As with many improvisers playing today, reading Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier was an awakening for me; a break from all the RULES and taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your partner in your scene.
As a part of my training out here, I’m taking classes at The Annoyance Theatre to put into practice what I’ve been reading about, over and over again, in ‘Improvise’. Here are some more notes from Mick Napier, himself, regarding the upcoming auditions at Second City. This might have been specifically written for the Chicago scene but applies everywhere else, especially San Francisco:
Next week is Second City’s general auditions. Over 500 people will be auditioning in 4 days. I will run a great many of these auditions, along with my friend Matthew Hovde. It’s one of the scariest auditions in the world, and it got me thinking about people I’ve known, and what it really takes to make it in comedy in the United States through this particular journey… improvisation. I think I know a couple of things. I thought I’d share some thoughts about what to DO in this often confusing world… This is real, not joke…
- It doesn’t matter which school of improvisation you go into first or at the same time or whatever. There are sound reasons for any order or any degree of simultaneity.
- Don’t be seduced by being on a team. It seems like it’s enough and you are going along just fine. It’s not really enough, and it’s not a mark of evolution, it just seems like it is.
- Character work isn’t bad, particularly if you want to do sketch comedy. Don’t listen to false affirmation that character work or broader acting has a lack of integrity, it is just different. And that’s just true. Character range is a skill set that is not attained by continuously denouncing character range. It’s not something you can magically turn on at, say, a Second City audition. Believe you me.
- Write. For absolutely no fucking reason, write.
- Make it o.k. with yourself that you admit that you would want to be on the mainstage or on a house team or in an Annoyance show or on television or SNL. It really is o.k. Just don’t be an asshole about it. You won’t be, anyway. It really is o.k.
- Do solo work. Find a way to feature yourself.
- One person shows are fucking boring. Find a reason they’re not. Do that.
- Don’t wait for stuff. It not only drains your power, but actually has you be perceived as less powerful. You will have plenty of time to wait with great stakes for absolutely nothing when you move to Los Angeles. DO things here. Get a group. Create videos, write even more.
- Here’s two boring things: Headshots. Resumes. And don’t lie. This has happened: “We put this guy (someone holds up headshot) in the ‘yes’ pile. Anybody remember him? No? O.K.” (headshot goes in ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ pile) Because his headshot didn’t look like him, and his photo ironically worked against him. Look like your headshot, that is what they are for. Look like your headshot. Don’t lie on your resume. Man, you will get caught and you will look like an asshole. And even if you don’t get caught, you are that kind of person.
- Talent is everything. Just kidding. How you are to work with is as important. Your character shows up everywhere. Whether you are at S.C. or Playground or Ale House or a class or Corcoran’s or I.O. or Skybox or Annoyance or in the middle of the ocean:
a. everything counts.
b. everyone hears about everything.
c. everyone talks about everyone all the time.
Your behavior could affect whether you work here or there for the bad or the good.
- Take a break occasionally. From it all. For perspective, sanity, life. You and what you bring to the stage will benefit from your actual life experience. My own life has been a series of wonderful hobbies.
- Study acting. You won’t, but you ought to. You won’t because you think you are SO fucking funny, and don’t need it. But you do. You really do. I tell people that, and they say “yeah, yeah, but what do I need to DO to get an edge?” I say it. No one does it. It’s such an easy edge.
Twelve, just like the 12 points of the Scout Law.
Oh well, all of this is true. So there. And that, is as simple, as that.
-Mick Napier, Founder and Artistic Director
I hope Mick’s notes can be applied to your own improv growth. Now go out and improvise!