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SF: i'm feeling so good about improv

i've done the chicago improv festival intensive which had teachers from annoyance, ucb, second city, comedy sports and io. i've had teachers from both the johnstone and chicago schools. and i've decided that i really love johnstone-style improv. and it's just so inspiring. the intensive reminded me of all the fun i had in my beginning improv classes, and i love how they don't teach about how to be funny. gags are only appropriate to end scenes. keith mentioned how we could've have continued a scene after the gag, but it had damaged the scene.

also, keith johnstone emphasizes the story-telling aspect. it's not just about having a scene and making the audience laugh, it's about making the improvisers get out of their comfort zone. if they've got a game down, then do another game. challenge them and get them flustered. the scenes have wierder stories, and it's immensely satisfying.

also, the other training i've gotten emphasized on how to be good at improv. whether it's "finding the game", being aggressive with offers, no questions, etc. keith is more about life. what he talks about seems to be more about life, he rambles about trance states. he talks about in meastro, it's not about winning. and he really emphasizes it, instead of just saying patronizingly that "it's not about winning" he says there's an element of meanness in trying to win. he also teaches about being good-natured in losing. if you lose and have a bad attitude, you make the audience have a bad feeling. meastro is a competitive improv format (10 pm hideout, sat). i've been not wanting to play because i feel like crap when i get eliminated the first round. it's like, i suck, or my partner sucked, or the director sucked, or what's the point of performing to get eliminated first round. but it's totally the wrong attitude. it should be, i'll play because it's fun. keith said meastro shouldn't be for people who don't get much stage time... because then they'll care too much about stage time in meastro.

good-naturedness. the atmosphere is good-natured here, and so supportive. the austin scene is awesome, but i really wish there's more good-naturedness around, but i guess we're all still young in some ways.

we also did some mask work. it was creepy. william hall said that all cultures have masks in them.

i really feel good about improv right now.

keith is crazy. and he says some really critical things sometimes, but for some reason, it isn't offensive. maybe because he tells how to fix it as well.

that guy is briliant.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
that's actually really interesting. as a writer, i definitely understand trying to tow that fine line between writing what's important and challenging for me, versus satisfying potential readers. personally, i think both are important to any medium. wanting to win can be great if it's a motivator for a person...often it translates to wanting to perform the best one can. nothing wrong with that. and the truth is, as theraputic and/or cathartic undertaking an art form can be, if it isn't provocative, inspiring, or entertaining to an audience (or reader, whatever), then generally it's the not best effort possible. don't you think?
Aug. 20th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
hmm. people are divided on this. personally, i'm more interested in myself. :-P
but seriously, the idea is that, if you're having fun, being changed, taking risks... generally it's more interesting to the audience, because you're not bored, and they're not bored.

watching improvisers being safe, because they're good, and got a format down, isn't as fascinating as watching good improvisers trying different things.

i dunno, if you write something, and it starts to feel boring, don't your writing get affected? maybe the affect of your creation on another person is just a secondary by product.
Aug. 19th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
while i haven't worked with keith, i totally agree with you about finding storytelling to be more satisfying. when i see a montage it always feels unfinished. i get no big payoff. with a narrative there's a beginning, a middle and an end and it feels good to see it pulled off. i think it's harder to do good narrative than good montage, but i also thing a good narrative is 1000x better than a good montage.
Aug. 19th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you guys are getting a lot out of your trip and that you're forming some strong opinions on what kind of improv you like. I do want to point out, however, that the CIF Intensive you took was a very, very, VERY poor example of "Chicago Style" improv. All the instructors were very rushed and there were so many of us, and it was all very impersonal. For a true blend of both styles without moving to Chicago, I suggest the IO intensive next summer.

Live it up in SF, tell California I said hello.
Aug. 20th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
hey chris! austin roolz!

i also did a 6 week class with dave buckman and another 6 week class with erika and bob... whom i think are prob the best chicago improvisers in austin right now. and i love their teaching and learnt a lot from them, especially dave buckman's. and it definitely has affected my improv style. also, mick napier and susan messing taught me quite a bit, even in the short sessions i've had with them. but i think right now i'm infatuated with story-telling in improv. and that's less of a chicago thing.

in general, i think both chicago and johnstone improv can benefit each other, along with a nice dash of annoyance training. but it's definitely very different syles of improv fundementally.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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