Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Importance of Constantly Taking Classes

I found myself in a bit of a rut lately. It was probably started when I didn't get onto a PIT Musical Team, then didn't get onto a PIT improv team, then UCB was a shot in the dark.

I always tell people that I did all the classes at once because I wanted to be able to not have to start over at 101 and have to relearn everything multiple times. But, after finishing off all three, I have no more classes I have to take.

I am a part of The Battery which is a spectacular house team at the Magnet, I created Humphrey, a krompf team full of people I think are amazing and love playing with, and I ended up doing Supernova with the team War which is good fun.

You'd think 3 practice groups would be great, which is awesome, but after a while, I missed the class atmosphere. I felt like I was falling into similar moves or worse starting to question the moves I was doing. I started to be more hesitant on stage because I don't perform as much as I used to.

Ed Herbstman said that it took him about 8 years to get good at improv. The first two years he thought he was amazing, the 3rd year til 8th was just trying to figure out if he was shitty or not.

So, this weekend, I got back into taking classes. I was able to get back into the musical scene and take Musical Level 3 with Michael Lutton. He is a spectacular performer and teacher and I would recommend his classes to EVERYONE. He really lays down the simple rules for musical form and when the class understands those rules, they shine.

I also am taking a "Work On You" improv hub class with Nick Feitel. Nick created supernova and he's also been in the improv scene and trained with lots of people. The price combined with curiousity made me want to take it. I unwittingly took it at the same time as my supernova team practices, which is my problem because impulse buys are always at 1am in the morning, but I'm working it out.

I already feel more exhilirated. I'm working harder on VO and I'm starting to get better at improv. I feel the fun coming back. I feel that exhausting feeling of doing a lot of improv. It feels amazing.

So, here's my advice. Take Magnet Classes in improv and even Musical improv. You can retake the classes for 1/2 off, levels 1-3 and if you're on a house team or just a good student some teachers will let you take the class for free or big sib. That is phenomenal. I was on a musical house team at pit for about 2 years and I only remember being offered a free class in a big sib style once. With magnet, every month there is 5-6 big sibbing opportunities.

Magnet is the best, by far, for people who just want to improv more and more. I've emailed pit about discounted second rounds of classes and they've said a resounding no. It's unfortunate. I was this close to retaking level 4 or 5 there but the price tag is just too high.

I've come to a bit of a revelation. I've only really made it onto teams when I was doing lots of classes. The moment I stopped or just held back, suddenly the auditions weren't that good. Maybe there's a correlation. Who Knows!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Camp Magnet: Ed Herbstman

Ed Herbstman is one of the owners of the Magnet. He is half of the Mantzoukas Brothers, which I have never seen. Also, I've seen him sub in for Trike once. He seems to be widely respected as one of the best improvisers in the community. I wish I could have seen him perform more, but I hadn't. I just heard about him and was excited to work with him. 

I remember a few aspects of the class that really stuck with me. The basic aspects of what he taught was something along the lines of, "We all are working too hard on stage"

He called up various people to do scenes and began to say stuff like, "That would be a great mixer scene", but Ed seemed to want truly organic scenes. Rather than inventing bricks and foundations to scenes and building them up, he wants us to just sink into the scene, notice what we have already.

This is a very Magnet notion. I've always thought that Magnet tries to make everyone feel that no matter what they do on stage, they'll be fine and right and good. It creates slower improvisers that are more fearless with silence or more character based improvisers that commit very hard. 

In my first scene, my scene partner was stressed and I was calming him down, we didn't specify the who the what or the where, we kind of held it back. It was consistent with previous Magnet workshops because those should be discovered not invented. As he calmed, then I stressed and then I called out that it was just a rollercoaster. Scene ended. Ed had given the note to us that instead of just staying in the dynamic of one person affecting the other, the moment I called out what it was, this was the moment where I let fear force an invention. 

Later in the class, he spoke about scenework as someone walking to the edge and then inventing something to help the fear, when at that point they need to just slow down, take stock of what they have and hold on to it. 

Ed spoke about how improvisers see that first piece of game and they jump on it so hard they give up the scene itself. He said that piece is a trap. Going after that is the obvious, to stay in the scene and discover it is to organically create a scene with a partner.

I know this seems crazy, but here's an example of my second scene.

My scene partner seemed angry at me.

I say, "I wish you would just be honest with me."

She says, "I don't like you."

In my mind, oddly enough, I think I saw a pattern. My improviser brain would probably name it as, Mom, I'm sorry I ditched school, or I'm sorry I came onto your friend, son. WHatever. Just yes anding the situation and giving the who and why. However I just stuck with what I had.

I say, "Would it kill you just to tell me how you feel."

She says, "I despise you and wish you were dead."

(Notice the pattern, it is heightening and basically nothing has happened. I will just redo my line of not understanding but in an honest way, not a dumb way)

I say, "I don't know why you can't just tell it to me straight."

She says, "I want to cut your throat, drink your blood and fuck the holes of your dead body.

(At this point, Ed says after hitting a pattern for a bit, one person will try to make the other person laugh.  It has to be somewhat consistent but it is  a curveball. According to Ed, it should be instantly powerful. It could be a WHo, a Where, a Why or just a non sequiter)

I say (Joke), And that will make you cum? (the why) OR And then you'll stop making movies Mr. Bay? (who) OR Well, I've gotta go play Barney, talk to me later (kind of where)

It's oddly genius. Think about it.
Happy Birthday-I Hate you - I Got you A Present - YOu are such a dick - You ready to blow out your candles? - You insensitive fuck - (joke) I'm sorry I raped u. or All your family is here- (joke) Fuck you Spiderman

What about a transaction scene?
I'll take a pack of cigs. - That'll be 5 dollars - I'll take a pack of those - Thatll be 20 quarters - I'll take about 12 cigarettes comparmentalized in that pack over yonder - That'll be 500 pennies. - (J) Ya know what, I'll just go someplace else) or I'll take that pack there - (J) Sometimes while I sleep, I dream about being a fart. 

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.

How does this work into scenes? Simple, repeat what you say, heighten how you say it. At the very least you will understand your game. 

According to Ed, improv isn't someone coming into another person's scene and playing a part. It is something you all grow together. The scenes seem better that way and oddly simpler.  Throughout Camp Magnet, I felt this kind of theme. Organically making scenes with very little thinking, just recognizing. 

Ed Herbstman is an amazing teacher. I hope to put his teachings into effect, asap. 

The Best Two Weeks for an Improviser

Today, I sit on a stool eating trying to put into words what a great three weeks I've had. As an improviser, it was probably the most intense week ever. But, as a person, I gained so many friends and was able to for a few hours get insight into the minds of the best improvisers in NYC and probably the country. Here's what happened. Over the next few weeks, I'll post individual notes from every class I took and try to wrap my mind around the theories and the exercises and maybe in the process be able to put into words the amazing three weeks.

Week  1:
Camp Magnet: A camp that Magnet Theatre does once every year in the Catskills where you get to learn from great teachers and make tons of new friends, swim, play, chat and have a great time.

Teachers at Camp Magnet that I took classes with: Rachel Hamilton, David Razowsky, Louis Kornfeld, Alex Marino, Ed Herbstman, and Megan Gray.

Week 2: 
Rick Andrews Intensive Level One: I was able to Big Sib for Rick Andrews Level one intensive. It took place from 10-4pm Monday Through Friday

DCM Workshop with Neil Casey: The Invocation
DCM Workshop wtih Chris Gethard: Make Your Scenework Easier
DCM Workshop with BIlly Merritt: Pirate Robot Ninja

Workshop with Betsy Stover
Workshop with Ari Voukydis

All throughout those weeks, I performed with The Washingtons for DCM, rehearsed with The Battery, rehearsed with my Krompf team, "Humphrey", took level 3's Annoyance classes, and did Blackout shows (class and form taught by Louis Kornfeld)

I'm not sure how to start writing about this amazing time but when I calculated it out, around 70-100 hours of improv classes and shows (watched or did). 

The cool this is that this can be done by just about everyone. Most of the DCM workshops require some UCB experience so it's worth taking for that.  Anyone can do Camp Magnet which is awesome. Also, I believe if you finish level 3 or 4 at Magnet, you qualify to big sib. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Louis Kornfeld : 30 minutes with The Man and the Battery Show

    A few days ago, Louis put out an email that said, "All Megawatt performers if you want to speak with me about anything, I will have office hours open". I thought about this. I'm starting to take a more proactive form with improv. Too long have I skated by, just doing what I wanted. It's time to figure out how to get really better.
    Louis Kornfeld is the artistic director of the Magnet Theatre. But, here's a few things about Louis.

1) He's on Boss. Which is one of the best improv teams I have ever seen. If you want to see improv look easy and feel real with a fearlessness to not have to be funny, they are one of the only games in town. I am biased but they are my favorite. Louis is a HUGE part of why that team is amazing.

2) He teaches. His class "Let it Be" is constantly sold out because people want to train with him over and over.

3) He used to coach 2-prov for 2 hours for $25. His reasoning, "I think people shouldn't be penalized for wanting to do 2-prov". He doesn't do that price anymore because he's too busy.

4) The day before Thanksgiving, I had a level 4 class. Our regular teacher was off for the holiday along with half the class, Louis subbed. He said, "You're the reason why I do this. You could be anywhere tonight but you wanted to be here. I don't care about holidays, this is where I want to be. Thank you for being here. "

5) He WATCHES every MEGAWATT show and probably most Level 6 shows.

The first 2 shows who he is. The last three are moment where I personally found his commitment to improv and his love of it UNWAVERING. Artist director is hard enough! He has a hands on approach and you can tell he LOVES it. That is FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!!

  Anyways, I came into the meeting with a few things in mind.

1) Having a style that's all you.
2) Experienced vs Unexperienced Improvisers
3)That moment pre-scene where maybe the stage is empty and you walk out with little or nothing.
4) That moment where two people scurry out with nothing and the fear overtakes.

1) Regarding style, he spoke about knowing what you like to do and what you think you're good at. He claimed to be not that great at premise based scenes and he liked to start the scene with a seed and have it grown by both players so it feels like improv. He does use it with Kiss Punch Poem but there is a poem to inspire from and the audience almost expects specific scenes. But, with a one word suggestion, he likes to find the scene. Regarding who YOU are as an improviser, he never makes "Louis" moves because to do so would feel like an imitation. Instead, he makes moves that feel comfortable and fun to him.

2) I asked about playing with experienced and unexperienced improvisers. With unexperienced, I feel good and fun and with some experienced, I feel hesitant and weak.  Louis said that he feels a sense of graciousness and supportiveness when working with perceived newer improvisers as well. But, with the experienced deal, he said it was a combination of a need to be accepted or respected or even earn your right to be on stage. Sometimes it comes with time, some times some people will always improv a certain way and you'll never feel like you're strong. It just depends.

3 and 4) Here was the big thing that I took from him. The pre-scene madness when nobody comes out or two people with nothing come out. Louis says get out there and plant yourself with something. The act of moving with meaning and focus will automatically make it an initiation and a strong one. I thought to myself and added, "There are certain spots on stage that just are unexplored country. So going there would be an initiation in itself on top of it.".
    Louis gave an example of just walking and listening and playing with a radio with a focused "looking for something" look on his face.
    "If nobody comes out, just yes and yourself."
   Louis walked away from the radio and turn a light switch on or off with the same look.
   *** The key thing he said was that. The first person who comes out, if they have nothing or nothing strong and they look back at the person who came out to support, the supporter hesitates as well almost thinking that they are burdened with a scene to fix.  However, if a person walks to a place, looks or touches something in a specific way, the second person will feel like the scene is there, nothing to fix, just need to add to it a little. "They will call out what it is and you'll have a scene that was created by two people."**
   I'd never thought of an initiation as a way of telling that person coming out second. "Don't worry" we're all good. Just call it out if you want, we're fine. Nothing you say will be wrong. You could do something else, I'll do this. We are GOLDEN. Initiating has always been for me, "Okay, here's what we are doing, get it?!", with Louis it's more like, "Here's a little of me.. Welcome. Let's play". So much more fun!
   Also, when you SPEAK during that moment, it's so much less strong. Speaking is more for premise based initiation.  How many of those scenes start with, "Well? or "Sorry!". If you're a little freaked out or have nothing, if you find a point in the space and play with something with meaning then it's much stronger and it pulls the audience in.

  I took it to heart because I had Megawatt that night. I wanted to TRY IT!

2nd scene. I feel that millisecond of hesitancy. I walk out and go straight to a part of the stage I've never been to before. I start looking at my shelf at my house, I'm looking at my cereal bag. I'm looking a little confused, I'm thinking, "Did a mouse get in here" or "Who ate my cereal", but I don't Say anything. I just mull through it. Christina comes from behind me. I can feel her almost thinking, "Is he gonna say something?", I say nothing. That millisecond is just respect on her part, just in case, but I know she'll call it, she's smart and snappy and good.
   She says, "I got you chocolates for Valentines Day!!" or something close to it.
I think, how have I been doing this. Confused, "Has a mouse been eating my cereal, has a roommate been eating my cereal", so in that reflection I say, "I'm allergic to chocolate." it gets a bit of a chuckle.
    Oddly enough at that moment, I think I got it. It's Valentine's day and she doesn't know anything about me. I say, "I guess, I should give you your present. Close your eyes." though maybe Christina said close your eyes.  I get out a ring with the thought, "This girl doesn't even know me." I get down on one knee. Huge LAUGH!  I get back up and try and test her a bit about what she knows about me. Christina is freaking smart she intentionally gets every question terribly wrong.
    Game. Set. Match. The second beat could have been better but I knew I did right by myself.

In my improviser life, I have thought of initations and deals before coming on stage. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes not. With those aspects, there is this small fear and almost an idiotproofing of information hoping that the scene goes your way, which is even scarier. With this little strategy, you're smooth and comfortable and ready to roll. Inside it's calm, outside could be insane but INSIDE RELAXED. That is an awesome feeling. Louis is a jedi master.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Mirroring Concept and the KEY in Heightening Organics

This is straight from a Level 5 PIT class that kind of blew my mind. This is Nate Starkey's thing and I had to write it down somewhere.

There are 3 types of Mirroring, Exact, Near, and Complimentary.

The ONE underlying similarity of ALL THREE is that it is based on what the other person initiates. It's not 2 initiations. If you choose to Mirror you are basing your first move on them.

EXACT MIRRORING: This refers to exactly mirroring what the other person is doing. It's physical, it's emotional. In an organic mirroring, you heighten on each others mirroring, similar to a pass the face exercise. This is what we all are used to.

NEAR MIRRORING: This is where you almost mirror it with a slight differentiation. If someone is curiously looking in a box, you can look in another box angrily. The match is the physicality but the emotion is different. If someone is curiously looking in a box, you could be curiously looking in a closet. The match and mirror is there, you chose to open something else. Another great thing I saw in class is someone turned around like a sprinkler and the other person got under the water and was affected by it happily.

** So many times we mirror exact and feel almost unfulfilled. Near mirroring may be the key to finding the fun of mirroring again**

COMPLIMENTARY MIRRORING: Similar to the sprinkler, but a little more active. This is where you're object work directly connects to the other persons object work. Or the emotion directly connects to the other one. If someone is aiming  a gun angrily, you could be pointing at the thing he's shooting at OR helping him pull the trigger. You complement the other person. If someone is happily opening a present, you could happily be watching them like a parent.

Here's another key concept Nate threw down. When you are doing organic initiations or organic transitions, the KEY is to heighten quickly. You figure out the mirror situation and you HEIGHTEN. It should be EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL and you yes and yourself out of this. The problem I've found is that I've done organic transitions where you don't heighten you just transform until it feels familiar. It's almost saying, this doesn't work, that doesn't work, this feels good. With heightening, it works right away.

Thanks Nate!!!

Realistic Scenework

     I came from a base of acting. In college, I studied acting and directing for film. Later, I did a lot of musical theatre training along with a tour here and there. Though musical has a tendency to be bigger acting, I know a little about realistic scenes and when it comes to improv, I feel like "realistic" scenework is the consistent improv mystery.
     We all go to shows where there is almost never a slice of life scene. You are more likely to find those scenes in two-prov where efficiency doesn't necessarily have to happen. The best improvisers in the city do the same things we all do, pull themselves out of scenes, make big character choices that normal people wouldn't, and call out things that no one realistically would call out. For example, the concept of yes and ing isn't realistic, it's a tool.
     So, the big question is, how do we start behaving more realistically in scenes without just having it be a boring scene. Here are the notes that I've heard from teachers when it comes to grounding work.

1) React honestly.
2) Know how you feel about people and ideas.
3) Do object work to feel the space.

Here are the notes that contradict those notes.

1) Find the game.
2) Follow the fun.
3) Yes And.

   I think of it as two different ideas. The ACTOR and the IMPROVISER, the actor immerses and feels and figures the situation out. The improviser is a point of view above yourself. An actor doesn't have rules, an actor will do a transaction scene, conflict scene, or nothing at all. An improviser is a little harder, the improviser has to figure out the scene through the rules and guidelines put forth.

   Alright here is my take on realistic scenework. You are two improvisers in a scene. Whoever starts the scene, lays a single road, you have your road which exists and is parallel but it is a little behind the road that is put out there. You're job is to get on the same page quickly. A good support improviser will take the little he has and manipulate it to run parallel with the initiator, a good initiator will slow down a little bit to let the support catch up.

  The moment we have a feel for the scene and who we are to each other, which doesn't have to have ANY words, we are on the same page. If someone initiates with a voice or a mannerism or something weird, you ground it by acknowledging that this person is FAMILIAR and FRIENDLY.  Here is why it is cut and dried, if you are unfamiliar, anything they do is going to elicit a WHY, which means they are crazy. The more matter of fact you take it the better. By Friendly, you don't want to make the scene about getting a person to stop or be different than they are. Often times, people think that reacting honestly is calling out the weird thing. If someone walks with a limp, an unfamiliar person may want to call it a doctor visit or a person getting out of bed when they shouldn't. These EXPLAIN the situation but they STALL the scene because it is not about the relationship it is requiring a WHY.
   Now what if a problem is initiated, a WHY. Why did you take my stapler? Well, first off that's an improv guideline that you are bending. But, this happens a lot. The more weight you give that initiation, the harder it will be. You are familiar and friendly so you'll probably apologize and give them back the stapler and possibly yes-and the reason why he has accused you, and that's not, "What's wrong" because that's worse. You have to say SOMETHING, "Here ya go. Sorry. Listen, I know you're stressed lately because of all the lay offs. You've totally got the job man."
   What about a crazy idea? A person comes out and starts doing something crazy with their hands. If this doesn't become a group game, then you go back to Familiar and Friendly. Familiar may imply matching.  The more you don't call out or make the action weird, the more interesting it'll be and the more grounded it will feel.
   Familiar and Friendly. Imagine taking any weird initiation, and I say weird as in just not normal not judging as bad, and making it wrong or weird or have to be explained. That is the WORST. You are stopping the road, telling your partner to come back and explain why you paved it this way.
   Here's an interesting example that I did recently. My partner initiates by bringing in a body or something. I have this feel that it is almost wrong and I'm in a position of authority so I call it as I'm a father and my son just brought in a deer the day before we went hunting. I am familiar and I am friendly, but the BASE is you did something wrong. In turn, it was a funny scene but it LAGGED because I had to be a father who was okay but not okay with it. The moment I was okay with it and said, "Well, lets skin it and learn something", the scene blasted off. Try this, SMILE. There is NOTHING wrong.
    If someone says, "I just killed someone,dad!", then you can go crazy honest and think about how do I solve this or SMILE and give him a hug. "You're gonna learn so much about yourself after this moment. My son is going to grow up."
    In conclusion,  try not to stall the scene and think that something is wrong. Know who the person is and LIKE them. Even if they are complete dicks to you in the initiation, you have to like them a little because you are going to have a scene with them and not leave.  I believe the grounding comes from the fact that you like the other person and that this is an everyday thing and that NOTHING is crazy. Even if it is crazy, it's not. I'll test it in class and see if it works out.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Motto as an Improviser

I thought about what I believed I do as an improviser. Here is my motto:

"There is no mistakes. As an improviser, I make sure that all my teammates feel that everything they do is supported and not judged. I promise to have as MUCH FUN as possible. I promise to try and make myself laugh and the people around me laugh. I promise to stay true to characters and stay true to the promises we as improvisers we make. I promise to love everyone I am with on stage. I promise to listen and act. I promise to keep my walk-ons to a minimum. I promise to find games in tag outs so that games may form. I promise to form as many patterns as I can. I promise to improvise. That's it"

Mercy Edits, If Then Justification, and The Concept of Grounding

Hey All,

Today, I just finished up a UCB class show and unfortunately, the sub teacher pretty much reamed all of us with notes afterwards.  Some were mind blowingly amazing, some were just the same notes we always get, and some were just weird when I thought about it. This is going to be an almost stream of thought about a few of those notions and in the process, I will try and figure out what I can gain through these notes about myself and about improv in general. This is in response to notes, but I don't want it to come off as I'm right and you're wrong but it will raise questions and I'll try to logically answer them to the best of my ability.

The Mercy Edit

First off, I'm a walk on guy. In this show today, I didn't start any first beats. I was in a few first beats in the last two shows, so I figured let the other players get a first beat. Ideally, I should just do what I want and that's a bad excuse but I did it. So, I didn't start any first beats.

I was told as a note, that after some scenes that maybe go on too long, they didn't find a game, or even it it seems like they aren't enjoying themselves or that they are floundering , you should "mercy" edit.

I "mercy" edit a lot but ONLY in second or third beats. I do a lot of "mercy" tagouts if the joke didn't fall and I want to explore more. Mercy is definitely something people do. However, this was a first beat scene.

The instructor also noted that there is this feeling that if you don't edit on a laugh that it is this crazy thing.

First beats are the foundation of a harold. Should you mercy edit?

We've all been a part of bad first beats, we all know it, the characters don't connect, it's not about relationship, it could be a transaction scene. Anything. We've always done it. So, if we hit the 1-2 minute mark, we should start looking for an edit, but what if there is no edit there. Do we just edit?

1) Scene ends.
2) More time for other scenes.
3) You "save" your partners from a perceived bad scene.

1) You don't recognize a game. 2nd beat may be only plot.
2) You "save" your partners, so they know YOU think it was a bad scene.
3) You show the audience, they shouldn't be seeing this anymore.

According to our sub, every walk-on I did should have been an edit. So, by that accord, I am mercy editing with walk ons. Let's look at the use of walk-ons.

1) Enhance or Heighten the game.
2) Fill out the world.
3) Justify the world.
4) Move the action forward.

In the event, that there is no game. Ideally, I should be doing 2-4. But, I know the reasons why I do things, it's just to clarify where we are in the world. the IF Then

What is the IF- Then?

This is what I think most walk ons do. They see what the audience is seeing and they take the next logical step. If in this world this happens, THEN this could happen too. Weird crazy moves that happen in a weird crazy world are almost funny SOLELY because of the foundation of crazy.

For example, if we live in a world where people do their own surgery. If then would say, If this is a world where people do their own surgery, then maybe everyone is a surgeon, then everyone has a surgeon kit with them, then death by surgery is normal. So, having a conversation about "Hey, I stitched this up myself" and a walk on of a person saying, "Hi Surgeon Tompson, Surgeon Jim, are you guys using the xray, I think I left something in myself"..... Laugh----- edit.

Admittedly, it is jokey and crazy but in a way it Yes Ands the decisions of the people on the stage.

What is GROUNDING with a walk on?

Everyone does their own surgery. How do you ground that? Maybe everyone in this world is very smart. It's a hyper intelligent world. Maybe they teach this in schools now because health care ended up being destroyed. Maybe acknowledging people dying of their own things.

This is where i get confused. If a scene is not grounded, then grounding it almost tells the audience, that we did something wrong. You could ground the concept and give the reasons why in second beats, which would be great, but what about coming on and saying, "Kids, have you been stealing my scalpals from my drawer, you can't do that." In my opinion, after 2 minutes of crazy, one walk on of grounding doesn't cut it.


I have to really research how to ground a scene with a walk on. Early walk on, may be better, but I hate walking on early, I subscribe to letting the players play. I need to know the mindset there, what do you do, what is the mindset?

Is layering crazy over crazy bad? I don't know, crazy is your base. If you know your base, then there are logical assumptions you can take. If in this world we don't wear shoes, then we may think shoes are something archaic like fossil bones. Shoes as bones is crazier but it is a logical step from the base. Here's my deal, sometimes I go for the jugular and the joke, it works sometime and sometimes it doesn't. The need to pull things out and allow the tension of a scene to happen may be more useful rather than calling it out.

In a way, I think I know more about myself because of this show. I gauge my show on two things, was I having fun and did I get reactions from players or audience. If both did well, then I feel god about myself. I also think, "Did I regret any move?" If I say no, then it makes sense in my book.

This show and ALL shows in general, I make those moves and feel good. I will not be hesitant.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Got into Megawatt on Wednesdays

So, Los Palumbos had the MOST AMAZING run ever. Wizard Brunch had a kick ass run as well. Los Palumbos got into the Hartford IMprov festival and is closing out the Pit NYC improv festival. Life is awesome, but here's the last thing. I got onto a MEGAWATT team. So this has been an awesome month or so.

Personally, I can't say exactly how or why I got in, but I'll talk about the mindset I had going in and hopefully that will say something about it.

I got the audition slot. Felt good, and just jumped on in. I feel like I do most things in improv because I want to have fun and make myself laugh. The more I think about making myself laugh, the more I end up making other people laugh. Also, it helps my third beats. Third beats are small bits that make me laugh, so I'll jump out and do those.

Nick Kanellis told Los Palumbos a strategy for doing group scenes. A and B will come out and quickly, you have to figure out who you are jumping onboard with. A or B? In the even of Matching, AA, someone will come on as B, then it's a question of more B's or more A's.

3rd beats are kind of group games if you tag run it. If someone is a ball player hitting everything with bats. First one, is B to the A of the bat hit. B: You're order Please A: Hits you with a bat. Your choices for the tag is either tag B out and find more heightened funny people to be hit with a bat. Or tag out A, and this one guy just gets hit with different things at work. Who KNows?!!! But, it in essence is a game.

During my first megawatt show, I was a landlord who stole from his tenants, someone tagged in and a queen complained about her family jewels being missing. The only thing I could think was that I was the landlord of her building. Then someone tagged in and justified it by showing the queen her lease and having her sign it. Awesome. Tags can be used in so many cool ways.

Anyways, the mindset I had coming in was to HAVE FUN and make MYSELF LAUGH. I don't pay any attention to the judges, I just have fun and just enjoy the improv. I got to play with such great people that I thought of it as a challenge that I loved. 

I got to do an improv song with an amazing player. He was awesome. I was so happy that he was yes anding this craziness. 

I think it's getting over the fact that you are auditioning. Just don't worry about it. You may not get it but just have fun anyway, you're playing with Megawatt players. Jump at that. Enjoy that. Take that to the bank and cash it in. 

To conclude, Magnet was the first improv school I graduated from. I also graduated from their Musical Improv school as well. I have so much respect for Magnet. It made me comfortable with the stage. And for that, I am so grateful!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Logic Improv

Okay, so today I tested out a little theory of improv and it really helped the start of the scene. It hasn't been fully fleshed out BUT I'm gonna keep doing it, if it tends to work.

The inspiration was watching Anthony Atamanuik on roo roo in youtube videos. There was a little subtitle saying, "Let everything affect you". I thought about it and he was actually doing that. Most of the time it was affecting him negatively but it was affecting him and it was obvious.

He introduced himself in a scene and the response was very situational. "We crashed and rolled here.", his response was, "You rolled here, that's impressive, this is 6 miles off the road"

I thought about this in terms of initiation. First off, who affects you.... for the most part people you know. A person very rarely gets affected by a stranger and if they do it's never really confrontational, since chances are it's negative. So, you have to really know the PERSON or the SITUATION.

Lets look at types of sentences. Command. Observation. Question.  

My experiment is that if I respond to an initiation that is personal and up the situation to the nth degree,

Get Me a Sandwich. (to me)
That's a hell of thing to ask your mom as she just came back from chemo.

Get it together, Justin. (to the other person as if it's to themselves)
You lost our son to egyptians?

Damn you, God. (an outsider)
Do you really want that as your last words, dad?

The car is blue. (outside)
That's the only description you have for the man who stole our son?

You're looking great. (to me)
Don't fucking fuck with me, my heart is on the outside of my body.

I'm a lawyer.
Dad, stop bragging about your fucking life.

Could I get a ticket?
Way to rub it in, Dad. I get it, I should have stayed in college.

License and registration, please?
Son. You're an asshole, I'm driving home.

Who is Abraham Lincoln?
Which monument did you want to go to?!!


Digging a hole
You cheap bastard. Couldn't chalk up the cash for mom's burial.

Eating food.
You're an asshole, grandpa, you know you're deathly allergic to meat.

Fuck you, sis. Way to make fun of the fact that no one is at my party.

This is all just conjecture. But, if you really take in that first thing that is said or done. You can pin point it in seconds. I attempted it in one show, the partner went out and started sewing and I said, "Mom, you need to stop making my clothes." It kind of worked but I really had to figure it out and got a little confused.

Now, I know it's kind of a negative thing but in my mind it's fun because in each one you want the other person to stop what they are doing and they are weird. So, technically the game is there, kind of. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Importance of Just Hanging Out

First off, I'm not the most social person in the world. Maybe it's just how I was raised. I literally have never reallly made friends easily and there's this little tiny voice in the back of my head that says, "Are you being needy". So, when I started doing improv, that was my escape, I didn't need to hang out. And whenever I did hang out, all we would talk about was improv.

When you look at the best teams, they hang out a lot. They are best friends, they go everywhere together. You could say that improv caused this but there has to be a legitimate effort on the other end.

This has literally been one of the harder parts of my improv life. Sure, I have lots of friends and fellow improvisers but when I think about it, I rarely just hang out. I've come to realize that is a major issue I have to deal with. 

The thing is, someone has to start the ball rolling. Organizing is hard, let's face it, but it HAS to happen.  As you get better and better at improv, you get placed on teams with people whom you only know from watching. That can be hard. Rehearsals are great but that is work. You're trying to acheive something. Sure, it can be fun, but it's that extra effort that really counts. 

I think I just found my New Years resolution. To take every team I'm on, and start hanging out with them. Make friends, figure out who these people are. I soon found out that those few teams I started out with, Decent Proposal, Adorable, Maybe Monogamous. I may never have those folks in a room together again. It's rough. I look back and they were such awesome people that I maybe never got to know entirely. I'm gonna try and stop the pattern. Stop the pattern and get moving. 

My point is, be the one who cares enough about the team to do these things. Be the one who cares enough to make it a point to get together. Don't feel jilted if people can't but those that do will feel closer together. Get it done.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Magnet Level 6 "Los Palumbos" and "Wizard Brunch" Shows on Mondays

We recently started out shows at the Magnet. My team, Los Palumbos, consists of some amazing people.

At this level, everyone is so good. Sometimes I think to myself, I have to keep up or prove something but the fact is, fun is all you need. Fun is infectious, energy is momentum. You start with fun and just run the gauntlet, there is nothing that can stop you.

The more I do improv, the more I feel like I'm someone who likes runs and tag outs. Sure it sounds hokey but it's the fun part of a harold or montage. That moment where everyone just builds and builds.

We had a string of tag runs tonight. I wasn't as active as I usually am but I was just enjoying the show. It wasn't hesitancy, it just existed. That's the one thing that you have to get over, there are no bad shows. If you think about it, there is always good and bad, but shows are shows. People are already ridiculously impressed that you're making everything up. The key is just love and support.

This is pretty personal but I've been trying to get over myself lately. I was in a place of gratefulness for awhile then I got what I wanted and I fell back into some weird stuff. It went from having fun to just not wanting to screw up. That's fear, I've never feared the stage. The fear is based in a need for recognition. I need to realize that I am good enough and I deserve to be where I am.

LIfe is too short to wonder what if. Just do it. If you're teammate kicks ass in a show, that's YOUR TEAM. SUPPORT THAT KICK ASS. RAISE THEM TO THE SKY!!! 

That's what improv is all about. I'm a lucky man.