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.
Here’s a straight forward To The Ether performed in a workshop. What do you see as the progression? What heightens? What stays the same?
OFFER, SET, CEMENT: THAT’S GAME!
Pattern – a sequence that can be repeated / a structure that can be reused
Game – a sequence of actions, related by rules of cause-and-effect, that heightens with repetition
A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. That’s a fine pattern. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark. Repetition makes the sequence purposeful. And repetition alone is heightening – imagine a room filled with “A rocketship, A thumb and An aardvark” wallpaper.
But in aspiring to elevate pattern work into game play, we focus on two aspects. One, we want a relationship between the nodes of the sequence. And, two, we want a progression of subsequent relationships that heightens the sequence in a concentrated direction.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Using To The Ether mechanics we can build a pattern from a progression of personal games, establishing and heightening a scenic game in the pattern’s evolving repetition.
Using Help Desk mechanics, we can establish a pattern out of a scenic game, and repeat that pattern to heighten a personal game or theme.
Using Hey Everybody mechanics, we can develop a pattern from a scene’s disparate personal games, and then heighten all games through that pattern’s evolving repetition.
With these rubric game mechanics in our toolkit, we can confidently navigate any progression of moves. Continue reading