We've known Larry Bukovey for a long time. Larry's commitment to the Tampa Bay improv scene has brought him into classes and onto stages at nearly every improv theater - and lots of indie teams - in Central Florida. As part of both of our main stage shows, we had to find out what makes Larry tick.
How did you get started doing improv? What's your story?
I was living in Lakeland and going through a very difficult chapter in my life and had the opportunity to volunteer at SAK Comedy Lab. I met some awesome people and got to watch a bunch of shows while working my shift. I earned "Sak Buks" for each shift I volunteered, which I used to pay for classes. Due to moving westward further and further away from Lakeland, the trip to Orlando became daunting and eventually I couldn't make it to Lab Rats rehearsals and shows. Since then, I’ve been blessed and honored to be a part of Comedy Buffet (Winter Haven), BAIT (Tampa), Dear Aunt Gertrude (Tampa), The Third Thought (Clearwater/St. Pete) and currently FST (Sarasota), Stuff Happens Improv Theatre (Safety Harbor) and most recently, Unscripted Theatre (St. Pete). The art form - and more importantly, the people I have met - have been there for me. They’ve become some of the most important people in my life. They’re my family...my tribe. I know they have my back and I have theirs while we trod this sod together.
What have you been involved with at Unscripted?
It’s been a great experience being involved with Unscripted before and after the doors were opened. Since Fall 2016, I’ve been volunteering for Street Team, Box Office, Tech and different Shows. I was part of the first Flash Fiction show, got to fill in for the better half of Equanimity (you decide which half) and then created an ad hoc duo team called "Ad Hoc" with the other half, filled in once or twice for As Per Usual in the Team Showcase, and have been involved with two main stage shows, Blank Slate and currently, Westworld Unscripted.
What's your personal approach to improv?
To be a real and present partner, no matter the show format. As I age (like fine wine), I’m realizing that as important as listening is, remembering what you are listening for (what you have heard, what you have seen, who is on stage with you and where they are) is equally important. Memory is like a muscle - the more you use it the stronger it gets. Oh, and take lots of Gingko Biloba…
What sort of advice would you have for a new person who wants to be part of the Unscripted community?
Be teachable and malleable. If improv is something you’re interested in doing on stage, for being more creative, for business, or just to become a better, more in-the-moment person, have an open mind and attitude to learn. Take classes at Unscripted and anywhere else you can. Improv is a never ending story so you never get to the last page. While on your journey from chapter to chapter, you get to continue learning through reading, taking classes/workshops, seeing shows, attending festivals, and most importantly, getting to play on stage.
What do you hope for the future of the theater and the St. Pete improv scene?
Practically, a growing acknowledgement and understanding by the general public that improv is alive and well and very beneficial for the Tampa Bay area; that it’s a valid art-form in and of itself; and that our community will become a destination for great improv, which will hopefully bring in more students and audiences that in turn will bring about more classes, more workshops by Unscripted and other improv theaters, and more stage time for all improvisers.
Philosophically, magnificent things! Wonderous things that will defy gravity! Growth and unity not only for Unscripted but for the whole Tampa Bay area improv community, including American Stage, The Box and FST, as well other groups out there not necessarily associated with any theater. Someone once said, "If you build it, they will come...".
Don't fear the unknown...don't fear fear. Call it out for what it is and chase it. Don't let fear make you wait and then later say "I should've" when you can do it now. There’s so many opportunities out there to at least try. Take advantage of your vibrant Tampa Bay area improv community.
You can see Larry on stage this weekend in Westworld Unscripted.