Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Importance of Getting Through The Holidays

Hey Everyone,

This is going to be mostly for people on house teams but it also works for people on indie teams as well.

December to January are the two months out of the year that can kill teams. It's true. Here are the reasons.

1) Less Rehearsals
2) Worse Shows (due to less rehearsals)
3) Stressful times outside of improv
4) Unable to Schedule anything.
5) People are on vacation

Think of any of those 5 things happening at any time of year. I've had teams that have imploded due to ONE of those items. The only reason why it kills teams is because team members assume that the reasons any of these items are happening is because "They aren't committed to the team".

When, in actuality, there are really good reasons. Now, if you have a person on a team that consistently doesn't come to rehearsals or leaves early or get's in late and has a schedule that forces everyone to resent them, then eventually you should probably just get rid of that person. However, in these months, EVERYONE is doing these things.

Here's the key to keeping things together.

1) Realize that it will happen.
2) Don't punish people for their schedules.
3) Have as much fun in shows as possible.
4) NEVER EVER assume something about your team due to a bad show during this time.

Bad shows happen all the time. They may happen multiple times in a row.  If you're doing a perfect show, then you are NOT learning. Learn from bad shows, don't beat yourself up.

Trying things that are new, fun and different during this time is great! You can always blame the oddness on attempts to better yourself.

Celebrate the times you have with these people. Use the time that they're away to miss them. The reunion of a team in the new year should be an exciting time.

Best of luck everyone. Love your team and never judge yourself!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Long Form Improv: The Unsung Hero that will Never Be Mainstream

There are two types of improv, Long Form and Short Form. You could say that Musical is another form, but you could do short form musical and long form musical as well.

Short form consists of informing the audience of the game, taking the suggestion and then playing the game on stage. Who's line it is anyway or Puppet Up are firm examples of short form. If you go on a cruise ship, you're likely to see short form improv.

But, why not long form?

Long form improv is probably the unsung hero of improv. If you're an improviser in New York, LA, or Chicago then Long Form may be your thing. You probably live and breathe it. You love TJ and Dave and you have favorite forms and a specific play style. But, outside of those three delightful cities, there's nothing. Very little long form.

I once took a 3 month break from improv and went back to the Bay Area in California. I knew there was improv there so I figured I'd be able to at least feed the dragon. Boy was I wrong! Very little classes. Maybe once or twice a week there would be an improv show. Short form, however, had a presence. Comedy sports and BATs improv were mainstays and nearby.

First off, I'm not saying long form is better than short form. Wait! I am saying long form is better than short form. However, Short form is more profitable, more suitable for an audience, more likely to get improvisers paid for improvising, and have produced equally amazing improvisers. So, though I love the payoff of a third beat, I've laughed the hardest within long form shows, I've fallen in love with entire shows, and I've been hooked to the heroin of class after class of Long Form, I'm still ridiculously scared to do short form and I say with Bias, I like long form better.

The fact is, long form will never be famous. There may be long form improvisers using their skills to improvise in film. There may be sketch teams that are steeped in long form training. There may be comedian and tv writers using the harold as a form of writing. But, the act of a few people jumping on a stage and improvising slowly and building up an inside joke will never be mainstream.

I'm kind of okay with that. It's the perfect underground band. You may like the slower, indie progressive sound of Magnet. The perfected, honed, studio sound of UCB. The metallic, clunking, primal sound of Annoyance. Or the experimental, raucous yet textured sound of the PIT. These institutions will always be longform at heart. They will never leave us for greener pastures, they will live and die in our arms. 

You can think of it as sad. You can get angry at a world that doesn't get it. Or you can be thankful that this still exists, solely on the basis that the STUDENT, the Classtaker, The Performer, The Teacher hold this art form up. One piece of that puzzle is removed, the whole foundation falls. Why do we do it? Because it's fucking fun. I've never had this much fun in my entire life.