Chaos Attraction

Improv 101 Week Five: You Always Edit On Kim Kardashian

2015-04-21, 10:07 p.m.

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Week 5 is on: a third of the class didn't show up (oh well, still had ten, which sure beats trying to take class where I live), and Brian was back from doing his taxes.

I asked him about doing "You! The Musical" last week (he always asks what shows we caught and what we learned from them) and he lit up and had a lot to say about it. It was really exciting to me. He saw a show like that in LA years ago and only really got his shit together to start doing it within the last year--I gather the show I saw was their third ever, and he said that You! and the Anti-Cooperation League were the best shows to introduce someone to improv with.

About that style of musical improv, he said that:
* all of the songs are pattern driven. He's really good at setting up structures to work in.
* Types of songs you do: establishing character songs, the "One Day More"/"Tomorrow"-type song, the battle song, and the finale.
* They do NOT have rhymes memorized ahead of time! I swear that shocked me most.
* You set up at least three characters: protagonist, antagonist, and a secondary character. Though they usually have 8 cast members, so everyone else fills in.

Regarding "The Douche And I," he sounded like he was worried about the religious aspects of the show--or what people from Roseville/not the midtown area--would think of it, but folks were cool. He still wrote a cautionary letter to the cast to not go too crazy with this stuff, though. And yet he was the one who eventually went with the deus ex machina ending... he said his original idea was to be a "nice guy" the heroine would go for, but once the actress playing her decided to make her dirty and looking for a bad boy, he needed something else to do.

This week, he introduced some new concepts:

Editing: This is when someone on the backline runs in front of the scene to end it (or put it out of its mercy).
* Do not try to be funny or do gestures or the like while doing the run.
* There will be 4-6 hits in a typical scene. Keep an eye out around the fourth hit to see if the scene's gonna hit Crazy Town or needs to end. When they hit Crazy Town, edit ON the applause, start running right when they do the Crazy Town thing.
* You can edit by running between two people or tap them on the shoulder from behind if you must.
* Everyone is in charge of editing.

Walk-ons: This is joining a scene to either help them clarify or hit on a pattern. You walk in and say who you are, here's my gift, then walk away. Don't do a walk on at the end of a scene--just edit if they're not getting there--unless you get a Crazy Town idea.
If someone says, "I hope my mom doesn't come home," that's a hint for someone to come out and be Mom.
Only one walk-on should happen during a scene.

Endowments: This is stuff you do while on the back line. You can yell out things to help people cut to the chase. Like say "Cut to tomorrow" if people keep saying they're going to do something tomorrow. Don't do fake walking in place stuff. You can announce things that fit the scene, like saying there's a sign over someone's head.

Going on a run: I've seen this done with Birdstrike, but Brian said this isn't done in Harolds so much. It's when you tap one character out (usually the grounded one) and keep the unusual one, change the setting, but keep the same idea going.

Chairs: There will always be two chairs on stage. Patterns apply to chairs. The first person can grab a chair and then they should point at the other person if you want them to sit in it or grab the other chair. If it's indicated to grab the second chair, it should be set up as a mirror to the first one. Yes, there's chair etiquette so people don't get all confused on stage as to what they are doing.

Notes from class:
* Play the pattern, don't go for the joke.
* Say your pattern when you walk on.
* In 201 they will do group scenes. After telling us about a scene where everyone ended up sticking to each other, "Don't edit yourself unless you're in a group Velcro scene."
* If you play an animal (he had us doing this in warmup), don't go on all fours (the stage is short) or stop speaking English. Your animal must have a human sensibility.
* Harolds have 3 monologues, then 3 2-person scenes. Try not to do a scene based on your monologue.
* Do not change who is grounded vs. crazy in the scene.
* Play any gender you want (he referred to what Molly said about standing), soften your voice for a girl and go a little deeper for a guy. Neither gender should grab their genitalia.
* Monologue A starts with the word suggestion, Monologue B starts with some idea from the first monologue, Monologue C starts with some idea from the second monologue.
* Every monologue should generate 2 ideas. You need 4 ideas for a Harold. No 2 scenes should refer back to other scenes--consider it a dead idea after it's been used. No themes are allowed to carry over. All ideas should be far away from each other.
* People on the back line can move away from the action if it's getting too close.
* Make a quick list in your mind on things you know about the topic. Pick what you can play. Pick specific choices, not generic.
* "You always edit on Kim Kardashian." (Possibly self-explanatory after you've read the rest of this, eh?)
* "Don't stop the fan" is Brian's terminology for not stopping something unusual on stage if it's funny. Based off of a bunch of people pantomiming that they were being slowly blown across the stage until the fourth person just turned it off.

So after the lectures (see above) and a few quick warmups, the rest of class was dedicated to Harold-ing. Hoo boy, was it hard-ish. After last week, he asked for six to go up there and I was all, "I learned from last time, I'm letting other people go first and then take notes on it before I go up there." Which I certainly tried (and obviously I got a lot of notes), but it was still hard.

The first three were all kinda based on Oregon. The first idea was great--a Californian pulls up at an Oregon gas station, and not only do they pump your gas for you, they check you for really obnoxious Californian things and confiscate them, like a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD or whatever brand of beer. The originator kind of ran out of ideas after awhile, but good concept. The second one was showing the training for pumping gas in Oregon--kinda not much going on with that. The third idea was a luxury Phish concert, which wasn't too bad either.

The set I went up in was, admittedly...well, I wasn't doing so great at it. I walked in on every dang scene and probably didn't really need to and I wasn't coming up with super great ideas, though the monologue I did (on the Mary Frith show and singing dirty songs) was pretty good and tied in enough to the first guy's monologue on watching The Usual Suspects (the suggested word was "spacey.").

The first act was a super excited fan swooning over an unidentified star...who eventually claimed to be Taylor Swift. (This was especially funny since this was the oldest dude in class.) However, at one point they called for security, and I took that hint to jump in and haul the dude away...didn't think of any funny way to do it and I took the fan away. Ack. The second act was two girls going to a Star Wars movie marathon and one of them thinks Star Trek is Star Wars...except the "grounded" one is one of those rare people who knows next to nothing about either fandom. I decided to jump in and do...uh, whatever, I don't much remember at this point other than as I'm swooping in with my lightsaber, they're mentioning a boyfriend who's also dressed in Trek and I was all, DAMMIT SHOULDA DONE THAT.

As for my skit, it was based off of monologue #3 about becoming way too incoherent and dehydrated in 100 degree temperature farmland, and I decided to throw in a karaoke contest. We're both hot, no water, so let's smoke up some pot (I admit I was throwing in some stuff from the Phish skit earlier on) and do other dumb things and try to sing "The Bad Touch" because sure, everyone knows the lyrics....

Anyway, I was not feeling too good at this. Trying to think of a monologue AND what to do off of every monologue, and all of the jokes after that, is fucking hard, man. It makes me wonder how bad we might be after the three weeks is up. Or also that maybe I shouldn't be all smugass and "yeah, sure, I can totally get on a Gordon Team in the future after 201" and I may need some work, or possibly a lot of work.

Though for once, I'm not super beating myself up about this sort of thing. I'm supposed to suck right now, eh? I think I'll be doing my best to practice up and learn and catch shows when I can in the meantime, though. Maybe get a book or something.

It looks like 201 doesn't run until July (or at least, I can't catch the next class in it since it clashes with CC shift on Thursdays--I'll have to change nights again in the future, darn it), so it may be awhile. I may just have to go to the improv labs or something in the meantime.


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