On Saturday, June 25th, Peter McNerney taught a TCIF workshop class about group games. Here are some notes I took on the class.
* Why do we laugh? * We laugh when we see failure. * Specifically, because of failure that builds us, the audience, up in status. * We don't laugh at the decrepit elderly man falling down. * Laughter is a way of noting our own increased status. * We laugh when we recognize patterns. * Seeing the pattern satisfies the audience's predictions. * "Ha! I am smart!" * The more complex the pattern, the bigger the laugh. * Patterns are everywhere. * Abstract motions will have patterns * Scenes will have patterns. * Even characters have patterns. * Consistent character behavior is a kind of pattern. * Exercise: * One person enters, delivers a line, and exits. * Another preson repeats this same thing. * Stop here, and discuss: * What was the same between the two iterations? * What was different? * (most important) What got *heightened* from the first iteration to the second? * Another preson repeats this same thing. * This time, try to keep the same/different/heightening patterns going. * You can *always* take a pattern to a bigger or weirder place. * Different patterns have different shapes. * "Flat pattern": * Nothing changes. * You can get comedy out of this. * "Linear pattern": * You exhaust every reasonable variation. * Then you go to weirder possibilities. * See also: new choice. * "Exponential pattern": * This one immediately blows out to crazytown. * "Umbrella pattern": * This is when you string together smaller patterns. * "1 2 3 4 5 blue 1 2 3 4 5 yellow 1 2 3 4 5 purple" * If you're playing out a pattern in a scene, still try to do good scenework. * Hold on to your character motivations. * Hold on to whatever realism you can. * That means, if you hear a weird line, *react to it like it's weird*. * Good scenework can be a great safety net, should the pattern fail to get laughs. * Take your time in the first few offers. * React to/explore them fully and realistically before making the next offer. * Try to keep things simple at the start. * Just notice the very simple patterns that are emerging, and explore those. * If you've already made an offer in the scene, definite hang back, react, and don't force the next offer. * Note that this will mean the pattern will go faster later in the scene. * Acceleration = what we want. * If you're confused about something, so is the audience. * Sorting out the confusion often gets you a "thank you, we're not crazy!" laugh from the crowd. * In a "Boardroom Scene", your initial offer establishes the group of characters who will play the game. * e.g. "Farmers, come gather 'round!" * You want to have strong reactions to further offers *as a group*. * This makes the audience want to join in with that reaction. * And that engages the audience, which is what we want. * In an "Abstract Game", the first offer doesn't create a clear game. * Often, it's just a simple physical offer. * Often, the button is an explanation of what we've been seeing. * If things get muddled, play the 'tune' instead of grasping for meaning. * i.e. play rhythms, play repetitions, and so on. * Avoid "voice from offstage" offers, if possible. * Those tend to make you detached from the scene. * Again, react en masse to new offers. * In an "Embodiment Game", everyone tries to embody some complicated concept. * Even then, you want to fight for your scenework. * Even then, you want to react as realistically as you can to new offers.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none