Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Knowledge

A good improviser knows stuff. A lot of stuff. They not only need to be book smart but they have to have a brain that is hungry for information and for knowledge. That's the kind of brain that I want to improvise with. I don't care what kind of improvisation you practice, your quest for knowledge should be never-ending. It's this quest that ultimately makes you a better and funnier performer.

Pursuing knowledge trains your brain to not only remember information but to also make connections and find patterns. I don't care where you pursue your knowledge. If your thing is reading Entertainment Weekly and People every week, fine, but just let your brain absorb that information and then share that information with me on stage.
The most immediate effect is that by putting this information in your head, it's immediately becoming part of the hive mind of your ensemble. If I'm lacking information on the latest pop phenomenon, I know that if it's in your head, then it…

Listening to your Audience

It's so easy to blame a good or bad show on an audience. Audiences can be too drunk, too smart, too shy, too quiet, etc. The excuses can go on and on. Yes, it's true, some audience members can be real assholes but a majority of the time, an audience just wants to have fun. Unless you're an asshole also, audiences will generally be on your side.

Somethings to keep in mind:

Know your audience. Every audience is different. There isn't an 8pm audience or a 10pm audience or a matinee audience...there is just audience. Get to know them. When you're backstage, if you have the opportunity to check them out, you should. Ask the House Manager if there are any special events you should know about and most importantly, when you step out onto the stage, ENGAGE THEM. This could be as subtle or as grand as the show needs but take an opportunity to engage them so that you know where they are at. If an audience is low-energy, get them fired up! If they're high-energy, ride the …

Diversity and the Pay-to-Play model

I am feeling strongly that a key to diversity in Theater and Comedy is to remove the Pay-to-Play model. I am really interested in hearing people's opinions on this.
This is not just in regards to many festivals that charge to apply but also in the practice of setting a minimum education requirement for auditions. Many times that minimum education can set a student back at least 600 dollars within a 6-month period. Being on the Director's side of the table for almost two decades, I understand that we want to set a barrier to ensure that we only see high-quality and qualified candidates but I also feel that we're limiting ourselves to a very specific segment of our population.
I've always been for open auditions but I've recently evolved in my opinion on festival applications. I used to see the application process as an income opportunity but now I feel like I would rather make that income flow up elsewhere in the season and open up application opportunity with the hop…

Thoughts on Improv and Diversity

A friend suggested I share this with a larger audience...so I am. In the world of theater, I don't believe in tokenism or affirmative action...but I do think that a director, producer or someone in a position of power should be able to see potential in someone while taking into account how social constructs might have hindered someone's confidence or cultural development.

I grew up in Chicago (in the city proper not the suburbs), but never went to Second City until I was in my 20's because growing up on the South Side, nothing existed north of the Sears Tower. I grew up listening to Techno and Hip Hop and knew nothing of Classic Rock, Grunge, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, etc. My Comedy heroes were Robert Townsend and the Wayans Brothers...I never even heard of Monty Python.

When I auditioned for ImprovBoston in 1997 and I thought I had no chance because I did not share the same cultural vocabulary that many of the cast members had. I did however, have a passion for the art form a…