Improv 201, Week Three: Kaploosh Is A Meltdown
2015-07-23, 6:46 a.m.
Previous week here:
Yesterday, Mom and Angelica brought my car back to me--Mom drove my car and Angelica drove Mom's. There was some fire going on and Mom was flipping out about it. Also because in addition to other fun things they blew the code out on the radio and she had to drive in silence. However, I at least knew how to fix that one. Hah.
Anyway, I was then able to go to improv class the next day, thank goodness.
Brian had us talk about the format of the Harold again, since he hadn't been around for that lecture.
They're recently implemented Saturday Harold teams, which he said do a "Living Room" opening, a "Go" opening that Brian made up, the pattern game, a "Meerkat" opening that Brian created (he didn't name it! In full Harold tradition, I guess.) You don't get the most diverse patterns from monologues, but it can be harder to do other styles.
A light comes on in the back of the room after 20 minutes of a Harold routine as a warning to wrap it up in five. "We had a 40 minute Harold once and I wanted to shoot myself."
This week, we learned second beats. Next week is third beats, week five is covering group scenes. Brian calls group scenes "anti-scenes" because everyone is crazy and no one is grounded.
"Until we see all three, the show's not over."
We played this theater game called "zip, zap, boing." It's one of those "passing the whatever" sort of games where you practice eye contact, kinda like the knives, babies, angry cats one. Zipping is a hand gesture you do to whoever's next to you, zapping is a similar one done to someone across from you, boing is having whoever passed it bounce off you and back to the originator. Then Brian threw in a "kaploosh" (skip over a person and go on to the next one) and it got confusing. It was kind of an Uno game from hell. "We add a kaploosh and it was like a fucking meltdown."
Notes on second beats:
Energy/emotionwise, you should start second beats at around a level 3 out of 10.
You can do a continuing second group scene if you like (time/analogous). Can blend group scenes with 3 scenes too.
Time dash: Exact same pattern as first beat, same characters* but we take them back or forward in time. Always the same Tony Stark in every movie.
Analogous: same-ish pattern, new characters, new situation. Star Wars and Hobbit have the same situation, space vs. Shire. Also every superhero movie ever. "Doing it, you're going to be fucked up," but talking about it, you get it. Recycle and twist the same things you did the first time.
Avoid the hybrid (i.e. doing time dash in beat 2 and analogous in beat 3)! Can't switch from impersonating a cat to impersonating a dog a week later. Hard to see.
Walk ons in the first scene do not have to be in the second beat, it's optional.
Then we tried to pitch ideas: pitch a first beat and then a second as a group.
Stuff that came up:
Another idea: Tagging out parents who switch off having hard conversations with the kid, vs. tagging out at work.
Being too old to shop at a particular store, or a snobby restaurant only lets in people who know food.
Then we attempted scenes of this sort of thing.
In one scene, someone was attempting to teach math while teaching it in the style of being a clown--which led to the note of "no bad doctor scenes" or "teaching scenes." Basically, you're competent but weird, not just shitty.
Another one that worked well was a girl walks in on a baby shower in the neighborhood and just wanting to join in, and in the second beat she showed up for the kid's birthday party a few years later. Which led to the note that doors are always open in scenes. No knocking, just be in already. Get in late, get out early.
The baby shower thing kept hitting a roadblock when the mom would enter, freak out, and demand that she leave. Which is what would happen in normal life, but in improv is not so great. He said to move past that conflict and that the scene was ending up in an improv trench. Brian said that a teacher of his (Joel Spent? Spence?) said to "embrace pleasure, avoid pain." Just let her stay at the baby shower! Don't throw the interesting person out of the scene.
And finally at the end, Chris and I did a scene where he was a wannabe stuntman getting injured by me at his request, then we did the same thing while at an old folks home (tripping with a walker, anyone?).
After that, I went to Improv Jam. Notable moment from that: a (relatively newlywed, apparently) husband and wife were in the same team that night. He told about picking out some sort of weird drink machine on their registry that she wasn't thrilled with and how they got it. People then started screaming for her to do a rebuttal, so she told a story about how they met while going to college at Chico and when they were at the same party she talked girls into hitting him up for free drinks.