Interntational Comedy Team

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Change of URL

Hello beautiful followers - I had to change URLs to be able to link all of my blogs, and will soon delete this account.  In order to stay in touch with the International Comedy Team, please follow: internationalcomedyteam.tumblr.com.

There will be MORE content, MORE improv, MORE comedy, and MORE love on the newly revamped blog because now it’s linked to a platform from which I can actually reblog MORE funnies.

<3 you!

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Poupak's Parisian Life in New York: The Brave Choice

improvnonsense:

The right choice is often the brave choice. The character from the pattern game that you’re scared of doing. The opinion you’re worried the audience won’t agree with. The object work you think that no one will understand. But you just commit and do it. You visualize your…

Wise words - someone told me once (Jody Shelton the musical director for Baby Wants Candy): “if you can do a silly dance on stage, take the opportunity and DO IT!”

PS: Please follow: internationalcomedyteam.tumblr.com - this blog will migrate to that new URL soon!

Filed under Improv

110 notes

You Go To Them

improvnonsense:

One of the most common categories of questions I get to this improv blog is the “I’m playing with someone bad. What do I do?” Variations include that so and so is sticking out amongst the group, or maybe is behind everyone else, or playing really broadly, or mugging at the audience, or is somehow hurting otherwise good scenes. Many varieties of “when am I allowed to tell this person they’re bad” or “what do i do if I’m stuck with someone who’s bad?”

(A qualification: I’m not talking about off-stage terribleness, like people who mistreat you or are jerks or are mean. I’m talking about people that you think are bad improvisers and for whatever reason you’re about to do a scene or show or class with them.)

Without knowing the specific situation, here is my first instinct every time that question is asked: YOU GO TO THEM. You stop questioning what’s wrong with the other person and you focus on what you are doing. You say “yes and” and get on that page and play. If they won’t budge, you go to them and you don’t even hesitate. Don’t even think about what might be wrong them, you just play.

You are thinking: “No, you haven’t seen this person.” Not that person, no. But I have played with every kind of player, often for YEARS. And if you’re asking me how to play with that person the answer is: YOU GO TO THEM. If they are literally denying their own reality each and every line, then yes-and the last thing said and change with them if need be. No excuses. This is the answer, and the sooner you learn it the sooner this will be fun.

Would you rather be right or be in a great scene?

The performers MUST connect and meet else the scene does not exist. Agreement before all else. In fairness they should meet halfway, but if you find yourself in a scene with people who won’t budge, then for the sake of the scene you go all the way to them.

In the second improv workshop I ever took in a black box theater on Ludlow St. in Manhattan in 1998, I did a scene with a guy who was, I can say in fairness, a terrible improviser. He contradicted facts I said, he mugged for the audience. He interrupted me and talked about sex nonstop. Problem: the audience (rest of the class) loved him. They cracked up at everything he did, laughing at his outrageousness. I sat stewing, knowing that I was doing it “right” and was getting no attention for it.  I was brand new and could not get my thoughts together while playing with this jerk.

At the break I said to a friend of mine “That guy is so annoying” and my friend, who was grinning from ear to ear, shrugged his shoulders — “it’s hilarious.”

And he didn’t mean that my frustrating predicament was hilarious. He meant this guy’s outrageousness was enjoyable, and that my friend had not been paying attention to my artistic pain because who gives a shit?

And I realized I had to choose: did I want to be right, or would I prefer to be part of a fun scene?

I wish I had just said yes and made it work. That I had agreed that I was here to see the doctor for “dick pills.” That my name was “Roger Roger Roger.” That I was bribing him to tell my ex-wife that I was no longer on heroin. That I was “super gay.” That even though I got flustered, that I amped up the fluster, so the audience could enjoy that more since they already were. I still think about it all the time. He was wrong, but by not playing, I was also wrong.

True, I didn’t have to be on a team with him or even see him after that workshop.  Still, my job is to make the scene work. To play it as it is, not as I think it should be.

You’re probably thinking: I can’t do that. This person is no good in any way and anything I do he/she will wreck. Maybe. I advise you at least to think of it in these terms: “I don’t yet know how to make that good.”

More: I asked someone who was on a great team if they ever sat down and had a big honest talk about what kind of improv they wanted to do. And this person said to me “We would never give each other notes, and even if we did, no one would take them.” And that illuminated it for me. You can’t worry about what the other person SHOULD do, because you don’t know for sure, and you can’t control it. You have to worry about your side of the street. Say yes. Add to it. You go to them. You make it work. 

Even more! In some future group, you will worry that YOU are this person which everyone else dreads. At that time, you will be happy if you have discouraged the part of your brain that judges others so that it won’t be so powerful when it turns in on you. I’ve done it to myself — judging harshly — it takes a lot of effort to undo.

I struggled wit this for a while, until one of our coaches made us do the “crazy person” exercise: one of the scene partners is allowed to be as crazy as they want and do whatever they want; the other scene partner needs to make it work and yes, and every move to make the audience believe that every single move is a conscious choice. I also did this exercise with Susan Messing during one of her NYC workshops.  This exercise changed my whole perspective on improv!

Everything is a gift, so treat it that way and you’ll be fine and most importantly, you’ll enjoy playing more!

"If you’re not having fun, you’re the asshole" - Susan Messing

Filed under Improv

31 notes

1600 Penn: A Really White House

sasheer:

Wait a minute…I must’ve missed a bunch of TV promos recently. I just saw a poster for 1600 Penn, a new NBC show that claims to be “An unexpected comedy about the First Family of the USA.”

Unexpected is right. I was a bit surprised (but also, sadly, not surprised) to see that the first family portrayed on the show looks like this:

image


When the first family in real life looks like this:

image

Now, I understand television shows (especially comedies) are not the place to look for accurate portrayals of communities and the people who live in them. There have been a lot of articles written this year on the lack of diversity for different shows and networks. I don’t know what goes into the decision making process when casting these shows. I’m sure some of it has to do with the demographic the show is trying to reach, or it may be a complete oversight on the staff’s part. But it’s a little hard for me to understand why this show can’t accept a colorful cast to represent the first family when AMERICA HAS.

I don’t know anything about this show. I didn’t watch the preview, I just read one harsh review and another one saying it was kind of lackluster but worth another watch. And pilots are hard, so it could get better. I also don’t know the timeline of this show. Someone could have had the idea for this show years ago and had a Caucasian family in mind as the cast when we still had a Caucasian President. But I do know that we’ve had a President who identifies as African-American in office for the last four years, and that will continue to be the case for the next four years. So whenever this show was cast, chances are, we had an African-American President at the time. And for however long this show will run, we will still have an African-American President. So, it seems that someone made an active choice to create a cast that does not represent the current/future state of the White House.

I know this is fiction, and being the President of the United States is a job, and (ideally) anyone can work that job or portray it onscreen. There have been TV shows with African-American Presidents and female Presidents, and those shows didn’t set out to represent the current make up of the White House, they just chose to portray that role in a new/interesting/refreshing/inspiring way. It’s not a TV show’s job to promote diversity and inclusion for its viewers, unless that show actually sets out to do that. It doesn’t look like 1600 Penn set out to do that. And that’s fine, they don’t have to. BUT WHY NOT?

This show had the opportunity to make any choice they wanted with the casting. But seeing how we already have an African-American family in the White House, and this is something all Americans know to be factual and true, why not keep the family African-American? They have one African-American guy on there who’s the press secretary, but I mean, why even bother? They may as well make him white too. It’s like, “Yeah you can be on the show, but you can’t play the President. I know we currently have a Black President in office, but shut up about it.”

We could’ve even had a Hispanic family, or an Asian family, or anything! There are so many races in this country, and hardly any of them are represented on television. This show could also have been about a gay President! But probably not, right? Personally, I would love to see that, but I honestly don’t trust anyone to make that show without making it about that. It would turn into “This Gay President!” instead of a show about a President who happens to be gay. So maybe that’s why they decided to keep the family Caucasian, straight and nuclear, so the show wouldn’t turn into “This Black President!” or “This Gay President!” Fine, then make a different choice. Why not make Jenna Elfman’s character President? She was cast to be the wife (but not just a wife, a “trophy wife”). Even if this show wanted to keep all the wacky relationships, kooky characters and white-washed casting the same, the President still could have been female and it’d be the same show but a little more progressive.

It just makes me sad, because we’ve come so far as a country and made some historic changes, but our entertainment doesn’t reflect that. Most of America has spent the last four years accepting and celebrating the fact that the first family doesn’t have to look like this:

image

But now it seems like we’re going a little backwards.

Who knows what will happen with this show. It may not last more than four episodes. But I hope it does. I hope it’s good. I hope it’s really really funny and it gets a full season and renewed for another if it deserves it. I want to work for a TV show one day, and I have a lot of friends who already do. So whenever a show gets canceled, I can’t help but think about the people who are now out of jobs and have to look for new work. So for the sake of everyone involved with this show, I hope it does well so they can keep their jobs. And if it works for a while and has a good run, I hope it gets to the point where they feel comfortable enough to take risks. And I don’t just mean casting risks, I mean any kind of risk. Just don’t make another boring sitcom, but this one happens to be set in the White House. Make something interesting. If you currently work for TV, or plan to, for the love of God, please take risks and make something interesting.

Again, I don’t know how the decision making process for TV shows work, but it seems like it’s a process based on repetition. “This thing worked before, so it’ll probably work again.” Or, “This type of audience only likes this thing, so we’ll give them more of the same.” How can anyone possibly know what audiences like and don’t like if we’re being fed the same thing year after year?

It’s like, if you’re a parent and you feed a 15 year old kid asparagus for the first time, they will probably say they don’t like it. Your response shouldn’t be “Well, I guess I’ll never feed them asparagus again, they did not respond well to that!” No, you feed that kid more asparagus because it’s good for them and you’re the cook of the house. Sure, that kid can make a meal on their own, but it’ll probably be macaroni and hot dogs until they get a little older and more adventurous with their tastes. You really should’ve been exposing that kid to asparagus, as well as a ride range of foods, when they were younger. But since you didn’t, you can still introduce little bits of it in their diet until they learn to like it. Maybe make them macaroni and hot dogs with asparagus mixed in and take it from there.

Does that analogy make sense?

Kid=Middle American TV Watchers

Asparagus=Diversity

I brought up that analogy 1) because I’m hungry and 2) I was that kid who never ate asparagus until I was a teenager and my taste buds were fully developed. I still don’t eat asparagus (or many other vegetables for that matter), because no one made me. But I wonder how much healthier I’d be if I did. I wonder how much healthier this country would be if the entertainment that was spoon fed to us happened to be more diverse.

Not only does Diversity make everything taste better, and healthier, but Diversity adds layers to life.  Thanks Sasheer for posting this!

(Source: thesheertruth)

Filed under Diversity Obama White House 1600 Penn

23,454 notes

chrisreblogs:

“The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive…’I don’t understand this person, so they’re crazy.’ That’s bullshit.”

Applies to improv.

This definitely applies to improv.  There’s an exercise we did with Susan Messing, during one of her workshops, where one of the players is the one making what is usually considered “crazy” choices, and the other has to make every single move make sense.  I was lucky enough to be on stage with Zach Willis when we did that exercise, and I can tell you that we both got out of there energized and overjoyed.

Zach was the so-called “crazy” one; I had to make it work.  You know what happened next?  Magic happened.  The more Zach would act up, the more I played with it and made it “normal”. 

Crazy is in the eye of the beholder - we call “crazy” something we don’t understand.  It’s like judging and putting the blame on the other one.  It is OUR job to make sense of things in any given situation.

Susan Messing is fucking brilliant.

(via poupak)

Filed under Improv

41 notes

improvnonsense:

chrisreblogs:

improv-is-easy:

With much respect to Will, I have to say I disagree with the advice given.
The behavior exhibited at the jam sounds like it was sexist, and by staying silent, the only thing that will be accomplished is perpetuating such behavior.
You have the right to stand up for yourself if you want to.

A shitty improv move (like Will describes) and a “demeaning” one (sexist, racist, etc) are not the same thing. To equate to two is… I… Words. Failing.
Sorry. Let me try a different approach. (This will be rambling because I am feeling a bit angry this morning.)
Look, I am never going to tell anyone that they have to confront players who make demeaning moves. That is an individual choice and I appreciate the “Ack. Not worth my time. I’ll just not perform with that player.”
But we should also empower people to speak up if they feel the need. Because “Well, let’s not say anything and just hope the jerks go away. Or hope that they learn what is okay behavior… by osmosis or something”… doesn’t work. That is passive ass shit.
Improv teams can self-regulate to a certain extent. If there is an individual who demeans in this fashion, the team can kick them out (and perhaps they will learn). But we are talking about a jam here. If no one says anything, how the hell do we expect anything to change? 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We don’t want to “restrain improv.” We would like improv to have all doors open. But that is with people who you have earned trust with. Improv jams and classes and whatever are not excuses to demean people. If anything, we should be creating environments where players can walk onto a stage at a jam (especially if said jam is hosted by any of the improv institiutions), and feel like they are safe.
By saying “learn to deal with it” is… disturbing to me. Sure, learn to deal with shitty improv moves. You do NOT have to learn to deal with being demeaned.
Will a note change them? Probably not. Might it in the future make them pause before making a demeaning move? Maybe. If we all make sure to speak up when we see behavior that makes improv unsafe, maybe, in the long run, it will be.
(Reminder: I am available for coaching.)
Edit to add: I also want to make it clear that this is not about the asker of the question. Individual moments shouldn’t be made into causes or blown up. If it were, the amount of jams I’ve been to where a performers race (or sexuality or gender or ) was mentioned as if that were the weird thing… Sigh.

I’m sorry I misunderstood the situation. No one should have to put up with being demeaned.  I shouldn’t have implied that. If there’s something I can do to help, let me know. If this is the Grandma’s Ashes jam, I know they put a priority on making it a respectful show so I’d talk to someone on that team about the specific situation.

This HAD TO be reblogged, because it happens way too often, and people don&#8217;t speak up.
If you feel demeaned on stage, please speak up.  As Chris says, the stage where there&#8217;s a jam should be a safe place to play.  Improv should always be a safe place.

improvnonsense:

chrisreblogs:

improv-is-easy:

With much respect to Will, I have to say I disagree with the advice given.

The behavior exhibited at the jam sounds like it was sexist, and by staying silent, the only thing that will be accomplished is perpetuating such behavior.

You have the right to stand up for yourself if you want to.

A shitty improv move (like Will describes) and a “demeaning” one (sexist, racist, etc) are not the same thing. To equate to two is… I… Words. Failing.

Sorry. Let me try a different approach. (This will be rambling because I am feeling a bit angry this morning.)

Look, I am never going to tell anyone that they have to confront players who make demeaning moves. That is an individual choice and I appreciate the “Ack. Not worth my time. I’ll just not perform with that player.”

But we should also empower people to speak up if they feel the need. Because “Well, let’s not say anything and just hope the jerks go away. Or hope that they learn what is okay behavior… by osmosis or something”… doesn’t work. That is passive ass shit.

Improv teams can self-regulate to a certain extent. If there is an individual who demeans in this fashion, the team can kick them out (and perhaps they will learn). But we are talking about a jam here. If no one says anything, how the hell do we expect anything to change? 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We don’t want to “restrain improv.” We would like improv to have all doors open. But that is with people who you have earned trust with. Improv jams and classes and whatever are not excuses to demean people. If anything, we should be creating environments where players can walk onto a stage at a jam (especially if said jam is hosted by any of the improv institiutions), and feel like they are safe.

By saying “learn to deal with it” is… disturbing to me. Sure, learn to deal with shitty improv moves. You do NOT have to learn to deal with being demeaned.

Will a note change them? Probably not. Might it in the future make them pause before making a demeaning move? Maybe. If we all make sure to speak up when we see behavior that makes improv unsafe, maybe, in the long run, it will be.

(Reminder: I am available for coaching.)

Edit to add: I also want to make it clear that this is not about the asker of the question. Individual moments shouldn’t be made into causes or blown up. If it were, the amount of jams I’ve been to where a performers race (or sexuality or gender or ) was mentioned as if that were the weird thing… Sigh.

I’m sorry I misunderstood the situation. No one should have to put up with being demeaned.  I shouldn’t have implied that. If there’s something I can do to help, let me know. If this is the Grandma’s Ashes jam, I know they put a priority on making it a respectful show so I’d talk to someone on that team about the specific situation.

This HAD TO be reblogged, because it happens way too often, and people don’t speak up.

If you feel demeaned on stage, please speak up.  As Chris says, the stage where there’s a jam should be a safe place to play.  Improv should always be a safe place.

60 notes

The point is, so many of you take so many classes, spend so much money studying so many different approaches, it’s important to be open to all of it so you can figure out what allows you to feel good on stage. It’s also really important to vary your creative experience. If all you do is improv, and all you study is improv and all you see is improv you are putting out what you are putting in. I call it eating your own poop. You live in new york city, don’t miss out on the balkan brass bands, and spoken word poetry and the moma and dance performances and rap battles and hippie warehouse parties in Williamsburg, don’t forget to go to rodeo bar and see rockabilly music and arthurs tavern to hear blues and the top of the empire state building at one in the morning in the snow. You work your ass off to live in this city, don’t forget that is there. Save a classes worth of money and take a class in an instrument, or drawing or tap dancing or fencing or printmaking or whatever. You already see the world through an improv lens, take that lens out into the world and look at shit with it. Grab a time out and go see something random, love it or hate it and then figure out why. All of that is going to help you figure out who you are on stage, and how you want to play.

Becky Drysdale (via halphillips)

Big Drysdale fan over here. Would love to buy her a drink one day.

- vinny

(via montrealimprov)

Always reblog Beck.

(via margoretandimprov)

Beck, of course, who else? Always right. Always the right word. “Eat your own poop”.

(via improv-is-easy)

Filed under Inspiration