The following is a true story. No names have been changed to protect the guilty.
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“What makes The Who special is that it’s not even what’s written; it’s the bits that it don’t know are going to happen, and they come out of thin air.” – Roger Daltry
Even scripted music, plays, speeches, and other live events differ from night to night. It’s those inspired moments of improvisation that make people say “You had to be there.”
You’ve kissed more guys than women. And you’re straight.
You’ve had to compete with at least one of these while performing:
This was breakfast. And lunch. You don’t remember dinner.
You need to set your alarm for an audition at noon.
You get endowed as the President every time you hit the stage.
Deep down, you still dream of being a superhero.
If you read one more “Women aren’t funny” article, you’ll swear like Susan f#%$ing Messing.
You feel cool because everyone’s a nerd.
When this guy says, “Take your crazy monkey dance back to Hitler Town,” you know exactly what he means.
It isn’t Halloween. Just a typical Thursday night.
The sign of a good rehearsal.
You’ve said things that would get you fired, disowned or arrested in real life.
The answer to the question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” is always “Yes!”
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.
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.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s speech to students at the University of Michigan is funny, delightful, and an inspiration for improv nerds everywhere.
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.
Have you ever been ill before a show or rehearsal, so ill that you felt you couldn’t go through with it, yet somehow you did and ended up having a great set?
When Paul Brittain offered a workshop in Toronto, I signed up months in advance. I was super excited, and looking forward to learning from the SNL alumnus.
But as the date got closer, I got sick. We’re talking coughing up toxic sludge, sweating profusely, SARS-kinda sick. Still, I was determined to attend. (Who cares if I was carrying the Plague? This was clearly all about me.)
The day of the workshop, I awoke feeling mummified. On the subway ride there, I was sure I was going to pass out.
Standing outside the classroom, I was torn between vomiting or dying. Mostly, I was furious at my body: How dare it get sick, now of all times?
At the last moment I made a decision: I wouldn’t participate, I’d just monitor the class. It was better than missing it altogether.
And then a funny thing happened.
I sat and watched as the first group performed. But when Paul called for four new people to go up, I joined them. My performance was far from amazing, but I enjoyed learning a new form.
I returned to my seat and watched as another group tried a different form. When he called for a new bunch of people, I went up again. This time I was a little more playful.
As the afternoon progressed, Paul switched to two-person scenes.
Standing on the sidelines, I thought of an initiation: I’d go in as Tom Jones, a callback to an earlier scene.
But as I strode forward, my hand cupped like it was holding a microphone, the girl walking towards me endowed me as a computer salesman.
Without breaking stride, I became an Apple Genius, and the microphone became a pen. I saw the store in 3D all around us, and started showing her a MacBook.
With every line my scene partner spoke, words and phrases peculiar to my character (not me) flowed from my lips, and I discovered more things in our environment to play with. I didn’t have to look; they appeared spontaneously.
During the scene I was aware of only one thing: that I wasn’t thinking or anticipating at all. It felt like things were being fed to me, constantly, intravenously.
Afterwards, Cameron asked if I’d seen Paul laughing. I hadn’t, but it was only then with the workshop over that I realized I hadn’t thought about being ill the entire time.
Two hours earlier I wasn’t sure I could stand. My only goal was to get through the workshop without puking. But during scenes, I was like a person possessed. It was one of the funnest, most freeing experiences I’ve ever had.
Maybe I oughta get sick more often.