Chaos Attraction

Musical Improv Week 3: We Had A Really Good Moment When I Poked You!

2016-12-02, 7:15 a.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.

(I’m taking a musical improv class. This stuff might make more sense if you look at weeks one and two.)

This week I left about ten minutes earlier, the traffic was horrible no matter what way I went, but only got there a few minutes late. Whee.

This week’s brief lecture on musical definitions:
Melody: has two parts, rhythm and pitch
Rhythm: when to play or not to play
Kids’ songs have easily identifiable melody that can translate to large groups of people. Because “Kids are dumb” and “Most people are like children, they’re dumb.”
Call and response: switching solos
Everybody should be on the same page when singing melodies
Repetition and variation--be similar but not always the same melody.

After doing some scales as a warmup, we went back to singing in a circle (apparently this is called “Chrisball”), attempting to sing to whatever melody Lincoln was playing (pretty much “dah dah, dah dah” stuff) and then varying it up a bit but within a similar sound. Then we went back to making up our own lyrics--first we ended up doing a song about Christmas lights and fighting over them, followed by a song about sitting sadly at your desk at work and then setting it on fire. (“It’s Friday and the desk is on fire.”)

This was followed by another couple of rounds of Gibberish Opera, Fairy Tale Edition. The first round was Beauty and the Beast, which I didn’t take a whole lot of notes on for whatever reason. My group did Rumplestiltskin, and I played the girl in that story. Somehow we wrangled it into my having given birth to two kids, which is super convenient when you promised to give one up. I had some fun handing it over and then doing crocodile tears like I had NO IDEA what happened to the baby, being fake asleep in the most ridiculous pose in a chair possible with my tongue lolling out, being cranky while spinning, imitating Rumplestiltskin’s walk while trying to ask people if they knew his name. I liked how our narrator was all, “Her father asked what name to put on the contract for taking the baby and she overheard it,” which made it fun for me to throw out two random guesses (“Smith!” Jones!”), smirk at the audience and fake cry when I missed, and when I yelled out “RUMPLESTILTSKIN!” he busted out with “WHAT THE FUCK?” Muahahahahah.

This also led to a rant from Lincoln on why anyone would want babies, especially ones that weren’t their own. The guy in the class whose wife is pregnant suggested it was for the free labor. Somehow this led to discussing Hansel and Gretel, Nazis and eating children.

Lecture on creating lyrics:
Rhyme, repetition, contrast and balance.
You only have to rhyme when you rap. (Though he did mention that in last week’s “You! The Musical!” which I sadly missed because I was in the Bay Area, one guy started playing Lin-Manuel Miranda and was forced to rap. I REALLY REALLY WISH I HAD SEEN THAT.) Don’t worry about how your words serve a rhyme, but if you can do it, do it. Just don’t make it your main focus.
If the song is about change, hit the concept of the song.
Don’t repeat too much.
Don’t be saying, what’s the point of the song? Songs should have meaning.
Contrast: tied to repetition. Example: saying the different ways that I love you. Contrast as verse.

I’ve been bummed out that I never got to take the original musical improv class that was 8 weeks long (this one’s five). Lincoln said tonight that the old class was doing long form rather than short form improv and kind of boiled down to two people doing a song all the time and he thought that was boring. He wanted to do more games and have more people doing things in groups and, “I think Harold is boring. I didn’t say that.” Hahahah, dude, you’re ON a Harold team.

We finished off with the game “That’s Not A Musical!”, which is basically Gibberish Opera/doing a mini musical except with singing real words. This time he decided to have us play out blockbuster movies people don’t necessarily know the plots to.

The first group did Avatar, which had the following memorable quotes:
“There’s a creature here. Do I engage?” “Poke it!” This was followed up by said creature singing about not poking her.
“I just learned how your species fornicates!”
The narrator: “After establishing peaceful relations with the native Injuns....”
“I’m sure he hasn’t fornicated with them or something.”
“We had a really good moment when I poked you!”
Eventually the blue lady revealed that yes, she knew the humans were there to steal their minerals, it was all a trap, and she just wanted a Battle Royale with humans. When our poor hero Jake tried to stop them, everyone decided to kill Jake instead.

As for my group, we did Elf, and at one point Lincoln decided that Elf’s (nobody remembered his name was Buddy, apparently) dad was Bruce Willis. At this point I was the only one without a part in the show (I’d previously been running around playing various obnoxious New Yorkers) and was all....”Ohhhhh crap, this means I’m gonna have to play Bruce Willis.” And while y’all can’t see me on the Internet during this post, you can probably guess that there’s NO resemblance. I decided to play it like Bruce was perpetually smoking and cranky and saying things like “I get kids on my doorstep every Christmas after Die Hard” and “My sperm doesn’t produce boys.”

Random Quote Corner:
“We want memorable things to happen.”
Once again, people had to bring up Bambi death. “Bambi always has to die. That’s been established.”
“If it sounds like a duck, it is a duck.”

Next week: verses and more games!

At Improv Jam (note: that’s the improviser version of open mike--people throw their names in a hat, they draw out random teams and then you go crazy for 15-20 minutes), I actually did two parts, so good for me. (NOTE FOR THE SENSITIVE: TERRIBLE SEX JOKES HAPPENED AT THIS POINT, if this bothers you, stop reading here.)

(a) Person whose husband bought an automated car off Craigslist. When he told me to say “turn on” to turn on the car, I acted out like the carseat was vibrating in a special lady manner. Heh heh heh.
(b) This was based off a monologue earlier in which a guy said he found some friend’s porn collection and was curious about whether or not his friend went for the same freaky shit he did. I gathered everyone around while drunk wanting to know if anyone else was into unicorn porn, or “uniporn.” (When you think of a concept like “uniporn,” well, could you pass up making that joke?) Even worse, I decided uniporn wasn’t just watching two unicorns bang, but a unicorn using his horn on a lady* and doing a “swirly” and making magical sparkles come out. I’m terrible and it was a delight.

* I’m pretty sure someone’s already written this book on Amazon, but I’m not gonna check. Or maybe it’s a Tingler and going down the manhole.


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