Monday, December 23, 2013

Strategies for Starting a Scene

Today I rehearsed with my Level 6 Magnet Team, so far we are unnamed but we had a subsititue coach, Sebastian Connelli who just simplified a few exercises that helped us out a lot and also kind of revealed a lot of things about improv to me. If you ever get a chance to utilize him as a coach, I'd definitely recommend it. 

He viewed our team and found that we were getting a little writey and also we were saying "no" a lot. 

It's a funny thing that as you get more advanced, you become more and more okay with saying no, to the point that you make scenes harder on yourself.

Here was a simple exercise he gave us, one person will initiate with anything at all and the other person just repeats what they say, to the point that they are just acknowledging the situation, that in itself is the game. With advanced players, we really hooked into this. It's actually much funner than the Yes And game which ends up beng very heady and almost more complicated. For example.

"It's cold today."

Response, "The temperature definitely has gone down since yesterday."

"I don't wanna go out in this weather."

Response,"You are hesitant my friend. There is a definite forecast of non-enjoyment out there,"

"I'm staying."

"You have decided, my friend. That is the way things will be."

It's almost inherently funny.

I test drived this in a 401 UCB class. I just repeated what the other person said. It was surprisingly easy and worked with all kinds of situations.

"Will that be all"

RE: That is the question isn't it? Is that an adequate meal, and if not am I willing to come back to the counter and reorder in the future.

Do you need more time? People are waiting.

RE: The pressure is definitely on.

Pretty awesome eh>? I've got a few more lessons from Sebastian but this was particularly fun. Especially when you have NO clue what the call back was.

So sir, you are converting this dungeon into a sushi bar. 

That's absolutely right. I am converting this dungeon into a sushi bar. That is what I want to do. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter McNerney and Magnet Level 06

I'm a fan of the Magnet Improv classes. It's a simple fact. Maybe it's because I started there with musical improv and regular improv, but I love the teachers there. Level 06 is the final class of the Magnet regular improv program. With that comes about 8 weeks with Peter McNerney of Trike, and 2 whole MONTHS of improv shows. That's kind of awesome!

The point of this class is performance study, but it also is preparing you for Magnet Megawatt, the improv teams of Magnet.

Peter McNerney is an amazing improviser and teacher. The way he explains improv is kind of from an improviser/audience member way. His examples are amazing and his teachings have a tendency to blow your mind. I wish I could go into more specifics but here is a few tidbits that I learned that I'd love to get down on this blog.

1) If you do premise based improv, and you find yourself in a scene with a stranger or a transaction. After that function has happened, you have this feeling like, "Why am I here?", the way to make that easier is to relate something to the other person. For example, "I'd like to buy this bird.", "Ugh, I got this bird for my wife three weeks ago, it's like a baby it's the worst thing that has happened to our relationship.".
      (My thoughts) Just that change up, what are the reactions the buyer can do. First they could delve into the relationship of the seller more "Really, are you guys still together.", second, they could relate even further "Well, I just bought this bird because the cat was killing our relationship and I left the door open and let it go.", third they could push to transact, "I just wanna buy it." in which case the game would be just thinking of more reasons to deny. The meat in that transaction is amazing.

2) Take a moment to figure out who you are, with a posture or a feel then CHECK in with the other person look at them see how they feel then use that to propel your scene. You're initiation is the little thing you feel about yourself. If you walk out cool or frustrated, then no matter what the person initiates or does that is gonna affect you.

3) It's about the relationship. Allow yourself to be affected. If you're mad, your not mad at the situation, you're mad at the person. You show 99 percent of emotion to people to get them to do something. If you love someone and you had a bad day at work, you come home and you probably will act relieved. You thank them. If you are frustrated with someone and you had a bad day at work, this will be your breaking point. You blame them. It's never about that day at work. But, that day at work affects you.

4) When you find yourself getting scared or weird, just take a breath and do something. It can be just a physical thing. Work out the environment. A lot of times people are throwing darts at a board, saying "Okay this didn't work, lemme add this." That almost says that what you had wasn't enough. 90 percent of the time what you have is enough if you what it is.

Admittedly these are kind of elaboration on Peter's musings but I think they are amazing. I've been reacting toward people more and it's more honest and less thinky. The class shows go up in early January, come on out to check it out.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Making of a Team

I've done a LOT of classes. I've never really felt something close to getting a team together til recently.

In our Advanced Krompf Class with Amey Goerlich, she had chosen a group of likeminded improvisers to play with each other. She said most of us were robot-style with the occasional pirate.

I played with these 10 people for maybe 4 weeks and never EVER found myself more in love with improv. That is the best feeling in the world. I'm talking even in the audience being just entertained. The moves that were made were EXCEPTIONAL. I felt perhaps the most support I've ever felt ever.

These are experienced improvisers, but there comes a time where a team has to be formed.

I'm of the mindset that this is a RARITY. I've been in so many classes where things didn't gel, this is a moment of rarity. So, I took on the responsibility of getting things going.

I'm really hoping that this becomes just a loose team of 11 that just manage 3 or 4 at a time for shows and as time goes on we just get legendary.  I like to think, I know whats entertaining.

I hope, I can just get this party started!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Occasional Need for A Break

I remember the first time i heard about improv from a voiceover coach. He's an amazing VO coach and he said, everyone should try improv, BUT watch out, it's kind of like a cult and you'll get sucked in.  People have levels at different places and you talk about it all the time and you'll become one of them. (not a direct quote but you get the point)

Today, I went out to drink with a fellow improviser. He was kind of down on himself because he's been doing improv for so long, he thinks he should be better. The truth is, it's all relative. If you're not having fun, take a break.

I was lucky enough to figure that out before I started disliking improv. You are doing this for FUN!! If you aren't having fun, you shouldn't be doing it. There is too much money and time spent for so little direct payoff OTHER than fun.

I looked at my life after talking to him. It's not a matter if I'm better or not but he seems to think I'm at least on par, skill level with him, so there must be a difference.

Here's my situation. I don't have a job. I do non-union VO work throughout the week and it pays off my rent and my bills and my improv. I don't do a 9-5 job before improv, the whole day is just looking forward to it. Whether performing or in classes, my day works up to it. I also know that this is what I love. The moment it starts becoming not fun..... I take stock and ask myself a few questions.

1) Is it me? Are the stresses of the day getting to me.

2) Am I refusing to have fun?

3) Am I making up excuses NOT to go?

If at anytime I leave a class or rehearsal and  think things are bad, I ask these questions. If it's stress, then I need to take it easy. If for some reason, I'm refusing, I need to take a break from improv for a bit. That's a big one. If I'm blaming or being entitled, I need to take stock and take a break. Live life.

If I am making excuses not to go, then I need to figure out what about that class or team is making me do that. If it's a team thing, then you're probably not the right fit for the team. If you're constantly asking about dues and times and not excited to play, then it's not a good team for you. If it's a class, on the other hand, you're not enjoying improv. Or you picked a bad teacher, in that case, figure out what's important. Improv will always be here. ALWAYS.

Take a break and live life if you need to. But, HAVE FUN!!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magnet Vs PIT Vs UCB

I've been constantly asked this question by a lot of improvisers that I've met from the classes I take. First off, this may change in the future as I finish the programs but I think I have the gyst of what I think the differences are, but this is only my opinion but I think every school has its pro's and con's.

My current status is: Currently in Level 6 at Magnet, Taking 401 with UCB, and I'm in Pit Improv 401. For musical improv, I may do another one on those, that would be more in my musical improv blog.

Ask yourself these questions

How new am I?

If you are a seasoned improviser, UCB may be a great starter. I believe UCB is probably the hardest of all three of the schools because they are very specific about what they want. Game is key and you kind of need to be comfortable with improv to do it. I believe that as far as level 2, it is somewhat confusing for even experienced improvisers.

If you are new to improv, Magnet and PIT may be better fits. Magnet really focuses on the character portion or maybe the slower organic feel of improv. Everything you do is pretty much okay, this program will produce people who are comfortable on stage doing big characters. PIT is a very freeing and fun form of improv mostly based on relationships and knowing who you are to the scene. You will find more active players, aggressive yet fun. I find that though Magnet creates characters, some PIT may create comedic people. This is all conjecture ofcourse and my opinion.

What is your END GAME? This means what do you want out of it.

If you want fame, fortune, an SNL audition, or something to pad your resume as an actor, UCB is the path, but you will find the competition ridiculous. The good thing about that is that you will be taught by people who are great, on tv, famous even. UCB has a big payoff for the select few who rise to the top. Though there is no guarantee, and it may be equally as important to join the UCB sketch teams.

If you want to perform, then PIT is the winner for you. PIT has twice as many stages as Magnet, is open for longer periods of time. It also has a LOT of house teams, not to mention Keith Huang is probably the coolest guy and consistently offers people slots for shows. If you have an idea and you want to put it up, you could probably do it at PIT. They are probably the most supportive of their students. Though there is competition, it is far less than UCB and the talent is definitely there.

Magnet is kind of the wildcard here. I'd like to say if you want to learn improv for the sake of improv, I'd probably get beat on by all my friends in the other schools. I personally have found some amazing teachers and improvisers at the magnet. Unfortunately, it is kind of hard to get on stage at the Magnet, even as an indie team. I'd liken it to a person who wants to immerse yourself into improv, the Magnet Intensive are the most bang for the buck. It was impossible for me to pass up the 1-3 intensive.

What type of improviser are you?

If you're a character improviser, then Magnet is great for that. They encourage the use of characters, the feel of a scene, the feel of a physicality. That type of crazy character is loved at Magnet. Though that's not to say that it isn't at other places, let's just say that you may be more likely to find crazy stuff happening at the Magnet classes. Magnet is supportive in that way, in that you're not doing anything wrong.

If you're a comedian or a funny person in general, PIT may be for you. I've worked with lots of comedians and storytellers at the PIT. It seems that they thrive there. The storytelling shows, one person shows, stand up comedy shows, lends itself to funny people coming to the PIT. I like to think that the median improviser is funnier at the PIT, just because funnier people are there.

If you're a writer, sketch person, or old school improviser, UCB may be for you. It is very analytical and logical in the way it is taught. A writer would enjoy that, they realize the usefulness of improv in writing. Even when you watch class shows at UCB you may see people doing a lot of thinking. That's not hesitating, that's just thoughtfulness. Hopefully, by the upper levels, the thoughts come quicker and it's just fun. You may also find shows that are very talky but AMAZING. That's a great writer in there.

Competition for Teams?

House Teams: UCB= Ridiculously Competitive , I believe 500 for a few slots
Magnet: Competitive for different reasons. They only teach maybe 4 level 6's a year and there are less and less House team slots. So, if you get on a level 6, sometimes the pool is like 5 spots on teams. So, it's just harder by way of the system itself. Not as hard at UCB but harder than PIT.

PIT House Teams are competitive but there are LOTS of slots. They mix up teams, they add teams, subtract teams, add players, subtract players. Sometimes they have mixer ish teams (musical). Not to mention 10,000 hours which plays at the PIT has 3-4 teams that perform 2 times a month which is a type of house team. (I performed on a 10k team as well). There is no guarantee of getting on a PIT team, there is fierce competition but just by the numbers it is easier than Magnet and much easier than UCB.

Quality of Improv?

Who knows? I've got favorite teams. My favorite team now is Boss at the Magnet, but that is a slow type of improv that I don't see much of nowadays. The UCB form that's very gamy and writery can be the funniest thing I've ever seen. Asscats is classic in so many ways. They are awesome. PIT, you'll get old school teams like BBC or Baldwins. They get the job done and have an amazing time doing it.

They are all great improv schools. I would suggest going to see THE TEACHERS. They are your link to what you want to do. If you see a guy and say, I want to learn from that guy, go to that class. You're going to listen to someone more who you respect and enjoy.

That's it for today.
Improv love.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Amey Goerlich :Krompf Class do it!!!

I took Krompf class on recommendation from Dmitry Shein, perhaps the youngest and best improviser I know. I've done a lot of 2-prov training with him and I think he's gonna be one of the great improvisers. So, I take his recommendations pretty seriously.

Amey Goerlich, I never knew about, I had seen her perform with Chicagogo with some amazing improvisers and she killed it and more than held her own. So, when I took krompf, it was awesome that she was the teacher.

Here's what Krompf does that is awesome. I don't know what it'll do for you.

1) The Quality of Student: I think since this isn't affiliated with a school and that it's not level oriented, it gains a higher quality of improviser. The end game of these people are just to be better improvisers, not so much to be on a team. Though, most of them probably are. The quality of improviser is amazing. Some have improvised forever, rarely is there a person who hasn't graduated at least one school. So, for the most part you'll be working with the best.

2) Cheap!: The cost of the class is usually half the price of a regular class, sometimes less. She is an amazing teacher and worth the money.

3) Amey: She has a vested interest in getting you better at improviser. She has a system to figure out what your weaknesses and your strengths are and she'll tell you. She is a wonderfully constructive and honest person. She'll occasionally play with the class and she is a well known amazing improviser. She's worked with the best and she treats her students well. I would put her in my top 5 teachers EVER. Improviser teacher wise, she's on par with the best, if not the best.

4) Krompf: The form itself tests all your abilities. You have to be quicker with the initiations and the responses. The game should be known within 20 seconds, sometimes within the first three lines. If you wanna shortcut it, frontload the game in the initiation. You also learn how to really get into the game. Your third beat tag out ability will increase exponentially. Your mind will work much quicker and harolds will seem slow to you. Recognizing the game will become much easier. It's not about playing around. Krompf is about showing how you recognize game.

5) Fun!!: Krompf is pure fun if done well and it's not long enough to be terribly painful. I've taken krompf twice and am taking it again. You will do Krompfs based on Genres, Gay  Krompfs, Robot Krompfs, Pirate Krompfs, Caveman Krompfs. You'll do tag outs that last forever, games within games, juggling everything. Krompf is amazingly fun, it's the closing thing to shortform without being shortform.

I could go on and on but it's 3am and I must sleep. Message me if you want more info.

Monday, October 21, 2013

PIT 4 Class 1 with Pat Shay

I just finished up class 1 with Pat shay and it kind of blew my mind a little.

First off, he said something like, "Think about how you feel about the other person rather than relationship. If you think about relationship you're already outside of your mind"

Admittedly, it's kind of an initiation but imagine all the initiations that you can just react emotionally about. But here's the hitch i think, it's how you feel about the other person.

"Mom, I'm not coming out, I hate parties"
ANGER: "Unlock this door now, you're gonna go down to the party and HAVE A GOOD TIME AND LIKE IT!"

HAPPINESS: "That's great honey, you stick with your guns. My baby is finally getting a spine."

FEAR: "Just don't do anything drastic honey. You know me and dad are here for you every step of the way. Just keep talking to me."

SAD: "I did this wrong didn't I honey, I just keep disappointing you. I'm so sorry"

It's kind of cool that if you really feel some way about some person it comes through. There are too many scenes where people don't feel that way about anything. I've done it as well. Those are usually conceptual.

Another great note from class is that you can take whatever someone is saying as a Complement, Come On, Threat, or Insult.

"Mom, I'm not coming out, I hate parties"

COMP: "I did interior decorate your room and that is so awesome that you like it so much you don't want to leave. Thank you honey."

COME ON: "You want it to be just me and you, eh, I understand, momma will make it all better."

INSULT: "This party I put up ain't good enough for you. You ungrateful child"

THREAT: "Listen, they'll leave, let's just not get into one of your dark moods. We all know what happens there."

How do you feel about what was said? How do you feel about the other person? That's been something that has been said COUNTLESS TIMES and I think this is the first time I kind of got it. If it's complement, how do I feel, I like them. If it's a come on, how do I feel, I find them attractive or repulsive. Insult, how do I feel about them, I could like them and be shock, hate them and not be surprised. Threat, how do I feel about them, I fear them. Great first class.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Starting the Big Boys in all three Schools

This week is going to be a hugely interesting week.

1) I'm starting level 4 at the PIT with Pat Shay tomorrow (monday)
2) I'll know if I got into the Sunday Magnet level 6. (sunday) (fingers crossed)
3) I'm starting UCB 401 at UCB with Chelsea Clarke.

I think this is a true test of my ability to improvise. On the one hand, I will be with more advanced improvisers which means I'm going to learn and have a lot of fun with some great people. The next thing is I'm going to be working with aggressive people who may be coming from different intentions.

Let's admit it, If you've spent x amount at a school to do improv, there is going to be an endgame. In some ways, it could be getting on a house team, or getting seen by the right people. For me, it's kind of a house team issue but the only reason for that is because I want to play with better people. It's not about padding my resume.

I have found, in the past, that I deal with aggressive people differently. I succumb to them, I fight with them, I slow play them, or I just end up playing my game. These are all wrong. I need to realize that. I need to support the moves of people. Some people try to be funny, SUPPORT THAT. Love that, lift them up, make them better. Don't be defensive or hold on to the things you create. SLOW IT DOWN. LISTEN AND LEARN.

I find that I do great scenes with people who are wildcards or don't know very much of anything about improv. The more seasoned, sometimes I jive and trust them, sometimes I have no idea what's going on.

In essence, this is the next step of improv, figure out how to enjoy myself even moreso. MOST FUN WINS!!!

If I get into mag 6, I will be three months away from graduation from Magnet. CRAZY!! I will be three months away from auditioning for pit teams.

This has been a great ride and now is the time to see how I hold up.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Revelation about the Mix Em Up

Hey Everyone,

On the improv front, I'm still working my way through the schools maybe soon I'll be able to try out for teams. We shall see.

Anyways, at the PIT we all had a improv Mix Em Up with great team members. They ended up adding musical house teams to the mix. AWESOME!!!

I jumped on board and worked with the people I've never met.

Here's what I've figured out.

When I work with people I don't know, I tend to match them. This is not necessarily a good thing in my book, but because they are probably doing what works for them. My brain is pretty slow. Honestly, there were times where the speed of my mouth outran my brain and I couldn't believe what I was saying.

I analyzed why this was happening. Was I trying to impress? Was I trying to show off? I think deep down I was trying to keep up. I didn't think my brain would be good enough, so many people said so many things, it was hard to keep track. At that point, listening was hard, because I'm trying to figure out what to say.

Luckily, they were great players and I got a few great yes ands and a few good laughs. I had a great time. But, I play how I play. Improv is kind of a mirror into one self.

Annoyance teaches to take care of yourself. I would rather say, be aware of oneself. Know your feelings, why you are doing what you are doing? Is it out of fear? Is it just out of love?

For mixemups and jams, I find I just need to take a deep breath and have fun. Don't worry. Just enjoy yourself.

You can tell when someone judges another improviser's choices on stage. DON'T BE THAT PERSON! Go with it. It is still playing. SO PLAY!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

NYC, Krompf and BACK to Normal

Hi guys,

I'm finally back in NYC and improv is at my fingertips. I've been back a month and here's my schedule. PIT level 3, Magnet Level 5, UCB 301, and Krompf. They are all amazing teacher by far, if you need me to go into detail, I would be happy to, my teachers are Kevin Cragg, Amey Goerlich, Chelsea Clarke, and Peter McNerney. Message me and I'll tell you, but suffice to say, they are each amazing. NO COMPLAINTS.

I've also joined another group called "Street Bag", I only knew Frank Carson and Lucas Whitehead through a level 2 UCB intensive so when I saw them again they sent me a message saying they needed someone to jump in on rehearsals to kind of make it cheaper. I'm always game for rehearsals. So, I did a rehearsal with them and the next time we did a show, they asked me to join up. Awesome.

I'm still doing Maybe Monogamous, a PIT indie team, and the group is finally able to get back together. Adorable! is still running strong with almost all of us here. I was able to rejoin them and it's been amazing.

Fun little notation of differences between UCB, PIT and Magnet.

UCB, the initiation is pretty huge. You kind of really form that idea beforehand. The caveat is that it can get jokey and the more you are trying to be funny, the more it can fall flat. However, you are gifting the scene with a fully formed idea. I find when I play with UCB teams, the best of times is really well done initiations and the worst of times is no initiations and people not forming initiations and it kind of stalls and has to be found.

PIT, the interaction is key. How you react to the initiation is sometimes more important the initiation itself. Being emotional and getting into the relationship. Knowing that it's about the people is key. The caveat to that is that you will find scenes come out of nothing because the initiation isn't as strong, the game takes longer to find because it has some leeway for an organic approach. Finding the fun is as important as finding the game. (in my opinion) Scenes may have larger characters that may be less grounded but they are emotionally invested. You may find more abstract scenes or plotty scenes but there is definitely a base of positive energy.

Magnet is probably more about the unfolding of a scene. The game and relationship are still equally important, but scenes can come from an organic place. Coming out with nothing isn't really possible with  Magnet because they teach that that itself is an initiation to be honored. "I've got nothing" may give off a dumb or cool or layed back feel and if you hold onto that, you have a character and that honors the scene itself. Game isn't as important, maybe physicality, being okay with making bold choices. The caveat is that some scenes may take longer and not be as funny. Magnet is okay with that.

A final note. Krompf by Amey Goerlich is a class taught at Cap21 for dirt cheap and it is basically a form of longform improv. It's faster, it's about finding the game or finding the fun quickly.  In short, it makes you a faster decision maker. I find Amey to be a genius of improv, she really fine tunes what makes you you. What the strengths and weaknesses you have as an improviser. I feel much better about improv after every class. When you take that class, you will be with some seasoned improvisers, some are graduates from multiple schools or on teams. It's a crazy thing, since it's relatively inexpensive and taught by such a great teacher, it's hard to pass up. I'd say do this class if you can!!!!!

Take care all,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Coming back to NYC

I'll be 100 percent honest, I haven't done any improv at all since I left NYC. I tried to maneuvre into a musical improv class, the class didn't even get enough enrollment and it was dirt cheap. I tried to figure out what short form is available NADA!!!

So, i just delved into saving money and preparing myself for NYC and gettin ready.

I am happy to state that I will be back in NYC on July 6th. A lovely friend of mine is leaving and I was able to take over her place for a month and a half and I'll figure out a place after that. I've also streamlined my life bit by bit. I bought a smaller ACER  computer that will travel much better. I'm contemplating getting a small portable monitor as well. Ahh well, enough of that.

The one thing that I did do that was improv, was that I went down to LA and saw my good friend Jim Nieb, he teaches improv down there and I saw his class do longform improv. It was pretty great I enjoyed it. But, I found myself trying to get Jim to improv with me for shits and giggles hours after that.

I may not do any blogs til I get back to NYC, because whoever reads this is going to want to know about improv and I literally have nothing.  All I know is that I miss it. That's all I know. Everything I do here in CA is an attempt to get me back there.

I've never felt this way about anything or anyone.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back in CA

Well, I'm sure if anyone read the last post, they know i was making the move. Ugh it sux but I'm back here in CA recouping cash and being away from improv.

For my first CA post, I just want to say how much love a person can find through improv. You form connections with your team members that are so rooted that you can find real human love and care there. My teams both Decent Proposal and Adorable both did some amazing things for me and they didn't have to.

I think improv is different than theatre in that it isn't directly finite and you really are relying solely on the support of your fellow cast members. In a musical, you could be amazing and everyone else could not be and you can make do. In improv, you really want everything elevated. The team is the true team.

Anyways, here I am in CA just itching to get back on stage. I found a musical improv intensive with Unscripted theatre. I was kind of stoked. It's like 24 more hours of classes for less time. They also are very small classes so in a way I'm thinking AMAZING, more one on one. The other things is SF? 360 bucks? eck!!! But, there is a chance it won't go through due to enrollments.

We shall see. Half of me wants it, the other half doesn't.

To end off, I met with my friend Dasha today and we talked about happinness and goals and life in general. She asked, "Have you ever really been happy?"

I said, "In New York, I was..... Sure I wanted to perform more and with the best people, but I was very happy. "

I'll be back. Soon!!!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moving Back Home for a Bit

Not getting onto Musical Megawatt is interesting. It kind of forces me into a corner. I can either

A) Stay at magnet, do more big sibbing, more classes and hope to improve in the eyes of the people who make the choices.

B) Go home and recoup money and maybe take classes in a different city.

To stay at magnet, or even roll to PIT or UCB is still to stay at Magnet. New York City is small and I'd just be tangentially trying to get better. A lot of friends say, "It's all politics." 

The problem with that is that it's meaningless. What can I assume from not getting into a Musical team?

14 people are better than me at Musical Improv. That's a fact because they got picked not me. It could be because of the team mind, could be because of politics, whatever. It's a fact in the eyes of Magnet. So, staying at Magnet trying to prove myself to people who already have me at a disadvantage is not going to work. Retaking all musical classes may not make me any better. Something is missing. I can't blame it all on the callback either. People were more familiar with me than others, so if I could get back that night, I'd give it another go, but it's not that.

The fact is, I'm in NYC for two reasons, Musical Improv and Voice Over. I've been unable to pull great jobs through VO, and I've been unable to pull real house teams on Magnet or PIT. If I go back home, I'm able to live rent free and help my parents out a bit. I also will be making money to put to classes at maybe UCB in LA, Annoyance in Chicago, other places. Maybe through them, I'll reach a new level. Have I peaked at Magnet, as far as musical improv goes, I don't know if they have much more to teach me. So, I didn't pick up everything. Need to round my education.

The fact is, I'm not going to fight this. Wander around showing everyone that I didn't want it as much as I did. I did want it. Plain and simple. You don't always get what you want, but to stay around and fight people's opinions of you is stupid. Give em a break, don't walk around like this desperate little puppy praying for table scraps. Or worse, don't go around being a bad sport.

I'm an honest guy. I may have been overconfident. Maybe I am overconfident. Just gotta get over yourself and move forward. Luckily, I know very few if any people read this blog, so in essence this is a diary of my improvisational life. I hope in 10 years, I'll be one of the best at this. And this blog may show that this was a turning point in my life.

Right now, I'm hurt. I want to know why, but how can I expect anyone whom I consider a mentor or friend to be honest. I don't want the politics/whatever. I'll find my own way.

One of my good friends Giana texted me and kind of implied that I was running home with my tail between my legs.

I want to get better at musical improv and as of a month from now, I will have taken ALL classes in NYC on musical improv. Do I retake these classes? No ofcourse not. You don't do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Humility is here. But, I'm too old to waste time wandering NYC aimlessly waiting for the next audition. I'll be back for the next audition maybe the one after that. All in due time.

Everyone has a different path. Mine just moved. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rough Couple of Days

I'm gonna cut to the chase here. I got offered Magnet Circuit Team as a opposed to Magnet Musical Team, which to me is a loss. I was  shooting to be able to perform on the stage where I've been going to shows for the better part of the year and now I'm not. Anywho, you're probably thinking howd this happen. Here's the rundown of the weekends events.

1) Saturday Auditions: We did some improv scenes, I felt great about them, I could have been more aggressive but I literally felt great. Next up a spot song, the suggestion was cowboys and indians, I did a song about a child who wanted people to play with. I got a lot of great reponses, I did a little dance, enjoyed myself. I felt great about. Probably the best thing I did. Then we did an opening number.

After that I killed time, I had a class with the PIT but magnet auditions were on my mind all day, I was distracted. I went to the love bar to just kind of kill time at Doug Widdick's spot song hosted by Kathleen Armenti. I had a great time there, if you ever get a chance to do a spot song (solo improv song) go to the love bar on the occasional Saturday and try it out. It is amazing.

Low and behold I get an email saying, You're called back. I'm just happy as hell. I go home with a smile on my face. I even plan on doing 3 hours of improv with abbie before the auditions as a warmup.

2) Sunday pre-callbacks: I do a great class with TJ for Musical Improv 2. We work on life force songs where a character finally puts their foot down and says no. That propels the character into a song. It was great and though it was kind of chaotic it was great stuff. Had a good time. I'll probably go into more detail later.

I then did an amazing bunch of sets with Abbie. a bunch of 15 minute sets then a 40 minute set that was just crazy and amazing.

3) The Callback. We did a narrative. I didn't feel good about it. I know what I did wrong.

a) Was Antagonist, but wasn't villainy enough.
b) Wasn't making strong enough choices

I was in my head. I didn't help the narrative at all. Maybe that's what killed me. But, since it's 730am and I've been ranting to myself, might as well unleash a little.

I thought there was nothing very spectacular about the set as well. It was kind of a tongue in cheek, we're trying to be funny thing. I don't like that, I believe that if we ground the characters in realism the fun will come about. But, I have to yes and it, my only shot was a bad villain. I tried to kill one out of the two protagonists to force a doubt song, but then it just turned into a chase where nobody wanted to die. I recognize that it was a callback, but that was weird to me. I love dying, I want people to kill me. It could be a game. I don't know.

Here we are two days later. I get a message saying Grats, You're on a Circuit Team. There are 2 teams being formed, circuit is not one of them. I know a lot of people on that circuit team and their great people but it's literally my level 3 class. Honestly, I've already performed with them, I was hoping for something else.

The fact is, there's is something missing. I did all the classes that were available. Poured my heart out, showed respect for the forms and I still didn't get in. It's me. There's nothing else. I respect Micheal Lutton and Micheal Martin's opinon, I am not good enough to get in. Politics or team dynamic aside. That's it.

My problem is that I thought I was in. That in itself is a problem. So, not long after that email, I decided to move back to CA and get my nest egg back in order. It's one of those few times where everything kind of comes together. I cleared my schedule for the possibility of a Mag team. Now, that's gone, I have a lot of free time. I find myself waiting for Monday and Thursday and hoping that I have shows.  SOOOOOO, I'm off. April 10th. Bye NYC. I'll be back.

When I come back, I'm finishing the PIT program, finishing the Magnet Improv Program and maybe the UCB as well. Just need the money to fund it. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tomorrow Auditions

It's almost 2am in the morning and tomorrow I have Magnet Musical Megawatt Auditions at 1:45pm. This has been the culmination of a lot of time and work. There's quite a bit of stake here.

Am I nervous? A little bit. Though I feel weird, because in a way, I feel like I've proven myself in class. I know what I offer and if they don't want it, they won't take me. I honestly feel I have a great chance.

I'm a dedicated hard worker, I wear the Magnet like a badge of honor when it comes to Musical Improv, and I've done a lot of practices and classes with the two people that will have a say in whether or not I get on a team. Micheal Martin and Louis Kornfeld.

I really want to be on a team. I remember the first time I saw Musical improv or even improv in general, OR EVEN an NYC show.

Oddly enough, I'm not nervous, I have to think of this as a mixer. Just go out there have a good time and hope for the best.

I feel like I've kind of been in a slump these last few shows and what not. For the Adorable show, I didn't make moves. I could blame myself all I want, but I honestly felt that staying on stage for those moments would have added more questions. We have this tendency for 3 people to come on stage at once, everyone with an idea and then slowly you navigate it. I think we need to fix that. There is no problem with aggression but I'm curious, I'll bring it up in the next few classes. I'm curious what is the best in that situation.

Anywho, I kind of keeled over like a puppy then. Do I go harder? There is something odd about fighting. I don't know.

In another practice, I just didn't bring the sauce. I didn't feel as free and fun. Gotta fix that.

Tonight, I did a show with Decent Proposal. Now we are a very loving team, we jump on each others idea's and we have a good time. This time it was kind of that amazing mix of AWESOME, there has never been a fight for anything with Decent. We had a pretty great show, I wish I could put it up but it's not the greatest video, I forgot to zoom out. Eck!

I'm gonna write some rules for me to go by tomorrow.

1) Have fun!!!
2) Have an idea, but don't hold on to it!!
3) Dance it up, Sing it up, do something that shows every part of you is enjoying it.
4) Improv, you know how to just do it.
5) Love the song itself.
6) Know that you have been working very hard and trust yourself to make the good moves needed.

HAVE FUN!! HAVE FUN!!! You will be playing with some amazing people who all know about structure and enjoy themselves. They are all in the same boat. There's gonna be a lot of love in the room.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Me and Abbie Back at 2 Prov

I remember posting about Abbie Harper being my 2prov soulmate or something along those lines. Today, we finally got to play but here was the catch NO COACH!

I was a little scared. Wouldn't it be weird. Admittedly, we've been trying to schedule something but it never worked out. So, I maneuvered my way to her place to get two hours of play in.

What happened was pretty cool. First off, I should say that we would LOVE to have a coach like Louis Kornfeld, but he is a jedi and wanted by everyone and he is SOOOO busy. Plus, Abbie's awesome and I want to play with great people.

I get there we trade off little warmups no biggie then we do scenes. The first initial one was crazy town and it just got crazier. I kind of think we had to get that one out of the way.

We had one hour left, so we did 2 thirty minute scenes. It was in kind of a slacker form, at least the first one was.

Mother is making eggs. Father is disappointed because he's going to be late and everything is about scheduling. They passive aggressively lash out at each other, Mother decides to leave the Father but first she's going to pick up the kids at the pool.

Mother picks up kids. I believe it was James and Patty. James is just like his father, wants to be on time and logical. Patty is just like her mother does what she wants, as a matter of fact she had Dairy Queen instead of swim lessons. Mother and James have a similar fight to the Father and Mother fight earlier so she decides to drop James at the house (father is off at work) and he doesn't have a key. Mother leaves with Patty to Dairy Queen. James tries to break into his own house.

Bernie Leiberman, the neighbor, notices James trying to break into his own house so he invites him into his home to have a sandwich while he waits for his dad. James implies that Bernie and Mother may have had an affair, Bernie admits that he is gay and has a rainbow flag and flowers all around and would never do that. James is taken aback by this and decides to go home out of the blue.

Bernie is now playing go fish with his boyfriend an effeminate unhappy man. Bernie being the Jewish flagrantly gay is astounded by the homophobia while Chauncey (unsure of name) reveals that he hasn't come out to his family yet and that he hates the fact that he'll never have a baby and isn't happy.It is revealed that he had a fake wedding as well.

Father knocks on the door asking about the interaction with his child. Father asks for the china set back from the fake wedding that Chauncey had for his family.  Bernie gives it to him and reveals that he used to like him but now that he found that he is homophobic he doesn't like him anymore. Meanwhile, chauncey cries in the back. Father leaves with china, giving up on Chauncey, Bernie goes to Dairy Queen. We find out that Chauncey already went to Dairy queen that day.

At the Dairy Queen, Bernie runs into Mother, Mother flirts with Bernie in front of Patty and asks to her to sit in a booth. Bernie reveals that he is gay. Mother is furious and still in denial that he is gay and just assumes that he doesn't like her and just using this gay thing to get around it. Mother flirts harder. TIMES UP!!!

As weird as that show was it was pretty straight forward. And I loved every minute of it. The next story was amazing as well.

Hatfield Mccoy is selling a twobarrel shotgun to Ranger(a ranger (not sure of name)), he requests 32k in savings bonds coming out to like $125. Ranger needs the gun to shoot McCullen his dog who got caught in a bear trap and now has a gangreen stump. We meet McCullen begging for death. Hatfield offers Ranger the ability to shoot the dog in his backyard, he'll dig the hole and he could take him out there.

Hatfield digs as Ranger drags mccullen to the grave. As Ranger is about to shoot, McCullen dies. Ranger is happy he didn't have to shoot. McCullen revives, Ranger get's ready to shoot, then McCullen Dies. McCullen revives and Ranger pulls the trigger.

In McCullen's absence, Ranger wants to get a twig from his favorite tree and bring it to the grave to pay homage. Ranger is sad he just lost one of his only friends. Ranger and Hatfield drive to go to his favorite tree, Martin. We find that the tree is full of termites and rotting and listing to the side. Clearly dying. Hatfield brought a battery powered buzz saw, no refunds, which costs $120k in savings bonds. Ranger is about to lose his friend Martin. Ranger also has a  backseat full of Savings bonds of which he is paid with at Yosemite.

Ranger calls Hatfield a sly dog for his salesmanship. Ranger is about to cut and Martin straightens. Then sags. Ranger is about to cut, it straightens then sags. Ranger is about to cut and a bear comes out of the woods and pulls the tree on top of itself and is now dying.

This is Yogi, one of the only friends of the ranger. Yogi's child is also nearby watching his father being crushed by a tree.

Hatfield tries to sell Ranger a bear gun, and Ranger says why cant I just use my 2 barrel. To which Hatfield thinks "Got me", to which Ranger says, "You sly dog of a salesman".

Ranger unloads on the bear but doesn't kill it. Hatfield decides to give Ranger the bear gun for free, but the bullets will cost 12k in savings bonds, to which Ranger says,"You sly son of a bitch".

At this point, Yogi is now starting to eat his young in his pain and rage. Ranger gives the final blow. TIMES UP!

I felt like we were juggling three-four games and really having such a good time. SOmething about playing with Abbie, we laugh so much and crack all the time. That's what I think improv is all about, making yourself laugh. Finding something out of nothing. In amazement, we did it and I can't wait to perform in front of an audience with this girl!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maybe Monogamous Rehearsal Inspiration

Hey All,

I'm on team called Maybe Monogamous with Amy Cohen, Kelly Rockwell, Bernard Maynore, and Julie Feltman. Tonight I had rehearsal and we were a 3-prov practice with Patrick Cucata as our coach.

I had never three-provd with Julie and Bernard before and I thought it would be fun.

If I could describe Bernard, it would be a wild card genius. He constantly gifts scenes with weird idea's and fun amazing mistakes. He also is a person who yes and's himself. If you call him out as a mistake being truthful, he will repeat you word for word as if to reiterate to himself this is the reality. It is probably the most entertaining thing to see. He is on a PIT team and he shines. Love him.

Julie Feltman is a bold firecracker. She makes moves that are both character and emotional. She sets premises and clearly knows what she is doing. She also has the most balls when it comes to a performer. She puts herself out there, isn't afraid of anything. She is on a musical pit team where she uses characters to just enhance every scene she is in. She's a jewel.

I think the main thing about these two when combined with me, is that we don't crack jokes we go on the ride. And improv for us has a tendency to go crazy if not surreal.

Tonight, admittedly, I was a little loose. I had 2 shots of whiskey at the pit maybe an hour or two before rehearsal.

Patrick had us do an interesting exercise. Follow the Leaver, where a person walks on and as they walk off the scene goes with them. I'm literally doing this step by step because I had the most fun I've had in improv in a while and I want to remember it but also analyze the steps.

1)Bernard initiates as Perseus and I am Zeus. He wants me to stop having sex with his wife, Telethon. It becomes apparent that every Tuesday Perseus comes to Zeus to complain. All during the conversation, Zeus shoots lightning at the Hannibal Cannibals who eat people. Zeus confesses that he is lonely and only has sex with Telethon to get these Tuesday conversation. Zeus agrees to stop having sex with Telethon as long as he comes to chat on Tuesday.


Telethon complains that Zeus has taken sex off his calendar. She explains that she has a schedule to keep and on Mondays she gets a manicure, has sex with Zeus, then does errands. Perseus is angry. Zeus shoots the Hannibal Cannibals.

2) Telethon is talking to her Manicurist about how she hates that she won't have sex with Zeus anymore. She explains Zeus is a God and shoots lightning bolts into her vagina. Her vagina is cavernous comfortable and well renovated.


A Cannibal yells from inside Telethon's cavernous vagina, talking about how amazing the place is, well renovated and comfortable. Manicurist decides to jump in and take a look.

3) Inside Telethon, there is a spa where if you push a button the inside warms up and bubbles. This excites Telethon. The Manicurist is amazed by the cavernous vagina and communicates that to Telethon as well. We find that the walls of Telethon are like the Willy Wonka walls and if you lick the walls you can takes schnozberry's. Manicurist proceeds to test it and it works.


4) Unbeknown to Telethon, the act of folding into herself has brought to to the Inbetween where she meets the inbetweeners of time and space. She now has become an inbetweener.


Oddly enough this excercise in itself  renders itself to kind of a narrative, you are time shifting and following similar characters. Other than being TOTALLY INSANE, it was fun because we are literally following the scenes. It seems like a movie to me. The film would have been a surreal adventure. We do another one.

Patrick asks us to use an item in the scene and as the item moves from place to place we follow that item.

1) I initiate as an old blind man who turns back a clock after it rings and sits down and works on another item. Son enters and talks to the old man. We learn that the father disowned the son because he was in love with a Native American. The son ran away with her. He came back to reveal that he has a son. The old man expresses regret and says that every day since the boy left he has turned back the clock for a few minutes and worked on an invention to be able and go back in time and fix all the mistakes that have caused regret. In a fit of rage, the Old blind man pushes the ringing clock out of the window.

2) A child looks at a clock that just fallen. Her father is in a treehouse trying to get away from the R indians much worse than the S indians. The child wants to go up into the safety of the treehouse as we hear the R indians incoming. Arrows fly but don't hit the child or father they scurry up the tree and go silent. Meanwhile a young R indian walks below the tree and steals the clock.

3) The R india brings the clock back to the tribe. They find that this is a great gift and we learn that it would be great to give to the blind old man as a gift and finally reveal the son to the old man. They use the clock to teleport to the shop.

4) The old man sits and Son introduces the grandson, he touches the face of the grandson in happinness and the grandson scalps the old man.

Once again, crazy town usa, but there was almost a children's story theme or tale to it. It felt like loss, connection, danger, family, regret, almost a Dickens novel. It was hilarious and funny as anything. The next two sets ended up being crazier than these, though these were narrative themes, the next ones were more theme based and those themes were horrible.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Cost of Improv: Interesting Stuff

There has a been a weird dispute going around about UCB and stand up comedians and who gets money and whatever.

Personally, maybe it's just how old I am, but I never expect to make any money whatsoever through improv. It's kind of a different dream than the one I had with voiceover or musical theatre.

With musical theatre, I always wanted to get to the point where I could survive on theatre alone, and for a year or two I did that, and it was amazing. As a matter of fact, I survived off the unemployment for an extra year. But, deep down I wasn't that happy. The 300th show came around and it was just a job, it was amazing but it was just a job.

With voiceover, I have the dream of making enough money to survive. Right now it has morphed into, enough money to survive and do improv. At the moment, I'm the happiest I've ever been. It's weird though, I don't feel like I'm excelling at voiceover because I'm dedicating so much time and money to improv. Though one has stalled, the other is moving forward.

So, it comes down to the cost of improv. I thought about it today after a 2prov session with Dmitry Shein and Louis Kornfeld. How much is this costing me? I love it, but how much is it costing me.

Take note.

1) Decent Proposal 10k team: 3 rehearsals a month $36 bucks a month
2) Adorable PIT Musical Team : 4 rehearsals a month $65 bucks a month
3) Maybe Monogamous 4 rehearsals a month $80 a month
4) Jam Academy 2-3 Rehearsals a month $60 a month
5) 2prov with Dmitry 4 rehearsals a month $80

Total= $320 (I've been unable to do my 2prov with Abbie due to schedule but that would bring it to 400 easily)

Classes I need to take:
PIT 3-5= $1050
Magnet 5-6= $700
UCB 3-4 and Adv = $1050


With the incoming Musical Improv Teams auditions, should I get it it'll be another $60-80 a month and I may have to lose a team somewhere.

Looking at this, I don't know how I do it, but I do know WHY I do it. Because I love it, I have never laughed harder than playing with people. I've never felt so proud of myself after I've done a good scene. Can I survive it, I hope so.Oddly enough, here is what I've already invested as far as money goes.

Magnet Intenstive + Magnet Lev 4= $750
Magnet Musical 1-3= $1050
Pit Musical 1-3 = $1050
UCB 201 = $450
PIT 1-2 = $700

Thats approx $4k in classes not including workshops.  For some reason I made it work, I'm amazed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

UCB 101

I took my first UCB 101 class a few days ago and here we are jumping into the end of our first week.

For some reason, I thought it would be less remedial but it is a level 1 so it makes perfect sense.

I think I made the right choice in taking on Magnet and Pit before UCB. First off, the class is full and there is this heir of "you have to be here or else". It's very strict which works for the best.

A majority of the class is either actor or standup comedian.

I find myself watching and learning a lot. Especially with comedians, transaction scenes are very popular. It'll usually have a built in gag. With the actors, you're likely to get a yes"but" or an argument. I'm guessing it's due to the basic acting skill that you have to try and get something from someone. The reason I think it doesn't work is because a good improviser will probably give you what you want.

I remember one guy saying, "I don't know man I just don't think people are going to buy pocket sized babies"

I just agreed, " You're telling me. I've been the only customer in buying pocket sized baby because I believe so much in your ideas."

I think it literally threw the guy for a loop. Which is fun in it's own right.

I also find myself automatically trying to know the other person EVEN if they are initiating clear strangers.

There's also a lot of listening issues. But, that's totally to be expected. But, I've learned a lot from it.

I find myself getting better at justifying.

I started a scene here.
"Hello, I didn't think you'd be here, Botswana?"

(third person)
"Is this the girl you met in Botswana"

"It's her first name. (at this point I think I'm no-ing her so I backtrack justify) I also happened to meet her in Botswana"

"I remember seeing messages on your phone from a Botswana Sally"

(justify troubleshoot)
"Yes, her first name is Botswana her last name is Sally. We met in Botswana but I assure you we had no carnal knowledge of one another"

"I saw one of the messages saying that  you had carnal knowledge of her"

(at this point I have to shot in the dark justify, but it may be a little sharp in the defense department)

"I left my phone out as a test, you failed"

There was also a group game where everyone had to brainstorm and come up with stuff. In this inventy atmosphere, I feel that actors and comedians thrive. They throw out, if it works it doesn't just keep going on enthusiasm. I literally didn't say a thing, I would occasionally get the look for a millisecond of "And what do you think?" but it never came out it words people just talked over each other.

I know I sound defensive but this is making me better. It's not as challenging but it is making me better.

I also got to practice with Maybe Monogamous, one of my most favorite teams. We did a monoscene which was amazing and a couple Deconstructions that confirmed why I love improv so much. You just have so much fun!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The final puzzle UCB

The only improv program I am close to completing is Magnet. A big part of that is the 1-3 intensive. The thing about Magnet is that their intensive's are cheaper. It was a ridiculous per hour deal to work with Andrews, Kornfeld, and Armando Diaz. So, that's why I'm in Level 5 come February.

PIT, I'm only level 2. I kind of wanted to do the summer intensive with the pit that get's you through 4 levels maybe 5. But, it was twice as much money and I had already taken a pit class. Not to mention, it was a lot less improv practice time. I find that you can't do a whole program intensive. The teachers have to get to know you, watch you grow. If you just got there for 2 months and now you're done, they don't know you, why would they put you on a team, they have no idea who you are. So, PIT intensive was out of the picture for multiple reasons.

So, Magnet, I have 2 classes left. Pit I have 3 classes left and I haven't even started UCB.

I actually ended up getting 1 diversity unit for UCB last year and I've been trying to get it done. After a string of emails I finally got the class. UCB 101, intensive 4 days a week 3 hours a day. 2 weeks. Awesome.

In a fit of inspiration, I saw that 201 was doing an intensive the week after, and I thought FUCK YEA, lets do that. Get it done. This would put me in the same situation at PIT. I think doing full classes from level 3 forwards may get teachers to know me enough to have a chance at teams.

Here I am first day of UCB class. I was expecting it to be much of what I've learned. It was kind of easy, nothing really new. I'm glad it's intensive. However, I did notice a few interesting things. After doing a No, No but, and Yes and exercise we did scenes.

After grinding the Yes and concept, I watched a LOT of people go into Yes BUT or find weird ways to say no to the other person. There were also transaction scenes, one in which I was in, which I found it really hard to yes and. First off we were strangers and I was buying stuff. I found one partner to do a true YES and scene but it didn't go very far. We found ourselves adding specifics about our surrounding and specifics about our past without really going into our relationship.

I have a bit to learn about how to yes and a relationship. Lets say a guy says, "I'm leaving you, I want a divorce".  How do you yes and that. I suppose you could say, "Yes and I'm glad you're leaving, I can finally get on with my life"

It's seems kind of weird. Perhaps, it's just an exercise to accept what is happening. I could be about acknowledgement as opposed to saying NO directly.

Interesting. Anyway, I'm hoping this immersion into UCB will really help the rest of my improv. I know to have fun, I have characters, and relationships, to add game on top of that would just be a great tool to have.

We shall see.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inspired to Get Started

This weekend was the PIT improv auditions. A lot of my team mates on Decent Proposal and Adorable ended up getting on teams. As a matter of fact, a majority of the people I knew who have gone through the program at least got called back.

This kind of bummed me out. I'd love to be able to audition for PIT teams but I am way behind in my classes. I just finished level two.

Here's a little note that hit me hard this week. Put me on edge for about two shows. I did the PIT level 2 show. Before the show, a classmate said I was the "King of Walk Ons". First off, as much as I like being the KING of anything, this doesn't rub me the right way.

I hate meaningless walk ons. I've always been the guy who doesn't stay on. Or at least TRIES not to. I've seen people watch the relationship start then just jump in and just plant there. I hate that. Unfortunately, the phrase KING of walk ons probably means I do that. So, I gotta put myself in check.

Walk ons are kind of a mixed bag with me. The foundation is FUN, I'm waiting to pounce like a cat on the fun stuff. If it's people in a restaurant and they are standing I offer a chair, if people are looking at cars I should at least welcome them as a salesman. I always try to leave. Sometimes I try to justify why things are the way they are. I think it usually has a good outcome a majority of the time.

I have gotten the note from my Level 2 teacher that "Does it really need it? It was funny, but did it really need that?"

I think it comes down to dynamic. With my Level 2, the improvisers are not as experienced so I feel the need to make it active, make stage pictures, be objects. Maybe just so I can have fun, but maybe to get kind of a group mind going so we can all jump on board. I also, jump in Alvarez a lot to maybe make an energy.

With decent proposal or maybe monogamous, I'm less hectic. I pick and choose my walk-ons wisely. I maybe focus on a good edit point or just try and think of second beats. I don't know why, maybe I'm a scene hog in some places. But, honestly, I'm having fun. Some times I go off the mark and shoot and fail, but I never limp in. If I put something out there that is weird or crazy, it's wholehearted and I love it. So, the failure is a lot of times fun and I'll smile thinking, "Fucked that one up but that was funny".

I did a workshop with Jon Bander. An amazing musical and regular improviser at Magnet and Pit. It was a relief to work on structure in musical improv and get the simplicity out of songs.

Here's some great notes from the class:
1) Make up a chorus in a your mind and open the scene working toward that. Try to inspire the accompanist to play something. If you think that you want to sing a reggae song entitled, "I got love", then come out with that feeling, that look and just play that feeling. You can take on any initiation, any physical thing and you're moving in the right direction. There is no stagnant confusion.

2) There was an exercise where we were given a tribute musical and artist and we had to go off of that alone. It was basically a spot song but it was so easy. I had a Tupac musical. All I could think about is the sadness of tupac dying and the need for revenge. After a sentence or two, I thought "Pop pop he's going down" It felt great. I hit that chorus hard.

In conclusion, the combination of all these things inspired me. I've gotta get the classes going. PIT isn't offering a 3 yet so I signed up for the UCB intensive 201 which will be the week after 101. I'll be done with 2 UCB classes in 4 weeks. Here we GO!!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

To Sketch or Not To Sketch

I recently got onto a sketch team. It was kind of an out of the blue thing with a classmate at the PIT. I had no expectations and told him I had never done sketch before.

We had a three hour rehearsal where we just kind of brainstormed ideas and stuff. Read scripts and just talked about what we were going to do at the shows and what the plan was. We did a tiny improv thing that kind of didn't gel but I think it was because people weren't in the mood to improv.

After the three hour rehearsal, I basically thought on the ride home how to phrase a message to the great guy who asked me on the sketch team to no longer be on the sketch team.

Here's the one thing I don't like about improv whenever I watch it. Whenever someone is obviously trying to be funny. That just kills me. A person making a kind of side joke or winking at the audience is just revolting to me, and I use that word sparingly.

So to brainstorm what would be funny or wouldn't kind of rubs me the wrong way. Alot of the improv I do happens to be funny, but it's not trying to be funny. Sometimes I toss a jokish thing out there and then the process itself makes me wanna vomit in my mouth.

I would not call myself funny. Put me on a mic and I'm not funny.

It's weird because with Sketch, it feels nothing like improv. I feel like an actor working on no-budget films and projects. That in itself brings up bad memories. I went to college for Film with a minor in theatres. So, I've done a  lot of no-budget stuff.

Here's the one commonality  (noted this is a crass generalization because I'm not on multiple sketch teams) between what I know of sketch vs what I know of student films. Lot of wasting time.

As an improv person, my time is limited to improv doing and improv watching. I can barely schedule rehearsals. The concept of 2 three hour rehearsals in two days blows my mind. Which was what the sketch team was going to do. I remember films taking 12 hours and never getting to my scene. Getting to rehearsal on time only to find that it was cancelled or that I wasn't needed.

I think the major problem I saw, and this is selfish of me, was that idea's and stuff was already out there. Sketches were cast. The sketch team had 12 people. 12 ideas meshing into each other just seems overboard. Kids in the Hall, UCB, Mr. Show, Monty Python, kind of had half that. I'm guessing because of scheduling and not making it chaotic.

In other words, I may never do sketch again. I'm a doer. If I have a massive idea that's amazing, then I film it. Get some friends and do it in a day. Done. I hate to say it but I may never do sketch.

Starting the New Year off slowly

Hey everyone,

I've been off the grid LITERALLY, the last few weeks. I've made the move from Inwood, to a friends couch in Washington Heights the back to Astoria. The whole mess took about a week and a half and I was sick for a majority of it.

I was even sick for my 3rd deconstruction show which KILLED ME. I remember that day clearly, I had a meeting with a new Sketch team that wanted me to join them, the off to deconstruction's show, then off to a Magnet Circuit Show. Three show night!! But, at like 4pm, I just was shivering in a bed saying, "Not going anywhere tonight".

I usually pride myself in being able to perform under all circumstances. But, in all honesty, this is different than a musical. There's no understudy needed. So, I felt bad but I didn't go.

The next week, which was last week, I got started again.

I got back into rehearsal with Decent Proposal, a 10k team I joined mid-summer last year. The first team I ever joined actually. Finally, after all the scheduling issues I can play with them again. Though most of us are sick we make do.

Here's what I love about Decent Proposal:
1) Everyone is smart and funny.
2) Nothing ever seems forced. People are literally just reacting not trying to get any laughs.
3) It's never hectic.

It's a good dynamic because we have fun, it's not stressful, but sometimes we get lost. We had our first show in January. We actually had a 3rd beat kiss run. Leila made a bold move and kissed Christine and she reacted just to the kiss. I jump in and kiss Christine, reaction. Jamie jumps in and licks her face. And James kind of lovingly touches her cheek. Those are the moments that I love in improv. Bold moves where everyone jumps on board.

Deconstruction show #4

Last show of Deconstruction, I literally love this form. It is so much fun. I was lucky enough to be in both shows. Theme wise, it was kind of space, twilight zone, craziness. But, it was amazingly fun.

I remember Ted had brought up Frasier at some point. So in the second beat/flavor scenes, there was an initiation of "Hey everyone, It's me, Norm". We all kind of jumped on board with the "Norm!" chants. It's so great that we all were in the same spot. I kind of leaned in the window seal trying to make it like the counter of a bar. Norm made a joke and I said, "Classic Norm" and when there was a slight pause I said, "Anyone wanna see any of my old Red Sox jerseys?". To some great laughs.

Personally, I can't do a Ted Danson impersonation, but saying Classic just felt like cheers to me. Adding the red sox, may have just been enough to make the audience say, "That's Sam". In a later run, I was praying to have an opening to come in as Sam again. I was looking for the weirdest scene to call it out as someone else from cheers.

Someone initiated with, "Yea, I'll take a look at your ass!", I jumped into the window and said, "Classic Cliff." and it felt amazing.

I think the great thing about that is that it wasn't my idea, it stemmed from a frasier quote to a cheers initiation. I would have never done that without everyone else. That's improv for you.

Musical Megawatt Auditions?

I've gotten to the point where I'm coming full circle. The first improv show I ever saw and fell in love with, Musical Megawatt at Magnet theatres is going to audition soon.

Oddly enough, I feel like I've gotten a little worse at Musical Improv. I want to take more classes to hone the skill itself. Sometimes practicing with teams just doesn't cut it. Maybe I'm just a little sad to not have musical improv classes anymore.

When the opportunity comes, I'm gonna have a good time. I find that the few chances I get to do improv in front of people, I feel I do well. I just try and make bold choices or jump on someone elses choice.

Can I do this? Can I get onto a Musical Megawatt team? This has been a goal of mine for a while. The PIT musical team was a side goal and as much as Adorable is a PIT team, it doesn't get a weekly slot, so it is not really a musical house team. So, in a way, on that side goal, I succeeded and kind of failed.

Come on Magnet. Lets get these auditions goin!!