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Heat in Maestro

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 5:04 pm
by acrouch
We've had some boisterousness the last couple weeks. Maestro is built for experimentation and excitement, but it doesn't do us any good unless we pay attention to what works and what doesn't. What do you guys think?

I thought the speak in one voice elimination last week was pretty sweet, and everyone rolled with it really well.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 5:24 pm
by Matt
I'm all for finding new and interesting ways to eliminate. That being said, I think the mock ejection of a player in the middle of the first game derailed the game and removed a lot of the energy, especially since the audience didn't know that it was faked.

If we're going to boot people early, do it for real.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 5:44 pm
by kaci_beeler
Matt wrote:I'm all for finding new and interesting ways to eliminate. That being said, I think the mock ejection of a player in the middle of the first game derailed the game and removed a lot of the energy, especially since the audience didn't know that it was faked.

If we're going to boot people early, do it for real.


Why...do...it...at...all?

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 5:49 pm
by Jessica
If you score low in the first round, Asaf has started giving you a task to do - plead to the audience, speak in accents all night, etc. I think this works very well.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 6:01 pm
by bradisntclever
Jessica wrote:If you score low in the first round, Asaf has started giving you a task to do - plead to the audience, speak in accents all night, etc. I think this works very well.


This was really cool. It put some of the low people on the totem pole on life support and the audience paid close attention to what they did. Plus, the other players had fun trying to throw them off. If I know you're supposed to speak in only three-word sentences, you can bet I'll spend part of my time trying to break you.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 6:01 pm
by bradisntclever
kaci_beeler wrote:
Matt wrote:I'm all for finding new and interesting ways to eliminate. That being said, I think the mock ejection of a player in the middle of the first game derailed the game and removed a lot of the energy, especially since the audience didn't know that it was faked.

If we're going to boot people early, do it for real.


Why...do...it...at...all?


Agreed. It's pretty uncalled for unless there's some extremely rare circumstance that necessitates it.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 6:06 pm
by Asaf
kaci_beeler wrote:
Matt wrote:I'm all for finding new and interesting ways to eliminate. That being said, I think the mock ejection of a player in the middle of the first game derailed the game and removed a lot of the energy, especially since the audience didn't know that it was faked.

If we're going to boot people early, do it for real.


Why...do...it...at...all?


It can create more of an anything-can-happen kind of feeling in the show.

Unless it is overly planned.

And in regards to the challenges I have been giving at the end of the first round, it also gives a chance for the lowest scoring players to pull out of that downward trend and to take some risks. And the audience seems to like it too. It adds another layer for them while they are watching.

There should be a copy of my book, Directiing Improv, in the Hideout improv library. There is a chapter on giving notes that includes a table of challenges that you can give and what kind of effects they might have.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 7:25 pm
by bradisntclever
Asaf wrote:There should be a copy of my book, Directiing Improv, in the Hideout improv library. There is a chapter on giving notes that includes a table of challenges that you can give and what kind of effects they might have.


I forgot to mention that part! Unique assignments tailored to the improviser appeared to override trends/break entrenched behavior. Some became less cerebral, some had more diverse character choices.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 11:00 pm
by Marc Majcher
Matt wrote:I think the mock ejection of a player in the middle of the first game derailed the game and removed a lot of the energy, especially since the audience didn't know that it was faked.


Yeah, that didn't work out so well. The intention was to be playful with and heighten the "bad cop" thing that worked really well last week, and bring Jordan in at the last minute in a fun way, but, yeah, not so much. But, you know, taking risks means that it doesn't always work out. Now we know, and we can take the stuff that did work and use that for awesome.

PostPosted: July 7th, 2008, 11:16 pm
by Matt
majcher wrote:But, you know, taking risks means that it doesn't always work out. Now we know, and we can take the stuff that did work and use that for awesome.


Hells yes.

PostPosted: July 8th, 2008, 12:45 am
by Mike
Personally wasn't a fan of the "Eliminate in one voice" thing. Not because I got bounced, but It really didn't do much for me. If you want to eliminate, let the crowd do it, or do a game of some sort...hell I'd even go with the "whoever touched their nose last" bit again.

It felt awkward to just go up there and do that elimination. Like you were being cheated. But Maestro isn't fair, so what the hell.

PostPosted: July 8th, 2008, 3:29 am
by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell
majcher wrote:Yeah, that didn't work out so well. The intention was to be playful with and heighten the "bad cop" thing that worked really well last week, and bring Jordan in at the last minute in a fun way, but, yeah, not so much. But, you know, taking risks means that it doesn't always work out. Now we know, and we can take the stuff that did work and use that for awesome.


personally (and that's the key adverb here), i loved it and had a blast as a performer taking part in it and thought it was so much fun that members of the audience and even the cast were fooled into believing i was actually pissed (though maybe i should be worried that it's that easy to believe i could be that huge of a dick). i really dig those moments of uncertainty, where you're not sure if it's the show or real life, playing with those levels of reality and crossing over from the world of the scene to that meta-zone between the "real" world and the "show" world (or second reality as Ultimate Improv has beaten into me to call it). for me, it's just another way of engaging the audience. not everything has to be fun and laughter. put a little nervousness and fear into them occasionally. you're still evoking an emotional reaction, and that to me is what's the most important thing and what separates improv "comedy" from improv "theatre."

i'd say maybe either letting the "straw man" (in this case, yours truly) build up that character over a round or at least throughout the game and maybe making sure the whole cast is in on it for support might work better towards developing it and making it seem less jarring. or maybe having a couple of people standing by to take a dive so there's some consistency throughout rather than just "you're out!" and no mention of it again...save for the circumstance where Tom Booker decides to be the coolest pimp daddy in the room and bring it all back in the last round. ;)

in the end, eliminations don't much matter. it's all a gimmick for the show anyway, so if you go out in the first or third or last round, it's just the smoke and mirrors to create a satisfying improv theatrical experience for the audience. anyone who gets too hung up on being eliminated or who won in the end is kind of missing the point, in my opinion.

PostPosted: July 8th, 2008, 4:57 am
by Floyd VanBuskirk
I wasn't at the show so I'm not sure how or why the early elimination occurred. Did someone get tossed before the first round was even completed?

That may have been an interesting theatrical experiment but I think Maestro is a brutal enough format already without cranking up the heat on the players or the audience by ejecting people too early in an evening.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for brutality in improv but I think every one should get through at least one round in a Maestro show. Start the "ego carnage" after the audience has seen them a couple of times and maybe formed some sort of feelings about them. Maestro is, by it's nature, a game of exclusion, so we should try to be as gentle as possible playing it.

We don't want the audience to feel bad about ending some players evening before they even get warmed up. If we are going to toss someone out, arbitrarily, for an effect that can be a bit confusing for them.

When we used to play Theatresports we'd sometimes come flying off the bench to scream at a judge or argue a call but that was using a team-sport convention and we could be penalized for it. I think Maestro is a more genteel format so it may work better with a kinder, gentler brutality. A little more like the feeling of a game show than a game.

I don't know. That's how I feel about it. I've been eliminated often in the second round of a Maestro and I know it's all for the good of the show. I try to be gracious when I exit but it can sting to be the first to leave.

Although sometimes it's really just a matter of the number of improvisers vs minutes of stage time, so we have to start tossing players earlier than we might like. But as long as we and the audience all know it's going to get real bloody real fast, then it can be easier to take.

I probably went on far to long and now I can't even remember what I was responding to or if it even relates anymore. I need a nap . . where's my pills?

PostPosted: July 8th, 2008, 10:31 am
by kbadr
First, a quote from Sean Hill's 'Tao of Micetro':
Principal #1 - The Show Is For The Audience
First and foremost a Micetro show is for the audience. Living by this principle means the needs of the audience are put ahead of the needs of the improvisers.

Second, a quote above worth re-reading:
I've been eliminated often in the second round of a Maestro and I know it's all for the good of the show. I try to be gracious when I exit but it can sting to be the first to leave.

It's good to be reminded that someone as experienced as Floyd knows the sting of being eliminated early. It's part of the show. It means nothing about an individual's worth as an improviser (clearly)

PostPosted: July 8th, 2008, 10:37 am
by KathyRose
Because of the way it happened with Jordan - (a) with 14 players initially on the board, (b) during the very first game and (c) with Marc commenting on Jordan's inexplicably downbeat behavior - I guessed that it was planned. But I thought it was an odd thing to put into the show, and it made me feel uncomfortable for the audience.

When I first started playing Maestro (a few months ago), one of the first instructions I received was to take the fall gracefully, and how important that was to making the audience feel comfortable with having players eliminated - letting them know that we're all having fun.

Now, I know that the old hands like to mix it up, for their own amusement as much as anything else, but ... there's a big difference in "unexpected" behavior and "scary" behavior - especially with an alcohol-fueled audience in a small, enclosed environment.

When Tom Booker was ejected from the game in a previous show and put up such a fight over it, I looked around the room, seeing how people were reacting to it. Some were cheering him on; but others, like me, were looking nervous. Hey - we're here to see a funny show, not a fight. I like my "wild and crazy" to be comical, not potentially dangerous. And fake brawling doesn't turn comedy into "theater." It's just juvenile behavior.

But most importantly, I suspect that Jordan's early ejection (and reactions to it) contributed to the problems we had later in the show with audience heckling & disruptive commenting. I believe that bad/unsportsmanlike behavior on stage begets bad/unsportsmanlike behavior in the audience.

So ... I think this new schtick of game-time confrontation is not a good tone to set for the show, and will encourage the audience to misbehave as well. Even if YOU know that it's all in jest ... the audience doesn't. And brawling is not everyone's idea of fun. Please don't turn Maestro into a soccer match.