Chaos Attraction

Improv 201, Week 4: You Didn't Even Sniff My Butt

2015-07-30, 6:28 p.m.

Part two of the same day.

Continued from here:

I am sad to find out that Chris has apparently dropped out of improv entirely for some mysterious personal reasons. This bums me out. Though I will admit that improv seems to work best in groups of six, so technically that makes things a wee bit easier in class. But stlll, wah.

This week we primarily did more drill sorts of things. We had three people go up—one would do a monologue and then sit down, the other two would do a first beat scene based off of that monologue and then do a second beat immediately. Then you'd have to do a third beat right after that, that was the opposite of whatever sort you did previously. Which goes against what you're supposed to do on stage, ahem. But it's practice. He also said that anything is really possible as long as you stick to the pattern. Or at least, you can switch,but the audience finds this confusing.

Example #1:
Monologue: I forget what the word suggestion was, but the monologue was about seeing Star Wars for the first time.
Pattern: unusual person is trying to live a “normal life.”
Time dash example: zombies going to the movies, followed by going to the gym. One of them is still trying to live a normal life (i.e. not eating anyone), the other wants to do zombie things like eat people.
Analogous example: Kermit rejects Miss Piggy, deciding he wants to do normal frog stuff instead of Muppet stuff, like hop on lily pads and catch flies with his tongue. He has no idea how to do that.

Example #2:
Monologue: Suggestion word was “snowglobe,” I did this on buying a last minute large souvenir at Disneyland and having to haul it around awkwardly.
Pattern: unusual person is “sweetly aggressive” towards their SO as they insist on the SO doing, winning, and buying various huge things for them.
Time dash example: couple at the fair, lady keeps insisting her date win her huge stuffed animals, followed by them buying stuff at the store. (I seem to recall the grounded one ended up full on in the frozen foods door at some point, digging in the back.)
Analogous example: neighborhood dogs doing the same kind of thing. Quotes from this:
“You didn't even sniff my butt!”
“There's some shit down the street, you wanna run in it?”
“If you were a real neighborhood dog, you'd chase the cats for me.”
Brian on this scene on finding analogous actions to the girl smacking the guy: “You'd probably have to hump him, is what I'm saying.”

Example #3 (the one I was in):
Monologue: one of my classmates made the mistake of playing that “game” where you get a free pass to sleep with five people and it's supposed to be celebrities—but he picked a woman who worked at the grocery store and got dumped for realism. This entire scene setup will teach y'all why you should never do this.
Pattern: unusual person (me) not only has people in real life on the list of people with a free pass to bang, they're WEIRD people.
Time dash: people I was interested in banging included Jimmy's science teacher, an 80-year-old bank teller, I forget who the third one was, the fourth one was Molly....hah. I threw that one in because I knew she was going to drop something off in the room. Alas, she didn't time her entrance to hear that, hah. I was impressed at how well I could rationalize weird crushes with no intent, really!
Analogous: ended up being two gangsters and I'm making a hit list of innocuous people to shoot that I think are suspicious and hang around the neighborhood too much, like the mailman, the 65-year-old retired librarian turned ice cream man (just because he wears argyle sweaters is no reason not to suspect him of having tons of guns hidden in that pedo van), a 14-year-old trumpet player could have a gun in that case....

That was fun.

Brian said we'd be doing the same kinds of drills next week, that continuing the beats is the hardest part.

General notes:
* Labeling your pattern in the first scene makes it easier. Always call it out in the scene.
* Keep your traits from beat to beat. If you started out submissive, stay submissive.
* When do you come up with ideas for the second beat? Right before you go on stage to do it!
* Time dashes are good if your character is killing it---you don't have a need to come up with another one.
* If you do a time dash, do it from the second to third beat, not back to the time of the first beat.
* Brian likes the challenge of doing an analogous scene. Don't be afraid of doing it just because you have to tweak it.
* Try to avoid walking places awkwardly in place on stage—just set things right by where you are.
* Almost all of the time, the way to say something on stage is to show it on stage.
You can take a rest during scenes to head off fights (which aren't patterns), by doing some space object work while someone thinks of something else to say.
* Brian cited Denzel Washington as someone who's very good at suppressing his emotions and thus saying things without saying them.. “You Denzel Washington that shit” by pushing down the emotion to play it, then you can ramp up. He decided that he wants to make a video of all of Denzel's one single tear moments this weekend now.

On to the lecture about third beats:
* Give yourself time for the other patterns to blend.
* If the first and second beat scenes did not blend, the third can try to blend with the first, second, or both.
* You need to make a very fast decision on the third.
* Hit your pattern by using the previous people.
* Once you blend, these worlds have collided and it's a scene. You do eye contact with each other, and all in one space.
* Don't force anything.
* If your gut says it's good, then go for it.

We finished by doing Cocktail Party (mentioned in Improv Lab previously), in which we were put into different groups of two and told to have some kind of random conversation independent of everyone else and the setting. One group had a guy obsessed with toast, another had a girl who had no compunctions about inspecting a dog by giving it the ol' Best of Show feeling up, including sticking her fingers in its butt, and mine had a guy who kept going down on one knee during conversations and being mistaken by Brian (in a walk-on as a waiter) as him about to propose to me. He got down on one knee to act out fixing a lady's tire and Brian was all, “THAT's your pattern now.” At the end, we were supposed to think of ways to make them integrate. I was all, “have him get down on one knee with the dog!”

Went to Improv Jam after that, where I found out that one of my classmates REALLY wanted in on that mob action, as she did a character who was raised in a mob family and was weirded out by high school. Hah. Well, I think it was her suggestion in the first place when we were stumped on an analogous example.

I haven't been doing Jam even though some of my classmates have been doing it. I think I probably SHOULD be doing it, except (a) I'm a little bit brain tired after being on the spot more than I'm used to in this class (we can't really go in shifts of six like I did in 101), and (b) I don't know how I feel about Jam, really. It's a little weird going in groups of 7 or 8 that just kinda play out...however, instead of the usual two, then two, then two thing I'm usually doing in class. Some people repeat a whole lot, sometimes it ends up a giant group scene, one certain fellow seems to ah, hog kind of a lot but it's also entertaining so I don't know how I feel about that... It's hard to figure out how to hop in, in a way. Maybe I'll make myself do it more during in between class breaks when I'm short on performance opportunities.

This night had some very funky monologues, involving “I went on a Boy Scout trip and saw my first dead body,” “I went on a date with a woman who believes mermaids exist,” misbehaving at a country club, and a goldfish who apparently ate all the other fish in the tank, so “don't trust goldfish.” So this led to scenes about:
• a Boy Scout earning a lot of badges related to body disposal,
• a kayaking trip in which they shot mermaids in the river, followed by a 3-year-old mermaid asking where his parents were,
• Extreme Country Club, at one point the game was to attempt to order a bottle of beer comprehensibly on the first try,
• A very suspicious goldfish that talks and borrows money,
• A camp for incompetent children, where they ate paste and threw shoes. (I forget what brought that on.)

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