Sunday, April 13, 2014

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.

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