WitOut was a blog run by a group of comedians that covered improv, sketch and stand-up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Here’s a post written by very funny contributor Matt Holmes, reproduced with permission.

The overly eager and overly early arrive to find a locked building with no signage. They wait.

The regularly early arrive. Everyone meets everyone else and discusses the situation. They wait.

Somebody arrives to open the door.

The workshop instructor arrives, says hi to everybody and goes to the bathroom.

The instructor tells everybody that they’ll start in five minutes and give people a little more time.

“Well, I guess we’ll get started.”

12:11 – 12:13
Roll call with three people not present.

12:13 – 12:17
Sitting in a circle as the first three people briefly introduce themselves, their complete improv background, an attempt at a joke, and a self-deprecating comment.

12:17 – 12:19
The fourth person in the circle goes into every last detail of her life leading up to this point.

12:19 – 12:20
The rest of the people introduce themselves briefly.

12:20 – 12:25
Instructor explains the plan for the workshop, now for the first time really thinking about it.

12:25 – 12:40
A basic warm-up that’s overly simplistic for all but two participants who can’t grasp the mechanics or have like, absolutely no rhythm or just can’t think of anything or have a really bad memory, so sorry everybody.

A late student arrives, complaining about traffic and parking, while carrying a coffee.

12:41 – 12:53
Instructor explains in complete detail how the first exercise will work and how we’re pressed for time because most real workshops are at least three hours and this one, for some strange reason, is only two and a half, which really is not enough time.

12-53 – 1:10
Three-Line Scenes, alternating between jokey punchlines and confused arguments.

1:10 – 1:17
An open discussion about the previous exercise, trying to remember what happened, while highlighting problems and explaining rules of what never to do and what always to do.

1:18 – 1:30
An exercise focused on loose organic transitions and freeing yourself up to follow wherever it goes and being open.

1:30 – 1:40
An open discussion about the previous exercise, trying to remember what happened while highlighting problems and explaining rules of what never to do and what always to do.

1:40 – 1:45
Instructor asks everyone how they’re feeling about the work, everyone shrugs their shoulders and says they feel okay but wish they were doing better, and one student speaks at length about confusions and specific examples of “just not getting it.”

“Let’s take a ten-minute break to hit the bathroom, feed the meter, take a smoke break, etc.”

One student has to leave early and thanks the instructor.

“Okay, I guess we should get back to it. Let’s circle up and get warmed up again.”

2:00 – 2:04
A children’s game with vague connections to theatricality.

2:04 – 2:07
Two students improvise a patient, engaging scene with an interesting point to it.

2:07 – 2:09
Instructor points out that we didn’t know the characters’ names, if they were sisters or just friends, and that it wasn’t clear if they were in a restaurant or in somebody’s kitchen.

2:09 – 2:17
Four more improvised scenes struggling to be coherent and interesting.

2:17 – 2:22
Instructor shifts gears into a series of scenes where students tag each other out.

2:22 – 2:25
Students discuss the scenes, most citing that they were just about to do something good before they got tagged out.

2:25 – 2:34
Another round of scenes with tag-outs; students now make quicker punchlines.

“Well, we’re a little over the time when we were supposed to end. Does anybody mind if we go a little longer?”

2:34 – 2:41
Another round of scenes with tag-outs; instructor pauses each scene to discuss how truthful the scenes feel and then has them continue.

Instructor thanks everybody for coming and ends the workshop.

2:43 – 2:50
Casual discussion among students and instructor.

An overly eager student arrives for a workshop scheduled to start at 3.


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