I hate 'teams'

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I hate 'teams'

Postby shando » June 2nd, 2006, 4:41 pm

I'm not a big fan of using the word 'team' to describe a group of improvisers. I much prefer 'ensemble' or 'troupe', or even the generic 'group' to 'team.' I find using the word team somewhat defensive about the artistic merits of improv, as if we're saying, "No no we're not an art form, we're more like sports, no culture going on here, don't be afraid, Joe Sixpack."

I suppose team makes sense in the context of something like a CageMatch, but I still am not hot about the word. By extension, I much prefer 'director' to 'coach', but I do feel that what improv coaches do is different from what most theatrically-minded audience think of when they hear the word 'director.' Is there another word for coach that doesn't have a sports connotation (and by the way, I am certainly not anti-sports)? The only thing other than director I can think of is the unwieldy 'outside eye', but that's just stupid.
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Postby Roy Janik » June 2nd, 2006, 4:53 pm

Well, to me, directors and coaches are distinct roles. A coach might be brought in to teach specific skills, provide guidance on what a troupe is doing, or to give notes after shows. A director is more in charge of the artistic direction/goals/vision/future of the troupe. At least that's what I've gleened in my brief time in improv.
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Postby shando » June 2nd, 2006, 4:58 pm

Roy Janik wrote:Well, to me, directors and coaches are distinct roles. A coach might be brought in to teach specific skills, provide guidance on what a troupe is doing, or to give notes after shows. A director is more in charge of the artistic direction/goals/vision/future of the troupe. At least that's what I've gleened in my brief time in improv.


Yes, I agree, and director wouldn't be a good substitute word for what a coach does. But there's still something about it that makes me feel a little weird. In dance they call coaches 'rehearsal directors', as often the choreographers are also dancers and they need outside eyes. But that phrase is a bit clunky as well.

My main beef is still with team.
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Postby vine311 » June 2nd, 2006, 5:01 pm

I thought "team" was more of a Chicago term. I thought we were calling all of our respective groupings here in Austin "troupes". I've never heard anyone's troupe referred to as a team. Am I missing something here?
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Postby shando » June 2nd, 2006, 5:03 pm

I guess it's mostly been in context of CageMatches that it comes up, but it still rubs me the wrong way. Maybe also looking at applications to OoB and seeing how people talk about themselves.
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Postby Evilpandabear » June 2nd, 2006, 5:16 pm

the term "teams" makes me feel as if i should have super powers, which causes me pain and misery as i have none. damn you god!
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Postby erikamay » June 2nd, 2006, 6:02 pm

i call the groups i am in "teams", i think its just what i learned first.

like asking for a "coke" or "fixin"

shannon = no friend of sports

so unamerican.
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Postby kbadr » June 2nd, 2006, 6:57 pm

I've always had this knee-jerk negative feeling when I hear people refer to groups as "teams." Can't really explain why, though I think it's because it does imply competition and sports-like activities, as Shannon said. I've always had a certain love of the word "troupe." Monty Python was a troupe...Kids in the Hall were a troupe...and dammit, I want to be in a troupe, too!

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Postby Wesley » June 2nd, 2006, 7:10 pm

I agree. Team to me has connotations of competitiveness, of all-stars and benchwarmers, of roles and positions within the team (pitcher, catcher, pinch runner). To me, a team rarely is. Troupe seems more unified in purpose and ability.

They called it Goof Troop for a reason.

But maybe I'm just defending it because that's the way I came into this (thanks to Python and KITH among others).
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Postby shando » June 2nd, 2006, 7:12 pm

erikamay wrote:
shannon = no friend of sports



So not true. I love sports. But I don't think improv needs the crutch of sports terminology to be popular. We don't need to be ashamed. Then again a team is also a group of animals all pulling in the same direction, whihc we should be.


But you're right, a lot of probably has to do with what one is first introduced to.

And Jason is right, this is totally not an issue. I'm just venting a personal bete noir. Is that possible? Are bete noirs ventable? Ventalated?
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Postby beardedlamb » June 3rd, 2006, 3:42 am

i also find "team" odd. coach as well. i think team evolved from theatresports and comedysportz and improv olympic that actually initially pitted two teams against one another much like the cagematch. i think that's right. but yeah, it sounds bush leaguey to me. second city is not a team, steppenwolf is not a team. why should ass monkey be a team when it can enjoy the same exact status as the royal shakespeare?
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Postby Wesley » June 3rd, 2006, 12:30 pm

Why should we use either, really?

I thought Austin was developing its own improv style. Why shackle ourselves to the old ways of New York, Chicago, and San Fran? Dinosaurs, every one.

I propose that Austin-based teams/troupes/treaps/troums use another collective term all together. Here are my suggestions:
Battalion, Bevy, Brood, Cast, Company, Congregation, Convocation, Family, Gaggle, Horde, House, Litter, Mob, Nest, Ostentation, Pack, Parliment, Party, Platoon, Pod, Scrubb, Sept, Smack, Squad, Wedge, Wing...

...and my personal favorite: CLAN (every troupe will need to design and wear their own tartan)
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Postby phlounderphil » June 3rd, 2006, 12:35 pm

"Clan" might be considered a bit racist, since many people in the US don't necessarily connect it to Scotland right away, most immediately think Klan instead.

My personal favorites of your list is Cast, Wing, Party. Party sounds like a lot of fun, and sounds important and political.

Whatever we choose, it CANNOT be House. Stupid Harry Potter.

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Postby shando » June 3rd, 2006, 12:44 pm

Wesley wrote:I thought Austin was developing its own improv style. Why shackle ourselves to the old ways of New York, Chicago, and San Fran? Dinosaurs, every one.


Well, let's not put down the important work going on in other cities just because we're also doing imprtant things. All those scenes are still vital I would say. And more besides.

The thing that I've always admired about Jeremy and the WHJ in their salad days was they insistence of making their own forms, continually pressing forward without slavishly adopting forms developed elsewhere or making imitations of shows that worked in a bigger city. Not that there's wrong with any of that, but I think it's more exciting to watch artists find their own voices than adopt the voices of others. I think that particular Austin tradition that Jeremy started is alive and well here, what with Val's new solo format, You, Me and Greg's pushing themselves to fail in the CageMatches, The Great Mundane, the recent Choose Your Own Adventure forms, 1 AM, etc. I hope we all keep experimenting like that.
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Postby Wesley » June 3rd, 2006, 1:59 pm

"Clan" might be considered a bit racist, since many people in the US don't necessarily connect it to Scotland right away
Here's a dirty little secret. Most people in America are stupid. 78% of the populace lies below the 50 percentile on intelligence tests. I say we take the word back and build a neo-Celtic empire right here...using improv as the basis.
The Parallelogramophonograph Clan has a nice ring to it. The ring of steel-on-steel to all who oppose us!


Well, let's not put down the important work going on in other cities just because we're also doing imprtant things. All those scenes are still vital I would say. And more besides.
Bah! I do not bite my thumb at them, I do but bite my thumb while facing their direction and looking them in the eyes.
They are vital though. Especially as a recruiting ground. Each city has a demonstrable track record of students willing to pay exorbitant sums for classes, over and over again, and then work for free at the venues. Yes...come my money-spending pretties. Come to Austin! Leave your stale, dinosaur cities behind. Join the new breed! Feel the revolution! Don't deny what we are, what is Austin's destiny.
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