal and I did a reading at Borderlands Books in San Francisco, in which we read a number of our short pieces, mostly humorous, and generally had a pretty good time. What you may not know is that in addition to reading, we tried something fairly dangerous, namely, science fiction comedy improv. Yes, that’s right, as a special treat/punishment for the folks who came out, Mary and I came up with an idea and ran with it, and tried to make it funny. Because we’re insane like that.

How did it go? Well, you’re about to find out, because below you’ll find the streaming audio for what we came up with, “The PetMaster 2000.” Mary plays a woman whose science fictional home technology has gotten a little out of control, and I play the rather notably unhelpful customer service representative she has the misfortune of contacting. We had fun, in any event, and it seems the audience did too. At least, at the time it seemed like they were laughing with us, not at us. Which is what you want.

The original audio was recorded by John Nichols, who brought the digital recording device you see in the picture above (behind Ripley, the Borderlands Books hairless cat). He’s got the entire appearance, which was something like 2½ hours including pre- and post- chatter, over on his site, and at some point I’ll chop the whole thing up into reasonable-sized chunks and post the mp3s here. But in the meantime I’d like to thank him for bringing his recorder and kindly providing me with the files. He rocked for doing so, and in general our audience rocked for coming out and making Mary and me feel like rock stars through the entire performance.

Anyway: Science Fiction Comedy Improv! Enjoy.

The PetMaster 2000

(Clicking will open the file in your browser (provided it can handle mp3s), or you can right-click to save the file. Yes! Save it! Forever! Give it to your children! And their children! And so on.)

25 Comments on “Ladies and Gentlemen: Science Fiction Comedy Improv!”

  1. RIPLEY!!

    I’m sure you and the lovely Mary and delightful, but it’s a picture of Ripley.


  2. Arrgh – Should have been “were” delightful, not “and” delightful.

    (I’m finishing downloading the file right now,ok?)

  3. Ms. Kowal has a great scream. Ought to be in horror flicks.
    Great bit, although you forgot the annoying New Deli Indian accent.
    Seems to crop up on every service call I make.

  4. Great show. I listened to it while doing the dishes; a task I normally dislike, but this made it a whole lot more fun.

  5. Michael Kirkland@4: Naturally hairless. Also, I’m told, unbelievably adorable. Being hypoallergenic probably comes in pretty handy when you’re a bookstore cat.


    Under no circumstances are you, the consumer, to listen to this piece of fiction in a painfully quiet library.

    If this warning is ignored, the Whatever, it’s author, and it’s commentators, are in no way liable for the damage you do to your tongue in an attempt not to laugh.

    Thank you.

  7. I can’t comment on the Science Fiction Improv (yet,) but I can say that is one creepy science fiction cat. Wow.

  8. Just listened, it was seriously O.K.. Checked out the Flicker photos as well.

    You might want to tape some Ham on that Cat, if you know what I mean.


  9. Not every customer service line is in India. Especially government customer service.
    Great bit and I should have taken off work early to drive to SF for the show, even with a two hour drive from Sacramento it would have been worth it.

  10. I totally lost it with “One bite or two?”. Definitely do not listen to this at work or anyplace quiet!


  11. Sci-fi comedy improv theater: almost as good as the pros and so much cheaper. Ideal for these hard economic times.

    That’s definitely an alien cat. Or maybe that was a previous eructation of the Petmaster 2000?

    The picture reminds me of some old comedy sketch I saw on TV in the 60’s (Laugh-In?): “Nobody told me I shouldn’t shave the kitty. So I did.”

  12. I’m sitting at the computer with headphones on and my wife comes over to ask me why I’m on continuous giggle.

    That was so nutsoid, I’m having a hard time breathing!

  13. The PM2K improv is still achingly funny on second third hearing. Thanks again to you both for giving “call escalation” another sinister meaning, and to John Nichols for the technomancery and bandwidth. [1]

    1. John N.: I owe you big-time for hosting the segments — thank you most kindly, and please let me know how many zeroes to put after the significant digits on this cheque.

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