Maestro Suggestions

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Postby sara farr » April 16th, 2006, 11:00 am

nadine wrote:...you mentioned paying $5. Was there one coach, or people were just all giving feedback?


Yes, both the SFIC Jam and Longform Lab had experienced improvisers leading the thing.

The SFIC Jam was mostly a performance, though. The night I was there they had a guy from the National Endowment for the Arts in the Audience and there were some VERY GOOD improvisers in the crowd ready to jump up on stage. There was a whole bunch from the San Jose ComedySportz, BATS Improv, and Oui Be Negroes.

The Longform Lab was usually coached by the head of Oui Be Negroes (who was also the Prez of the SFIC), but that night it was run by another SFIC improviser I'd met at the Jam. She told us her name and gave us a list of her creditials before we started (but I don't remember either). We worked on a modified Harold format that night and she stepped us through, giving us feedback -- that was pretty tough on some of the guys.

valetoile wrote:putting in my vote in favor of some sort of maestro rehearsal/warm-up, probably right before the show.


I think this sounds like a good idea.
Last edited by sara farr on April 16th, 2006, 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wesley » April 16th, 2006, 11:01 am

There's also the audience. You can try some games and if they don't go over, if the pace isn't right, if there is a birthday or something you want to play on, etc, you have to be able to adapt the entire show on the fly. I think you can have a philosophy or category for each round (1st round are the most basic games, 2nd is quick games, ideally under 90 seconds, 3rd is complex games and maybe a scene, 4th is heavily scenic) but I'd wait to pick the specific games within those categories to see how all of the other variables go.

I've only directed a few times, but I often look at the players left in a round and try to give a game suited to what those players are capable of. Like last week, I asked for 3 players for a game I already had in mind. When I wound up with Kacey and Andrea on the random draw, I tossed the game aside and grabbed a 4th person on the spot to do a different game because they had both come up to me before hand and reminded me that they a) could sing and b) would like to sing. So, I switched to Inner Songalogue based on the players I got.

While I'm for more rigidity waming up, so that we are all together and ready to put on a great show, I am for less rigidity in the show itself. Another example of this, that I've rarely seen done (Roy may have done it), is to have the directors be a little looser with the points. Not a lot, because you don't want to override the audience or skewer the general show too much, but once, maybe twice a show (it's like any game where there is a gag you can use, but you can only use it once), the director's should give a bonus point for something like support.

Like last night, when Chris came out in the scene with Shannon and Terrill and got a huge laugh (and the quick pull of the lights kinda helped sell it). I think Andy was right to wave him off and restart the scene, but it got such a big laugh, especially from such a weird audience, that I would have loved (and I think they would have loved) to see that validated by giving Chris a quick bonus point.
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Postby fbillac » April 16th, 2006, 1:08 pm

A couple of ideas and a few notes.

One thing that I have seen in a show to encourage audience participation is a "give away". In the old CSz shows, we would give away a CSz T-shirt to an audience volunteer. This was great because it encouraged them to come out again and of course bring their friends. But it also was some pretty nifty FREE ADVERTISING! You get a total stranger to explain how they got that shirt and suddenly you have a few more folks interested in seeing the show.

I would like to pull off a couple of specialty shows in the near future. One will be the "Blue Maestro" and the other will be a CSz format that will require a total of 11 players (1-host, 8- players, 1 sound/voice and 1-lights). There would be a few changes to a standard CSz format and the show would require some rehearsal time. Anyone interested in either show? PM me please.

One fundamental flaw of last night's show was that we let ourselves get sucked into the "weird zone". This happens when a previous game bombs and instead focusing on the next game, we get stuck in a place where we feel a mixture of guilt, confusion and a little bit of WTF was that?!?. I have seen it plenty of times and it is an easy way to suck all the energy out of a show. When this occurs we have to do our best to leave those thoughts at the end of that last scene and then turn it around. As a director, one thing that can be done is to have the next game be one that always rocks. A stand-by, if you will. One like New Choice or Replay or any other game that has a high success rate.

Here is what I have to say about blaming an audience's weird energy level for a not-so-stellar show. Remeber this, we bring OUR OWN energy to a show and use the audiences energy as a BOOST. We should always be prepared to play HUGE no matter what type of audience we get.

One last thing, and its a bit more knit-picky than anything else. WTF was with all of the "sequel dives" in Catagory Die last night? If I heard "insert item here" PART II one more time, I would have been with the audience and not laughed either. A dive is something can be a wonderful moment for the audience to behold. We always talk about comedy from chaos and how the audience loves it when we fail almost as much as when we succeed, right?. Well? This is the one opportunity where you can do it on purpose!!! If you gotta go down, go down BIG!

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Postby Wesley » April 17th, 2006, 12:43 am

I think I got killed because I jumped the gun when Andy skipped me, but that was the first time I've ever been killed for dropping "love" as an infectious disease and I've done so more than half a dozen times. Still, it was a noble death.

I love the idea of giving away the occasional t-shirt. We have to watch cost, perhaps, but the advertising could be worth it. It is a great way to spread our name and take it up a notch. Plus, I just CAN'T WAIT for the first time I see an non-improviser walking around a mall or campus with one on.
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