Posts tagged improv tips
Cameron recently gave his students the instruction, “Find something fun, then do it more.”
As someone who struggled with game of the scene for years, I loved the simplicity of this phrase. What’s more, “fun” could be the tiniest, simplest, stupidest thing (maybe all three).
Last week Cameron and I did a scene where I initiated as a mafia don. I started with my back to him, inhaled a mimed cigarette and said,
“I hear you’re the best.”
I turned to see Cameron falling backwards awkwardly off his chair.
He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and said, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m the best.”
Great. In less than five seconds, we’d already found something fun.
The rest of scene played out with me grilling him to make sure he was up for the job. We learned that his character was named Johnny Paycheque, and his tone and physicality continued to communicate he was of course, anything but the best.
It ended with Johnny getting the contract and shooting himself in the face…causing him to fall backwards off his chair.
(Cameron later said when he felt himself falling at the top of the scene, he thought for a split second of “correcting” it, then just went with. The comedy gods are always right.)
Like most improv truths, “Find something fun. Do it more.” applies to the rest of life, too.
Like drawing? Do it more.
Like blogging? Do it more.
Like reading or dancing or swimming or baking or making dioramas or doing musical improv…?
You get the picture.
Once again we’ve dug into the archives to bring you our most popular posts to date. Crack open an imaginary beer and enjoy.
Harold & Long-Form
Great Guest Posts
I did a show a couple of nights ago where I was a robot. Oh, I looked human, but I might as well have been C-3PO for all the emoting I was doing.
For whatever reason, when I got on stage, I played “from the neck up.” In other words, I talked a lot but there was no weight behind what I was saying.
I was looking for something clever to say, when the answer was in my heart, my gut, my body the whole time. The next time that happens, I hope to remember these few simple words:
“It’s so much easier if it’s about your scene partner – not someone else that’s not in the scene, or a premise, or an invented object.” – Greg Hess
1. Nobody forgot their medication. They’re always like this.
2. You don’t need to look for it. It’s right in front of you.
3. You have a surprisingly strong opinion about what your partner is doing.
4. If you really don’t want to do something, do it.
5. Yes, you should have edited there.
6. If you do it twice, you have to do it three times.
7. No house painter has ever had an amazing new house painting technique.
8. You’re never just doing stuff. Figure out why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it.
9. We don’t care about what you don’t care about.
10. Why you do what you do is what you’ll do next.
Doug Sheppard is a Web developer by trade, and a writer and improviser by vocation. He lives in Toronto and considers it one of the finest places in all of Canada. You may also be amused by his twitter.
What if you could start over whenever you wanted? What if you could begin again? What if you could begin again again? What would you do differently if you could do it differently? When do you have the chance to do THAT?
Well, you can each time you step on a stage, sit before a blank page, pick up your axe, sit at the bench, stand by the easel. You just have to decide that you are starting fresh. All it takes is your being aware that always your point of view can be at the “Point of New.”
What’s stopping you from starting anew?
You. Your story, your decision to think that you’re helplessly, hopelessly connected to your past actions. You know the dialogue:
“That’s what always happens.”
“That’s just the way we are.”
“I’m the kinda person who…”
“My family’s history is…”
“I’ll never get it.”
Or the classic:
“I don’t know.”
You do know, don’t you, that it’s your decision to state those statements, to engage in that text, to play that part? All of those sentences you decide to utter. Your choice to engage the thoughts then carry on with what you think is your destiny. We do it mindlessly.
Be mindful that your words matter. Be aware that your thoughts are being thought. That your mental texts have weight. You give them weight. You give them meaning. You choose to dwell on them. Think about it. You might not say the “C” word or the “N” word. These are two of the heavy weight heavyweights. For some these words are “cringe-worthy” because we’ve given them power.
Your engaging in the sentences above are just as cringeable. Those two pieces of architecture have the same energy as the words you might use on yourself: the story that you “suck,” that “others are better at improv than you,” that others have “more experience,” are “blessed with wit,” or good looks or a better family who cares more for them than you perceived your family cared for you. These are bullshit memes that lets your ego control your artistry.
Your ego does not control you. You choose to let your ego control you. You do it by listening to it, then engaging in it. In all of the museums, in all of the theaters, in all of the galleries, in any hall or field or closet or on any wall there is no artwork that was created through the union of inspiration and ego. None. It can’t be made because that voice that you’re letting to speak drowns out the voice that you use to produce your output of you-ness.
Each time I stand at the entrance to the stage I’m aware that I’m standing in the middle of absolute nothingness, emptiness, a blank canvas. It’s the opportunity for me to be aware of non-engagement. I am not attached to my past performances, I am not aware of what I’ve done “wrong,” or what I’ve done “right.” I am just there. When I’m just standing in that void I’m present to my openness, my chance to listen to all that is happening. Not what has happened, nor what I hope will happen. It’s a sacred space, that place right where I’ll be entering the stage. My awareness to the stillness that’s there helps me to be affected by whatever stimulus I enter into on the stage, the stillness that’s there not because I put it there, but because it’s been there the whole time.
It’s the opportunity for a birth. Not a re-birth. A birth. Clean, fresh, aware, awake, alive, alert. It’s not an opportunity to run the mental newsreel, to make sure that the plan is going to go as planned when you planned it during the time that you planned it. It’s your opportunity to leave the baggage in the car, to store the stuff in the locker, to time to start anew. To keep what went on yesterday securely stored in the “history bin” you keep out of reach. Now is the best time. Now. Now. Now.
The time is always there. Always. Just like the moment is. Weird, huh?
©2013 David Razowsky
If you’d like to learn more about David’s workshops, shows, podcast, and other cool stuff, visit davidrazowsky.