Austin Improv Touring Co.

The commerce side of improv - keeping it viable & solvent and saving the chaos for the stage.

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Postby poltergasm » December 31st, 2012, 6:55 pm

I've been secretly touring for months under the name "Austin Improvisation Touring Company," mostly doing my one-man deconstruction of Quantum Leap.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » December 31st, 2012, 7:34 pm

poltergasm wrote:I've been secretly touring for months under the name "Austin Improvisation Touring Company," mostly doing my one-man deconstruction of Quantum Leap.


...going from town to town, setting right suggests that once went wrong, and hoping each leap...will be the leap home! except for that one time when he hoped it would be the leap to Vegas.
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Postby TexasImprovMassacre » January 1st, 2013, 1:52 pm

Hey Scott and others,

To answer an earlier question, ColdTowne does have a TourCo.

I think that setting up an Austin touring group is a fairly realistic and achievable goal. The logistics of planning a tour can be challenging. I think though if this is something that you're passionate about that there is no reason not to go for it.

Other people have made some good points about some of the challenges this presents. For me, the biggest one would likely be gathering multiple groups of people who were all willing and able to do the tour. Though, if it were something smaller like a Texas only or a 2-3 state tour, then it would obviously be "easier"...I think that trying to make money off of it will also be difficult, and the more people you have involved the more ways that money is divided...Still, its not impossible to come away with more than your expenses paid for. I think you would likely also want to teach workshops at each stop to help generate more $. Crash on floors wherever you can arrange. Bring some of your own cheap meal solutions...

With regard to the question of how to gather this all under one umbrella in a unified way...I'm not too sure what Austin does that other cities don't also do...I agree with Jesse, I think you would likely just call it what it is. A sampling of the different types of improv that Austin is host to. I agree with others that our "style" is that we have several individual theaters each with their own voice, and each putting out what they consider the highest quality of improv. So, if the form/approach/style/voice of each theater is different then that could be "sold" as an Austin Improv Variety Pack, Improv Flight, Improv Sampler...Which is something I would be interested in seeing from other cities.


So, I say go for it if you're jazzed about it.
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Postby TexasImprovMassacre » January 1st, 2013, 2:36 pm

Spots wrote:The Harold is fine. It's the fact that it was institutionalized & now serves to stifle folk's creativity rather than inspire it. It got twisted & contrived. It can happen with any format. So I'm personally proud of the students coming up and just trying everything:

Close Quarters, La Ronde, Armando, Harold, Monoscene, Musicals, Montage, The Bat, Monomyth, Duos, the Dusty, Deconstruction, the Dennis & Chad format, and so on.


Often inventing new formats without someone arguing that it's a modified Harold...


What is the "monomyth"?

I don't want to derail this post with harold talk, but I dooooo want to make a plug!

I'm teaching a (Cheap!) workshop later this month in which I hope to clear up some of the misunderstandings around the harold...in it I will likely explain and side with the assertion of why so many things are considered a "modified harold".

I just wanted to chime in to say that I think the harold can be used for great good as well. I don't think the Jesse was saying it is exclusively used in a twisted and contrived way now...I basically just wanted to say the harold is great...sorry, everyone.
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Postby Alex B » January 1st, 2013, 3:21 pm

TexasImprovMassacre wrote:I think you would likely also want to teach workshops at each stop to help generate more $. Crash on floors wherever you can arrange. Bring some of your own cheap meal solutions...


I think that would be the key to making it financially viable -- keep expenses down by bringing your own food and crashing on friendly couches, and kick revenues up by teaching workshops.

There are probably other ways to make money at it, if you're creative and think beyond just show tickets.

Ultimately, you'd have to make sure the improv is really funny, high-quality stuff. That's what will build a reputation for the group and get you in the door.

Think of some examples of successful touring improv or sketch groups, e.g. Improvised Shakespeare, UCB TourCo, Second City. They all have great reputations, so theaters that book them know that comedy goods will be delivered.
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Postby happywaffle » January 1st, 2013, 3:57 pm

Alex B wrote:Think of some examples of successful touring improv or sketch groups, e.g. Improvised Shakespeare, UCB TourCo, Second City.


Not to mention Pgraph. Plus other shows like Confidence Men and Dusk have had multi-festival runs that could technically be called "tours".

Alex is right, what these groups have in common is that they're very, very funny and engaging. I'd only feel comfortable taking a tour on the road if the group was doing some top-notch work.
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Postby Spots » January 1st, 2013, 5:18 pm

TexasImprovMassacre wrote:I think you would likely also want to teach workshops at each stop to help generate more $. Crash on floors wherever you can arrange. Bring some of your own cheap meal solutions...



I agree with Cody 100%. Helps to generate cash beyond your shows. Stupid Time Machine does this when I've toured with them.

Regarding meals & drinks-- Again I agree with Cody. Your improv hosts are probably going to be amazing, lovely people who will want to show you their city after the show. So alternating between restaurant meals & sandwiches from the cooler may be a good idea to keep it manageable.


Scott, make it an inspiring thing you love organizing & doing. You got a support network here if you need it. I realize we made this thread a tangent and it's about to get much worse in the next paragraph, lol. [Nevermind I made it a new thread].

ATTN: Cody & Harold people.
http://forum.austinimprov.com/viewtopic ... 258#128258
Last edited by Spots on January 1st, 2013, 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » January 1st, 2013, 7:56 pm

not to volunteer anyone else for this project, but you should pick Jeremy Sweetlamb's brain. he booked plenty of tours in and out of state for both Well Hung Jury here and Available Cupholders when they were up in Chicago.
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Postby Spots » January 1st, 2013, 8:22 pm

happywaffle wrote:I'd only feel comfortable taking a tour on the road if the group was doing some top-notch work.


Hence we have individuals who manage quality control called an artistic director or festival director or what have you.


That's the institutionalizing I spoke of earlier. City-wide that's not really a thing unless we're talking about parking meters. And don't get me started on parking meters.
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Postby scott.hearne » January 1st, 2013, 11:59 pm

happywaffle wrote:I'd only feel comfortable taking a tour on the road if the group was doing some top-notch work.


Yes, I agree. That's why I started this discussion. I'd like to figure out whether the idea is viable - financially and logistically.

Finances - Touring is extremely hard financially. The positives of improvisers touring is that there isn't any gear or sets or any other garbage. Sure you split the money with a few other folks, but you also have these people around to watch your back and it isn't as lonely as being a stand up comic.

If you eat cheap and do it punk rock style, money can be made. Especially, if you tap the secret of the universe = merchandising!!!!

Logistics - Casting and finding talented folks who can leave town will be difficult. If the money is right, that may sway some people to leave town for a couple of weeks.

It is a great idea to try this out within the State of Texas. Plenty of colleges and universities to start pestering.


***If the hivemind thinks it is possible, more steps can be taken to make it a reality. The key here is to remember that programming directors at colleges and universities are always looking for new stuff to bring to the students.

If this is professional and well organized, it could work out well for everyone involved.
"Great improvisers never look worried onstage. It's not that they became great and stopped worrying, they stopped worrying and then became great." - Miles Stroth
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Postby scott.hearne » January 2nd, 2013, 12:01 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:not to volunteer anyone else for this project, but you should pick Jeremy Sweetlamb's brain. he booked plenty of tours in and out of state for both Well Hung Jury here and Available Cupholders when they were up in Chicago.


Yes, I will try to sit down with Jeremy and get lunch sometime to discuss this idea further.

Thanks!
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Postby shando » January 2nd, 2013, 12:37 pm

TexasImprovMassacre wrote:
Spots wrote:The Harold is fine. It's the fact that it was institutionalized & now serves to stifle folk's creativity rather than inspire it. It got twisted & contrived. It can happen with any format. So I'm personally proud of the students coming up and just trying everything:

Close Quarters, La Ronde, Armando, Harold, Monoscene, Musicals, Montage, The Bat, Monomyth, Duos, the Dusty, Deconstruction, the Dennis & Chad format, and so on.


Often inventing new formats without someone arguing that it's a modified Harold...


What is the "monomyth"?



We don't call it that, but it's what a lot of narrative troupes are essentially doing. Get Up in particular leans heavily on this stuff. Monomyth is sometimes also called the Hero's Journey. The kind of stuff Joseph Campbell wrote about, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
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Postby Spots » January 2nd, 2013, 1:00 pm

And if anybody's interested in the practical side of the Hero Myth for entertainment purposes, Christopher Vogler did an amazing job porting Joseph Campbell's work for the film industry.


Almost to a fault. Nowadays screenwriters are basically told *which page* the call to adventure should happen. Studio execs basically doing the same thing that happened to the Harold. Making such an amazing dynamic into an uninspired formula.

It's easy to misattribute success.

Grab a copy of "The Writer's Journey" if you want an easy guide to making great screenplays. He breaks down the individual archetypes in a way that's refreshing to the creative process.


Not page by page contrivance.

"page 15 this should happen. Page 40 this should happen." Gross.
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Postby shando » January 2nd, 2013, 1:02 pm

Spots wrote:And if anybody's interested in the practical side of the Hero Myth for entertainment purposes, Christopher Vogler did an amazing job porting Joseph Campbell's work for the film industry.


Almost to a fault. Nowadays screenwriters are basically told *which page* the call to adventure should happen. Studio execs basically doing the same thing that happened to the Harold. Making such an amazing thing formulaic and contrived.


Grab a copy of "The Writer's Journey" if you want an easy guide to making great screenplays. He breaks down the individual archetypes in a way that's refreshing to the creative process.

Not page by page contrivance.


Word. That's the Get Up bible. At this point we've just internalized all this stuff, so we spend ZERO time thinking about it on stage, but when we started it was very helpful.
http://getup.austinimprov.com
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