Hey it’s that time again. It’s been 5 months since the last update to the Improv Reading List. For my new followers: the improv reading list is the greatest hits version of this blog and improv nerdery on the internet. I do my best to catalog all of my favorite things I read there.
But it’s getting pretty long, so if you check out the main page, you’ll see two new sections Class Notes (compiles class notes found on Tumblr) and Classes & Shows in LA (guide to classes and shows for LA locals).
Added to the reading list:
Check it out.
Improv emphasizes showing over telling, a principle that often manifests in a technique known as “the invisible game” on Key & Peele. The central joke of these scenes is ladled out, beat by beat, but never spoken of. “The audience loves to figure things out,” says Key, who has extensive professional acting experience and a unique physicality honed by emulating silent masters such as Chaplin and Keaton. “They love it when a performer leaves a trail of bread crumbs for them, and they get to participate in the comedy.”
Innovation through improvisation: How Key & Peele busted the forumla and created something new
This is one of the better comedy-process articles I’ve read in a while.
I love this. Last night Charlie Sanders took the suggestion. Someone meekly calls out “Heather Ledger,” and a brief moment passes before someone else YELLS out “Zebra.” Big laugh from the audience. Charlie says, “Okay, we’ll take both suggestions at the volume they were said, so you’ll get a lot of Zebra and a little bit of Heath Ledger.”
So the show starts and Charlie initiates off of Zebra, doing a preschool scene, where the students have to guess the animal in the picture. But the game becomes that the teacher painted the pictures, so “It seems like it’s less about how well we can guess the animal and more about how well you can paint.” Great move from Dominic. The set continues, they heighten and explore, heighten and explore, never swiping… about 20 minutes in, they’re at the point where they’re in a sitcom on an alien planet starring a bunch of aliens but mapping it over cliche sitcom specifics (classic Shitty Jobs)…. it’s pretty out there. Pretty Zebra, if you will.
The set finally comes back around to the first scene, in the classroom. The students still can’t guess Charlie’s drawings, so he can’t take it any more… and starts eating pills, by the handful. The kids start screaming at him, “Yeah go ahead!” “That won’t kill you!” “Take the easy way out!” Finally Charlie gurgles “Just like Heath Ledger!” and dies and I’m pretty sure the crowd lost their shit. Just a gigantic, “How did they do that?” laugh from the audience. What a great, great move. Just a little bit of Heather Ledger and a lot of Zebra.
Hoping I’ll cut this out with experience, but is there a trick to help me stop thinking like this when I perform? Suggestion: “wife.” My mind: “Wife. Makes me think of a wedding, which makes me think of dancing. Should I just start dancing? No. Besides dancing, weddings make me think of… the movie Jaws. Wait. I don’t think there’s even a wedding in that movie…” and while teammates have started a scene I’m wondering if it’d be too weird to initiate a scene where I’m a shark attack victim
Go with your gut instinct! Your first idea is your best one.
Becky Drysdale said that the moment of hesitation between Suggestion and Inspiration is where improv dies, because you’re no longer improvising a scene, you’re writing one (and judging one) in your head.
Don’t kill your improv! Just start dancing.
Ask improv-is-easy a question!
“you’re no longer improvising a scene, you’re writing one (and judging one) in your head.”
Holy crap! That is what I do all the time!!!! THANK YOU KIRK FOR ARTICULATING MY BIGGEST PROBLEM!
Yup, that’s right. I’ve got episodes from those two available right now. But, there’s a catch. I know, I hate me too.
It’s a review’s drive. Go to the iTunes store go rate and review the show. Don’t give it one star because you hate to do this. I wont count it if you do. Write a review, and we’re one step closer to those episodes.
- Once I get 100 reviews, Ian Robert’s episode will go online.
- Once I get 200 reviews, Matt Walsh’s episode wil go online.
AND, if you’ve already donated to the show, if you’re an Improv Obsession Hero, you’re getting a link for those two episodes right now. If you wanna donate, I’ll send you the link. Any amount, I don’t want people giving me huge chunks of money anyway.
So there it is, you want those episode, you know what to do.
Come on everybody! Rate Improv Obsession on iTunes! Donate! We all listen so help out if you can.
I’ve talked about how improv is inherently meta before, and all that means is that improv is, by nature, presentational, like Stand Up or late night shows, as opposed to self-contained and separated by a 4th wall like a play or sketch. People can obviously do stuff that’s very real and grounded or simply doesn’t break the 4th wall. However, my small point was that the very fact that it’s made up on the spot creates a meta-y self awareness in the audience, so much so that when a scene is good, we very very rarely say, “Wow, that character was so interesting.” Instead we say, “Wow, that performer is so great!”
Unfortunately, that’s very academic and not very practical, in terms of how you handle yourself onstage. So let’s talk about it a little more.
SAG Foundation: Improv & Sketch Comedy: Part One - Training -
Miles Stroth (The Family, Heather & Miles), Johnny Meeks (Sentimental Lady), and others are giving talk at the SAG Foundation later today at 7PM PST. You can watch it stream live at the above link, or you can see the video on YouTube after it airs. (I’ll update with the link after)
I like playing fast. All my favorite teams play fast. I appreciate slow play, but I don’t seek it out. It’s not to my taste. I’m okay with that.
Miles Stroth told me something very important, when it comes to speed:
“Speed comes later.”