Improv and Popular reference (ramblings)

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Improv and Popular reference (ramblings)

Postby nadine » April 25th, 2006, 10:55 pm

I had dragged Andy to Korea Garden to experience the culinary delights of Korean food. Our waitress was extremely delightful, though she didn't fully understand us, we liberally nodded and smiled at each other. At the end of the dinner, Andy dropped 2 free Austin Improv tickets (which btw, looks extremely awesome and business-like).. and I was like: They're not going to get improv. It has too much pop cultural reference.
Andy's response: Well, improv should be about telling a universal story.

Cut to several years ago, at Cornell. Someone told me that most conversations invariably go to a popular culture reference. She's quite right. And as a result, a lot of international students have a tough time following and participating in conversations.

Back to improv rehearsal, where I'm given a suggestion or offer of someone I don't know, like Tom Waits. Buckman's great advice is: just be an expert in whatever someone endows you with. Play it with confidence. And yet, there's so much popular reference.. that you gotta know quite a bit to be able to play with your troupe mates.. and be in a near frame of mind with them. I have little knowledge of the civil war. I didn't go to high school in this country. People take popular knowledge for granted. I've started a list of things that when I hear them in improv and don't really know it, to look up later. And I don't consider myself isolated... I read the NYtimes, subscribe to women's magazines, psychology today, rolling stones, the week, salon.com, wsj.com, etc. And yet there are gaps in my popular culture knowledge because I didn't spend my childhood in this country.

I don't really know what my point of this post is. I think it's just to give a different perspective on improv. And it's weird that the first thing I thought of, when Andy gave away free tickets at Korea Garden... was that the tickets would be wasted.
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Postby phlounderphil » April 25th, 2006, 11:04 pm

This is such a brilliant point to make and something that the average "american" person doesn't really think about. Even in improv.

However, the first thing I thought when I read this was...I WANT SOME OF THOSE FREE TICKETS (to give to teachers, potential employers, and the myriad of other people I am explaining improv to on a weekly basis!)

I say we give each (highly interested) improviser several of these tickets with the promise that we will ALL try to spread the love of improv as a wonderful community should be doing!
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Postby kbadr » April 26th, 2006, 1:16 am

These tickets were made with the express purpose of distributing to bartenders and hotel concierges. Please let's not give all of them away before we get to even try that initiative.

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Postby vine311 » April 26th, 2006, 1:35 am

Nadine, I would like to say that you are one of my most favorite people to improvise with because of the different perspective you have. I really think a lot of that comes from the fact that your childhood was not spent in this country. You have such a different viewpoint on things and you always give offers that keep me on my toes, keep me interested and make me listen. Don't ever change!
"Have you ever scrapped high?" Jon Bolden "Stabby" - After School Improv

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Postby phlounderphil » April 26th, 2006, 3:03 am

In response to Kareem, I think we (as a community) can spare a small amount (6-10 a piece) of these free tickets to some improvisers who would be willing to give them to complete strangers in order to expand our audience.

I would have no intention of giving these to friends/family/otherwise, just to the various people I meet who have never seen improv. My friends and family all know about it and hear me talking about it all of the time.

I'd think we have just as much of a good chance of turning people onto improv by giving (some of) these tickets to ANYBODY, and not just people we THINK are going to recommend us because that's their job. Of course we should give some of these to bartenders and concierges, but we have 1000 of them, and there's no reason improvisers shouldn't have a few to give out to others in an effort to get them to see a show.

That's all.
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Postby kbadr » April 26th, 2006, 8:31 am

Yeah, 6-10 each is fine. I just don't want to see a open "take some from the stack" policy, because that'll turn ugly real quick.

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Postby Wesley » April 26th, 2006, 1:54 pm

I basically agree with Kareem--as I voiced over in the "let's hand them out randomly at First Thursday" thread.

These were envisioned and ordered with some very specific advertising and marketing purposes in mind. Let's make sure they get used for that first and then give the leftovers to improvisers. Maybe we can order a second batch for improvisers, but let's stick to the plan and do what we intended to first.

To be clear to all, the way in which I understood the conception of these free tickets was this:
--The main drive was to give these to people who might serve as "nexus" points for driving people our way. The clearest examples were bartenders, waiters, and concierges--primarily downtown--because those people can easily recommend someone walk to the Hideout and catch a show if the person says something like "I'm just visiting for the weekend. What is there to do around here?" We want these "nexus" people to come see what we do so that we will be foremost in their minds for recommending to other people.
--To use for promotional purposes which might get publicity beyond the tickets. For example, my company is always doing raffles for tickets to the Ice Bats or Six Flags, etc. If I dropped off just 2 or 4 tickets, they'd still send out an e-mail to 500+ employees asking them to enter this week's raffle for free improv tickets and then send out another e-mail announcing who won. So, for 2 tickets, 500 people will hear about us...twice. We could get massive exposure beyond the tickets by giving 12 pairs to a radio station to give away to the x caller every hour for a day.
--To give to media people.
--To use as trade-outs or to reward people that help us out. If some company gives us a cut on shirt printing costs or provides a keg for the audience, we can toss a few free tickets in to thank them.
--Then to give to improvisers for distribution like Andy did, as part of a tip at a restuarant or something. To spread the good word of improv in a fun way, not to friends and family, but to strangers.

I know 1000 sounds like a lot, but it isn't. How many bartenders, waiters, concierges are there downtown? Several times that many I'd wager. Even if every improviser in the community got 5, we'd be out hundreds before hitting up the intended recipients.

Maybe everyone should get 2 or 3, but we should start downtown and radiate outward, focusing on putting them in the hands of people who are key in recommending others come see us. If the community just wants free tickets that they can give away, maybe we can do that by printing up a second batch in a few months.
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Postby phlounderphil » April 26th, 2006, 4:41 pm

Every search I could do turned up results that showed there were around 200 bars, clubs, and pubs in the general downtown Austin area (78701/78704). Even at 4 tickets to EACH & EVERY BAR we would have 200 tickets leftover.

It only cost Andy $60.00 to make these 1000 tickets. I say (and will firmly stand by the fact) that there is no problem reserving 100 of these tickets (or more) for IMPROVISERS to give out to specific people they meet and interact with.

I don't go in bars, I won't be able to hand out ANY of these in bars. I'll gladly tour all the hotels in Austin and pass them out to concierges. However, I think that's almost too focused and might not produce the results we want. There is no promise that a bartender or concierge will recommend us (especially if they use their tickets to see a crappy show!)...

I know for a fact (from personal experience) that word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising for an artform like improv (You Me & Greg is starting to build a huge fanbase based entirely on word-of-mouth and it contributed a lot to our cagematch success!)

I interact with at least 2-3 people PER WEEK whom I end up inviting to come see improv. Waitresses, THEATRE TEACHERS, Potential Employers, etc...

And I don't understand why I (and others) can't be trusted with a tiny supply of 6-10 tickets to hand out to these people. These people interact with nearly as many people each day as a bartender or a concierge, and would serve as an equally good advertising outlet. Besides, most Bartenders WORK weekend nights (that's when they get the most tips of course)...meaning the chance of them even getting off to come see one of our shows would be slim. These tickets should be for everyone, as EVERYONE is a "nexus", not just bartenders and hotel employees.

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Postby Wesley » April 26th, 2006, 5:11 pm

I never said I didn't trust you (or others). I said that these came from a fairly clear marketing idea and plan and we should use them for that, first.

The leftovers in your math are leftovers, which were planned to go to improvisers, as per the description given above. However, your math didn't include hotels, radio promotions, and other outlets these could possibly go toward. I'm not saying don't give any to improvisers, but let's stick to the initial plan first and be conservative until we hit who and what we meant to first.

(And I left them out, but along with media were drama teachers at high school and the universities.)
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Postby acrouch » April 26th, 2006, 5:48 pm

If we run out, I can have another 1000 here within a week for the cost of one Friday show.
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Postby phlounderphil » April 26th, 2006, 7:47 pm

God forbid we give free tickets to people who might be interested in improv.

Let's keep ALL the tickets for ourselves.

And Wes, to clarify, my math is assuming that we'll only hit up 2/3 of ALL of the bars in the downtown Austin area (and there's no telling how fucking long THAT would take) and give the rest to hotels, media, leaving a stash for the improvisers.

It's just so much more immediate to give some free tickets to the improvisers, and it's a great way for them to advertise the Hideout and their own shows at the same time. And if the AIC doesn't understand that, then I'll just have to make some of mine OWN free tickets and stop comping my mother, so I can comp somebody else to every show and advertise that way.

My point being. Word of mouth WORKS, and you don't just have to hand these things to specific people to generate word of mouth. Handing them to SOME specific people is very important, but it's also stupid to think that we should take all of these tickets and have a few people spend multiple hours just taking them to bars...we could give 20 tickets to some improvisers, with the promise that they leave those tickets at the bars they attend. Make an online checklist of bars we've hit up. This needs to be a massive thing, not just a small operation...Everyone should participate. As stated, I don't go to bars, so I'd like to participate in my own way...which means, I'd need some of these to give to the people I think would spread the good word of the lord God improv.

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Postby Evilpandabear » April 27th, 2006, 12:05 am

kbadr wrote:These tickets were made with the express purpose of distributing to bartenders and hotel concierges. Please let's not give all of them away before we get to even try that initiative.


we got a thousdand of them. we can afford to be careless. they were ultra cheap too. giving them to anyone and everyone is worth it. i see nothing wrong with this. giving the cards to people who don't go to improv is the whole idea behind giving these cards away.
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Postby Wesley » April 27th, 2006, 11:11 am

Once upon a time, there were a series of advertising meetings.
And every one was open to the public and any and everyone was welcome to come and comment on ideas.
One day an idea was discussed in one of these meetings.
And because of that, a marketing plan was fleshed out.
And because of that, people were given various assignments.
And because of that, graphics were made, people were prodded, money was formally requested, and the product was ordered.
Until finally, the tickets came in.
And ever since that day, people who paid little and less attention before suddenly didn't like the plan and nothing that came before mattered and anarchy ruled the kingdom.

At least save 500 for downtown people and another 100 for media promotions. I would like to give some to radio stations next week.

I'd also like to give some (40 or so) to the people helping out with the OoB auction, like the bands and a few of the bigger donators (Time League, etc). I know OoB is not officially AIC, but it is the tentpole event every year that drives eyeballs our way and keeping good relations with local power people that help with it can only benefit the community as a whole. Can you imagine what it might mean to get Alamo repeatedly interested in what we do? Or to get a band with the drawing power of the Shivers to take a shine to us and agree to play one of the Thursday Night Awesome sets or something?

That still leaves more than 300 for everyone to distribute as they see fit. Personally, I'd like to send two to Kinky Friedman and 2 to Lorne Michaels.
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Postby mcnichol » April 27th, 2006, 11:49 am

...what Wes said. Let's be careful with just giving a bunch of these out willi-nilli. Giving them to concierges and bartenders makes sense AND is what was discussed. I think we should keep giving them to that same sort of "Node" person, like (as Wes said) radio DJs. The lady at 101X has been super-supportive of Jen with Air Guitar -- I bet she'd be willing to give out some AIC stuff and promote it a bit.

Wesley wrote:I'd also like to give some (40 or so) to the people helping out with the OoB auction, like the bands and a few of the bigger donators (Time League, etc).


We're funded by the Time League?!?! The roving band of rogue time travellers?!!? Holy shit! Can they get me back to the 1920s? I heard they're funding us with old Civil War confederate cash!
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Postby phlounderphil » April 27th, 2006, 12:09 pm

SOLUTION: We get the Time League to spread these tickets throughout the centuries, what better way to spread the word about our bustling community.

(Sending two of these to Lorne Michaels is a bigger waste than leaving two for a Korean waitress, I wouldn't PAY lorne michaels to come see a show).

Once upon a time there was a pretty busy guy named Phil
Who coincidentally couldn't make it to the advertising meetings because of other commitments.
Then one day he decided to reveal his opinion in the online forum.
He asked for a small amount of tickets to spread to people,
his only intention being to help out the community in the best way possible.
(Giving these tickets to theatre teachers, dentists, optometrists, US State Representatives, and other people who have specifically expressed their interest in improv to him)
However, the dictator of this little kingdom
(Wesley the Crude)
argued endlessly with him and refused to listen to his logic because PHil was not at the aforementioned meetings and so obviously must not care.
So Wesley belittled him with a little fantasy story.
And eventually, Phil heard so much bullshit, that he just stopped caring,
and from that day on (like many others before him)
Phil only showed up when he had performances,
and never volunteered to actually help with anything.

You know what, if I'm going to have to go through this shit EVERYTIME I want to help the community, then fuck the community.
I understand that these tickets were intended for bartenders. BUT, it's going to take us a very long time to pass out 1000 of these tickets to just bartenders and concierges. I see NO PROBLEM whatsoever with spreading these around to everyone. EVERY PERSON is a "node", anybody can spread the word of mouth. I've seen one person bring more people into a show then all the people brought in by every other form of advertising.

I think, rather than focus on specifically where these tickets are going...

We should focus on putting on better shows. Focus on giving A LOT of these tickets to bartenders, media, and concierges (500 like Wes said, hell I even suggested 800 for bars, media, hotels, etc). But I also think we could give these tickets to ANYONE who has an interest in improv, and as long as the quality of our shows is going up, our name will get out, the community will grow.

I'm thinking immediacy here. Instead of giving all of these blessed tickets to bartenders, waiting for them to come see a show when they're available (again, bartenders work THE MOST while our shows are being performed!) and then spreading the word around. I'm thinking, why not just start giving these to a bigger range of people, walk into a hotel and just give them to hotel guests who have nothing to do (WHY JUST CONCIERGES?), give them to your doctor when he asks where that nasty improv-related injury is from, give them to your boss when he asks why you're never at his bar-b-ques on the weekend!

OF course, that is if you can get any of these tickets away from the hands of the dictator. ;)

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