To The Ether video example – I Can’t…

When building Group Games, trust simplicity as The Coalition’s Big Bosses did in this To The Ether game.

Why? When a pattern is this clearly established and heightened you can reach the point where you don’t even need to finish the sequence before the audience is laughing uproariously, having completed the pattern in their own head. 

More To The Ether video examples –>

1A/2A/3A Subsequent Beats video example

The clip embedded below shows the 1A, 2A and 3A scenes from a Harold in succession. It shows how, instead of just following plot through the beats, one character’s emotional behavior – in this case, Matt Newman’s reaction to learning that people close to him are sleeping together – can be heightened through scenarios beyond the initial scene’s.  It also shows how the responsibility for initiating subsequent beats is not on Matt, but on his fellow players who’ve been watching from the wings – this helps avoid rehashing the initial scene.

To learn more about the who, what and how behind heightening a scene with subsequent beats, READ THIS.

A Harold video example

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.
Continue reading

3D.2 – Subsequent Beats

Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you take as inspiration in initiating subsequent beats of a scene during a long-form show?
A. This makes me think of that
B. If this then what
C. If first beat is “a day in the life,” then second beat is “the day when X happens”
D. If a character was at work, show her at home. If a character was at home, show him at work.
E. If that makes him feel that emotion, this should make him feel this emotion.
F. If that makes her feel that emotion, more of that should make her feel more of that emotion.
G. A place/event/time was mentioned – let’s go there.
H. That same character dynamic would be funny mapped over these new characters
I. That same theme would be heightened through this context
J. The theme of this whole piece would be sharpened if I callback that scene with this focus

The answer, if you know your 3D.1, is, of course, serve the show. And we serve the scenes of our show, and the show of our scenes, by heightening the emotionally derived games at play. Continue reading

SWOT #16 – Beat Structure Rhythm

Subsequent beats leverage an aspect of an originating scene in setting up a new scene. But… As our goal in any scene is establishing and heightening patterns of emotional behavior, initiations of subsequent beats that clearly focus attention on emotional reaction get us to our meat faster and leverage the power of pacing and pattern in building a show.

The green improvisers’ tendency is to follow plot, to rehash the originating scene and/or to simply introduce an old character to a new character and/or situation and hope for the best.  While none of these moves are bad on their own, failure to focus subsequent beats on originating patterns of emotional behavior puts these follow-up scenes at risk of getting lost, growing stale and/or losing the momentum built earlier exactly when the form needs to be getting faster and tighter.

Beat Structure Rhythm

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Subsequent Beats
* Subsequent Beats Class
* Memory
* Heightening with Tag-Outs
* Subsequent Beat Exercises
* Pattern Mechanics

SWOT #17 – Playing with Flexible Formats

I like formats.  Playing within The Harold’s dictated structure of Opening, 1A, 1B, 1C, Group Game, 2A, 2B, 2C, Group Game and 3A/B/C an improviser can spend less time on the wings worrying about what to initiate and more time focused on how to initiate.

I like rules.  Rules free us to play Pavlovianly and enable audiences to engage, even subconsciously, in the pattern.  Again, while rules indicate what gets said more creativity can be pumped into how what gets said gets said.

An improv group has a lot on its plate building something collaboratively out of nothing.  A set format and established rules can be helpful spines to flesh out – useful maps on which to erect roadside attractions.  An improv group though that is experienced in a wide swath of formats, a troupe that is working from the same rulebook, can grow to trust in its ability to be flexible.

Sure, at “Harold Night” every show’s content will be different and of-the-moment.  And, sure, a known format, like The Armando, can foster a loyal crowd week after week.  But.  But if a group of improvisers who know each other, trust each other and share the same language can get on stage and follow each other into a format made up in-the-moment?  That’s improv as improv does best.

Flexible Format Capable Ensembles

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Kick The Duck Red Rover
* Flexible Long Form “Formats”
* Establishing Organic Forms