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Will Hines & Miles Stroth! The Reddit WTF Show! Phi Beta Negro! @ Wednesday Night Riot! | Facebook

Hey LA peeps! Will Hines (UCB’s F’d Up Family, writer of nonsense about improv) is doing twoprov with Miles Stroth tonight at Wednesday Night Riot. Plus we have Phi Beta Negro, High Concept, and The Reddit WTF Show. And it’s FREE (we accept donations of course). Should be fun!

Great improv is one of my favorite things to watch when I need inspiration. When you’re stuck, the creative process feels impossible and unfun. Improv is the entire creative process, from beginning to end, from inspiration to writing to performance, unfolding at its easiest and most fun. Improv reminds you that it’s fun to create things.

Post-Mortem: The Reddit WTF Show 4/9/14

I’ve always wanted to write something like this and last night’s show was so fun and eye-opening, that I thought this would be a good time to go back and try to dissect what went right, why, and see if I can replicate those things going forward while maybe dropping some of the stuff that didn’t help me. Maybe this will be fun?

Mindset

Matt Besser has always talked about the importance of mindsets going into the show, and he’s completely right about that. When you’re improvising, you’re completely on instinct (ideally anyway) and you can really color those instincts with the right mindset.

I’ve been in a rut for awhile and not having a lot of fun, so I was a little anxious going in. I ended up sending a long rambly message to my good friend Char, who gave me the most amazing advice: It is through joy good things come. It’s not “If I have a good show, I will be happy”; it’s “IF I’M HAPPY, then I’ll have a good show.” (btw, Jesus Christ, Char. Changing my life and my improv in one fell swoop)

So. Point #1 was to bring joy with me to the stage.

Simultaneously, in preparation, I went to UCB’s Search History show the other night, and it was really great. They do an opening where they interview an audience member about the search history on their phone. There’s some interview stuff, some riffing—-pretty similar to what we do at Reddit (we look up weird stuff on reddit/r/wtf and take a suggestion from the audience for stuff search for). Nicole Byer had this REALLY great, simple initiation. In the opening, it came up that someone’s boss didn’t like to throw out food and he’d get mad if you did. So Nicole Byer just steps out, gets into the lower part of her voice, and goes, “Where the fuck are my beans?” That’s it! The opening suggested a character and she simply embodied that character. From there, her scene partner just straighted her and they were off.

So point #2: sometimes the easiest way to pull premise is to simply embody a character implied by the opening.

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Apr 7

Justifications

Here’s a simple way to justify that will work almost any time you have a simple offer or game up top:

Justify with something simple and honest, but do it anyway and deny it up and down.

You’ve probably heard some variation of this in class before, but the important thing to remember is to do it anyway and deny it up and down, because that’s usually where you get the laugh (not on the justification itself).

Here’s an example from a class scene that went well:

Improviser 1: “Mr. President, that was a great speech, but can we get one more take, and this time, could you not make kissy faces at the First Lady?”

Improviser 2: “Sorry about that, it’s Michelle’s birthday and I thought maybe I could squeeze in a little birthday greeting.” [simple, honest]

1: “Yeah, but it’s showing up on camera. Let’s just get one more take.”

2: “Sure. (clears throat) My fellow Americans (makes a kissy face), I am here today to assure that the NSA is not storing data.” [do it anyway]

1: “Okay, you just did it again.”

2: “No I didn’t.” (deny up and down)

It’s a nice, clean way to justify something without inventing at all but still have a lot of fun in your scene. And if you feel the need to justify again, you can just stick with that same justification. “Sir, you just did it again!” “Did I mention it is my wife’s birthday? I thought I was very clear on that.” Then the game starts to become sticking to that inane justification and that’s fun.

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No Gap Dialog

mullaney:

A lot of improv dialog tends to settle into a regular rhythm, a ping pong back and forth that we encourage in new students. I say something, you listen, pause briefly to consider what I have said and respond. Then I pause briefly to consider what you’ve said and respond to you. This is one way to build a scene, but if this rhythm continues throughout the scene, it can be deadly boring—one polite…

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Love this. Great exercise too. Can’t wait to try this and play with rhythm in scenes.

Bill Posley created a new webseries about improv called Improversations and it’s really great. They’re 3 episodes deep, each better than the last. Normally inside-baseball (improv) jokes don’t really go deep enough or do the work to be really funny. Usually it’s more like, “This is a reference and thus you should laugh if you know the reference,” but Bill’s series is genuinely funny and he goes DEEP and finds something genuinely hilarious and truthful about our little world.

This improv stalkers episode is so good it made me uncomfortable, so much so that I WOULD LIKE TO FORMALLY APOLOGIZE TO JASON MANTZOUKAS, SHITTY JOBS, AND EVERY UCB NEW YORK IMPROVISER I’VE HARASSED IN THE LAST THREE YEARS. YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT YOU IS FROM THE IRC WIKI, AND YOU REALLY END UP BUILDING STORIES IN YOUR MIND ABOUT WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE AND HOW GOOD POLICE CHIEF RUMBLE IS AND WHEN YOU FINALLY SEE THEM IN REAL LIFE IT INCITES THE MOST EMBARASSING, MUMBLY, WEIRDO PARTS OF YOURSELF.

Seriously though this is really fucking great. 

Hit subscribe on this one, homeys.

Hey guys! Just saw this. There’s a v-day jam at UCB today in an hour with Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata! I can’t be there because work, but that sounds super fun.

http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/performances/view/30997

Want to perform at our show?

Hey dudes! I help run a show called Wednesday Night Riot and I’m trying to book some new acts. We’ve had a great run of teams doing fun, inspired things onstage, including Jetzo doing some truly AMAZING Kabuki improv, Power Up! doing beatbox-inspired improv, Twilight Zone-prov doing Twilight Zone stuff and making me laugh like crazy, and I just LOVE this stuff.

If you’re on a team who’s doing something fun or cool or weird or experimental, LET ME KNOW! I want to put up your show. If it’s good, we’ll probably have you back regularly.

OH! And if you’re from out of town but you’re in town: Let me know about your show! I might be able to put you up if you let me know in advance. And even if you let me know last minute, who knows? 

A little bit about us:

Wednesday Night Riot is an indie-ish improv show that’s run almost a year now. (I say indie-ish, because we’re part of the Miles Stroth Workshop shows but MSW is not a theatre nor does it have an artistic director or any say-so in how our show is run. Miles is a really great guy like that.) We have two house teams, including The Reddit WTF Show (which does improv off of weird stuff found on Reddit.com/r/wtf) and One Night Stand (in which Miles improvises with a new improviser every week).

We’ve had special guests like NICOLE BYER, BEN RODGERS, CHARLIE SANDERS, REBECCA DRYSDALE, and others do One Night Stand with Miles, and upcoming we have some more great players like Ben Siemon, UCB Artistic Director Mike Still, Eugene Cordero and lots more. If YOU want to perform with Miles, just come to Riot and put your name in the box, and if selected in our monthly drawing, you can perform with Miles too.

So that’s us, but we still book two guest teams every week and we want to see COOL STUFF. So if you have a team, and want to perform at WNR, just send an email to wednesdaynightriotimprov at gmail, with your:

  • Team Name
  • Form
  • Cast list
  • Where you trained
  • Coach (if any) (it’s ok if you’re uncoached)

Thanks for reading.

UCB Shows

robotriley:

I started a new blog. UCB Shows is a place to find videos of full length, nicely shot shows on the UCB stage. If you have a YouTube or Vimeo link to your show, let me know.

Welp, should probably follow this too.

Cagematch

mullaney:

nicolemarietherese:

Unless a team is kidnapping potential voters and unloading them from the back of a truck at 10:40PM on a Thursday night, I will never use the phrases “they brought people” or “they packed the house” as a tactic for undermining the work ethic, commitment, talent or accomplishments of members of my own community.

I agree. It’s stupid to criticize a team for packing the house. As the guy who came up Cagematch, I’d like to point out two things:

  1. People have complained about house packing since the first month of Cagematch.
  2. Packing the house is part of the point of Cagematch.

I came up with the original Cagematch when I was on a team at ImprovOlympic in Chicago. There wasn’t much autonomy back then at iO. You didn’t have control over whether you got on a team. You didn’t get to choose your teammates. Your team could get broken up anytime. And you didn’t have control over how many shows you got. I wanted a show where people could make their own path, where they had some control over who they played with and how many shows they got. So I created Cagematch. I structured the rules to favor groups that brought houses, because that is something in their control.

The whole point of entertainment is to get an audience and then entertain them. To win a Cagematch you definitely have to do the latter and certainly helps to do both. This is not a defect, this is the point of the show. I hoped that teams would occasionally take over Cagematch and go on big runs. Sometimes they do this by doing incredible shows. Sometimes they do it by doing incredible promotion. Both are rewarded by Cagematch and both should.

Packing the house is evidence of a team’s work ethic and commitment, not something that undermines it.