With Marc and I starting up our Montreal Improv project, we figured we’d also start up a new blog where we can talk about our news and projects without cluttering up the WA blog with stuff that’s not directly relevant.
So you can find us blogging more nonsense and our thoughts (plus a reprint from here) at:
the Montreal Improv blog
The title is hopefully temporary until we find something we like but it’ll do for now. No longer called Improv Blog Title
Delocated (Not sure how long this’ll be up)
Variety in an improv show is important. Playing the same type of scene repeatedly can exhaust an audience. This is why dramas have comic relief and why comedies have stretches of set-up. Hitting the same note over and over again has rapidly diminishing returns.
I played the WA show last Friday. I was feeling a little rusty and was looking for a chance to play since I’ve been mostly teaching for the last little while. And rusty I was. The show itself went fairly well. It was one of those shows where the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout but there weren’t any OMG moments that went off any charts.
For me, my main note-to-self would be to speed up. I’ve been in long-form mode and teaching students to slow down for long enough that my ability to do a short and snappy scene has wilted. I need to get into that mind-frame again. I slow-rolled the start of just about every scene I was in even when I was aware that change of pace was called for. There was some part of my brain that just forced me to draw out the start of a scene.
In any case, it was good for me to loosen the improv joints and I had fun playing around onstage, something I don’t get to do very much these days. Already looking forward to the next opportunity to goof around!
We’ve got a show at the Nest this Friday, 10:30pm.
You know what to do.
I like Dungeons & Dragons. I play D&D. Not as in, “I have played it” but as in “I am playing it”. In fact, I play with one other current member of Without Annette and two former members. I also know two other members (one former and one current) who have rolled up characters for 4th Edition. D&D has come up here a few times before. So I think it’s fair to say that D&D is NOT a forbidden topic on these unhallowed and transitory pages.
Today, I would like to direct your attention to the official Dungeons and Dragons podcast. They launched a new series last week and episode two just came out today. What manner of fell beast lay within? A session of D&D gaming featuring the guys behind the Penny Arcade webcomic, the guy behind the PVP webcomic and Wil Wheaton, the guy behind Lard-Ass. They’ve taken an 8-hour gaming session, split it into 30-45 minute sections and are releasing them weekly.
Having listened to the first podcast series (which was done minus WW) and devouring Ep 1 last week, I can do aught else but impugn they who do not drown themselves in this torrent of fantastickal awesomeness.
Inspired by our friend Neale’s posting of a TED talk on glamour, I looked into Sprezzatura (by which I mean I read the Wikipedia page I just linked).
to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.
Which is what you want to do in improv. If you’re playing a rhyming scene, when you’re first starting out, you’ll concentrate on the rhymes because you don’t want to mess up the game. With experience, you’ll learn that you can keep the rhymes while telling a compelling story. It’s not an either/or situation. But going from one to the other, to be comfortable in rhyming on the fly, to find and tell a story under any circumstances, to juggle both these things takes practice, confidence and good dash of artistry. What we don’t want to see in a scene is the effort of art. That is what you want to do in your workshops and rehearsals. It takes a long time to make the difficult seem effortless but that is what can elevate a good scene into a great scene.
I love watching improv that is a lace of delicate choices entwined by many hands in those ephemeral moments under the lights. It’s the ultimate aspiration and ever-elusive, but sometimes, and you can feel it onstage, everything comes together and there it is: sprezzatura.