Improv Blog: Bagelprov

August 18, 2007

Just came across a new improv blog (as usual thanks to Creative Creativity).


Definitely check this one out.


Unscripted Learning

August 18, 2007

This is the first time Amazon’s recommendation system has turned up something interesting.

Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum

Using improv to teach other things is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So I may have to look into this one.

I found the chapter on improvising maths here (PDF).

A tragedy in slow motion.

August 13, 2007

I was judging a theatre sports competition last week.

(Talking to one of the teams before hand;)

Me: What games are you guys thinking of playing.

Them: We were thinking about slo-mo commentary.

Me: Are you-

Them: Oh we’re not going to do that ‘two people fighting*’ thing.  We know everyone always does that.

Me: Oh great.  Awesome!

We then have a chat about the kind of stuff I talked about here, about how you can get caught up trying to recreate past magic, and how it never works.

Well, I probably don’t have to tell you how this story ends**.  About 40 seconds into the scene, the players get nervous and immediately start fighting.  My heart broke a little.

I have the same problem sometimes.  I can talk a good a good game about doing the best kind of improv (whatever that may be), but when I’m on stage and the audience isn’t laughing… there’s a good chance I’m going to reach into the big bag o’ shtick.

* the slo-mo sport-fight is one of Whose Line’s many gifts to the world of improv.

**in fact Jeff predicted exactly what would happen, despite my assurances that ‘no no, these guys get it.’


August 7, 2007

So, I’m finally back in Christchurch, and have recovered from jet lag.  Looking forward to getting back into things.

Full KJ interview

August 7, 2007

Following on from this post.

Here is the full interview.

There’s some wonderful stuff in there.

KJ: …I think the fear has to be gotten rid of. In a Swedish theatre an old actor said to me – Sweden’s got lots of money for theatre and they have all kinds of foreign directors come in and teach them things – he said, “You’re the first person in my career in the Swedish theatre who ever mentioned fear.” It’s just taboo. People are not supposed to be afraid. And they’re petrified. I’m amazed that I was the only person he’d ever met who mentioned it. He said, “And I’m very happy now because I knew I was afraid but I thought the others weren’t. Now you’ve arrived here and I know they’re all just as scared as I am.”

GM: And it’s okay?
KJ: It’s ridiculous. If you’re an office worker or a a wood cutter or something and you were scared going to work every day, and you had to have a drink before you started work, which is quite common. Actors are at the very top of lists of alcoholics, you know? Travelling salesmen and actors are always at the top. And it’s partly because of the terror and partly because they’re adrift in foreign cities quite often and there’s always a pub next to the theatre. So what do you do during the day? It’s a great temptation.

GM: How do you get rid of the fear, other than drinking? Or do you just embrace it?
KJ: Well, you admit it, first of all. That’s a help. You’re negative to protect yourself, really. People try to force against the negativity and say yes to everything, but they should do it by getting rid of the fear and then it wouldn’t matter. People put rules in. There are so many rules, like you mustn’t ask a question. That’s a rule that’s being propagated. Some teacher had a student who obviously would ask questions and hardly contribute anything. In which case, for that student, you should stop them asking questions. But if somebody asks a question you should say, “Did you ask that question because you were afraid?”, in which case they shouldn’t have asked it. Or you could say, “Why did you do that?” and they could say, “It’d be fun for my partner”, in which case, yes, you should do it. So the imposition of rules is ridiculous. It’s a question of what you’re trying to do at the time. Did you kill the idea because you’re a coward or did you kill it because it’s more fun? If it’s more fun, kill the idea.

Two Quotes

July 27, 2007

Mark Twain
“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

George Bernard Shaw
“My way of joking is to tell the truth. It is the funniest joke in the world.”

Only connect

July 26, 2007

Here’s a wonderful video from this years TED conference.

Rives, the secrets of 4 am.

The slam poet/tech artist/paper sculptor Rives does eight minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences surrounding that most surreal of hours: 4 o’clock in the morning.

This is the best example I’ve ever seen of the power of connections. He’s not making any jokes, but people are laughing. Why? Connections.

Johnstone, like, totally hates improv

July 21, 2007


 Improv founder Keith Johnstone recants

Johnstone invented, among many other forms of improv, TheatreSports, which is arguably the most popular, thanks in large part to Whose Line Is It Anyway? and, in this city, the Vancouver TheatreSports League.

But it’s not long into a far-ranging phone conversation with Johnstone that you get the impression he believes his creation has turned into something of a monster.

“I won’t go to see improvisers, actually,” admits the septuagenarian Englishman. “It’s so stupid.”

There’s nothing here he hasn’t been saying for years.

It would be more accurate to say ‘Keith Johnstone doesn’t like a lot of improv.’

The Song of Roland

July 19, 2007

In my defense.  Today is my last day of school.

Meet Roland the Farter. A minstrel in the court of Henry II of England, Roland had an annual Christmas Day engagement with the king and his fellow revelers. Roland’s act consisted of a dance that culminated with his trademark forte: a synchronized jump, whistle, and fart. Though accounts are sketchy, they indicate that Roland’s remarkable trifecta was performed simultaneously (and not surprisingly, only once). Roland was so valued as an entertainer that the king rewarded his impressive feat of dexterity with a plot of land.

The story of Roland the Farter is told by Valerie Allen in On Farting: Laughter and Language in the Middle Ages, published by Palgrave Macmillan. Allen uses flatulence as a prism through which to explore the entertainment mores of medieval society. Roland’s popularity calls to mind our own longstanding (if sometimes sheepish) embrace of bathroom humor.

Read the rest  (found via Language Log).

I generally don’t find fart humour very amusing.  Or at least I didn’t until I read this sentence.

Furthermore, farts are an occasion for self-examination, for questioning the extent of our freedom and the nature of self-mastery.

Improv Blog: Improvoker

July 19, 2007

There’s definitely more improv blogs out there than I thought.

Here’s a nice entry from Improvoker about note taking.

Recently a UCB instructor asked me, while I was sitting in the UCB training center’s waiting room, writing in my improv notebook, whether I took class notes.

You now I never see many students taking notes in classes I teach. Back when I was in classes I took lots of notes and I still have all my notebooks.
Yeah, I hardy ever see students taking notes in classes and it sees strange to me as well. I would never remember any of this if I didn’t take notes.

Read it all.