Chaos Attraction

Improv Games Workshop

2015-06-28, 8:49 p.m.

Today I took an improv games workshop (this is the sort of thing they do on Whose Line Is It Anyway). It was a small class, five people, which surprised me. Two newbies, me (who's... in the middle of newbie-ness now, I guess?), the aforementioned Patrick from here and a guy named Mike who is on a Harold team already. It was a lot of fun and I'd probably do it again if I can in the future. (We'll have to see. I'm guessing July is probably shot but August might be doable.)

Games we played that I recall:
* Try to talk to someone else in a scene while doing space object work unrelated to what you’re talking about. We were in a movie theater and dear god, it was hard to somehow fake using an Icee machine (which I’d been doing like, yesterday, for fuck’s sake) while trying to talk about something unrelated.
* Walk around for ten seconds doing something or other--come up with a funny gait, trudge around, something--and then come up with a character that matches that after ten seconds.
* Superhero funeral--this was my favorite one. You’re all at the funeral of a superhero, figure out how you knew him and do a eulogy. GREAT fun.
* There were several things that involved speaking gibberish. Probably the longest of them was having two people sell something in an infomercial while speaking gibberish and two others translated. I really liked selling a fire extinguisher and spraying well, everything.
* Accent combining--say something in a voice the teacher assigns to you, the other person with you does a different voice, and then the two of you try to combine talking in those. We had to combine French accent and “bro” accent--not too bad--and Fran Drescher + Santa Claus, which was very hard.
* Every scene spins off another scene, with keeping one character and then adding another and doing another genre.
* Alien phone home -- alien calls home describing some weird thing humans do. In this case, prom.
* If things could talk-- if an inanimate object could talk, what would it say? (in the case of a toothbrush, don’t use me, your roommate used me to clean the toilet...)

Acting tips:
* Make a specific offer
* Endow yourself, the other person or the environment
* Try not to be strangers in scenes
*Try not to ask questions in scenes
*No wrong answers.
* Establish right off what the relationship is
* Need more action onstage besides just talking
* If you are stuck, come up with something to do
* You end up with stock characters all the time
* Make a strong choice and stick with it
* Turn a question into a statement
* Get ideas from doing physical things.
* Give an offer = give them information to work with
* Asking a question takes something away
* Combining accents-- Fran Drescher and Santa Claus, French and “bro.” Combine aspects of each one. Use this if you run out of characters.
* Remember to commit.
* The best patterns come from contrast
* Commit to character and base reality
* Strong choices give you more to do and to other person, figure out relationship fast
* Use physicality to create character if you get stuck
* Follow the fear
* Use what you’re feeling

After class was over, she said that if we went to Game On that night--the short form games show she puts on once a month--we could get in for free. (I was the only one that did that--come on, people) So I had five hours to kill in Sacramento--or else drive home, but eh.... until then. I had paid for all day parking to go to this, so I took the opportunity to go shopping--hit two clothing stores and a random stuff store and two bookstores and a bead store. I ended up getting a scarf-like vest and some books, and after about three hours of that I left the area to go to Barnes and Noble and get some more books because I can’t find my copy of The Last Colony and wasn’t finding it in used stores either. Then I went back to midtown for the shows.

Game On was fun--they did some of the same stuff we did, like the inaminate objects talking--yes, toothbrush and that example came up again. My favorite was “Hats Dating Service” or something like that, where everyone put on silly hats and said horribly funny “sexy” things. I loved that so hard. They also had one called “Dum Dum Dum....” or something like that where you made that sound effect every time someone asked a question, and then the scene had to end. They also would freeze in place and then do scenes, did “award winning moments” in movies, and acting out a 1950’s health film that ended with the guy dousing himself in gasoline (to cover up his sweat!) and then lighting a cigarrette... Good stuff.

After that was Anti-Cooperation League. This show interviews someone once a week and then they base skits on them. This time someone in the show is friends with one of the guys who made this movie about comic strips, and we got to hear about how cool it was to interview Jim Davis (apparently he’s very nice) and even Bill Watterson, who drew the cover poster. Also, Fred is allergic to peanuts and we got to hear about the time he ate peanuts in NYC, tried to get on a subway while keeling over, ending up in a coma, and when he woke up they told him he’d been given methadone for his heroin addiction. Wait, what? “Aren’t you Fred Garcia?” “Noooo....” that’s the guy next to him handcuffed to a bed. The guy is also from Wilton (farm town somewhere around here), so there was some commentary about how there weren’t too many people around there and how one of them came in second on America’s Got Talent. This eventually led to a skit of “Wilton’s Got Talent,” involving disturbing varieties of redneck. I have a coworker who lives in Wilton...I don’t think I’ll mention this to her.

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