Chaos Attraction

Improv 201, Week 7: All I Needed Was To See Jesus

2015-08-20, 10:24 p.m.

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So apparently the notifylist stopped working and nobody said anything about it to me and I can't find anything about it. Grrr. Have now replaced with TinyLetter.

Previous entry here.

Things I learned about Anti-Cooperation League this week:
* They get paid for that show and are considered to be professionals.
* They get notes from Brian on Sunday mornings.
* Apparently last week's ACL show was incredibly dirty, just in time for my classmate Scott to bring his teenage to 21-year-old kids. They apparently really enjoyed it, but Brian seemed bothered. He said that professionals should be watching how shows ebb and flow and should have variety and balance instead of being all dirty or high energy or standing around or overly physical. “If you're dirty, you better be smart and dirty.” If one scene is physical, then go low energy on the next one. You should “read the room, read the show.”

Things we learned about Brian’s life on social media: he apparently gets 150-200 Facebook comments a day, most of them bitching/gossiping about other people. Once again, I am not at all wanting to be on Facebook.

The warmup game we did was one where everyone is in a circle looking down at the floor and then they all look either across the circle or at whoever's next to them. If you make eye contact, you scream or do the robot dance or something else silly and then get out of the circle until you run out of people.

Brian told us a crazy story afterward about taking his kids to someone's house. I gather he was embarrassed at first because his kids were coming off as heathens—until he found out one kid poops in the backyard and the dad just goes “Aww” at everything and suggests that the kid take a bath because “it's so restorative!” Then one of his kids suggested they all go camping together...

Back to the topic of blending: only groups 2 and 3 can blend with 1. But group 1 cannot set it up so that they can fit with 2.

The new Saturday Harold teams are being trained to have people come out whenever, not just in order of appearance.

More on group scenes:
* can do a time dash/analogous with each group scene if you want. Or blend the group scene at the end into a third beat. (This is getting complicated. Too complicated.)
* In group scene initiations, he doesn't just want to see a line of hits.
* If you call everyone on stage, give them an easy pattern to play.
* “I am very vested on what you guys do.”
* Make an entrance when you go onstage, don't just schlep on.
* “If I hear the words, 'I'm really glad,” I should punch you!” (For non-improv-ers: a lot of people start scenes saying this, along with “Thanks for coming with me to the ____.”)

After that, we did a full Harold from start to finish.

I did the opening suggestion. “I set my kitchen on fire tonight. Thought that would get me a monologue, but it didn't. What's something else you shouldn't set on fire?” “A car!” (Yes, I actually did that--turned on the wrong burner. Everything is fine, just need a new oven mitt and to clear the place of smoke.)

Monologues talked about: one guy talked about the night Michael Jackson died being the weirdest night of his life, being informed at random, seeing a car on fire, etc. One talked about being on the “scrub team” on track. I forget what the other one was, something else about Michael Jackson too.

Scene 1a: the waiter at Outback Steakhouse pairs dishes with the news of the day. Brian's comment about this was that tying things together makes it complicated.
Scene 1b: Taylor Swift writes about Plato's cave. Brian said that after a certain point you have to stop trying to figure out the logic of a situation and just go with it—that makes it take longer to get there. If you keep grounding it out, you don't get to the fun.
Scene 1c: Police officer pulls you over to make sure you know how to work a DVR.

Scene 2a: in order to have weird stories to talk about at improv, one guy wants to wreak havoc by setting off a bomb on a bridge, freeing monkeys, etc. They went to various locations very fast. This got critiqued by Brian, and then all of us were all, “But you told us to not take time fake walking to places!” Well, don’t travel through time either!
He also said that “a period is a very powerful thing. It stops two sentences from colliding.” Which is to say, let the other guy talk sometimes. “I would literally have to yell PERIOD!” at someone to get them to stop. Later he was all, “Introduce the period into your life,” and mentioned the idea of a talking conch. “You pass the conch and say, who’s a fucking slut?” (Uh, that bit was for the one-line Harold thing below.)
Scene 2b: honestly, can’t remember what this was.
Scene 2c: they attempted to blend this in with the police officer scene, it didn’t really work. “Kick him in the balls because I need stories!” was an alternative Brian suggested.

Scene 3a, b, and c: creepy serial killer boyfriend wants to have a creepy romantic date with his scared girlfriend. “____, you play a good creepy character,” Brian said. “It’s natural” was the response back. Brian wanted to know if the creepiness was normal for the character or worse than usual. “I wanna elevate my creepiness, so I got this blood...” Let the scene partner know if this creepy is normal or surprising.

Group scene 1: I felt like I should be initiating something since I hadn’t been in the previous scenes, so I initated both. It was...questionable. I did the ol “hey, I’m a weirdness magnet, let’s walk through SF” thing, He said I should be weird before everyone else. I have down as a halfassed quote that it was a “stupid fun awesome dynamic pattern,” but my recollection was that it wasn’t that great. Brian said it reminded him of a job he had serving legal papers at mental facilities. “All I needed was to see Jesus....At every mental facility, there’s at least one Jesus. Usually the person I’ve been serving!” Of course.

Group scene 2: Literally the only idea I had going into this was the phrase “Bring out yer dead celebrities!” It sorta turned into a bounty hunting reality tv show or some damn thing, I don’t even know. I should have been hitting my own pattern first, give people something else to do, and don’t do a half-baked idea.

Since we were out of most of our time by the time all the Harold-ing and critiquing, we did a “one line Harold,” in which Brian would cut you off after awhile. Scenes involved “if you have the right outfit/pose, you win” (like say, the end of a gymnastics routine pose, wearing a Legally Blonde outfit, winning a marathon by being dressed right), being dumb at math/home ec/firefighter training, and teachers bad mouthing kids. Group scenes had a slo-mo race and a bunch of mad kids angry at those making fun of them.

Other notes: try not to use cast members’ names in scenes, they either take it as an insult or feel called out. Also don’t insult people’s looks, because one guy last month got called out for his neck beard on stage and then he showed up shaved the next night. Don’t make fun of people and don’t get a laugh by shitting on someone.

He said at the end, “The entire night for me was a lot of fun.” Next week, we do three Harolds in a row.


I have decided to do Improv Jam for the rest of this class season, since it looks like I’ll be moving my volunteer night to Thursdays again come fall. Improv 301 isn’t being offered until January, so I think I’ll take musical improv on Tuesdays, Meg’s sculpture class on Wednesdays, and move back to volunteering/no Jam Thursdays. There were like 10-12 people on each team-- a lot signed up, apparently--so the one thing I did was hop into a group scene about pixy stick addiction. I have decided that I think it’s easier to get into Jam when ther’s a group scene going on rather than figuring out the dynamics of 2-person scenes in a giant free for all.

There was also a monologue by the musical improv music guy about how he was literally “born into laughter,” which was followed by a scene in which a baby did stand-up.


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