Info

Archive for

Screen shot 2013-10-26 at 11.23.54 AMMan oh man.

It’s not often you get a chance to give something back to one of your heroes. Someone who’s given so much to improv, and to improvisers worldwide.

So when we heard about the Kickstarter to build a new home for The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago, we couldn’t wait to share it.

If you’ve ever read Improvise, or taken an Annoyance intensive, or have any interest in improv whatsoever, we hope you’ll check it out.

“If you say that you don’t want to learn how to act, it’s like saying you don’t want to learn how to do object work or learn how to do yes… and.

How many more father and son scenes can we see where the improvisers aren’t really emotionally invested in the relationship? Naming someone ‘Dad’ in a scene does not mean you have created a relationship that the audience cares about.

We’re doing theater, here, people. If we’re not acting, we’re just doing a parlor game, and a hacky one at that.” – Jimmy Carrane

Read the full post on Jimmy’s blog by clicking here.

Photo © Improv Nerd

Photo © Improv Nerd

Cameron was a guest on SiriusXM’s Canada Talks Speak Easy with Carla Collins yesterday.

While he was waiting to be interviewed, he noticed another man sitting alone. Cameron introduced himself and asked the man, whose name was Scott, what he was there to talk about.

“Oh, I’m with Commander Hadfield,” Scott replied, indicating the studio.

Cameron’s eyes widened.

“You mean I’ve gotta follow him?”

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.21.05 AM

They laughed, and Scott asked what Cameron did. He explained that he was there to talk about improv, and how it helped him overcome his anxiety.

They chatted for several minutes, and Cameron forgot all about any nerves he might have had. When the studio door opened, Scott told Cameron, “You’ve got to meet Chris!”

As Cameron told me this story, he said, “The ‘old me’ would have sat by myself, concentrating on not being nervous. Instead I was focused on what was happening now. Laughing with Scott was so much better than focusing inward.”

(Improv analogy, anyone?)

If you’d like to learn more about improv for anxiety (and being here now), check out Cameron’s new website at playwithfireimprov.com.

Someone wrote recently that improv is like a cult.

It’s true. Once you learn improv, nothing is ever quite the same. Whether you’re an actor, comedian, artist, filmmaker, doctor, lawyer, call centre operator, grocery bagger, or a writer like me, improv informs everything you do.

And yet, for such a massively influential force, there’s very little evidence of its history on film.

Now two filmmakers are trying to change that.

3a3a7a5ca89d2c0902c0b19d6df9f5fe_large

The Committee: A Secret History of American Comedy is a documentary about the legendary improv theatre company that took America by storm in the ’60s. Members included Del Close, Howard Hesseman, and Rob Reiner, and the group’s output changed comedy culture forever.

Jamie Wright and Sam Shaw, the brains behind the project, have launched a Kickstarter. But with only six days left, they still have a way to go to reach their goal.

After all that improv has given us, we couldn’t say no to this worthy cause. If you’d like to contribute in the spirit of “yes, and,” every bit helps.

You can read more about the project, watch the trailer, and donate here:

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 3.09.37 PM

Photo © Crista Flodquist

Photo © Crista Flodquist

“I thought we shared a thing, and that you might choose to express that thing with a hug.” “I chose a hug in my way, which is to come closer.”

“We need more ice! We don’t, but I love saying that.”

“You park a police car in front of your place, you’re probably gonna be OK. Put cops in it, even better.” “Hey Jerry! Someone just stole our police car.”

“Winter’s an OK season.” “Tell that to Napoleon!” “I don’t talk to him.”

“Guys, it’s pro bono.” “What?” “It’s like when a lawyer takes a job for some shitbag that can’t pay.”

“I gotta talk to the three…uh, whattayacallits…the, y’know…three uh…” “Musketeers?” “I don’t know what they are. No, I wouldn’t give them that…” “Little pigs?”

“Let’s put some Asia on this goddamn jukebox!”

“Ben Franklin was a great man. Not handsome, but got laid constantly. Constantly.”

This campaign for Dodge Durango is a copywriter’s dream. They shot 70 – yep, seven zero – spots starring Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy.

While the spots are obviously scripted, there’s no doubt Ferrell improvised a lot of stuff. So grab your Big Gulp, adjust your leather bucket seat, and enjoy.

When you treat your objects like they’re real, the scene becomes more real – for you, and the audience.

In this scene, Cameron tries to move an industrial stove. Instead of just sliding it across the stage in two seconds, you can almost see the hernia developing. (Now that’s comedy.)

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 10.30.50 AM

Having a strong point of view makes doing a scene easy and fun. This exercise gives your character something concrete to play off of, right out of the gate.

Think of something you personally have a strong opinion about.

It doesn’t have to be political or religious; it can be as simple as “I hate clowns.”

Now, just flip the statement, whatever it is, and hold the opposite opinion as you play out your scene.

For example:

• “I enjoy exploring new cities” could become “I’m afraid of foreign places and people.”

• “Fox News is stupid” could become “Fox News is the best source of intelligent, factual information.”

• “Smartphones are destroying human interaction” could be “Smartphones make face-to-face communication better and more honest.”

etc.

You don’t have to force the topic into conversation, but you’ll find as your scene unfolds that you’ll share your newfound belief naturally.

To do the exercise, everyone thinks of a strongly-held opinion while they’re on the back line, then reverses it. Two people are chosen, and the Coach/Director gives a location to start their scene.

Try it at your next rehearsal.

Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © Kevin Thom