Chaos Attraction

Improv 201, Week 1: Live In The Cootie Catcher

2015-07-09, 10:10 p.m.

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(I have a shit ton of journal entries written this month and haven't gotten to posting them. Here comes the hardcore catchup.)

Welcome to Improv 201! This class has seven people in it...I'm sort of surprised at that and sort of not. Two of them (including my classmate Chris from 201, we were planning on coming back for this class at the same time) weren't there tonight, so it was two guys and three girls. The girls were in the most recent 101 class and got to start immediately, the other dudes took classes before I did and were finally able to come back.

Apparently the first two weeks are basically refresher/catchup ones, which I guess works out great for the missing guys. Later we're going to work on second and third beat scenes and group scenes. Brian gave a little primer about the school--started in 2005, he originally created the Free Hootch Comedy Troupe that ran from 2001-05, he's also taught kids at Sac State because I guess that college does improv in summers (see next week for more about that), went to the UCB school in LA, and he's on a YouTube show that he says is terrible. Heh. He said there's 42 people on Harold teams, 110 performers there altogether, and 10 are on the new Gordon team.

The first theater game we were doing was called "get out of the jungle," and uh...that's about it. Figure out some way to get out of the jungle. So I was all, hey let's climb a tree and swing from vines and look around for animals or a way out or whatever, other people are doing whatever, and finally someone is all "here, I found a path." Apparently uh...that was the point of the game. As in, I guess there was only one time he had this game going where someone said "hey, guys, there's a door that takes us out of the jungle!" This was...not so much about doing something funny, apparently. Oops. He said we get nervous and put up barriers and don't listen-- yeah, everyone complains about me doing this all the time.

* We need pretty clear patterns in the first beat so that we can repeat them in second beats--which we start working on in the third week.
* Don't overcomplicate, keep it simple
* Simple patterns played smart
* Avoid conflict in scenes.
* 90% of the scene is listening and reacting.
* A pattern is a repeating joke
* You should have a reason for why you are doing something
* Every good monologue has 2 scenes to play in it, you should give lots of information.
* Concept of exploring is like duck duck goose: see a thing, explore a thing, let it go.
* Wait to explore until after the first hit/laugh.
* Here's what we're playing and here's an example of it.
* Teaching scenes suck because only one person has information in the scene.
* Get in late, get out early, start in the middle of the action.
* Always have a "where" so people know how to jump in.
* "A grounded pattern is not just a stake." They have a pattern too, it's just different (and opposite the crazy person's). It's conflict without conflict, rotating against each other.
* "Why" is something you're making a choice to do.
* Having an unusual situation rather than an unusual character is ok to do
* Try to skip having scenes where people are talking on the phone--this one was directed at me when I did a scene in which I was calling my mom for a pickup after wrecking the car. Oops. Also, we shouldn't have been looking at each other while on the phone, we should have had our backs to each other.
* Follow the funny--keep working on what gets laughs, like the various disastrous things I did to the car.

Having only five people in class meant that we were pretty busy. Even though we were only doing two person scenes, I wasn't used to being up and at 'em so much compared to 101, when we were going in shifts of six or so. I don't remember that much about the scenes at this point though because I didn't get to writing this up until over a week later. Sorry about that. I do remember telling the "honey, I broke the dog" story and then being in a scene where a guy was trying to distract me from the fact that my dog was drowned in the tub upstairs. At some point we mentioned deducting money for the various things he did in the house...that got a little crazy.

There was one scene in which one girl was giving her girlfriend grade school type gifts--Chinese finger cuffs, a cootie catcher, etc. instead of a ring-- and Brian was all, "Live in the cootie catcher, guys." I...don't recall the context of this as I write it up over a week later, maybe there just wasn't any? He noted that "shitty is never a pattern" and praised that girl for having a pattern of grade school gifts rather than just bad presents. It reminded me of watching the ASSSCAT DVD and Amy Poehler doing a skit in which she kept giving her boyfriend more and more awesome gifts and the boyfriend had jack shit. Make sure you tell your scene partner what the gift is!
Another scene was two guys swimming in a tank at Marine World and running into sharks and puffer fish, another one was involving a caveman home and finished on "You left the rock toilet seat up."

Oh yeah, and at one point Brian mentioned Molly doing a scene involving a "queefstorm." Uh-HUH. I'm just mentioning that to uh....remember it.


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