Meet the Inmates: Erica LeBlanc
Friday, April 15, 2016
Role: Assistant General Manager, House Teams Performer
Works: Almost Always
Tenure: Been with Improv Asylum since Spring 2014
Cami: When did you start working for Improv Asylum?
Erica: May of 2014. I started as an usher, and then I believe it was April or so the following year when I started as a manager. And then September of 2015 I became AGM.
C: So what are all your different roles now?
E: Right now I’m Assistant General Manager, so I’m responsible for all the employees that are down there: scheduling, hiring, firing, training, every aspect of that. Beverage and supply orders, maintenance of the space...generally a lot of things, and whatever else may come up. On the performing side, I’m currently on a House Team, so I perform on Tuesday nights. I just finished up my level 6 and had my grad show March 21st. It was so good. It was so much fun. It was everything I wanted it to be. It was so good!
C: Yeah, I heard you talking about it in the office and you seemed really stoked about it.
E: SO stoked about it.
C: So did you always plan on working in comedy or did it kind of start after you got involved at Improv Asylum?
E: I have always loved the entertainment industry in general. I studied Media in college. I knew I wanted to be involved in some sense in regards to production, whether in theatre or television. I had been a patron of Improv Asylum countless times, and while I loved performing - I was in a sketch group at Suffolk - I LOVE putting things together. Like, being the point-person for things and making a production happen, even if it’s behind the scenes. If nobody knows that I’m there, then I’ve done my job right. And I love that.
C: Yeah, you lowkey run the show.
E: I lowkey run the show! And hopefully run it well enough where no problems occur for me to be noticed. My favorite thing about comedy is making people happy. Like, I will do prat falls for my niece day-in, day-out just to make her laugh. I love how raw of an emotion laughing is, you can’t help but show that you’re enjoying something. Even when I’m managing, I’ll sit back and watch the patrons. My favorite thing is to give out Laugh Passes because it’s like I’m thanking them for enjoying themselves. It’s kind of a compliment to not only the talent of the actors, but the work of the staff. Their experience overall is going so well that they can not worry about anything and just enjoy the show.
C: What’s a Laugh Pass?
E: A Laugh Pass is something we give to patrons we see just thoroughly enjoying the show. Like, losing their minds. Sometimes the actors will point someone out to us like, “That person in the front row has lost it for every scene. Can we give them something?” Totally give them a Laugh Pass for them to come back and just enjoy themselves more.
C: That’s really cool, I didn’t know we had that system in place. I laugh like so hard. All the time.
E: You can come anytime! We got you covered.
C: So obviously the laughter is your favorite part of working at Improv Asylum. But which show is your favorite down there?
E: Ooo, so hard. I mean, I love Main Stage shows ‘cause it’s just a culmination of each individual actor showing what they’ve got - stuff that’s personal to them that they’re bringing to the show. I love Vanity Project ‘cause it’s such an interesting mix of actors every time. Watching them build and gain the trust of the audience is really cool to see. And I also love the NXT shows because they’re up and coming. You know where they wanna go, and seeing them pour their hearts out into every show is so cool. I love watching them grow and seeing what they’ve become from the first week. Maybe it’s their first NXT show ever, but they’ve been here for two years at this point and they’ve got it no problem now. So that’s pretty cool to see.
C: What’s the craziest or weirdest thing that ever happened in the theatre? If there’s more than one, please, indulge me.
E: We always see patrons at their best, and sometimes at their...not-so-best. I had one patron one night stuff their jacket into a toilet, and then try to just leave without anything being acknowledged, in which case I had to tell the patron as they were leaving: “Excuse me, please come back downstairs, take your jacket out of the toilet, and never come back here again.” I didn’t say that, but essentially that’s what it was. They went into the bathroom, took out their jacket, started wringing it out in the trash can to which I said, “I’m not going to sit here and watch you wring out your jacket. You did this to yourself. Please leave.” Took their jacket, walked up the stairs, turned around, gave me the finger, and left. Definitely the strangest because I don’t know that I’ve personally ever been in a place where I thought, “Yeah, stuffing my jacket in the toilet is the thing I want to do right now.” But you know, everybody’s different, which is so great. I don’t know if it gets stranger than that. We’ve had some interesting bathroom incidents that I don’t think anyone wants to hear about, but yeah that’s definitely the strangest.
C: (laughing) I love that story.
E: So obscure.
C: What are your pet peeves inside and outside of the theater?
E: Oh man, I’m gonna eat while I think because I’m not sure.
C: That’s okay. I’m going to scratch my eyeball because it is so itchy.
E: Please write that down. I guess my pet peeve in the theater, and this is kind of like, Mama Bear instinct - not that I’m a mom - but when patrons are trying to take things out against my employees - if there’s something that they have a problem with, I have no problem with them yelling at me if they need to, or talking it out with me. But if they ever start to blame my employees for something, or yell at them or call them names, I hate that beyond belief. I want to do anything to protect my little babies. So I don’t like that. Obviously I would love everyone to come down there and know exactly what they’re about to experience, but a lot of people haven’t seen improv before - or live, rather - so we kind of have to teach them how to behave, which I’m perfectly fine with. You know, when it’s appropriate to shout out and when it’s not.
(Kid annoyingly banging his feet against a table next to us)
C: That’s my pet peeve.
E: Sure, that makes sense. But yeah, I have no problem with that. But when patrons try to escalate things in an inappropriate way, that’s what I don’t like. Outside of the theater...specifically, very specifically, tourists walking on Hanover street and stopping to read every menu they walk by. I just walk in the street because it’s quicker, and sometimes safer. But I can’t stand it. I don’t know why, I lose my mind. I’m like, “Sidewalk is for walking!” and then I get unnecessarily upset.
C: I’m not gonna lie, when I came to the North End the first time…
E: Come on!
C: The first time! After that, it’s kind of like...you learn all the restaurants are the same.
E: See for me it’s like, please. Take your Mike’s box, walk away, Google a restaurant that you want to eat at or just pick a restaurant. They all serve the same things, they’re all very expensive. Just pick and sit. Tourists, am I right?
C: So, what’s something you’ve been working on outside of work?
E: Um, well, I’m training to run the Boston Marathon.
C: You are?
E: I am!
C: That’s amazing! When did you decide to get into that?
E: Oh man, I applied to run with a charity like, two years ago, for last year’s marathon. But I didn’t get selected, which was kind of upsetting, but kind of worked out because it was such a horrible winter to train. And so this year I applied to [be sponsored by] charities in August/September and then I was given and invititaional bib by a family friend for the Beth Israel Team in November, so starting in December is when I started training!
C: Nice. So, my question is what do you think about when you’re running for like, a million miles?
E: I think about my thoughts.
C: Haha ok, great.
E: I don’t know! It varies from time to time. I think about work sometimes, because I’m always thinking about work. In terms of running, what I think about is how much further I have to go. I kind of break it down to “Well, I only have like 3 more 10k’s left instead of “I have 18 miles left.” Or like, “I have one more half marathon to run!” I break it down like that, and for some reason, it works. I don’t know why. It seems intimidating to think about it that way, but for some reason it’s the easiest way for me to think about it and keep going.
C: So, do you have a spirit animal, and if not, would you like to make one up?
E: Sure, I’d love to make one up. Hmm.. I don’t know, what’s your spirit animal?
C: Um, I took a couple quizzes online cause I couldn’t figure it out. I got everything from spider, to butterfly, to lion. Which I think resonates in me most because I’m a Leo. Whatever. (laughs)
E: I never thought about this. This is very serious for me right now. I don’t know why I’m putting so much thought into this. I would say a platypus. Because they’re just obscure enough to be cool, and I like to think that I’m an obscure person. I’m definitely a mammal, but barely a mammal. It’s cool cause people are like, “What a strange animal.”
C: And they’re cute!
E: So adorable.
C: And what’s your favorite thing to do in Boston?
E: I’m a big Red Sox fan and I love going to Fenway Park, even when there’s no game going on. I love the history of the park, I love my personal history with the park - I remember the first game I ever went to. Everything I experienced, from the smells to the sounds.
C: How old were you?
E: I was eight. And it was the best day of my life. Never forget it. So yeah, everytime someone comes into Boston and they’re like “I’ve never been to a Red Sox game,” or even if they live here and they’ve never been, my favorite thing is to take people to a Red Sox game.