Chaos Attraction

Improv 101 Week Two: The Timeshare Story

2015-03-31, 10:19 a.m.

Continued from here:

Parking in Sacramento is a pain in the ass, especially when they have blocked off a good chunk of the town that the GPS was trying to deliver me through. I ended up parking way too far away and then worrying about what was going to happen to me hiking home late to find the car. (Answer: nothing, whew.)

This week we mostly got straight to learning Things About The Harold. We did the "friends panel" for the remaining folks who hadn't done it, and they came up with stories involving bank robbery (we all got jobs at the bank...then got robbed...then it turned out it was a fake robbery and we all got fired...and now we rob banks....) and a Hello Kitty convention. ("Respect the kitty!") We also did a brief practice on How To Ask The Audience For A Suggestion, because yes, there is a straight up format for that. And it was emphasized that you don't really have to take their suggestion so much as you attempt to think of something else related to that to go to. And you need to try to be somewhat specific about it because if you ask people for something at random, they will either come out with "apple" (or some other food) or something dirty.

The thing about the Harold is that (a) you start out with some random audience suggestion and then (b) have to spontaneously come out with some kind of real life story from your life that's relatively short, may or may not be funny but shouldn't be dark*, should wrap up in a minute to a minute and thirty seconds, and should sort of end with you learning something. The story may or may not relate to the word--we had a guy who DID come up with a great story about a chinchilla at a pet store having some kind of random seizure and the pet store people were all "no big deal" about it-- but if you can't do the word, think of something related to it. They should be detailed, you should explain all things including pop culture references**, stay linear. Avoid stories about being wasted, the mentally ill, awful crimes---basically the unfunny stuff.

* One girl told the story about crazy waves on her honeymoon in Mexico sweeping them off the beach, but left out that it damaged her knee hugely for a year, for example.
** Which normally you are supposed to avoid in scenes with others in case you get the one guy who's never seen Indiana Jones.

I've always thought from watching Birdstrike shows that whoever came up with the second monologue could talk about the word, or something related to the first monologue, but apparently not. You're supposed to go from A to C--think of something that is pretty much not really related so that you get more material to work from. This seemed surprisingly difficult to me.

Anyway, for whatever crazy-ass reason I had the urge to tell the timeshare story, so as we were practicing coming up with vaguely related monologues, I kept looking for an opportunity to jump in and do it. Well, one came about and so I did, so huzzah for me. It was fun. Next week, we move on to the actual stage.

We also got our student passes so we could attend certain shows for free. And one of those free shows was starting right after class, so I think about half of us stuck around to watch it. It was the last night of "Cage Match," which I gather is moving to a different night after this week. Two teams do improv for 20 minutes and then the audience votes on who wins and the winner comes back next week. It was the two-person, four-week winning, two ladies team of "Nip Pals" (I think that was the name) vs. the four-person, challenging, three dudes and a lady team of "Comic Sans."

One could probably suspect who was going to win from the getgo with this one, honestly. Comic Sans did a pretty good job doing Harold style--they started with a monologue about a guy getting over being a picky eater by being forced to eat octopus (hah, I have a similar story actually) and another guy talking about how he fell off a couch while playing on it as a kid and injuring himself....I also have a similar story to that. Anyway, they did a bunch of crazy stuff involving "octopus hands" as a sexual act, cockroaches who don't pay rent, a bunch of bugs getting together to form a giant musician, etc. Not bad, but once the Nip Pals took the stage, you knew they had to be pros here, or at least uh, whatever the equivalent of such is. One of them is an official instructor/emcee of another show, actually. And they were amazing. They didn't Harold, they just busted out into skits involving being afraid of invading douchebags (OMG I have cheap beer in the house! Get rid of it!), old ladies, a chick who can hide way too much stolen crap in her vadge, and a lady with a pet worm that she cuts in half when it misbehaves and eats the neighbor's plants. They won for week 5, of course.

I should probably mention that the Comedy Spot had a 48-hour improv marathon over the weekend. Since I was spending most of my weekend driving to the Bay Area and back, I didn't actually go to any shows in person but did watch them on the streaming camera when I could. I have to say that watching in person was funnier--or maybe I just had better visuals since their camera didn't exactly focus on the stage or seeing people so well.

Anyway, huzzah, I've officially seen my first show in person around here. I don't think I'm likely to make any other free ones this week (maybe Friday if work doesn't suck me dry like a Hoover like it did last week), but maybe the week after that. I wonder what they're going to run as a replacement for Cage Match?

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