[Once a month we have a company member report to us about life on the road. This month, it's Rachel Bouton sharing with us her experiences on our recent Oklahoma tours to East Central University in Ada, OK and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK.]
From 2009-2011 I found myself living in Oklahoma. The reason I ended up in Oklahoma is a tale for another day, but suffice it to say that reason had a name. A male name. A name that is now in my phone as “EX BOYFRIEND! DO NOT TEXT."
I hadn’t been back to OK since I left for NYC in 2011, but last weekend I found myself on a flight back to the red dirt state waxing more than a little nostalgic. My time in OK was formative to say the least - I made some of the best friends I’ll ever know, lived alone for the first time, ran my first (and last) marathon, got a cat, ate a lot of really unhealthy and amazing food (you can literally deep fry anything), and discovered improv. [Editor's Note: Rachel's Oklahoma City eating picks are in this blog post.]
What’s that you say? Oklahoma is where I first started doing improv? But how can you improvise in the middle of a cow field? That’s all they have there right? Cows and fields?
Wrong. Very very wrong.
Sure, they have cows in fields, but they also have hip restaurants, a growing independent art and film scene, and a thriving comedy community fostered by the amazing people at OKC Improv, where 7 years ago, I signed up for my first improv class.
So much of what I loved about Oklahoma was simply how surprising it can be. Poor Daniel [Tepper] and Christine [Pynn] had to endure several hours-long car rides in which I went on and on about all the amazing things about Oklahoma that are “not what you would expect.” I’ll give you a taste here:
Oklahoma has a thriving film industry thanks to some serious tax breaks for filmmakers who shoot in Oklahoma. Many of my improv friends made part of their living being in films shot in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma isn’t just a bunch of cowboys and cows (though it is the home of the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship and the Cowboy Hall of Fame). There are also loads of armadillos there (we saw a few by the side of the road after they had become arma-DEAD-los).
Oklahoma has tons of great restaurants. I’ve included a list of my favs at the end of this post.
The band The Flaming Lips is from Oklahoma City and every Halloween they lead the March of 1000 Flaming Skeletons. People dress up in skeleton costumes and march down the OKC streets carrying torches while the lead singer Wayne Coyne rolls around the city in a human size hamster ball.
You can still smoke in bars in Oklahoma (I’m not a fan of this one, but it’s good to know. Leave your coat in the car or it will smell like smoke for a month).
Oklahoma experiences more earthquakes than anywhere in the world. THE WORLD! Scientists attribute the quakes to fracking and the number of quakes went up from 2 in 2008 to 680 in 2015!
The people really are as friendly and welcoming as you think they will be. When I lived there I learned that everyone talks to strangers. So I did too and a lot of those strangers become lifelong friends.
Our weekend in OK was far too brief. We had great shows in Ada and Stillwater, and I got to teach a workshop at OSU for a group of talented and hilarious students which was a real highlight. I made Daniel and Christine eat at my favorite taco place in the world, and I explained to everyone in my car what “Okie Noodling” is (Google it). I even got to sit in with OKC Improv and do a two-person improv set with one of my first improv idols! But perhaps the best part of the trip was simply seeing so many of the wonderful people that made my time in Oklahoma so incredibly rich.
Until we meet again, stay classy Oklahoma.