Archive for May, 2007

Top Ten: Entry Music

May 31, 2007

Here’s my top ten picks for music to come in on at the start of an improv show.
(*indicates the songs I have actually used)

Seven Nation Army – the White Stripes*
This is the track I’ve used the most. Something about that bass line resonates with the butterflies in my stomach.

Intergalactic – Beastie Boys*

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
I hope one day to do a show where it will be appropriate to start with this song.



Brain Training: Delayed mirror

May 31, 2007

Here’s a great warm up that I just learned. I’m going to call it Delayed Mirror (because once again, I don’t know the real name).


-Get into pairs. Someone claps out a regular beat.

-Person A tells a story, saying a word on each beat.


Intro to improv: summary pt.1

May 30, 2007


May 29, 2007

I’m back from Osaka.  Where I attended a two day Shawn Kinley workshop.

I’ll write it up over the next few days.

A new kind of standing ovation

May 27, 2007

I’ve been to a lot of improv workshops where, quite frankly, not enough improvising happens.

One possible solution is, as Keith Johnstone says, ‘let nothing be discussed that could be acted out’ (not an exact quote).
Another idea is to allow no discussion at all between scenes, which keeps people in improv mode, not discussion mode.

However, I think there is a lot of value in a little discussion between scenes. This morning I was reading this article by Seth Godin on running effective meetings, and I was quite taken by this idea;

I think most of the time, most meetings should be held without chairs. People standing up think more quickly and get distracted less often. And the meetings don’t last as long.

While I don’t think it would be productive to have players stand during other player’s scenes, it might be good to have everyone stand between scenes.


-People encouraged to stay on topic.
-People are already standing and ready for the next scene to start.

Quote of the Day

May 24, 2007

From the Onion AV Club’s interview with Louis C.K.

AVC: When you’re taping in front of a live studio audience, do you find you’re playing to them as much or more as the people at home?

LCK: It’s not so much that you’re playing to them, it’s just that they tell you what’s working. It’s like doing stand-up. You would never do stand-up without an audience. I mean, no one would even consider it. It’s like they’re the instrument you’re playing. It’s that intimate of a relationship, and they’re that essential to each other.

I just really liked that phrase; ‘It’s like they’re the instrument you’re playing’.

Intro to improv: blocks

May 24, 2007



Question: Is ‘zwip’ the right sound for a block? Originally I have going to have blocked things explode. But I prefer to think of them as imploding.


May 23, 2007

I have another comic drawn, but I’m having technical difficulties, which I’m wrestling with rather than writing posts.

Tomorrow!  Surely.

Pass the phrase pt2

May 21, 2007

Continuing on from here.

Backstory: All week I’d been struggling through a workshop on ‘finding the game’ (it was a great workshop, I was just wasn’t really getting my head around it).  The main thrust of the theory was that the game of the scene should arise organically from the scene, from something unintended by either player.

Here are my observations from playing pass the phrase.


The Copy Circle Game (Pass the Phrase)

May 18, 2007

I figure improv exercises can do one of two things.

-work on a skill

-explain a concept

I’m a big fan of using ‘explain a concept’ exercises (as opposed to giving a lecture) but the one problem is that they only work if the students haven’t done it before.

An example would be meeting the monster. It works great with beginners, it doesn’t work so well if there are a few more experienced players mixed in.

Anyway, today I would like to talk about great ‘explaining’ type exercise that I learned from Jill Bernard, which I’m going to call

The Circle Copy Game*

-Students in a circle

-First player walks towards another player in the circle. First player says a line of dialouge and has some specific style of movement or action. (eg walk with a limp, finger formed into hook, shouting “arrrrr, there’s treasure enough for all, me hearties”)

-Player one takes player two’s spot in the circle. Player two walks towards another player and tries to copy player one as exactly as she can.

Play continues, which each player trying to copy the last player as exactly as possible.

It’s kind of a mixture of Chinese Whispers and The Alien Mating Game.

After the game is finished. Talk about what things made us feel happy, and what left us disappointed.

I can make any guarantees about what you’ll experience. But I’ll be talking about my experience of the game in part two.

*because I can’t remember the real name.