Making ourselves look good

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » June 11th, 2012, 9:32 am

jillybee72 wrote:Play big, people always like that best. Break a lot of eggs. Get your hands dirty.


amen!

jillybee72 wrote:You're not going to break improv. It's 600 years old, no one's broken it yet.


but by God, we're gonna keep trying!

jillybee72 wrote:If your pendulum swings too far in the other direction...


quiet, Brockman!
Sweetness Prevails.

-the Reverend
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Postby jillybee72 » June 12th, 2012, 11:04 am

ratliff wrote:...what's most frustrating for me is when someone is either behaving so inconsistently that I can't home in on their character or is making offers so obscure that I can't support them, because I don't understand them.


Supporting things you don't understand is one of the things I like about improv. I'll go ahead and make some assumptions, say what it looks like to me, mirror or compliment or contrast, proceed. Things like this maybe fall into the category of advantages that adult children of alcoholics have, we're used to acting like things that are totally fucked up are normal and proceeding through an inconsistent universe.
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Postby ratliff » June 12th, 2012, 11:18 am

jillybee72 wrote:
ratliff wrote:...what's most frustrating for me is when someone is either behaving so inconsistently that I can't home in on their character or is making offers so obscure that I can't support them, because I don't understand them.


Supporting things you don't understand is one of the things I like about improv. I'll go ahead and make some assumptions, say what it looks like to me, mirror or compliment or contrast, proceed. Things like this maybe fall into the category of advantages that adult children of alcoholics have, we're used to acting like things that are totally fucked up are normal and proceeding through an inconsistent universe.


... and the disadvantage that alcoholics have is that we always assume that we're wrong but have to hide it from everyone (because if the truth were known everyone would hate us), so being right becomes more important than anything else.

... which is why I flinch from any kind of improv where you can make a wrong choice. Because (a) I'm already too invested in being right, (b) my self-sabotage engine will guide me unerringly to the wrong choice, and (c) I will (make myself) suffer greatly for it.
"I'm not a real aspirational cat."
-- TJ Jagodowski
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Postby jillybee72 » June 12th, 2012, 12:09 pm

Then this is a good wonderful path to be on together.
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Postby ratliff » June 12th, 2012, 12:23 pm

jillybee72 wrote:Then this is a good wonderful path to be on together.


Damn straight!
"I'm not a real aspirational cat."
-- TJ Jagodowski
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Postby scott.hearne » June 12th, 2012, 4:24 pm

TeresaYork wrote:Do you think you have to take yourself first in improv before you can take care of others?

Or do I need to forget myself and by focusing solely on the other person, all will fall into place?

How do I let someone know they are taking too good of care of themselves? :)


As to the third question, I don't think you can constructively tell anyone they are taking too good care of themselves. It is best to accept it and move on. Work with what you have...John is right, a coach should give the criticism. If you try to tell someone they are taking too good care themselves, they might take it the wrong way and ruin any comfort and rapport you have with them.

For the first two questions: In my limited experience, both!

I will twist the first question a little bit and echo what I've read on this message board. I think you have to bring something into a scene for it to work. So, #1 You have to take care of yourself first. After you've mirrored or endowed a characteristic on stage; #2 Give your complete attention to your scene partner and absorb everything they offer. Which leads to Jill's comment:

jillybee72 wrote:
I open my eyes wide and pretend to be a puppy, thrilled to see them.


This is the best! I completely agree with this. I hear some improvisers talk about how they are sick of playing with inexperienced improvisers. Also, they only want to play with "good" improvisers or people they know, and I get frustrated. As an experienced improviser you have the power and ability to kill in scenes with inexperienced or "bad" or "new" improvisers.

Alone, you cannot completely carry a scene, however, if you do what Jill does: *open your eyes wide* and LOVE whatever your scene partner says, the scene will be okay. You will be funny and the scene will work. Take whatever comes and embrace the shit out of it.

Will it be the best improv ever? Probably not, but you will have elevated the scene and actively created a beautiful moment with the other person.

Love your scene partners and scenes will work out. When I play with new improvisers it is a lot fun to see them grow and embrace what they give you on stage.
"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 jrec747 » December 21st, 2012, 2:51 am

For me, if someone starts a scene..I give them the benefit of the doubt. I give them 2 lines to get their idea out, and that's it. Very very rarely do I give them 3 lines. I don't 'yes and', I just 'yes' for the first two lines.This is my way of respecting the other improviser...if they start a scene and have an idea, then I am not going to fuck it up by stepping on their idea. People may disagree with me, but that is what I do.
If after two lines of their dialogue it appears they have nothing...then it's game on, and I will completely take care of myself by endowing myself with a strong choice.
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Postby jrec747 » December 21st, 2012, 3:08 am

scott.hearne wrote: I hear some improvisers talk about how they are sick of playing with inexperienced improvisers. Also, they only want to play with "good" improvisers or people they know, and I get frustrated. As an experienced improviser you have the power and ability to kill in scenes with inexperienced or "bad" or "new" improvisers.

Alone, you cannot completely carry a scene, however, if you do what Jill does: *open your eyes wide* and LOVE whatever your scene partner says, the scene will be okay. You will be funny and the scene will work. Take whatever comes and embrace the shit out of it.

Will it be the best improv ever? Probably not, but you will have elevated the scene and actively created a beautiful moment with the other person.

Love your scene partners and scenes will work out. When I play with new improvisers it is a lot fun to see them grow and embrace what they give you on stage.



Going off of this, I have never respected the talent of an experienced improviser more than when I see he/she perform in a mixed Jam of students and veterans. I saw one in IO Chicago that blew me away. I was amazed at how well the 10-15+ years experienced players could react off of the less experienced players so damn well. Every time the veterans reacted off the students, they would make it seem like the student's choice was the most brilliant thing ever. It's equally, if not more funny, then seeing just the veterans play.

But I do believe it's possible to completely carry a scene. A lack of choice is just as valid as a choice. If I say a line of dialogue and my scene partner says nothing...then that means something. It affects me in some way, and we now have THAT to deal with. If you are just present, and react to the very last thing that happened in a scene (not necessarily the last thing said, but the last moment) then the scene can be great. Maybe not the best thing ever, but it could be...you never know.
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Postby Spots » December 21st, 2012, 5:37 am

jrec747 wrote:For me, if someone starts a scene..I give them the benefit of the doubt. I give them 2 lines to get their idea out, and that's it. Very very rarely do I give them 3 lines. I don't 'yes and', I just 'yes' for the first two lines.This is my way of respecting the other improviser...if they start a scene and have an idea, then I am not going to fuck it up by stepping on their idea. People may disagree with me, but that is what I do.
If after two lines of their dialogue it appears they have nothing...then it's game on, and I will completely take care of myself by endowing myself with a strong choice.




For me the initiation and the first response is very sacred.


Very sacred.

Sometimes you can be fooled into thinking the person is offering a roadmap to the scene when all they are doing is non-sequitor.


This is why principles beyond "Yes And" are crucial to good comedy. Yes and is the building block mechanics. The lego blocks. That's it. Take your straight / absurd training and make the scene entertaining for yourself and the audience. This will only make your scene partner look like a goddamn rock star.
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Postby TeresaYork » January 2nd, 2013, 12:53 pm

http://improvnonsense.tumblr.com/post/3 ... go-to-them
This was a great follow up article I found.

Play play play get better get better have more fun have more fun.
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