Improv teams come and go, but every so often one beats the odds and stays together for six months, a year, or longer. And the longer you stick together, the more you can heighten and explore what makes your team unique, both onstage and off.
Toronto’s Standards & Practices have been together since 2007. Over the years, they’ve developed their own style of performing. And as they’ve evolved, so has their image. We thought we’d share some, to inspire how you think about your own team.
In the beginning, S&P had 10 members. At some point Tom Vest took it upon himself to develop a graphic look and feel for the team, including fake merch (and possibly our favourite promo video ever):
When Tom left, the group had whittled down to Matt, Cameron, Kevin and Isaac. They began using random images of foursomes to represent themselves on social media.
More recently, Kevin Whalen has steered the team’s image in an ever-more-imaginative direction where, like an S&P show, anything is possible.
When you’re committed to a team, you can have a lot of fun with how you perform, dress, write about, and present yourselves. Here are some more ideas to try:
• Get a professional photographer to take some team pictures. Bring a couple of changes of clothes, or even costumes.
• Make promo videos. They can be themed to tie in with your show, an ongoing series, or just funny one-offs. Use live action, finger puppets, stop motion, parody…whatever. It might be a 30-second gibberish scene with subtitles that you film on your iPhone. Experiment and see where it leads you.
• Don’t just write a straightforward description of your upcoming show; let your inner David Sedaris (or Steve Martin, or Hunter S. Thompson) loose. Here’s a sample S&P description:
Standards & Practices take you on a groovy trip through the silky smooth Dream Highway on the road to Laidbackville U.S.A. – RIGHTBEFOREWEFUCKYOURBRAINS – tonight – 9 pm – Comedy Bar.
Honestly, who could resist an invitation like that?
• Choose a theme song that reflects your team’s vibe, gets you in the mood to improvise, or just means something to you. TJ and Dave always come out to Commie Drives A Nova by The Ike Reilly Assassination. S&P shows start with the first few bars of Carmina Burana in total darkness, then the lights come up as they kick in to an upbeat song like Move Your Feet to blast the cobwebs from everyone’s minds.
Now, maybe you’re more Improvised Shakespeare than crazed comic superheroes, and that’s cool. Whatever your flava, just make sure you celebrate it.