As said best in Truth in Comedy, “The Harold is like the space shuttle, incorporating all of the developments and discoveries that have gone before it into one new, superior design.” The other way around, Harold’s learnings pack in the lion’s share of what you need to know to do any other long-form, which is why The Coalition teaches students long-form improvisation formats through the lens of The Harold first.
To provide students with an example Harold (Richmond is not, after all, Chicago, New York or Los Angeles where an improviser can see a Harold every night of the week), some of The Coalition’s most experienced players came together to perform the show embedded below. For a group that had never before all done a Harold together, it’s pretty good.
Lights were pulled before we could get to the 3C scene, but several of us had one ready. That’s why improv is a great hobby for people who like to sit around in bars and talk about what they could’ve done.
I love The Harold. My love was not shared by all my fellow improvisers on Harold teams at the io theater. Many felt “confined” by The Harold; but, frankly, most of these folks just couldn’t do a decent Harold
The Harold’s structure should help not hinder. Students that feel “confined” by the order of the format, should think of themselves as “focused” to be more creative given some provided direction.
In a Montage, scenes can go anywhere and too often they do; 20 minutes in a team is introducing a brand new pair of characters unconnected to anything that came before it and expect an audience to care. The best Montages leverage lessons learned in a Harold, heightening developed teams and patterns of emotional behavior, building pacing with more group scenes/games, faster edits and more polishing tricks as the show goes on.
Rather than feel restricted by 1A/1B/1C, 2A/2B/2C and 3A/3B/3C structure, I feel inspired. Knowing what scene comes next I can focus my attention on heightening the characters’ and relationships’ patterns of emotional behavior. Leveraging what’s already been established we can more easily elevate the themes, pacing and energy of the show.
Learn how to do a tight Harold “by the book,” and you can confidently evolve the structure, such as The Reckoning did with their “Perfect Harold.” Buck against The Harold’s structure because you think you’re too good for it and you won’t gain the skill set necessary to elevate a long-form show from a flat, meandering montage.
Love Harold and he’ll love you back.