Posts tagged Adam Cawley improv

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

“Symmetry looks good to us; we want more of it.” – Susan Messing

Mirroring is a fast and powerful way to connect with your scene partners and, oh yeah, impress your audience.

Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © Kevin Thom

When Mansical performed at Comedy Bar recently, I couldn’t attend, but Cameron described it for me after the show.

In one scene, a player stepped forward and did a simple dance move. He was joined by another player, who did the same thing.

A third player stepped out and did a different move. He was joined by someone who mirrored him.

The two “pairs” continued to move to the accompanist’s music, timing their actions with both their own scene partner, as well as the other pair.

As Cameron acted out both duos’ movements, I pictured the great “routine” they created.

The next day, a friend who saw the same show described the “choreographed dance number.” When I told her it was improvised, she was amazed.

Cameron and I are your typical white-bread-and-mayo kind of dancers. But when we get on a dance floor, we mirror each other, and suddenly even the weird, angular, and bizarre moves look, well, better.

Two of just about anything looks better, as Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama’s Evolution of Mom Dancing video clearly illustrates. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click on the link to watch.)

And more than two people is even better, if you work together and give and take focus.

You can use symmetry to establish group mind, create a dynamic stage picture, or just get out of your head. Try it in your next opening, group game, or two-person scene.

Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © Kevin Thom