I’m sitting in a waiting room waiting to serve on a Jury when I look on Facebook and read from Bill Binder “Please Help. Need Urgent Care. Not a Joke.” I immediately panicked. I texted him right away and he told me what was going on. I desperately tried to find him an urgent care, but I’m in California and he’s in Arizona. Thank god, Bill has a wonderful group of friends in Arizona that took care of him and got him the help he needed. Don’t worry everyone, he’s doing okay and is resting at home. He’ll be collecting sodapdf documents about the trip and going to your festival soon. I promise you that!
But it got me thinking about the man I’ve called a friend for the last 15 years. Someone I share a deep friendship with that sometimes I forget about.
Bill and I met taking classes at iO West years ago. I lived near iO, but Bill would commute from Phoenix every week to take classes. That’s a seven hour drive. Who does that? Immediately I had to be friends with him. I mean, that’s dedication. He didn’t have to even say one word to me to prove he loved this art form. He took the knowledge he learned from such teachers as Craig Cackowski, Miles Stroth and Paul Vaillancourt and went back to Phoenix to help create an improv community there – The Torch Theater and The Phoenix Improv Festival. I attended most every Phoenix Improv Festival since and Bill and I became closer friends sharing a common improv philosophy. But our philosophy ran deeper and past the stage. We both had a huge sense of community. Four years ago we both had the same idea. Really! We literally thought up the same thing. To create a site that would connect the improv world like never before. Can you guess what the site is? WINK.
One of the many things we have in common is our love of Star Trek. We always use it as a metaphor for anything we do. NIN is The Enterprise and I’m Captain Kirk, emotional and leap before I think, where he’s Spock, logical, thinks it through and is just really fucking smart. It works! Just like Capt. Kirk and Spock work. We have a deep unconditional friendship for each other, but also respect each other as business associates.
Lately, Bill and I have been all business. It’s hard running a site that you’re volunteering your time to do. When we have a moment to talk it’s about the site because that’s the time we have to talk and it has to get done. This reminds me I have to do better. That this isn’t just a site but a culmination of a friendship that started 15 years ago. The young guys that were taking class for the first time and stepping into a bigger world. A world that would lead us down a path of a long and awesome friendship filled with love, respect and passion.
Bill is one of the most passionate people I have ever met in my life. He loves improv. He would die for it. He has come close, once he went blind for a day while overworking himself for The Phoenix Improv Festival. I’ve never seen anyone do so much for the community. He spends hours upon hours to make improv and the community better for you and for absolutely nothing. He doesn’t ask for anything back and he doesn’t want anything. He just wants to make the art form, that he fell in love with, better for future generations. Isn’t that the Star Trek philosophy?
As I write this and Bill rests and recovers I say to you this my friend, “I love you, buddy. You teach me everyday that I can do better, that I can reach farther, be a better artist and do even more for the improv community.” I firmly believe that the universe puts people together for a reason. And thank you universe for giving me Bill Binder.
I’m sure this is more attention then Bill ever wanted. But he deserves all of it. Here’s to another 15 years my friend! I have a bottle of mead for us!