Chaos Attraction

Improv 301, Week 2: I Wish I Was Shaggy

2016-03-25, 12:03 p.m.

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Previous week here.

This week we were focusing on character.

List of people's bad habits in improv:
* Machine gun pattern hitting
* Not having any grounded player in a scene
-- you should do a "no-kay" sort of thing and go along with their crazy reluctantly instead of jumping in whole hog
* tons of walk-ons
* talking head scenes about what's happening tomorrow or yesterday
* not listening-- you should be in the moment
* boring initiations with the same relationship.
* saying something along the lines of "I'm so glad you're here!"
* Come out with an emotion or hit the pattern
* Don't say no right off the bat and argue with the other person
* Who, where, pattern, why is missing if your scene is going wrong.

We were introduced to the concept of a "Noel," named after a guy who used to have a weird nervous tic when he was nervous onstage. Brian mentioned one guy who sucks in air and said, "I thought he was going to suck the carpet up through his face!" You need to figure out what your "noel" is. Brian said his was probably dick jokes or scenes where they're in a canoe (I don't know why the latter is a thing for him). Don't do what makes you comfortable. He's been doing improv for 16 years and he's not perfect at it. Don't be the person who is all, "I got this"---they don't! You will never be 100 percent at it.

He pointed out that this is the only club in Northern California who pays their weekend performers. Someone who shall remain anonymous said to him, "We just make money off our friends and family," the guy said. Brian was all, "you're a fucking asshole....I have values." That's adorable.

Anyway, after that segue we went into talking about developing character. We played a game called "Pass the Character" in which one person would be moving their body in a weird way and then walk towards someone else, and then that person would try to imitate them. Yes, that's bodily telephone and hoo boy, was that a mess.

Other character notes:
* Do little things to show a character.
* We should know this person and how they act--don't just be all "I'm crazy!"
* Make a choice onstage.
* Every choice you make should support the pattern.
* Can do a character with small moves
* Holding in your emotions is more effective, like Denzel crying a single tear.
* You have about ten seconds to set up a character and put them on like a costume If you're the unusual person initiating.
If you're the grounded person, you come in neutral and the unusual person has to give you cues to morph into since you don't know what's going on yet. Brian made a crack about how "I get out my improv gun and shoot someone!" who is late on the ball and all, oh, I'm supposed to be a monkey.

We walked around for awhile leading with various body parts (head, chest, pelvis, feet) and then discussed how that would help you portray a character right off the bat. What kind of character leads with ____?

Head: intellectuals
Chest: bodybuilder, stripper, someone confident
Pelvis: pregnant woman, cowboy, someone who's laid back, model, dancer. Different kind of confidence--slicker and swagger. ("I wish I was Shaggy, that's my idol." --Brian)
Feet: Ballerina, kids, drunk clown, wanderers, hippies.

This led to one girl saying that after working in a prison, she learned to puff her chest out, and now "I look like a douchebag when I walk." Another guy seconded that after working in a prison/growing up in the hood.

We walked around practicing walking with high and low status body behavior and growing and shrinking personal bubbles.

Another Brian quote for the night: “I sound almost smart tonight, you guys.”

Also, someone else said, "I spilled wine on Arnold Schwartznegger. During his fundraiser." Someone else replied to that, "Thank you for your service."

After that, we practiced monologues and first beats.

Monologue A: someone's roommate cooked foil in the microwave
B: spilling drinks while working in a restaurant
C: a kid who was super subtle about spitting on you.

Scene A: Dangerous restaurant! Hot tools, glass in the food, poisonous dessert, uncooked steak. "Risk drives us as a species, my friend!" Oh yeah, and that list of food allergies you THOUGHT were to be avoided...?
Scene B: Dapper moppers who dress up to clean buildings. Why? Because my dad was suave.
Scene C: A strange lady asks for a ride so she can see the world. Can she drive your car? She's never driven before....Apparently she was trying to play a dangerous kid, and Brian was all, you need to clarify that. After she hit a dog in the street-- "Always edit on the dog dying."

I was in this one (and got some crap for having my arms crossed while waiting onstage):
Monologue A: One guy went to the Philippines and said he felt like a baller because American money converted to so much there. I loved this one.
Monologue B: somebody visited Indonesia.
Monologue C: car crash.
I don't remember much about B or C because I was too busy thinking out my idea for scene A....
Scene A: Canadian Ballers! Everything here's like a dollar fifty to the American dollar! I can buy two books! Look at this toonie! by the end we decided to buy a Mountie and his horse. I'm pretty proud of this idea even if I ran out of things to buy.
Scene B: keeping ridiculously calm in a car wreck while injured. Concentrate on the one body part that doesn't hurt, like your pinky. Never mind this rebar going through me....
Scene C: rich people being confident and bragging while getting robbed

At Improv Jam after that, I initiated a scene about being afraid of fish at the pet store and needing a bodyguard. Other than running out of steam at the end once I got across the store without being attacked by suicidal fish, it went well!


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