Another fun ol’ night coming up with my m8s from It’s A Non-Committal Date. 6:30pm, Croft Institute, City.
Kevin Dorff guests on this episode of The Fogelnest Files and talks about coming up in Chicago, iO vs Second City, and more. Great listen.
Melbourne Fringe starts next week! Between drinking beers and seeing all of the shows, I’m going to appear in a bunch of them! I’ll be with my three person team It’s A Non-Committal Date, appearing with my Harold Night team Your Elected King, and producing Cage Match. Check out the link for tickets and times.
The big thing from yesterday’s workshop, I think, was about taking the scene at face value. A beginning improvisor will tend to project things onto the scene to give it weight, significance, plot. A more experienced improvisor will find those things in what has already been offered, drawing them out and amplifying them. This is important because it relieves us of the pressure to “come up with something good” and instead lets us relax into the scene, focus on our partner, embrace an outward-directed style, and present ourselves naturally.
Matt Powell writes about a body language/non-verbal workshop he ran. Really love the above paragraph and need to incorporate more of it in how I play.
Five weeks ago I sat in the event space at Chicago’s iO Theatre ready to take on the theatre’s summer intensive program. Five weeks of non-stop learning about the hobby I love – improvised comedy.
And now I’m done! I graduated! I must be a master improviser! An expert! Every scene I’m in from now on is going to be perfect!
Erm, not quite.
The truth is, I don’t believe that I’m a better improviser right now then I was when I left for the airport. Don’t get me wrong – the program was amazing. I’ve had an wonderful time in a wonderful city, both hanging out with my existing Improv Conspiracy pals and making many new friends (trips to Poland, Canada, Florida, and Minnesota are now being planned). I have a full notebook of everything I have learned, lessons and wisdom gained from going to class, performing, and just watching shows.
But for as much as I have gained, I’m by no means perfect. Intensive students squeeze three hour lessons into two hour twenty-five minute chunks, four days a week per level. A year’s worth of learning in just over a month. Unfortunately, that doesn’t equal a year’s worth of comprehension in the same amount of time. For every “this is the best scene I’ve ever done” feeling, there was a corresponding scene where I froze, not knowing what to say or do as if I had forgotten everything I’ve learned about long-form improvisation. The same problems that existed before I left for the States still exist, and a few things I never noticed before are now on my radar.
What the course does is emphasise the entry level basics to creating great improvised comedy. Over, and over, and over again. To listen intensely and respond with how you feel. To support your scene partner and your teammates. To forget about structure and rules and just have a shitload of fun. When you are so focused on trying to get the pacing of the Invocation right, or trying to remember something to pull for Beat 2C in a Harold, it’s easy to forget about those things. Then all of a sudden you are wondering why the hilarious line you had in your head didn’t get a single chuckle and oh god will someone please wipe the scene and get me out of here.
Growth from learning is slow but constant. For all the things I want to bring back to share with my Harold team, Your Elected King, there are a bunch that will take me a while to gain an understanding of, let alone know how to execute. I imagine over time the things that I picked up will start clicking and will be more incorporated in how I play, but I don’t have all the answers and don’t think I ever will.
One thing is for certain. There will be no strutting into class, telling my fellow YEKers “I am a great improviser and this is how things are done in Chicago.” I’m going to focus on those basics – the same basics my teammates know and I can trust to bring to any scene we are in. That is the exciting thing – as a team we may have been in different locations for the last couple of months, but we are all on the same page.
Although I will be teaching them Uhlir 8s. That shit is dope.
If you turn up to a show having skipped training, or with sloppy stage work or without having worked on your notes from last show, you are telling your fellow players and your audience that you aren’t taking this artform seriously, that you aren’t taking our experience playing with you or watching you seriously.
I started learning and then performing improv in Melbourne one year ago today. A lot has happened since then. He’s a little something I wrote about self-doubt, hip-hop shoes, redemption, and uh, poo.
I’ve always thought of balanced improv in terms of not having three scenes in a row be a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, or not having three straight/absurd hard comedy scenes. This is something else that I read and said “OH” out loud to.
Need help finding the game of the scene? Point at your scene partner mid-sentence, scream "THAT WAS UNUSUAL" then punch them in the face.
— Good Improv Ideas (@GoodImprovIdeas) July 17, 2014
At best, you want to sort of feel like you’re unconsciously hanging out with your friends, creating a funny scenario out of nothing. You’re not aware that the audience is there, you’re just in the moment like, ‘That’s funny. I’m gonna add more to that.’ And then before you know it, you’ve got a fully fleshed out idea.
Brian Huskey (of Childrens’ Hospital) talks all things improv in a very quotable interview with Splitsider.
Mark’s most lasting gift was this simple note: Realize what you’ve done at the top of the scene.
You walked on stage a certain way. Your face was conveying something. Everything you do from the moment you walked on stage is noticed. You can either make a choice to enter a certain way or simply let your body make the choice and focus on intensifying that. Your scene becomes immediately easier.
Mark Sutton on how to make improv easier.
The concept of repeating words is not foreign to improv teachings. I’ve heard it many times before. But, with Ed it’s seems to not just be about the words. It’s about the how. How you say it, how you feel as you say it. Sometimes it doesn’t even need words, it could be just the how. You could be mad, frustrated, happy, whatever. As your partner repeats, you repeat and heighten the emotion.
Justin D. Torres on the teachings of Ed Herbstman at Camp Magnet