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PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 6:40 pm
by kbadr
Jastroch wrote:
Spots wrote:
Jastroch wrote:
There are some people who respond more viscerally to Harold-type work and other's who want to see a narrative.



You just lost me.

Oh I think I got it. Narrative in the sense that you follow one character or group of characters. That definition is what you're using here.


Sorry. Narrative in the sense that people use it around here: long-form improv narrative pieces. Stories with a clear beginning middle and end, often steeped in a genre.


Oh, you mean jazz.

PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 8:06 pm
by kaci_beeler
I honestly don't believe that audiences go for any one form over another. I don't think many at all could make a clear distinction.
I think your average audience member wants a more-or-less guaranteed fun night out and heard that that IO place and that UCB place are well known for their shows. The more they can wrap their heads around what is happening, the more likely they are to see it (this is why I think comedysportz packs houses in venues all around the country, easy to understand what you're getting when you read about it).
If the venue has a good word of mouth buzz, people will head to it.

I mean, think about it. Think about your own family, even your cousins or siblings close to your own age. Would they naturally understand what an improv show with a Harold format was if you explained it to them? Would they understand what exactly was happening when they saw it?
I don't think so. If they were entertained they'll remember that that place had a fun show. I doubt many think, "I need to see more of these Harolds!" or "I need to see more of these improvised plays!"

Hopefully they think, "This improv thing is cool, I want to see more."

PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 8:10 pm
by kaci_beeler
dancrumb wrote:In addition, the Harold (as I understand it) follows a beginning-middle-end format that is familiar to anyone with even the most basic understanding of story-telling (and, I believe, human beings are hard-wired to understand and be receptive to classical story-telling). So... is that why the Harold is so popular?


You also just gave a definition that would be perfectly acceptable for "narrative long form".

PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 9:19 pm
by Spots
Dan & Kaci, I love the points you make about the perceptions of the audience. Clearly the crowds aren't specifically demanding Harolds over another format.

Fun's the word. And I think there are bonus points if they come out of the show with a somewhat clear "sense of narrative".

As in the audience could follow the sequence of events or they detected changing values. Status shifts too. And the show didn't feel jumbled.

PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 11:00 pm
by arthursimone
i love to improvise a Herod

PostPosted: July 13th, 2011, 11:47 pm
by Alex B
I'm a big fan of the Harold -- it's a powerful, lovely form when played well, and it teaches many lessons about comedy, lessons about patterns and connections and... (What Jastro said)

But a form is only a conceptual tool for shaping a show, a way of thinking about an improv performance.

Treating a single form--even one as lovely as the Harold--as the be all is mentally and theatrically limiting. (At the iO, every new house troupe is automatically a Harold troupe. This seems a bit much to me. A few of these house troupes are extremely good. But a lot of the best troupes at the iO have little to nothing to do w/ the Harold.)

And Kaci's point is right on. Audiences don't really care about improv nerd terminological distinctions. Audiences want fun, entertaining, interesting performances. If they aren't benighted audiences, maybe they want--oh god--emotional and intellectual stimulation too. And, hey, mutatis mutandis for performers. (Light bulb!)

Re: Poor Harold. Can't get no respect.

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 12:05 am
by Alex B
Katherine wrote:But I've heard people say that the Harold is too contrived, too structured, to cliche, and so on. What's behind this?


Some combination of ignorance and malice.

WHAT! But, really. Who said that? I want to find them and say "you're dumb."

The Harold is a form--of course it has some structure. But Harold structure is flexible! If your suggestion is "the four seasons" (or if it comes up in the show), you might think about changing the three beats to four beats. (I stole that example from Bill Arnett!) And if you made such a change, the corpse of Del Close would surely approve!

To be fair, structure can be flexible, but I doubt it can be infinitely flexible. I think there's a tendency to overlabel some shows as Harolds, just because they contain certain organic work or certain connections throughout the show.

I guess you could call this psychological tendency The Barnum-Harold Effect (working title). The idea is that Harold-advocates will use any goodness of an improv show as evidence that, ipso facto, that show must have been a Harold.

Joke: A twelve-year old kid does a triple back flip off a snowboard ramp, glides to the bottom of the hill, then delivers a rousing soliloquy on the irrationality of American politics.

Judge: "10."
Improviser: "That kid just nailed a Harold!"

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 12:38 am
by jillybee72
Many people who think Harold is too structured only learned the training wheels Harold and never took it out for a real spin. The Opening/1A 1B 1C/Game/2A 2B 2C/Game/3A 3B 3C is for beginners. Open her up and see what she can do! Weave a much more intriguing pattern why don'tcha? These are the elements, yes, opening/games/scenes, but anything can happen from there. Which is pretty much what Alex said up dere.

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:10 am
by Kayla Lane
A handful of talented imps, who once upon a time were all newbish like I am, have expressed incredibly well my opinions regarding the Harold in the three older posts Brad that linked to. Best capitulated by Jason in 2006:

vine311 wrote:I've been following this thread (...) and I haven't chimed in because I've never (...) performed a Harold before. However, all of this hype has got me dying to try one. (...) I don't care what school it came from or who taught it to whom, I want to learn as much as I can from as many sources possible. My ultimate goal to is soak up all of this knowledge and experience so that I can eventually invent my own styles and teach them to others. I am a sponge soaking up all of the amazing information that you guys have to give. I don't care what others' opinions are of any given style, I want to try everything new that I can and fail my way to success.



Also, In the Fall 2010 Harold thread, Jon Bolden posed a really great question regarding the creation of a Harold class. I haven't been around long enough to know what happened with that. Are there plans for any 16-week Harold courses for improvisers who don't want to or can't afford to pay to start over at Level One at another theater in anticipation of a Harold level?


And if there isn't, there should be. Surely there are 7 other people beside myself who would be interested in paying for and committing to this.

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:26 am
by Katherine
bradisntclever wrote:Well, this is one of the threads that tends to come up on a yearly basis. I guess the best way to start this is to refer you to previous threads for a little prior reading. We've got this one, this one, and most recently, this one. That's just the start. Plenty more if you do a search for "Harold".


Ahh, yes, research. Thank you! I'll take a look at these.

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:32 am
by Katherine
Harold wrote:Katherine, you make me blush.

Tee hee!


Ha! Love it! ( :

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:32 am
by Roy Janik
Kayla wrote:Also, In the Fall 2010 Harold thread, Jon Bolden posed a really great question regarding the creation of a Harold class. I haven't been around long enough to know what happened with that. Are there plans for any 16-week Harold courses for improvisers who don't want to or can't afford to pay to start over at Level One at another theater in anticipation of a Harold level?


Andy tried to set one up, but he couldn't coordinate the schedules of the people interested at the time. I'm sure he'd be totally down for trying to get one going.

Not sure about it being 16 weeks, though. :)

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:41 am
by Kayla Lane
Yeah, 16 weeks seems like it might be tough logistically. I just threw that number out there because it seemed to be the consensus in the old threads of the amount of time "needed" to teach it. I'd personally be excited for any class no matter the length!

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 1:42 am
by Katherine
Kayla wrote:A handful of talented imps, who once upon a time were all newbish like I am, have expressed incredibly well my opinions regarding the Harold in the three older posts Brad that linked to. Best capitulated by Jason in 2006:

vine311 wrote:I've been following this thread (...) and I haven't chimed in because I've never (...) performed a Harold before. However, all of this hype has got me dying to try one. (...) I don't care what school it came from or who taught it to whom, I want to learn as much as I can from as many sources possible. My ultimate goal to is soak up all of this knowledge and experience so that I can eventually invent my own styles and teach them to others. I am a sponge soaking up all of the amazing information that you guys have to give. I don't care what others' opinions are of any given style, I want to try everything new that I can and fail my way to success.



Also, In the Fall 2010 Harold thread, Jon Bolden posed a really great question regarding the creation of a Harold class. I haven't been around long enough to know what happened with that. Are there plans for any 16-week Harold courses for improvisers who don't want to or can't afford to pay to start over at Level One at another theater in anticipation of a Harold level?


And if there isn't, there should be. Surely there are 7 other people beside myself who would be interested in paying for and committing to this.


Yes to everything Kayla said and quoted in this post! YES! (Also, I need to learn how to quote multiple people in one post.)

PostPosted: July 14th, 2011, 2:29 am
by Katherine
Well, I've looked through 1.5 of the older threads about the Harold, and it does seem that it's been beaten like a dead horse. For those who have been through this discussion before, my apologies.

In a 2008 post,arthursimone mentioned a "Harolding troupe" called Trophy Wife Improv that is strong and that kindly posts each and every show they do. I checked their site out and discovered that they also have a set of their best shows ready for viewing. As my dad would say, "Lord love a duck!!"


http://www.trophywifeimprov.com/greatesthits