Friday, August 21, 2009

My HONEST opinion? Well....not always.

If you are doing improv, there is a very good chance that you are connected with almost everyone in the local improv community where you live. I am always asked my opinion from performers who are just starting out in improv. they will invite me to a show, and then ask for my honest opinion. Sorry to tell you-in most instances, what I am giving you is not going to be my honest opinion. I beleive in encouraging junior talent instead of squashing it. If you are really that bad, I know you will eventually get that feedback from someone else, so it doesnt have to be me. I am more interested in you as a person. If you are a nice person and a bad improviser, I will be nurturing and complimentary to you. If however, in the rare instance that you are a bad person and a bad improviser, I will set you straight on both accounts. ONLY if you ask me.
Otherwise I beleive in keeping my mouth shut and moving on.

Now having said that...I will also state, if our relationship is professional, like you are taking a class from me, and I am your improv instructor...I will be honest. I will be encouraging, and positive, but honest. Instead of saying "you suck." I will tell you that it is premature for you to be onstage in front of a paying audience, and to continue working on your skills. I will identify the skills you need to work on, and help you monitor and track your progress. I will show you other people who are doing it correctly, and expose you to excercises that will help you.

Worse come to the no win scenario, I would encourage someone to invest in conventional acting instead of improvisational acting.

The Last Men on Earth...stay tuned

Great news. I have just secured an interview with Anthony Owliaie and Mike Cardella, the two darlings of the Las Vegas improv scene. Mike and Anthony are an improv comedy duo who perform under the name: The Last Men on Earth.

The interview will be in two parts.
Part one will be a simple six question written interview that will be published here on this blog site.
After that the duo will sit down for a taped interview which will be featured in its full length on my podcast.
So stay tuned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Improv Aint Easy Folks!!!!

Wow, recently watched an improv troupe perform, and it was painful. Whats worse was this was the night I decided to sit in the front row. I usually am placed in the middle rows or even towards the back. I couldnt hide in the darkness. Although I wished a hole in the earth would have swallowed me up.
Here's the thing. Kudos for people being brave enough to take the stage and open their mouths to speak. But-that's not really good improv is it? Are you born funny, or can you learn to be funny? I dont know for sure, but it seems as though a lot of people who werent born funny OR learned to be funny-have decided to try improv.
I have always maintained that jokes, or being funny should not be your priority as an improvisational actor. But for heavens sake-its got to be somewhere on your skill list!
Humor and jokes should NOT take precidence over the integrity of the scene. But, audiences come to watch improv to laugh. Hence, you must know how to create humor through character, dialogue, physicality, and situation. Just being able to open your mouth and speak is not a marker of success in improv.
I think what happens is the BEST improvisors make it look easy. That is a testiment of their skill and artistry. However, dont be is NOT easy.
I just recently had a conversation with someone who had just taken TWO hours of basic improv instruction, and immediately wanted to join the main stage company and perform with them.
People...loved ones....dont rush things. Take your time, learn your craft, and people will let you know when you are ready. They will be seeking you out. They will be asking you to perform with them and join their group. Keep at it. Learn through trial and error. Take classes. Study. And when it is time to hit the main stage-go for it!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

become an Improv Mentor

Nothing gets me more excited than watching a "novice" walk into an improv workshop and take to the stage with gusto and fire in the belly. Maybe they lack some of the teqnics you have mastered over the years, maybe they didnt learn all the little "tricks" that you did...or maybe they just dont have the right amount of confidence in their own talent.
Consider taking the extra time and effort it will require to be an Improv Mentor to them. Guide them in the right direction, ease them into some advanced theories and practices. Bring them along to events, introduce them to people in the business. Give them a healthy dose of self confidence.
When I was just starting out, it was very common to hear my friends or other novices to tell me that I was really good or possessed talent. But these were my friends...I never was really sure if their evaluations of my talent were legitimate. But when someone who admired and looked up to and respected in the business took me aside to tell me that I had a talent for improv-it convinced me.
Now, whenever I see raw talent from a novice performer...I always make sure to take some time to let them know that I can recognize the potential for greatness in them, and encourage them to continue their efforts.
Beleive me, they will remember you for years to come, if not their whole life long.
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the improv FROG podcast by Chili B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.