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The National Theatre of The World did a long scene recently where Matt Baram and Ron Pederson never referred to each other by name.

Naomi Snieckus then mischievously pimped them, herself and Chris Gibbs into doing a scene that only contained names.

The result was hilarious but also fascinating, as they used only first names (e.g. “Edgar?” “Daphne…” “Timothy!”) to emote and define their relationships to each other.

It’s a fun alternative to the “Fifty” exercise, where two people do a scene using only numbers from 1 to 50 in place of dialogue.

Try it at your next rehearsal!

Name Game Wordle

We love seeing the non-improv side of improvisers, be it art, dance, filmmaking, baking, tuning a bike, or knowing how to fix your Commodore 64. And when we saw Lara Johnson’s paintings, we were blown away by her talent.

“Movies were such an integral part to my childhood,” says Lara. “Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Star Wars…I mean the list goes on. They shaped my sense of humour and are such a huge part of who I am. I love honouring them! My parents should have probably encouraged more books, but hey, you get what you get. No complaints here!

I am also just so inspired by how much my current work is touching people and getting them excited about art. There’s something about it that makes me feel more connected to who I am, what I love and the people around me, like its something/someone we all share love for, and have amazing memories of. We all know the story. It’s such a cool feeling.”

You can see more of Lara’s work at Fan Expo, Table A236, August 28 – 31 at the Metro Convention Centre. Or visit her website at larajohnsonart.com and “Like” her facebook page to stay updated on new works. There are prints available, and Lara also does commissions.

Artwork © Lara Johnson

Artwork © Lara Johnson

Lara has been improvising for six years, studying at Second City and Bad Dog Toronto, UCBT New York, Artistic New Directions, The Stella Adler Studio, as well as Annoyance and iO in Chicago, and The School with Paola Coletto and Jet Eveelth and The Black Box Theatre.

You can see her perform at SoCap’s 200% Vodka show Monday nights with her aptly-named team, A Team Of Improv. She also co-produces and performs War Porsche with Hayley Kellett, now in its third year.

If it’s spit-your-coffee-all-over-your-laptop laughs you’re after, The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project delivers.

He already had us at “Andy Daly,” but beyond the host’s comedic genius, the premise made us weep at its simplicity. Each episode, Daly and guests improvise the pilot episode of a podcast supposedly submitted by, well, a bunch of nutbars.

Pilots include “The Travel Bug with August Lindt,” “Hail Satan with Chip Gardner,” and our favourite, “Shut Up and Have Fun with Danny Mahoney.”

The rapid-fire dialogue will leave you breathless. As a lesson in improvisation, the number of “yes, and…”s per minute is off the charts.

Running more than 90 minutes per episode, it’s the perfect thing to download for that 12-hour bus ride to DCM. Click here to listen.

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My strongest memory of Robin Williams isn’t a film or TV role (though there are dozens of those); it was seeing him improvise live on television.

I was 12 years old and Williams had just exploded on the scene with Mork and Mindy. He was a guest on The Don Lane Show, and you could tell that neither the host nor the studio audience – nor I, for that matter – had ever seen anything like him.

When Williams came out, Lane gave him the floor and challenged him to make jokes up on the spot. Williams proceeded to walk around the set, riffing off every prop and piece of furniture. (Alas, the only thing I recall is when he gestured to a pointy sculpture and quipped, “Cleopatra told Caesar, “Not tonight babe. I’ve got my pyramid.'”)

I remember being amazed at his ability to create comedy out of seemingly nothing. Little did I know the man in the rainbow suspenders would go on to become one of the most successful actors on the planet.

For all the laughter (and the tears), thank you.

We’ve got a sweet tooth for Strangers With Candy, and someone on the interwebs was kind enough to put together these comedic nuggets from Stephen Colbert’s character, Chuck Noblet.

There’s so much to love here: Chuck’s passion for sustenance, the diversity and specificity of foods, the absurdity of the situations, and of course, Colbert’s trademark commitment to character. Bon appetit.

Channel your inner Django with this fast and fun ice breaker. Like Knife Throw, it’s great for a group of people who don’t know each other, and helps sharpen awareness and reaction times.

To begin, everyone stands in a circle with one person in the centre.

That person points at someone else in the circle and yells “Draw!”

The person being pointed at must duck down as quickly as possible to avoid being shot. At the same time, the person directly on either side of him has to shoot him while yelling “Bang!”

If the person doesn’t duck in time, he (or she) dies. If they duck down before they are shot, they’re safe.

If the players on either side shoot each other simultaneously, they’re both safe. But if one says “Bang!” after the other, he or she is dead.

If you think you’ve been shot, own the shit out of it and die a dramatic death. It’s not about being Superman, it’s about the fun of accepting whatever happens.*

When only two players remain, they stand back-to-back for a duel to the death. The Coach/Director yells “Draw!” and both players turn and shoot. The quickest on the draw wins.

Oh and by the way: this is one time when it’s OK to mime a “finger gun.”

*(Thanks to Jet Eveleth for this tip.)

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