Chaos Attraction

Improv 101 Week Six: Knives, Babies, Angry Cats.

2015-04-28, 9:56 p.m.

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Continued from here. Incidentally, I still need to write about my busy birthday weekend, but the last two days have been totally crazy busy so I'll hopefully get to it later.

This week was more Harold work, with one improv game called "Knives, Babies, Angry Cats." You throw imaginary knives, and a baby, and an angry cat, to whoever's making eye contact with you. Very tricky stuff. I am happy to report that we're at least not the "slow" class on that one.

The main lesson of the week was on "space objects," i.e. pantomiming objects. We also did a game in which we were supposed to hand each other objects and guess what they were--ah, we were not so good at this. It was hard.

Notes on space objects:
* Pantomine using the object, not like using your fingers as a gun.
* Do not use real objects.
* Feel the weight of your object in your hands.
* Really commit to the space objects if you want to be an intermediate player rather than a beginner.
* Always find the object someplace, don't just manifest it out of thin air or lose it in midair. Put it down or back where you found it. Open your hand to pick something up, open it wider than the object. Look at the object to pick it up. Make sure the object maintains its space.
* Put stuff down around where marks on the ground are so you can find them again.
* Your imaginary table is around your waist, or your partner's waist. Put stuff "Down" there.
* Drinking and eating require swallowing.
* Make your thumb the ridge of a cup.

We're losing people--we seem to be down to ten from 15-16 at the start on this week and the last. This is worrisome. Come back, folks! You seemed to be having fun! Also, I'm afraid we'll be left with six or less people at the performance at this rate of disappearance. Don't be like the town I live in, guys. You don't have midterms as an excuse to flake and bail!

Quotes from Brian this week:
* "If you're going to shoot somebody, shoot the grounded character."
* "Put an asterisk by everything I ever say."
* "When driving, I see a lot of scenes where people should have no license."
* "Anything else, just fucking figure it out on your own, guys!"

Notes on scenes:
* Avoid transaction scenes--it helps when the two characters know each other.
* Avoid bad (as in malpractice) doctor scenes. Be a good doctor with a quirk, like a clown fetish (seen at last week's Harold).
* Teaching scenes are about controlling your partner--don't block them/order them around.
* Go out there and have a ton of energy, but don't be frantic.

This week's group scenes I was in:
The monologues were (a) traveling to El Paso in lightning storms, (b) my telling the story of visiting Grandma in Montana when she was losing her mind and grabbing my boobs and telling the same joke a bunch of times a day, (c) on setting up a lot of electrical things.

Skit one was was a nervous driver, with me as his friend in the car (hah, like real life) and a third guy hopping in the car for a ride. Not too bad this time.
Skit two was a couple picnicking during a rainstorm and enjoying having their meal rained on and trees being hit by lightning (I was the tree).
Skit three was a guy who would only garden with rubber implements due to storms and the other guy who just got in a bunch of rebar and needs help picking it up.

Afterwards, Brian's critiques were to:
* hide the exposition or at least make it ore natural when explaining your location
* Play duck duck goose with your scenes. The most exciting part is the goosing, but the duck is our reality and you need the reality as much as the unusual. Mix in some reality with your pattern/hits. The duck stuff suspends the tension.
* The grounded person should be setting up the unusual player.
* Keep the stories moving away from the first word (he didn't like using lightning twice).

The second go-round... had one monologue about walking up to a moose at 3 a.m. in daylight in Alaska, had a monologue about going hiking in South America for ten days with someone she barely knew and that didn't go well, and I forget #3. On this time, Brian started kind of having people rewrite them in the middle of the scene.

So a scene in which one guy is anxious about his body and what his friends tell him to do got revved up to "I'm really gullible and should I be doing what my friends said, like quit my good job to blog." Another scene involving a guy super into bird watching went great when the scene was switched from birding in Alaska to him being obsessed with birds at home, pecking at his cereal and ah...well, guess what happened when his girlfriend got the newspaper. "I'm super into birds, I'm taking on the bird lifestyle."
The third scene were two campers about to go on a 28-day trip and one of them wants to bring as little as possible. Like one pair of undies, a knife is okay, don't bring a plastic bag because it's too big, so bring a condom....Also, "take off your shoes and stop being a bitch and let's go hiking!" was suggested as an ending.

* Show the pattern rather than talking about the pattern.
* Have her reality meet your unusual.
* Tweak one little thing.
* Agree by pointing out the unusual.
* Brian also liked the accidental screwed-up high-fives the guys did. Once it happens unintentionally, keep doing it intentionally.
* The rule of threes (tautology!): third time it's funniest, fourth time not so much. (Check the book blog in a few days for a book that totally covers that topic.)

Brain said his goal for our class performance is to be perfect, and by perfect he means about 40%. That we be able to initiate a pattern and hit it once or twice. I hope we can pull it off.


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