* Playing aggressively doesn't preclude patience. * In the info of a line, what's important in that line? * What's conveyed? * Character > situation * The *character* is what's important * "The relevant detail" * The bit of info that, if chnaged, would have the greatest effect. * It's what the scene is about. * "The engine of improv runs on the logic of morons." * Aggressively = insult, get enraged, when your partner's actions justify it. * You don't even have to play your partner's *friend*. * You should say "ouch!" when pinched. * You should *leave the scene* when that's justified. * You can *always* leave. * It won't break improv. * Many times, a performer is implicitly *asking* you to treat their character scornfully. * If your worst scene is still a realistic depiction of life, you're golden. * Gagging is unrealistic. * Frequent direction: "This is really happening, <x>!" * If you find yourself in a transaction, play out the transaction realistically and move on. * The audience will forgive you. * Who knows, something weird might happen. * It doesn't need 'saving'. * Don't play the action, play the person. * Again, character > situation. * You can *always* disclose your opinions/knowledge about the other character. * This lets you 'check in'. * Usually in a comic two-hander, one person is absurd. * If you see an opportunity for one person to be absurd, home in on that. * This can help you make choices. * TREAT WEIRD THINGS AS WEIRD. * So if one person does something weird, they're probably the absurd one. * *Respect that weirdness.* * At least figure out what kind of person the other character is. * Say it, and carry on with it. * "You can't be emotionally bulletproof." * Be aggressive: if something gets on your nerves, *respond*. * Pinch -> OUCH! * Try to believe in the scenes as much as possible. * Especially in that 'relevant detail'. * If you're playing what's going on, you can always observe other people's unreality. * "If someone's being cold...", you can say they're being cold, and bring it into the reality. * If something happened, it's real, talk about it. * "We can bust 'em on it." * "This is only as out-of-line as you make it." * re: details * Our descriptions of poor scenes usually lack details. * Our descriptions of funny scenes are usually full of details. * "What kind of a guy is <x>?" * Exercise: stop a scene and discuss characters like you're comparing notes on a friend's boyfriend. * Those are the 'relevant details' to cling to through the next scenes. * Hold on to/operate on those relevant details. * For second beats, it can be useful to riff off, not the *situation* but the 'relevant details' of the characters. * Keep your attitude towards the other character *real* and in the scene/part of it. * Funny use of the suggestion = 2 pts; funny scene = 30 pts. * Callbacks, etc. are a *secondary* priority. * Scenework is important. * Character test: can you change the subject & be the same people? * Exercise: * Line 1: mundane line * Line 2: emotional noise * Then, scene. * Some notes about this: * Person 1 doesn't have to be cool with the noise. * Generally, you don't want to be indiscriminately happy with everything. * Person 1 needs to hold on to that emotional response. * Don't drop it. * "The jury needs evidence." * Once you know who you are, you can *add* evidence for it. * This reinforces the notion. * ... and lets you add detail/reify the notion. * You can explicitly call out what you do without ruining the scene. * "Omittive denial" = ignoring the offer, or its real content. * If someone throws a face card, respond to it. * Often the emotional sound above is that 'face card' offer. * You don't need to 'solve' weirdness immediately. * Eventually, it's an opportunity for exposition. * Exercise: 1. Person 1: plug your ears. 2. Person 2: deliver a first line. 3. Person 1: make an emotional noise. 4. Person 1: unplug ears. 5. Repeat 2-4 exactly as before. * Note that the emotional response works, audience-wise, even when you don't even *hear* the line. * Instead of an emotional noise, you can try repeating the line you just heard, with an emotional attitude. * This gives you the character's POV without having to come up with a line. * Every move in a scene has a 'move tax'. * Not responding to a line = a moderate fee. * "Yes and" = a smaller fee. * Also, just "yes", adding nothing, but being real, is also a smaller fee. * Blocking or gagging = expensive. * The 'price' is that now you have to live in that self-contradictory universe. * It's tough, but sometimes it's doable. * Sometimes that higher-price move crystallizes the scene. * "You can do anything you want, so long as you're willing to pay the price." * Bill tries to coach people towards doing cheaper moves. * When dialog picks up in speed & specificity, that's usually a sign that the performers are confident & know what's going on. * Exercise: do you have a nemesis? * You can't escape this person, and it creates tension. * They have annoying, repeatable patterns of behavior that are irritating. * The 'relevant detail' is a *behavior*, not a silly walk. * Characters/POV can often be summed up as simple adjective/noun dyads. * A straight man is a scharactoer long as that person is consistent. * Exercise: * Pick a broad location. * Come up with specific people in specific sub-locations. * Give them aggressive, specific intentions. * Don't be afraid of being broad/archetypical at the start of a scene. * You can/will get more specific afterwards. * Even in great scenes, characters can be ambiguous. Nailing them down can make a great scene even greater. * Beginnings are the most important/difficult part of a scene. * "Audiences are most forgiving at the top of a scene." * Direction: "Are you happy with this person, or unhappy? 'cos you've kind of got a foot in each camp." * Choose to be happy or unhappy, and proceed from there. * The same goes for actions in the scene: be happy or unhappy about them, but try to avoid 'meh'. * "Listen less to the words, and more to the delivery." * Use gibberish in scenes, if necessary. * Avoid 'situationalism'. * The character is still themselves regardless of the situation. * "In a world of Nazi vampires, a Nazi-vampire shoe salesman is just a shoe salesman." * In the Harold, take something very small from the Invocation, and use it to do the best scene you can. * (Discover the *real* theme organically.) * Warm-up: patterns. * i.e. people bounce around a list of car brands. * Another pattern = an object that confers mobility. * Warm-up: quick two-handers. * Exercise: * Do two-handers. * One person gets two slips of paper: * One has a one-word trait written on it. * Another has a relationship written on it. * (This helps keep the character in the scene.) * A useful question in the field: * "If <x> is on the 'trait' slip of paper, what's on the other?" * Typically, the scenes have unremarkable situations. * ... but the character choices are strong. * General-agreement scenes benefit from information. * Additional characters can walk on to provide *grounding* for a scene. * ... to remind us that we're in the real world. :) * "Good improv is good improv, but bad improv is different at each theater." * Annoyance falls apart when individual strong characters don't "click" or "mesh". * ... or they mesh arbitrarily, and it feels forced. * "Pinch until you get the 'ouch'." * If your weird/rude behavior doesn't "land", exacerbate the problem. * Even when dealing with authority figures, push back against weirdness that inconveniences you. * "Cross-initiations" = both people try to initiate. * Usually somebody has to cede right-of-way. * Similarly, if you're in a two-hander with *two* absurd people, consider letting up on your thing. * ... b/c people don't always have an *effect* on each other in such scenes. * "Play the scene that's there." * If something funny happens in the scene, drop what's in your mind. * Always be willing to drop stuff. * What to do with an impasse? * "Someone has to lose... without giving up who they are." * You can begin the transaction, and veer away after a bit. * (even admit that what you did was wrong!) * "Say yes/do no." * Agree with your partner, assuage their worry, but don't do what they want. * All scenes have tension. How do you *manage* that tension? * Your character can be talked into something uncomfortable or stupid. * It could be for the good/lengthening of the scene. * Exercise: start with a monolog, and pick traits out of that. * Vamping * In music, it's marking time * In improv, it's a stretch of "yes"ing without "and"ing. * If it's realistic and reasonable, the audience is okay with it. * My feedback: play *firmer* characters. * Use silence to confer status on yourself. * Use known people to nail down character consistency. * Use emotional noises to convey and commit to emotional responses. * "I'm just the kind of <x> who..." * This line-beginning helps you commit to a well-defined character early. * "Work for a note" -> be more reckless. * "Interrupt with non-sequitur." * Setting simple, clear, tenable challenges -- things that you know you *can* do -- is the easiest way to break out of a rut and make progress. * Game: "Mystery Film Festival" * Pick three [random] movies thaet verybody knows. * Then, pick the theme of that film festival. * You'll find many themes are available. * Exercise: do three scenes in a row. * Look for themes in these scenes. * It's usually helpful to look for behavior patterns (good shortcut). * The 'correct' theme is the one you tell the audience the theme is. * Then, start a shared monolog exploring the theme you 'picked'. * "*Now* I see why they did those scenes; it all makes sense now." * Variation: * Do a group game *besides* direct address. * You need to aim it at the audience. * But you can still hit the theme dead-on. * In such a 'theme game', focus more on exploring the theme than fussing with the game/scene. *Variation #2: Follow that game with three more scenes. * Then, see where the show's gone. * "Improv is awesome at the 'reverse justify'." * Once your setup has honored that game/theme, you can just focus on doing a good scene. * You don't owe *more* to the theme. * "Being in your head" = when an external rule contradicts what the moment needs.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none