When you ask people to think of reasons why someone took an improv class for the first time you get answers like “I wanted to do something fun” or “I’m a huge comedy fan” or “I wanted to be able to think on my feet more for my job.”
(Side note: people often say “wanted to get better at public speaking” but only when they’re guessing why OTHER people might be taking improv classes.)
Improv classes aren’t as silly as you expect. Yes, they’re fun but they’re more like acting classes. Many big comedy fans don’t know what long-form improv is, and they take a class because they’ve memorized [...]
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.
There’s the content of the advice — the practical usefulness of it — and [...]
"Among the UCB staff it’s unclear whether the Del Close Marathon is more loved or feared. It is literally like preparing for the funniest storm you could imagine—chairs and performers have been known to take to the air. The day after it’s over is always a relief, but I miss it immediately."
-UCB Theatre managing director Alex Sidtis about this weekend's upcoming improv marathon in a piece for Time Out New York that finds Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Jack McBrayer, Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll, Chris Gethard, and more reminiscing about
Will Harris over at The A.V. Clubhas a great interview with actress Jami Gertz today. Gertz was one of the stars of Anne Beatts's short-lived, much-loved sitcom Square Pegs, which Beatts's SNL buddy Bill Murray guested on once. In the interview, Gertz reveals that Murray was trying to put together an improvised movie circa 1983/1984 and had recruited her to be part of the cast:
"I did some improv with [Bill Murray] back in Chicago, with Del Close. He really introduced me into the improv world and what improv is all about. In fact, there was a small time there where we were… well, he was trying to get a movie [...]
"'Yes, and' is about agreement. Agreement doesn't necessarily mean you literally say the word yes all the time… In fact you more often probably do say no. Agreement means I'm agreeing with the improviser, not that I'm agreeing with the character… Agreement is I'm agreeing to your premise." - Matt Besser on the latest episode of improv4humans explaining the common misconception over what "yes, and" means. It's part of a well-articulated rant on the subject that shows why he is an improv legend. You can download the episode on iTunes or listen to it here. Start at the 75:45 mark, so you don't have to hear Chris Gore talk [...]
Showtime's 30-minute longform improv special House of Lies Live, featuring House of Lies cast Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, Josh Lawson, Lauren Lapkus, Eugene Cordero, and Ryan Gaul performing improv at LA's UCB theater earlier this month, will air unedited and uncensored on the network tomorrow at 10:00PM. If you're not a Showtime subscriber, you can still watch the censored online version above.
The Whose Line Is It Anyway? revamp has been such a huge hit for The CW network that they're airing a one-hour improv special from Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. Called Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group, the special is a recording of a live performance of the duo's stage show that has toured the country. Two Man Group was released as a DVD in 2011 but will make its TV debut on The CW on Tuesday, September 10th. The CW's revamped Whose Line, which features Mochrie as a regular and has yet to feature Sherwood, returns with a new season in 2014.
UCB has announced the schedule for its annual Del Close Marathon and as always, it seems too good to be true. The 56-hour long-form improv marathon has grown even from last year's insanity, featuring 420 shows on seven stages across New York City. There's an extra international quality to this year's festival, with teams from Mexico, UK, Portugal and Finland appearing. (Though there's also a team claiming to be from Caprica, so who the hell knows.) The highlights are spread across the stages, from the return of last year's amazing Mantzoukas and Morris at the main Chelsea theater, to several hours of Matt Besser's improv4humans at its [...]
I’ve been teaching some form of improvisation for 18 years now, and I will keep on teaching as long as I can. I love it, I will not apologize. There was a time that I was worried about the phrase “Those that can’t do, teach” — was that me? Am I condemned to teaching while watching others succeed around me?
Yes and No.
Others will succeed whether I teach or not. I seem to be getting a steady stream of work outside of improv (VO’s, TV, and Model [...]
"An art form without an author, improv comedy is sometimes compared to a high-wire act, but truly to understand the level of difficulty, imagine a team of tightrope walkers chained together. Then every few seconds one daredevil must make a sudden, dramatic move." - The New York Times'Jason Zinoman on the risky hilarity that is long-form improv.
Showtime announced today that they produced a live longform improv special starring the cast of their show House of Lies and that they'll be debuting it online next week. Called House of Lies Live, the special features cast members Ben Schwartz and Josh Lawson, who are both experienced improvisers, doing a longform improv show alongside stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, who are new to the art form, and House of Lies guest stars/improvisers Eugene Cordero, Ryan Gaul, and Lauren Lapkus. The 30-minute special, taped earlier this month at LA's UCB theater, will debut online via Showtime's YouTube channel on December 30th and will air on Showtime the following [...]
Todd Bieber just released this great short documentary about Asssscat, the UCB's infamous Sunday night improv show that always brings in the biggest names in comedy to fuck around in front of an audience that, at least for the free 7:30pm show, has been lined up all afternoon to get in. It's a fun look behind the scenes and a peek at what it's like when basically all of your favorite funny people hang out eating pizza together in the UCB green room.
Improv was doomed with a semantics crisis from the start.
When long-form improvisation began to flourish as its own art form under comedy guru Del Close in Chicago in the 1980s, “improv” referred to The Improv, a popular chain of stand-up comedy clubs in dozens of cities around the country. The Palm Beach Improv, for example.
When I used to intern at an improv theater in Hollywood, it wasn’t uncommon to find a couple who wandered in from the street, expecting to see a guy with a microphone, telling jokes. Television shows like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? helped audiences distinguish improv from stand-up, [...]
In a recent interview with Complex, Riggle talked about his career and sports and junk but the most compelling parts came when he opened up about his time at UCB:
That was everything to me. That was my whole foundation…It was early enough where they didn’t even have a theater. Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts were the teachers. I was one of the first students to go through the UCB…They only had three levels back then and I took each one twice, just so I could get each teacher at least once. Eventually, I started teaching there. It was awesome and I give them [...]
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