Mondays in May: STRANGER and BC bring you an improv double feature that will make you believe in our children again. Check out some of the critical acclaim for these teams:
“who are these people?” - an iO student
“what the hell am I watching?” - blind guy
“funniest ever” - Steve Martin, from Martin’s Deli
Every week we trick different teams to perform before us, until the late people show up, who we love the most.
Monday nights @ The Lincoln Loft. FREE. BYOB. Donations aggressively accepted.
5/6 @ 8PM
5/13 @ 10:30PM (LATE SHOW!)
5/20 @ 8PM
5/27 @ 8PM
Introducing: Wong Simpleton. A software engineer @ Google. Makes $212,000 a year and is clinically depressed. His therapist urged him to write jokes about anything and everything that make him sad. Here they are, through his voice, enjoy!
Been watching a bunch of and learning about physical comedy and clowning lately and it’s fascinating to realize how much physical comedy is broken down into tightly packaged games two clowns agree to play, which led me to reevaluate improv comedy.
“Yes, And” - is universally known as the foundation of improvisation. Agree with the world your partner established and add more information. The trouble with “Yes, And” is that it’s a behavior that is evident in those who are improvising well, but improv is difficult to teach by merely reverse engineering success.
“Yes, And” as a concept is great but it means absolutely nothing and little will take shape unless you are complicit with your partner. For “Yes, And” to actually work, you need to not just agree with your partner, you need to believe that you are co-conspirators, accomplices working towards a singular goal.
This crucial piece is so hard to teach because it can’t really be observed from the outside. Only you can actually know if you really want to work with your scene partner, if you’re really in the same boat, if you really assume he or she is an artist, genius and poet.
By accepting complicity with your partner, everything you do in your scene becomes a game, structured to succeed together. Even if the characters portrayed are arguing, fighting, meeting for the first time, transacting, teaching, asking questions, killing each other, or any number of typical “bad scenes” we are told to avoid, if you are complying to do so, then the action in the scene becomes a game between the two actors. It’s when we are not committed and not complying is when these scenes become shit and boring.
I also don’t believe improv needs to be about the “relationship” between the characters - there’s a pressure to reflect life and create spontaneous “theatre” - when we have hilarious, honest, truthful moments with strangers all the time. Lets start talking about the unique dynamics between two characters instead. How many times do we actually get hired, fired, fall in love and get divorced in life? But how often do we struggle with the decision to give up a seat for a slightly older, but not quite old, person on the bus?
If improv is adult play, then we should be maximizing that by practicing complicity not so much the agreement to contexts. The specifics of the context is like the skin and muscles of the the scene while the complicity between actors to play a game is the skeleton that holds all the pretty stuff together.
Been spending my Saturday afternoons taking an improv class with Mick Napier and it’s really inspiring to experience this man teach. He is so quick and sharp and notices and remembers everything. He’s also infuses play in the way he teaches as well, crafting together exercises to bend and stretch our brains in ways he’s never experimented before.
Last week we did a bunch of scenes where we were told not to think and just speak. It went a little like this:
I minute. 2 person scenes. In chairs. One line a piece, talk as fast as you can. Interruptions. No space in between the lines. Don’t leave the seats. Talk Faster. Faster. Faster!
Takeaway from class: “This is a playground, play with reckless abandon, the kid who needs to play a certain way is annoying”.
*this is a misdirection. It’s just a scene. But psychologically, we are in attack and play mode which affects the way we play.
Mick talks about how we get on stage and we default to a sense of protected play. I find this exercise to be a great, simple way for us to get our brains stretched out and embrace the muscle of play before we hit the stage.