you’re on a stage, not on a screen. so stop taking inspiration from movies, where someone has controlled lighting and framing and sound design. see plays, where they are using the same tools you have available to you in your improv shows: real people, monologues, interplay between real humans, big choices, specific wordplay, emotional reactions, minimal costumes and props (more often than not at least), dramatic loaded pauses, movement up and down stage, facing forward, big deep exhales you can hear, etc.
and make fun of plays too. that’s your medium.
Saturday Night Live, a tv show, makes fun of tv shows.
National Lampoon, a magazine, makes (made) fun of magazines.
So if you’re doing improv on a stage, you should make fun of plays. watch plays. do parodies of plays. be happy forever.
So I’m in an office for month and being back in an office environment I have the following near-useless observation I need to share with someone, and you, dear readers, get to be this someone:
Here’s a VERY COMMON template of office conversations:
person A: (introduce a topic)
person B: (declare a pro or con opinion on that topic)
person A: (take the opposite view)
person B: (argue the different sides)
The topics are generally menial, at least 50% of the time about food (what to eat for lunch, the best K-Cup to choose). People are not mad but they seem to like having “their” side. There’s lots of “Well MY favorite flavor is Hazelnut Decaf. Not Hazelnut! The Decaf one is slightly more bitter!” And the people get loud and animated but they are not mad at each other.
There’s (at least in this office) a very common category of phrases that ostensibly cede ground but don’t:
“now i’m not saying that I totally know everything…”
or “maybe saying he’s a cancer on the Panthers is too much, but the guy is definitely destructive.”
or “all i’m saying is…(smile of satisfaction) that’s not a coffee.”
It’s polite to nod whenever someone uses those phrases as if you have actually been agreed with. But no one changes their mind because of these phrases. People have dug in early. But generally you get the feeling that no one cares.
I know that it’s dumb and tread ground to talk about office small talk and how shallow it is. But it’s interesting from the perspective of an improv teacher: people communicate to a large degree within the construct of fighting.
And they mark territory by taking opposite views. They can’t have an opinion without first knocking down another. Their opinion exists IN ORDER to destroy another, not simply to exist.
It’s weird. No wonder no one can yes-and in an improv scene. No one does it in real life.
I just witnessed a conversation amongst five people and these topics were discussed:
was Terrell Owens a cancer for his football teams?
better venue: MSG or Barclays
best manner to eat chicken wings
is one required to go to birthday parties you’ve been invited to?
what’s an appropriate topic to distract sports fans from talking about sports (like what topics would successfully distract - not pop music but yes news of the day)
It isn’t how trivial these topics are that strikes me, it’s that everyone feels a need to own their own unique point of view. Can’t MSG and Barclay’s both be excellent venues? Do the strengths and weaknesses of one have anything to do with the strengths and weaknesses of the other? Do we humans want a hero and goat in all narratives, even office small talk?
I can see why Seinfeld was so popular. The characters on Seinfeld were masters of coining terms, marking territory and criticizing points of view on mundane things. They were the models that the office workers of today learned from. “He’s a close-talker” — “I wouldn’t say he’s a close talker, *I* would say he’s a FAST talker.” etc. etc.
P.S. Got to write a whole other post about the appeal of correctly categorizing things — that’s Seinfeld’s (the show, and also the comedian) main superpower. Humans love labels, re-labelling, arguing about labels (see the recent article that divides American into 11 regions, or astrology, or Myers-Briggs tests, or which Sex in the CIty character are you, etc etc).
If you're in a funeral scene and you think the person pretending to be the dead body might actually have died while pretending to be dead, what do you do? I don't mean MORALLY what is the right thing to do, I mean as an IMPROVISER what do you do? This has happened to me twice now.
Commit hard and bury your friend. Only after the scene has been swept, dig him up and call a doctor.
It seems like the person asking about knowing each other and unusual things had a real question, but you acted like a bully and made fun of them. Others then jumped on board in the comments. As a new student, I'd be crushed if I submitted a sincere question and got made fun of by UCB teachers. Maybe you should take down the "It's okay to ask questions" link, if you're going to be critical of the people who use it. I'd love to read an honest answer to this person's question if you are up for it.
You’re probably right. I apologize to the person who asked it.
The question irked me because it feels like a thing I see people do where they try to poke holes in advice being given to help them. That’s probably not the intention.
My sincere answer is that the question “if you knew someone then their mode of behavior would already be known to you so how could you point it out as unusual” is in a sense true, but it’s also just parsing the language in such a way as to avoid two simple lessons that generally help: 1) choose to know the person, because that makes your character able to make choices more easily and to be invested and be effected and 2) recognize unusual things, since those tend to be the center of the funny parts of scenes.
The term “unusual thing” gets argued with a lot by students. What’s unusual? If something’s unusual why should we let it happen? The thing the teacher describes as unusual isn’t unusual to the person in the scene so what treat it that way?
And…I mean, yeah, that’s all true. But we use the term unusual thing to refer to the part of the scene that seems to generally happen in funny scenes: something is different than normal. Think about it too much and it gets too hard. But in a funny scene, something is different than what we expect and it’s the source of all the fun. So be sensitive for it and be affected by it and explore it. I can’t be more specific than that since it depends what kind of unusual/funny thing it is.
If the term unusual doesn’t feel right, how about the “funny” thing? Or the “interesting” thing? Or whatever word works for you that makes your character focus on the part of the scene that is interesting. Or “the turn” I’ve heard used?
These are the terms people use to describe improv. The casual outsider would be amazed at how intensely some people view improv. It’s just a way to make jokes, right? Or a some guidelines for brainstorming together in public? Well, yes, it is those things. And to some people that’s all it is.
But something in the language of our culture communicates something grander. And so, those of us who really get into it, we automatically probe all of the advice we get for our scenes for something more.
A fun exercise suggested to me by Ryan Karels, though I’m sure everyone has a version of this (I didn’t):
A series of scenes where you try to use as many made-up proper nouns as possible. Not real ones like “The Matrix” or “Mayor Daley” — but made-ones like “Craig Bankowski” and “Return Of The Toad.” Everyone has to decide to already have heard of everything.
"Hey, I just got the Flogs album."
"Oh great! I was going to borrow one from Candice Genellman."
I like to structure it: the initiation and the response each have to have one and then after that you just do whatever.
These are very fun. Something about the specificity of the names and then the subsequent decision to already have heard of it makes everything work like a charm.
Thinking about the idea of "Go to them." I think I play that a lot, but how do you identify the feeling when people are coming to you? It gets incredibly frustrating when you think you're the only one playing supportively. Always playing Go To Them can feel like you have to be a babysitter. I don't doubt that other people are also supporting, I guess I'd like to know when I can cut loose, not worry about everyone, and let people come to me instead.
If you’re really going to them, it should be as satisfying as if they came to you. It’s the connecting that’s fun, it doesn’t really matter who had to move more to make it happen.
I've gotten the note to "know someone" in the scene and I was wondering how you can find someone's behavior unusual if you know them. Presumably if you knew someone then their mode of behavior would already be known to you so how could you point it out as unusual?
I’ve said it before but it’s so interesting I wanted to bring it up again.
When improvised characters are reminiscing they tend to agree. When they propose events for their future, they quibble.
Like, if someone says “Be great to see a game tomorrow, right?” the other person will automatically go “Well, I don’t know, I’m not sure, maybe.” But if the first person had said instead “Great game yesterday, right?” the other person will just automatically go “Yep!”
This has been my experience watching classes. People agree on past events, and equivocate on futures ones.
Here’s the thing: THEY BOTH DON’T EXIST IN REAL LIFE. THEY ARE BOTH THE SAME, IMPROV-WISE.
It sort of doesn’t matter since in either case they’re not talking about the present and what they really need to do is talk about the present moment. But still, I think this is weird.
I guess a practical benefit of knowing this is that if you and your partner are not on the same page, one way to get on the same page is reminisce a bit. “Remember when we went to the bank?” will get you an automatic “yes” and that’s something to start with.
If you’re fighting in your improv scene, make sure both actors agree on who is going to lose.
Maybe that? Oh goddammit, I don’t know. Still looking for some silver bullet piece of advice about FIGHTS.
A lot of improvisors unconsciously follow this template:
Mullaney, your description of the template that many newer improvisers follow is totally right, and describing it as a template also rings very true for me.
Fights are interesting to me for many reasons. One is that so many improvisers gravitate towards them. Normally shy and tentative improvisers really get filled with purpose and venom once a fight starts. There’s something easy about fighting. I want the improvisers to keep that confidence and strength they seem to gain once it’s “me vs. you.”
Second, there are many component of fighting that sound good for improv: point of view and passion chief among them. But there’s no doubt that once the improvisers start fighting the scene feels stopped and dead.
A lot of the advice people have about fighting is basically saying either “don’t fight” or “lose on purpose.” And those do help and they are sometimes great.
But they don’t address the central contradiction I sense which is that this passionate, point-of-view filled convention of fighting is so bad for improv which normally thrives on those things.
And also, this advice is usually completely contradicted by how veterans improvisers conduct their scenes. Someone replied to my original post and said “don’t end scenes angry.” Sounds like great advice except that I’ve seen many many many great scenes which end with the characters angry. So even though it’s helpful, it’s not solving the problem. It’s avoiding it.
If you’re reading this, you think at this point that you have the answer. You are ready to reblog and reply with your advice. I ask you to check: is your advice contradicted by the way scenes work on veteran teams? Then it’s probably good advice for beginners but not really solving the problem.
Because veteran improvisers fight ALL THE TIME in their scenes. They fight with great enthusiasm and relish and it’s often hilarious. They get angry — sometimes VERY angry — with each other, and it can be very funny. What are they doing differently?
I think the answer will look something like this: bad fighting is when we are trying to convince each other of what we should do next, but good fighting is having different opinions on an agreed-upon past. That’s not it, but it’s something like that.
P.S. This is as compelling to me as the difference between plot and game. Plot, which is so attractive for improvisers but almost always slows down or kills a scene/set. Game, which works so well. But plot generally includes specificity, agreement — why doesn’t it work? Anthony King summarized the difference there for me: Plot is what we COULD do, Game is what we WOULD do.
Also I made a text adventure that takes place at the UCB Theatre in NYC in 2003. You likely don’t know what a text adventure is, because it’s a style of “video” game that existed primarily in 1982, but if you’re curious, it is here:
I used to spend a lot of time worrying about house teams and “the next level” when it came to improv. And I recently realized why: finding improv was one of the best things in my life and the second I found it, I began to worry that if I didn’t get good enough fast enough, improv would be taken…
An extremely common question I get is “how can I remember stuff from the opening?” or “I can’t remember anything from the opening” or “once I finish the opening I can’t remember anything from it.”
The good news is: you are not alone. This is an extremely common problem that most improvisers go through. But they all get through it.
The bad news is: I was not one of those improvisers so I can’t help you. I could always pretty much remember the opening. Not EVERYTHING, but I’d walk out with two or three ideas/subjects/themes that I could use to start a scene. Almost every other aspect of improv I had and sometimes still have trouble with: committing to a range of emotions, stage presence, finding a game and keeping it, using my real life, playing patiently, active listening. All difficult. But remembering stuff from the opening I could pretty much do.
Ok, well, “playing game” generally means you do improv a bit more like you’re writing a sketch on your feet. It should feel like your scenes come up with a funny idea, and then once it finds its idea, uses that idea as the main theme.
Okay, but can we first talk about what you mean by “game?” Because I find a lot of confusion with this comes from two different people thinking of the word “game” in different contexts. People will say “so and so didn’t play game” and that phrase, all by itself, doesn’t tell me a lot except that the person saying it didn’t like a show.
You don’t need a lot of theory, just reps. You are not going to be able to think or read or worry yourself into being a good improviser. This blog won’t do it, that book won’t do it.
You need to get up and find it on your feet. You need to practice.
Your scenes feel bad at first because you’re still looking at the frets while you strum your chords. You’re still looking at the ball while you dribble it. You’re not dancing until the music has been playing for four bars. You’re learning. It’s okay.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. It is the most reliable method for getting better. More and more of your real self will be available to you.
I used to do shortform, and I began studying longform because I liked the idea of abandoning the pressure of "Be funny right away! Now!" However now that I've taken 201-301, I'm being told to be funny in 3 lines, or even 1 line by "initiating with a game." Even the shortform I did rarely required being funny in the 1st line. If I don't like deciding what is funny about an improv scene before it starts, is UCB not the theater for me? That seems to be the dominant technique taught and performed.
Short answer: Trust your instincts.
Longer answer: I will say that it’s not so much as “BE FUNNY IN THREE LINES” as “INITIATE WITH A PREMISE” — like, start in the middle of something. And that’s not ALL we teach, but that is one of the main parts of improv 301 and it can be heady and tough.
I mean, I am in charge of the school at UCB so I’m perhaps unsurprisingly in favor of our curriculum and our approach. I will say that the goal is to teach both the intuition that comes from feeling-the-moment acting AND ALSO the patterns and heightening and specifics that come from good writing. I BELIEVE that these elements which are currently causing you distress are the “writing” portion of UCB (not really writing, but the “build an idea in the opening with your team and use it” part - it feels like writing at first) and that if you stick it out and learn what we are teaching that you will be a versatile comedy warrior. You’ll honor the moment and your scene partner and the group mind, but you’ll ALSO learn how to walk out of an opening with a starting point ready to go. Those two things are not exclusive, we believe, if you’re doing them right.
But lots of talented people never study here, and lots of other talented people try it out and then go somewhere else. It’s not for everyone. If what I’m saying doesn’t sway you, let’s just agree to disagree and maybe I’ll see you someday and I imagine we would get along fine.
Trust your instincts.
FYI BTW OMG: This approach was great for me! I like it! I like initiating with premise! I also like starting with nothing! I LIKE IMPROV AND COMEDY AND SKETCH MORE MORE MORE MORE!
PPPPPS: Also, I might not agree that “longform” equals “abandon the pressure of be funny right away” —- that implies to me a desire for things to be easy. Long form is not meant to be easy! If you’re trying to entertain an audience, there SHOULD be pressure at some point, right?
something about territory, the concern over what’s YOURS or MINE and whose FAULT is it, and THIS PERSON is the problem, and ACCUSATIONS and INTERRUPTIONS. to be good at improv is to make strong choices but not take it personally when you need to switch things up. your character should have an agenda, but you should not become more interested in your character’s agenda over that of the agenda of the scene. the scene is more important than your character. very very often, the scene’s agenda is different than your character’s. you will have to lose and be wrong and give up territory all the time, effortlessly. get used to losing, and when someone else is losing you can help them lose but don’t get blinded by the joy of “winning.” typed in lowercase to represent lack of thought.
It’s interesting to see how often people in everyday life use their sense of humor to protect themselves or to mark territory around themselves. For example, I buy something from the deli near my office every day. But I go into work late — like at noon. Very often the cashier says to me “Starting late today!” Except that I work until 9 to 10, so it’s not late. It’s a regular time that starts after most people. But SHE starts work at 6:30am. So yes, to her, I am starting late. But not to me. Yet I am the one she is telling.
I liked your "Teams Are Valuable But Overrated" post, but you wrote something I always see and hear which I take issue with. What does "there aren't enough spots" mean and why does that sound like a half-hearted way of cheering up people not selected? Everyone knows there are limited spots. However some think they are good enough to have one of those available. It's not really adding any information nor is it acting as consolation to be considered perhaps the 105th best. Right? I don't know.
1. Nothing can cheer up people not selected.
2. Not enough spots means there’s more qualified people than there are spots so some of the people not selected would be good enough to be good on a team. As opposed to, say, a classroom where theoretically everyone who does well could get an A. It’s like a classroom where you’re only allowed to give out three As. There’s not enough As. So some people who do A-worthy stuff aren’t getting As. Only the three highest As. So that’s the frustration: people who feel that they are good enough and who probably are good enough not getting picked. LIke they have achieved enough competency to be able to play, but then are not able to. It’s different than being “Not good enough.” You ARE good enough, but there are some who are MORE good enough and so you don’t get picked. I feel for these people because it feels unjust to be turned down for a job you could theoretically do.
3. Some people aren’t good enough and they think they are would feel the same as people that I just described. I have no idea what to do about these people. Could anyone ever be convinced that they’re NOT good enough and that’s why they didn’t get picked? Maybe there should be an alternate dimension where everyone can visit and be on a team for two months and then you come back with a videotape of it and people can watch it and be like “Hey, you were good!” or else “You weren’t good!” I mean, if I tried out for the Olympic pole vaulting team I would fail at doing even one pole vault and then I would not question why I was not picked. But some people rarely do good shows yet still audition and still get mad when they’re not picked.
Teams are weird. It is terrifically exciting and validating to get cast on a team. Then again, it’s a roll of the dice, it seems, to see which teams really gel. It’s tough for something to get cast/put together by an outside source and work.
Then AGAIN, it’s not always great to put yourself together. You can get a lot of like-minded people with not enough variety that way. It helps to have an outside source tell you what you’re missing.
But psychologically, we put too much on “being put on a team.” There aren’t enough spots, and it doesn’t matter as much as you think. I know, I know. Easy to say. But it really doesn’t matter as much as it feels and the anxiety people go through over it just isn’t worth it.
Teams are valuable, but overrated.
You have to make your own thing. You will eventually realize this, and those who get put on teams often realize it later than everyone else.
Fights are tricky. You will stop yes-anding the scene and start making it so your character wins. You won’t even notice. Teachers will often forbid their newer students from having arguments in scenes. Even the most veteran team will check in with each other: “We’re fighting too much.” It is pervasive and, frankly, fascinating.
I think it’s the hardest thing to do in improv: having characters disagree while the actors still agree.
But you can’t just say “don’t fight.” Fighting well is essential to good improv. The characters must be able to disagree while still moving the scene forward. A whole set of character who just blindly agree with each other’s opinions gets old.
If you find yourself thinking of a group’s style of comedy as “male” or “female” — try using the terms Yin and Yang instead. Yin is what you traditionally think of as female, Yang is what you think of as male. From wikipedia:
Yin: slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive.
Yang: fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive
It works better than thinking male/female and it’s more accurate. A show can be too Yin or too Yang, and that has nothing to do with the gender of the people in the show. Players, too, can emphasize too much of one of the energies.
It sounds annoying on-purpose hippie, but it nicely lets you talk about ‘aggressive vs. passive’ without falling into weird and untrue assumptions/arguments about gender.
EDITED TO ADD: Maybe I shouldn’t have even brought up “male” and “female.” Regardless of that, “yin” and “yang” are terms I find useful when thinking about the types of improv groups and types of scenes and types of players.
Why is it a good thing to choose "to already have known things that were just confessed" ? It seems to just lower the impact of what has been confessed...
It’s not ALWAYS good, but it’s OFTEN good. From what I’ve observed, it doesn’t lessen the impact, it enriches it. I guess if the person who is doing the confessing NEEDS the other person to be shocked, then it would lessen the impact.
"I’m leaving you."
"So? I knew that."
Though if you could be affected by it.
"I’m leaving you."
"I KNEW it!"
But in improv, confessions are often done not to shock but just to add in information that is personal and important.
"I need to tell you something: I want your job."
"Yes, I knew that. It’s all about money to you."
Meaning the content of the new info is more important than that it was framed as a surprise. Choosing to know keeps it moving rather than:
"I need to tell you something: I want your job."
"What? Why? When? How come?"
And the point I was originally trying to make is that choosing to know something that’s confessed is hard to do, or at least counter-intuitive, so once I see that the improvisers can do that I know that they’re probably very capable.
Ideally, you don’t just note a bad habit. You understand why the bad habit is happening and explain why the bad habit is not the best solution to the problem.
Like if you tell someone they are acting too broadly, you should understand that broad acting is often a well-intentioned desire to communicate your thoughts to the other players and audience. It just takes some experience to learn that you don’t need to play that broadly — so that bad result (broad play) comes from a well-meant place (“understand me”) and is rectified by experience (the realization that a smaller move is enough).
So I don’t think it’s enough usually to say “Don’t play broadly — improv is better when you start small.” I mean, you can say that but when the chips are down they’re still gonna feel that insecurity of not being understood and will continue to play broadly until they have done X scenes and relax. OR you can say “you’re worried about not being understood, but we see you — you can play smaller and we see what you’re doing.”
I certainly fall short of this all the time. But there’s something improv-y to assume that the students are smart and have good reasons for doing what they’re doing. Be good enough to know what those reasons are.
The lessons that we teach make people better actors:
Habitually accept offers
Live life onstage
React simply, naturally, follow cues
There’s also the other side of the coin, the comedian’s side:
Well, wait — we need both don’t we? We do, we do. I guess if you have a room of funny people, they’ll already do the second group so you need to push the first set of things. And with a set of actors or touchy-feely people you need to push the second set of things.
But still, I get more mileage out of that top group. I push that and things get better. I don’t know.
Not gonna edit or fix this post.
(edited: I wrote this post over 2 years ago, sometime in 2011).
In a scene where there's mention of a celebrity, like Will Smith, is it better to say, "Did someone say 'Will Smith?'" while coming through the door or coming through the curtain? (In both instances the person saying "Did someone say 'Will Smith?'" would be acting like Will Smith)
You decide if you’re an improviser, not anyone else or any theater or any school. They can decide if they think you’re interesting, or if they want to cast you in their shows or promote you into higher levels. But they can’t tell you whether or not you identify with the term “improviser.” To borrow language from 12-step programs, being an improviser is a self-diagnosed condition.
The mantras just have to ring true for you. You know it when you’re excited in your first ever class or maybe at the first long-form show you see. You think “yes and” in your everyday life. You think “good heightening, world” when things get increasingly shitty.
Even if you leave this world and go off into a “normal” (shudder) career or lifestyle. You’re in an office, getting a PhD, waiting tables, raising family, or even acting in scripted stuff. But you still get inspired by the mantras you learned in some dusty rehearsal space. Even (especially?) if you don’t watch television or web series or read comedy blogs like this one: you’re allowed to still love it.
Tell people you’re an improviser. You feel it, right? Then you are.
If you make a big choice, and then you get thrown because your scene partner was making a different assumption about the who/what/where, it’s helpful to keep acting in the same TONE of your initial choice, but switch up the specifics.
LIke you walk out and decide to be a nervous weatherman apologizing to his boss for having screwed up his broadcast. But your scene partner somehow thinks you’re a detective. Okay, so you stay apologetic, still have a nervous energy, but you change your specifics from a weather report to a murder you’re investigating. It’s like you keep your music, but just change your lyrics.
My new workshop — Get In Your Head! — is designed to put you solidly in your own head! Become aware of your own thought processes! Doubt all of your initial instincts! Wonder if there’s a better way at all times! Exercises presented with a cold neutral air by a coach (me!) with a glassy-eyed stare! Validation in all forms withheld. Warm-ups skipped. Chit-chat omitted. Temperature of room hostile. Physical matching, arbitrary jumping and any screaming will be fined $1 an occurrence (no refunds). Exercises run: “Improv Is Hard,” “Understand What Was Said,” “Make Sense,” “Be Able To Think of Things No Matter What” and if time, “Make This Funny.” Despite the sarcastic tone of this description, please know that this is a workshop that I would actually like to run! No refunds given, and even if documentation of psychiatric damage is presented afterwards the workshop will assume no legal or medical liability (see Supreme Court Case #90874 United States vs. Improv Teacher, 2013). Spots available.
Why do you think people use generic fake-sounding names like "Jenkins" and "Janice"? Where does that come from? How do we make it never happen again? Am I the only one who gets infuriated when characters call their sons "son"?
People gravitate towards “J” names in improv, I don’t know why. Also “K” sounds when making jokes? I dunno, I dunno. Saying “son” doesn’t bother me.
Group game question. Say a team mate has started with an interesting philosophy (obviously hoping to be matched), but the majority of the group by-passes that first philosophy to latch on to less-interesting banter. If I want to recognize what that team mate started with: Is it too late to play that first, strong, idea? Or is it better to keep the banter going as a group and forget about that first move?
Better to go with what’s first, but if only one person noticed it’s kinda like it didn’t happen so go with the group. EDITED LATER TO ADD: the judging you’re doing in this example “Less-interesting banter” and “first, strong idea” —- sounds like you are disagreeing with the majority of your group. You might be “right” in terms of a strong comedic choice but since improv works best when we are all on the same page, can you get on their page? Can you do the banter how they’re doing it but have a specific contribution that makes the banter better? However you answer all these questions, I’d rather watch a group that is playing together than one guy trying to correct the group’s decision from within.
What's the difference between 'raising the stakes' and 'heightening'? I was asked this recently, and couldn't come up with a coherent answer. Help!
Semantic question. Whatever works for you. But to me: “Raising the stakes” seems to encourage only PLOT — which might be good but “heightening” means anything that makes the scene more absurd. “raising stakes” = people arbitrarily putting scenes in the white house, in space when that’s not necessarily funny. “heightening” Is more open to mean “whatever it takes to make the scene more absurd.” Heightening, in the way that I think of it, INCLUDES raising the stakes as one of many possibilities.
Hi Will, love your article on 'That Guy.' My team is dealing with one of those and I'm trying to impart your wisdom. Do you have any advice for directors/coaches for how do deal with That Guy? What notes are okay to give in front of the group and where can it cross the line into embarassing singling-out/bullying? How is best to approach him privately if needed? and what can a good director do to manage the rest of the group's dealings with That Guy when complaints are received?
The 2700 words I wrote on this is all I have to say.
One of the members of my team consistently struggles with the basics - not listening, not yes-anding, asking loads of questions, etc. And he's scene-hogs into every scene possible. This is very frustrating for all. Now he says he can't afford to split our coaching fees and studio rental that we all share. Fair enough, I have been there. Problem is he still wants to perform with us, but not practice with us. I really don't think it's fair to the rest of the team to let him get away with this.
As to you assessing his improv, that’s not productive: