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Posts from the Podcasts, Blogs & Twitter Category

As the improv blogosphere expands, more awesome voices join in the chorus. Here are some of our faves.

Artwork © David Kantrowitz

Artwork © David Kantrowitz

Miles Stroth: Pack Theater

A veteran of the Chicago and LA improv scenes, Miles Stroth studied under Del Close, was a member of The Family, and helped invent The Deconstruction and The Movie…so he’s, y’know, pretty good.

Stroth’s straight-from-the-hip style is a joy to read, and reminds us a little of Mick Napier’s. (What can we say? We love swears.) The blog is only a few weeks old, but topics so far include The Myth of Stage Time, Listening vs Monkeys, and An Introduction To The Four Scene Types, part of an ongoing series.

Jay Sukow: Today Improv

Jay Sukow brings 30 years’ experience performing and teaching in Chicago to his improv worldview. He studied under Colbert, Razowsky, and Carell, and we think it shows in his compassionate, mindful writing, with posts like “How Do I Get Out Of My Head?” and “Dear Improvisors.” Like Stroth’s blog, Sukow’s is still in its infancy, but with tips for improvisers as well as business people, it’s sure to build a strong following.

Jimmy Carrane

The creator and host of the Improv Nerd podcast, Jimmy Carrane has one of the best blogs out there. It’s honest, unfiltered, and always enlightening. After three decades in the Chicago improv scene, Jimmy has performed with the best of the best, and experienced the highs and lows of doing improv for a living. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are Jimmy’s covered it, from physicality, status, and fear, to walk-ons, auditions, dealing with stage hogs, career jealousy, and much more.

Will Hines: Improv Nonsense

After all that Chicago deep dish, why not take a walk on the Will Hines side? Hines hails from UCBT, where he taught and performed in New York City before moving to LA. His tumblr is a mix of improv tips, personal reflections, photos, and a forum for improvisers to ask for advice.

Hines’ writing is conversational with just the right amount of swear-y, as in this gem:

“Caring is funny. It’s unexpected. Don’t go too nuts or it’ll feel false. Just give about 20% more of a shit than we expect you to.

‘For this year’s musical, we are producing West Side Story.’

‘Fuck yes!’

Hey, that’s pretty funny! So yeah, do that. Give just a bit more of a shit than we expect.”

The House That Del Built

Labelled “The intellectual musings of an improv wonk,” THTDB is thoughtful, wordy, and – dare we say it? – deep. With topics like Talent vs Skill, The Economy of Comedy, and Joking, Lying and The Truth, this is the place to go when you want a mind sandwich – a really good one.

Pam Victor: My Nephew Is A Poodle

You probably know Pam Victor from the most eagerly-anticipated improv book in yonks, Improvisation At The Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book, which she co-wrote.

Pam’s blog blends her day-to-day life as an improviser and instructor with her “Geeking Out With…” series of interviews, featuring every improv rock star you can think of except for Del (and even then, she’s probably planning a seance). Definitely worth poring over.

National Improv Network

NIN’s mission is to “bring every venue, troupe and improviser access to the tools and resources they need to create excellent improv and run excellent venues.” It’s this distinction that makes it invaluable for anyone who owns a own theatre, runs a festival, or produces and directs shows, in addition to being improvisers. Posts cover a wide range of topics, including spotlights on different cities’ improv festivals.

Montreal Improv

Since 2009, Vinny Francois and crew have been writing and reposting cool stuff on improv, comedy, acting, and more. Always smart and insightful, they’ve also reviewed a whack of improv books, and guest posters include David Pasquesi, Jill Bernard, and Will Luera.

Nat Tsolak: The School of Laughter

This quintessentially British blog is a charming alternative to our slightly-less-eloquent North American fare. (To paraphrase Rene Zellweger, “You had me at ‘whilst.'”)

Nat Tsolak’s posts include personal stories and improv games, with a special focus on improv, comedy, and psychology.

Ben Noble: I’m Making All This Up

St Louis native and copywriter Ben Noble started doing make ’em ups three years ago, and now he writes a blog about improv and creativity. He also wrote Improv ABC, which is more advanced than it sounds.

David Kantrowitz: Improv Artvice

This tumblr features quotes from some of improv’s brightest lights, and you can even buy them as prints and other goodies. How about an “If you’re not having fun, you’re the asshole” canvas print for your bedroom?

Artwork © David Kantrowitz

Artwork © David Kantrowitz

If you’ve just joined us recently, welcome! Below you’ll find some of our most-read topics to date, so pull up a bentwood chair and enjoy.

Image © People and Chairs

Image © People and Chairs

How-To Posts

Eight Ways To Be Good With The Improv

Eight More Ways To Be Good With The Improv

How To Succeed At Anything by Being Yourself

Audition Tips From The Other Side Of The Table

How To Write A Kickass Performer Bio

Performance Anxiety: How To Dissolve Pre-show Nerves

How Cameron Got Over His Anxiety (And So Can You!)

Harold/Long Form & Scene Work

Openings: The Good, The Bad & The Funny

Somebody Edit This, Please

John Lutz on Keeping It Simple

Enjoy The Silence: Improvising Without Dialogue Part One and Part Two

On Coaches, Chemistry, And Finding Your Dream Team

Specificity: Why Pabst Blue Ribbon Beats Whatever You’re Drinking

All By Myself: Solo Improv

How I Lost Interest In Game Of The Scene And Found Something Way More Fun

Great Guest Posts

12 Tips For Festival Organizers by Amy Shostak

12 Tips For Improvisers Attending Comedy Festivals by Matt Folliott

7 Tips For Surviving An Improv Jam by Laura Bailey

Now’s The Time To Know The New by David Razowsky

How Not To Get Sued (A Guide for Canadian Comedians) by Rob Norman

Never Give Up by Jimmy Carrane

How To Avoid Being A Creep by Conor Bradbury

Improv Community & Insight

For The Love of Art, Pay People

Why Improv Is Good For Business

The Art of Comedy

When “Yes, And” Becomes No

Comedians, Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Random Fun Stuff

Improv Explained In Venn Diagrams

What’s Your Improv Persona?

It’s An Improv Thing

When Improvisers Date

An Illustrated Guide To Improvisers

Improv Forms That Don’t Exist (But Should)

When Ralph Met Becky

Web Series: Inside The Master Class

Stick This In Your Ear: The Improv Podcast Round-up

Video: How To Spot An Improviser

 

If you’ve ever got a note you didn’t know what to do with, this is for you.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.01.54 PM

Camp

Meatball

Like Me

Harsh Improv Notes is a blog by Kory Mathewson, of real notes given by and for real improvisers. It’s fascinating reading the range of feedback, from passive-aggressive to sexist to just plain whack.

According to Kory, it was born from the idea that we often give and receive notes in improvisation, and more often than not we take the negative ones to heart, stewing on them and thinking them over long after the note was given.

Seen in this new context, the notes become something else: something to be laughed at, allowing us to shake our heads and move on. (And if it helps instructors become more mindful about how they’re speaking, that’d be awesome too.)

A reader commented: “Some of those notes seem to be shared by people who needed to hear them. Is it really a harsh thing to tell someone they need to get over themselves, or do they just need to get over themselves?”

Some of the notes do appear to be constructive. For us, the problem is when personal notes are given in front of classmates or peers – often to get a laugh. It’s easy then for constructive to become destructive. Like when a boss chews out an employee in front of co-workers, the humiliation is what will be remembered, not the note.

Image © Harsh Improv Notes/Kory Mathewson

Image © Harsh Improv Notes

We’re huge fans of Jimmy Carrane’s Improv Nerd podcast, and this season is no exception.

The line-up includes Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich, Second City Mainstagers Scott Morehead and Rashawn Nadine Scott, iO Chicago teacher Jeff Griggs, Jorin Gargiulo of Revolver, and Rush Howell of 3033.

Jimmy will also be doing a special interview with Jeff Bouthiette, head of the Second City Training Center’s music program, at the first-ever Chicago Musical Improv Festival.

Since 2011, Jimmy has interviewed more than 130 guests, including Key & Peele, Bob Odenkirk, Broad City, Jeff Garlin, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Rachel Dratch, Tim Meadows, and Scott Adsit. If you’re in Chicago this summer, it’s one show you don’t want to miss.

SCHEDULE

All shows will be held at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago.

June 20 – Katie Rich, 4:30 p.m. (as part of the Women’s Funny Festival)
July 5 – Scott Morehead, 4:00 p.m., Jorin Gargiulo, 5:00 p.m.
July 12 – Shithole’s Kevin Gerrity and Zach Bartz, 5:00 p.m.
July 19 – Rashawn Nadine Scott 4:00 p.m., Rush Howell, 5:00 p.m.
July 26 – Jeff Griggs 5:00 p.m.

TICKETS
General admission: $10, $8 for improv students

Call Stage 773 at 773.327.5252 or purchase online at http://www.stage773.com/

Jimmy Carrane headshot

Photo © Julia Marcus/Zoe McKenzie Photography

Once upon a time, there were surprisingly few online resources for improvisers. Now there’s a plethora of awesome podcasts that cater to our favourite cult. Best of all, they’re free! Thank you, internets.

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A.D.D. Comedy with Dave Razowsky and Ian Foley

Improv guru David Razowsky hosts this series of passionate chats with friends he’s amassed in his 30-plus-year career. While big-name guests like Colbert, Carell, and Nia Vardalos may snag your interest, less-familiar luminaries are every bit as entertaining. Actors, writers, producers, teachers, and other folks share their stories of life on stage, screen, and behind the scenes.

The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project

Are you ready to laugh? Ready or not, this show will have you in stitches. A staple of New York and LA’s improv scene, Daly is one of the funniest yes-anders out there. Using characters created on Comedy Bang! Bang!, his lightning-fast wit and hilarious guests make this podcast worthy of repeat listenings. There are only nine episodes so far, but fingers crossed he’ll be back for another season.

The Backline with Rob and Adam

In the mood for some in-depth, honest, insightful info, served up with a side of laughs? Rob Norman and Adam Cawley’s real-life camaraderie makes their podcast a pleasure to listen to. Each week they offer a wealth of anecdotes and advice on everything from shame to shortform, friends to festivals, acting, time travel, and much, much more.

Comedy Bang! Bang!

Long before its television debut, Scott Aukerman’s podcast was home to some of the funniest people on the planet: Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Daly, Jason Mantzoukas, Matt Besser, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader, Anthony Jeselnik, Keegan-Michael Key, Nick Kroll, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Weird Al, David Wain, Tenacious D, Jessica St Clair, Aziz Ansari, Fred Armisen, Nathan Fielder, Michael Ian Black, Jason Schwartzman, Jon Hamm, Janeane Garofalo…the list goes on. And on. And – at over 300 episodes – on.

Word to the wise: Callbacks and inside jokes are rampant, so if you’re new to the show, do yourself a favour and start at the first big Bang! Bang!

Improv4Humans

Like an improvised “Bat,” Matt Besser’s podcast creates memorable theatre for the mind. Each week, Besser and his guests improvise based on audience suggestions from the web. Regulars Andy Daly, Zach Woods, Lennon Parham and Tim Meadows, along with special guests like Todd Glass, Jason Mantzoukas and John Gemberling make for some very fucked-up but always funny stuff.

Improv Nerd

Chicago-based Jimmy Carrane’s mix of interview, improvised scenes, and post-improv analysis is as fascinating as it is unfiltered. And like his blog, Carrane isn’t afraid to delve into the dark places of his guests’ souls. With over 100 episodes so far, guests include Mick Napier, TJ and Dave, Susan Messing, David Razowsky, Key & Peele, and Bob Odenkirk, to name just a few.

Improv Obsession

Stephen Perlstein is the first to admit he doesn’t know everything about improv, so he interviews people who do to learn more about the craft. If you’re looking for something that’s more theory and how-to, this is a good one to have in your arsenal. Will Hines, Billy Merritt, Matts Besser and Walsh, and Tara Copeland are among the 50+ guests to date.

Pack Improv with Miles Stroth

In this weekly podcast, Stroth invites someone from the improv/acting community for a live interview at ACME Comedy in LA.

WTF with Marc Maron

While not technically improv, no podcast list would be complete without Maron’s acerbic interviews. With over 500 episodes to date, WTF revived his career and launched him on a new trajectory. And while not everyone’s a fan (see Maron and Michael Ian Black’s twitter feud), there’s no denying his guest list and interview style reign supreme.

Zenprov

Marshall Stern and Nancy Howland Walker host this series of podcasts about the art of Improvisational Acting in general, and how Zen thought relates and helps you as an actor, in particular.

(Tip of the hat to Oliver Georgiou for Zenprov, and Alex Wong for Miles Stroth!)

There’s an old joke that analyzing humour is like dissecting a frog: few people are interested and the frog dies of it. But for students of improv (and we’re all students, really), there’s nothing more fascinating than discussing this art form we all love.

The Backline with Rob Norman and Adam Cawley is part class room, part personal POV, and part witty banter-slash-sparring match. Like Lennon and McCartney, Rob and Adam perform brilliantly together, but they also spur each other on to greater heights. (Adam just won Best Male Improviser at the Canadian Comedy Awards, while Rob is currently shooting a new TV show. Check, and mate.)

Both are long-time fixtures of the Toronto improv scene, Second City alumni and long-form instructors at the Second City Training Centre. They’re also working actors who’ve studied with some of the greats (Napier, Messing, Cackowski, Joe Bill, to name a few) and have performed in festivals across North America. In other words, they know their shit.

Though it’s only been around for a few months, The Backline has already covered a wide range of topics, and each episode is filled with anecdotes and great advice. Themes include Getting Started, Fear, Competition, Ethics, and Cities, History and Comedy Scenes.

Whether you’re a newb or a seasoned vet, The Backline should be on your playlist. Click here to join their Facebook group, or subscribe for free here.

Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © Kevin Thom

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.

Can’t wait for Mick Napier’s new book? Well, great news: he now has a blog!

As you’d expect it’s thoughtful, smart, and brimming with helpful advice. His latest post dissects the advantages and limitations of studying and performing at Second City, Annoyance and iO, and the dangers of claiming responsibility for others’ success.

Read more and sign up for future posts at mickjnapier.tumblr.com.

Mick-Napier

If you haven’t yet heard Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane, put down that Hot Pocket and get thee to a pair of headphones, toute de suite.

The show’s unique combination of interview-plus-live improv makes it a stand-out in a sea of podcasts, and host Jimmy’s deep knowledge and love of improv has helped it build a large and loyal following.

Past guests include such luminaries as Andy Richter, David Koechner, Rachel Dratch, Tim Meadows, Key and Peele, TJ Jagodowski, David Pasquesi, and Scott Adsit.

Now the podcast has launched a new season, featuring SNL alum Nora Dunn, chef Rick Bayless, and writers from Conan and The Colbert Report, among others.

Showtime is Sundays at 5 p.m. at Stage 773 in Chicago. Tickets are $10; $8 for improv students. To order, call 773.327.5252 or click here.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Image © Improv Nerd

Image © Improv Nerd