Tag Archives: improv

New conversation rules

In acting class today, we studied improvisation. There are rules, well not really rules, but guidelines when doing improvisation. After thinking about it a bit I’ve decided to incorporate these rules into not just class and improv practice but everyday conversation.

So here’s some of them for your perusal.

Yes, and This means that when someone says something to you, you reply in the affirmative AND with a statement of your own that raises the stakes, so-to-speak. You’re trying to build a metaphorical ladder, so someone makes a statement, you say “Yes, and” follow up with something that is a rung higher. This way you are both contributing to the scene and it’s going somewhere.

So, if your boss says I think you are doing a fine job on project XYZ, you respond with Yes, and I’m so good that I’m totally kicking the collective office asses of everyone here, so you’d better watch your back and your job. Just an example, apply it to where you see fit.

No questions This follows along with the first guideline. Both people need to contribute to the scene, if one person makes a statement and you follow it with a question, you are putting all the creative burden on the other person.

This one could prove difficult in Real Life, but there are ways around it. Instead of Will you help me move this really heavy couch?, just say Here, grab the other end of this couch and move it. That way it eliminates that “gray” area people have when thinking about if it’s a good idea to help you or not.

Don’t say No If someone makes a statement, don’t disagree with it or you’ll kill the scene. Also, you don’t want to get into a situation like I am holding a banana. No you’re not. Uh, yes I am. No you’re not. Yes, yes I am. Are not. etc etc

Hmmm, sometimes I need to say no, you know? If someone says Here, grab the other end of this couch and move it. I’d be all Uh, no. But if some chica caliente (or chico, to be fair to my wife) says Can I have a three-way with you and your wife? of course I should say No, but according to the new rules of conversation, I can’t! Yes. Yes you may.

Off the top of your head Say the first thing that comes to you, don’t listen to that little censor in your head that says “no, that’s stupid, don’t say that.” Usually the first thing you think of will be the most interesting.

Boy, oh, boy could this one get you in trouble. But hey, you gotta practice the rules to get better at improv and why not practice in everyday conversations? So when your wife/mother/or significant other asks if you want seconds of the meat loaf they made, just let fly the first thing that pops into your head Are you serious? I ate the first helping to be nice. If I have to eat any more of that excrement my stomach will secede from the digestive tract and create its own union at Shoney’s down the street.

There were more, but I’ll stop here. I don’t want to inundate you with new rules for your life all at once. Let me know how it works out for you.

Call Me Kirby

I’ve decided that’s who I’ll be when I don’t need to be me. Other possibilities include Cecil, Devin or Charlie. But I think I’ll stick with Kirby.

See the thing is, I tend to clam up or freeze up or, well you get the picture, when I’m nervous and/or out of my comfort zone.

I went to a Runnin With Scissors practice last night. RWS is the improv/sketch comedy group that I’m wanting to join up with. So what did I do? Did I jump right in and make an ass of myself? NO! I sat on my arse too scared to move.

I’ve mentioned this sort of thing before (somewhere in there anyway); how it takes me a while to open up and be myself around new people. My brain doesn’t work very good in those situations. Well I can’t have brain freezage when I’m trying to be funny off the top of my head, can I? I don’t wanna get cut before I even get started, do I?

So I’ve decided next time I’ll take Kirby with me and he’ll do just fine.

And I really wasn’t mentally prepared to participate. I thought it was more of a meet ‘n’ greet and sit and watch practice. But there were other new people jumping in and the regulars asked if any new people wanted to try it out.

I was afraid of this very thing going into my acting class. You know, where the instructor would ask for a volunteer or volunteers for something and I would sit there going “oh dear, I should volunteer and I will as soon as we sit here for 3 minutes and no one else volunteers.” Well screw that. Before the first class meeting I told myself “Self, you’re taking this class to learn and you can’t be scared so when he asks for volunteers, you are going to jump up right then and DO IT.” And so I have. I’ve been very proud of myself. So I just gotta have the same attitude about improv comedy. JUST DO IT and if I suck, I’LL GET BETTER. I mean, er, Kirby will.

Meanwhile, this weekend is alumni marching band. It’s when all the old people get to relive their college band days for a bit. Of course the alumni band sounds horrible because only half (at best) still play their horns with any kind of regularity. I think I actually haven’t played mine since last year’s alumni band. That makes me sad but only a little. I mean, I have played since the 6th grade. That’s like, 73 years.

My buddy Richard and I always go and sneak in with the regular band for the 4th quarter of the game. I think this year will be the first year that we won’t know anybody in the band. The incoming freshmen of our last year in band are all gone now. At least the ones we knew are. Which is sad because it means we are now officially old people, too. But that’s OK, we always have fun freaking out the young ‘uns by playing everything up an octave. w00t!

On Sunday, my lips will be very sore.

Well, I wish each and every 4 of you a safe and happy weekend.