Linked By Patterns

The Johnsons‘ performances account for the majority of this site’s videos. Why? I’m their coach. That means A) I love them, B) their work often reflects Improv As Improv Does Best characteristics and C) theirs are the recordings that are the easiest for me to get.genetics

But I have been a bad coach lately and have missed their recent shows.

BUT this past Saturday, 2/23/19, I saw The Johnsons perform with another Coalition house team, Detective. Detective’s coach is Scott Beckett, a Johnson.

And when they closed the show by all playing together, it was immediately clear they spoke the same language of Patterns & Games. Without hesitation they followed each other into organic group games, weaving in Tertiary Moves with varying entrances and exits. And the results were hilarious. Continue reading

Walk-on/off with Split Screen video

In learning Tertiary Moves an improv student is taught that “the first move is trump” (a reference to card games not our shitty president). In practice this means that if the first tertiary move is a Walk-on then the next tertiary move should also be a Walk-on to heighten the game at play.

While there are no mistakes in improv if you do two different tertiary moves that just requires more additional moves to make sense of the larger pattern.

If Player Three does a Walk-on, Player Four does a “We see,” and Player Five does a “Cut to,” while “success” is “possible” you can watch an audience fold its arms and legs, showing they have no faith in what comes next.

But experienced/aware improvisers can mix tertiary moves if they own them and their Triggers. So it is in this clip Continue reading

Organic Tag-Out Triangle video example

Yes, when approaching Tag-Outs it can be helpful for the sake of focused heightening to only tag-out one side of the scene – keeping one character consistent and heightening his/her Personal Game. And yes, when choosing between two players to tag-out it is often advantageous if you replace the catalyst and keep the character reacting to that catalyst.

But there are no “rules” in improv, just tools and considerations.

Sometimes what feels “right” in the moment goes against a standard guideline. The game below is one of those times.

Continue reading

Help Desk Cartoons

Building a game out of heightening the pattern of an interaction isn’t just for improv.

It’s a creation tool. At least if you’re looking to create something coherent.

Both of these cartoons appeared in The Washington Post’s Sunday Cartoon section on September 30th. Read Jef Mallett’s Frazz and Tim Rickard’s Brewster Rockit below – but also just read them in general; they’re great.

Brewster Rocket Help Desk

Frazz Help Desk

How could they not remind me of our friend The Help Desk rubric group game?

In a Help Desk Game, the progression of the scenic games establishes the pattern, and that pattern’s evolving repetition serves to heighten a personal game or theme.

What’s just beautiful thinking about these comic strips as improv scenes using the Help Desk Dynamic, is how they get to call lights before they have to get to the punchline. By setting our expectations in the first interaction, WE – the reader or audience – laugh at following the second interaction in our own heads based on the first. Our Lizard Brain laughs at the recognition of the pattern – and that’s enough for your edit!

Patterns allow us to play confidently. Thanks for the illustrations, Jef and Tim!

 

 

Genres – a warm-up for playing with expectations

Repetition of an interaction establishes expectations for the audience.  These expectations can be played to and against for fun effect.

As a precursor to Help Desk Games, the short-form improv game Genres can help us practice pacing in repetition of an interaction, and help us flex our memory muscles.

Performers are: David Adams, Guy Chapman, Patrice Deveaux, Micah Head, Alan Hopkinson, Nick Lawton, Megan Lemay, Jillian MacDougall, Tim Magier, Curtis Nunnally Continue reading

New Choice – a pattern pacing warm-up

The rhythm with which a game’s mechanic is played helps pace the scene and build it toward an edit.

The relationship between “When this happens” “this happens” is useful not only to focus improvisers’ choices but it also connects with the audience. In Short Form, where the mechanics of the “game” are told to the audience before the scene starts, the audience starts reacting to the “cause” and the expectation of the effect instead of just to the effect itself.

Short form improv games help us practice our patterns and pacing for long-form improv’s more organic games. Looking for a warm-up to practice pattern pacing?  Try New Choice!

Performers are: David Adams, Guy Chapman, Patrice Deveaux, Micah Head, Alan Hopkinson, Nick Lawton, Megan Lemay, Jillian MacDougall, Tim Magier, Curtis Nunnally Continue reading

Susie and Rebecca – organic and meta

This was my favorite Organic game from my Spring 2018 Patterns & Games Class. There’s just so much to love.  This one could never be rewritten as a sketch, and that’s an asset to me here.  

It was born collaboratively in-the-moment with an ending no one set out to see but felt too entirely perfect in retrospect.  We’re talking Improv As Improv Does Best here, folks.  Continue reading