Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ryan Stiles is alive

...and performing with Joel Murray and Friends this Thursday, February 2, at 8:30pm on the iO West Main Stage.

You should know Ryan Stiles from his turns as Dr. Melnick on "Two and a Half Men," Lewis Kiniski on the "Drew Carey Show" and improviser fantastique on "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

If not, gander a look-see here:

And then attend the show because if seeing Ryan Stiles perform live is not on your bucket list, it should be.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Instructor Karen Graci in brief

Several iO West instructors have listed during these brief interviews Harold team King Ten as one to watch.

King Ten team member, performer, producer, and iO West instructor Karen Graci is a key reason we should.

I recently caught up with Graci briefly to see if I could distill King Ten's magic elixir. The ingredients for improv success seem to include confidence, a sense of play, continuously challenging oneself, and generous ensemble work…

Well, sure. I suppose that's why the instructors keep hammering those lessons home.

Like all great teachers, Karen Graci knows and does what she's talking about.

Graci graciously offered even a few more drops of wisdom for the iO West community.

SKK: What was the moment when you first discovered you loved performing improv?

KG: In college. I was studying at American University in Washington, DC and was in a play called The Nerd with my friend, Dave Buckman. It was a fun comedy, and I remember him saying to me, "You love comedy, I love comedy: we should do improv."

And I said, " What's improv?"

And he said, "You know, like Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

And I was like, "What's 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'"

So, basically, Dave started the first improv group at American University. There were about six or eight of us, and we did short form games. That's when I really started loving the surprise and discovery of improv, the challenge of having to be so clever so fast while still having fun and being stage-worthy.

SKK: What has been your favorite on-stage experience so far?

KG: That's hard to say. I've been fortunate to have many. I was able to perform with an improv group called Baby Wants Candy, and we performed a fully improved musical in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which was really fun.

I also loved performing with the Second City National Touring Company, doing the first-ever Second City USO Tour to the Middle East in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. It was exciting to be able to perform for American troops who were sitting in the audience with guns in their laps. (Talk about having an incentive to do a good show!)

They genuinely appreciated us being there.

And I really loved doing weekly shows in Chicago with iO groups like Rockstar of Siam – which was actually a Cage Match team that won so many shows [we were made into] a Harold team.

We were young and hungry and did the La Ronde and really tried to go for it with each show – to really have fun and do inventive work.

I have to say, though, that King Ten is so fantastic for me right now. We are all genuinely close friends and love being together, love cracking each other up. We try to raise the bar each week for ourselves and push ourselves to do better work, too.

It's hard to have a bad show, then, because you don't want to let your friends down. The best feeling is when I can make my teammates laugh. It must be funny if they laugh.

SKK: What led you to begin teaching improv?

KG: I wanted to teach because I love playing so much. I love the feeling of not having a script, of not knowing what's next, and of embracing the idea that whatever will be will be right. And it will be great.

And it's such a thrilling feeling to create something from nothing that is your own, that entertains people, that surprises them or is truthful to them. The downside is that it is just as fleeting as it is thrilling.

SKK: What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching for you?

KG: The most rewarding aspect of teaching is seeing people's enthusiasm to try, to take a risk, and to be willing to look like a complete and utter douche bag while doing so.

I love seeing more experienced performers go from thinking too much to feeling more on stage. Usually their work gets better when they do that.

I love helping performers switch from being in their head to following their instincts.

There's not much better than seeing students surprise themselves with characters and ideas they didn't know they had...being proud of their work, and having fun.

SKK: What has been your favorite in-class experience so far? This experience could also be "as a result of class."

KG: All of the above, I think. Little moments. Students having more confidence in themselves and their choices. Knowing that they are only as good as they believe they are.

SKK: Lastly, for everyone reading this blog who is trying to figure out what shows to see first, which are a few Harold teams you think are particularly successful, and why do they work so well? You can include your own.

KG: It's hard for me to say which Harold teams people should see you because I don't see as many as I would like. I wish I could say I see every team every week and immerse myself in every show and I am just not able to do that these days.

But I think the key is to see as many shows as you possibly can. I remember being a student in Chicago and being at the theater four or five nights a week to really absorb the whole world of it. I saw terrific shows and many not so great shows. But that's how you learn.

I went from being more of a passive audience member who was just enjoying the show to being one who could actually analyze the moves that people were making, figuring out why, for example, a support move works so well, or how an edit was missed, or when something on stage wasn't working how would I fix it?

Then improv goes from being entertainment to being instruction. The more shows you can see, the better – of all teams, of all levels. It'll make you a better performer. And if you have time to see King Ten or Bandit (the team I coach), well, then, I'm not going to stop you.

I'd also like to say that I don't think there is some sort of magic formula for making a great improv team. You can put fantastic players on the team but if there's no team chemistry, if there's no group mind, if there's no listening, if there's no give-and-take, then it's just a bunch of people throwing elbows to get their ideas out and that only lasts so long.

And frankly, that isn't very interesting to watch. I prefer to watch teams that make each other look good by physically, emotionally and intellectually playing to the top of their game to make each other look good. Those are the teams to me that are funny as all hell. It's not only who they are individually that matters, but also what they create between them that's money in the bank.

Karen Graci's bio:

A proud native of Buffalo, NY, Karen Graci performed for Chicago’s The Second City for more than three years. While touring the US and abroad with The Second City National Touring Company, Graci was grateful to perform in The Second City’s first-ever USO Tour, entertaining American troops in Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. She was also a resident cast member in The Best of Second City at The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas for over a year.

Graci co-wrote and starred in the sold-out run of Camp Hot, a three-woman sketch show featured at UCB LA and the Los Angeles Improv Comedy Festival. Her one-woman show, Her Potential, was a 2008 Del Close Award nominee for Best Scripted Show at iO West.

A veteran of ComedySportz Chicago and Baby Wants Candy at iO Chicago, Graci now performs regularly at iO West with King Ten. Graci is an instructor at iO West and also taught at Second City Las Vegas and Second City Los Angeles. Most recently, Graci coached the iO West Harold Team, Local 132.

Keep checking the iO West website for Karen Graci's teaching schedule.

- Shawn Kathryn Kane

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

10th Annual Improv Comedy Festival applications due

The cast of "Community" and
hosts of the June 9th Armando during last year's Improv Comedy Festival

While your team still has time to hone its schtik before the 10th Annual Improv Comedy Festival begins June 3, the early-bird deadline for applications is one week from today.

The fee for applying by Feb 1st is $30.

The fee for applying afterward is $40.

So, dare to apply now and be prepped to perform this summer with some of the most renowned improvisers in and out of town.

Last year's festival schedule.

This year's application

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rigor Tortoise sets in tonight

Sketch, improv and screen comedy group Rigor Tortoise will range the Main Stage with 90 minutes of multi-media mayhem tonight at 8:30.

Come see why they are the new darlings of both stage and web.

It's not just because zombies and all things death-related  are hip...

And it's not just because tortoises live longer than people...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toast of the Town Thursdays tonight because it's Thursday

If you enjoy toast and/or getting toasted and/or toasting to clever comedy, then tonight's the night to come to iO West for Happy Hour drink specials and top-of-the-toaster improv.

Tonight's Main Stage (where drinks are served alongside guttural laughter) face-up is as follows:

7:30 St. Clair and Morris, yes, that's Andy St. Clair and Brad Morris

8:30 Boomtang, featuring iO Chicago alum followed by Joel Murray and Friends, which consists of Joel Murray and other improv giants

10:00 Quartet followed by Pascal with perhaps some joint, two-group hokum

11:30 Cage Match, which involves a bit of danger, so drink plenty of fluids

What better way to stave off aging than to toast and laugh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Being the only girl in a pack of boys

I grew up with seven brothers, or, to be more accurate, I was raised by a pack of wolves. My only sister did not arrive until I was nine, and it was still a few years before she could contribute to the conversation.

Because she was the baby of the family, I think my wolf brothers were probably a little (or a lot) gentler on my sister than they were on me. Nonetheless, being one of the pack was a perfect opportunity to sharpen my teeth for becoming an improviser.

I grew a thick skin early on along with the ability to command attention when needed, to retreat when necessary and to always be ready with a quick comeback. There was also an unspoken rule in our home that you could get away with saying just about anything, if it made my parents laugh. Nothing overtly hateful could pass, but a well-timed curse word or two would slide if it got a chuckle.

So, I can hold my own as the only girl, but damn, was I relieved when my sister finally arrived. She was the button on our family, a saving grace that brought balance and order. And she's one of the funniest darned people I've ever met. While I would have survived without her, I'm so freaking glad I didn't have to.

Now, how often do you see an improv team with seven guys and one girl? It gets a bit monotonous, doesn't it? One function of an improv team is to represent the world in which we live. When our population is 51% female and 49% male, a group that is 90% male is hardly representative.

In these uneven groups, the gal sometimes looks a bit like an outsider and is often relegated to playing just moms and girlfriends – extensions of the men.

In the best groups, the women are on even footing and have opportunities to play a wide range of characters.

But, ladies, if we want to play the ship captains, doctors, pilots and pimps (not the hos), it is also our responsibility to step up and take these roles.

Bridget Kloss, my teacher for both Level 1 and 2 is one of those amazing women who is willing to jump in and get her hands dirty with the boys while at the same time empowering all to play at the top of their intelligence.

I remember her strongly encouraging me to continue with classes because "we need more strong women" in improv.

As Bridget pointed out, in the early levels of classes, the male to female ratio is pretty even, but somewhere along the way, the women just drop off. Where do they go, and what is motivating the exit?

I have not experienced, nor do I want to believe there exists, any actual discouragement from any males I have been in class with. So, if they're not pushing us out, we must be giving up on ourselves.

I have no doubt that I will continue to do improv and take classes, (I already perform and teach at another theater), but it was Bridget that cemented my desire to continue at iO West.

At one point, I was hoping to go through the whole training center taking classes only from female teachers, but due to scheduling issues, it's just not feasible. But, I will do what I can to study with as many women as possible. I can't wait for Level 4 with Shulie Cowen!

I've worked with all female groups in the past and I relish that kind of unity. And, just like I was aching to have a little sister, I simply crave that kinship with female improvisers and a female teacher.

So, ladies, why are you dropping out? DON'T!

You're as equally improv-errific as any of the men in class.

It's important that we stick around and stick together - for us, for the boys and for the audience.



A. We're FUNNY! If you've ever been unfortunate enough to hear any misogynist nonsense to the contrary, don't you dare believe it. I could write a list longer than Andy Dick's bar tab of all the fabulously funny females who have shaped the world of comedy. At this very moment, we can annihilate that "women aren't funny" LIE with one title and one name: Bridesmaids. Melissa McCarthy. 'Nuff said.

B. We all know men cannot survive without us. Seriously. It's a wonder they can dress themselves.

C. We provide balance. Every yang needs a yin. We bring a different perspective, feminine grace and unique style that rounds out any comedy group. Don't make that one woman in the group do all the heavy lifting. Join her. Support her.

D. We're pretty. Come on, who doesn't want something lovelier to look at besides a bunch of scrawny white guys in Converse and plaid flannels over an ironic T-shirt?

E. The audience needs us. Do it for yourself, but more importantly, do it for your daughters, your sisters, your mothers, your best friends and the strangers off the street who need positive, comedic role models.

When someone walks into an improv show in any theater, USA, and all they see is that same combo of seven guys and one gal, it just reiterates the same old, same old.

But any time a woman can walk into a comedy show and see more than one of her own on stage, it can only instill pride, confidence, camaraderie and ambition.

The boys possess all that in spades, and we she-wolves deserve our fair share.

So, take the stage, lassies. Show 'em what you got. And, if the wolves try to bite, just bite back.

- Lita Lopez

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The iO West Popcorn arrested for prostitution

The iO West Popcorn and his prostitute pals
If you thought that the travails of the iO West popcorn couldn’t get any worse – between an ultimately unsuccessful romp in rehab and a panicked break south of the border fence, then you were wrong. Things got worse.

TMZ has reported that the iO West Popcorn, along with a few of his newly acquired cross-dressing popcorn pals, was arrested for soliciting sexual services inside the Diego Rivera museum in Guanajuato, México.

As you might expect, the iO West Popcorn, being an artistic soul, was assuming a central position atop La Catrina’s hat while simultaneously holding a few other positions on La Catrina’s sacrum coccyx and Frida Kahlo’s neck, when he was approached by what appeared to be a Juan but was not. The Juan was a cop, but not your typical cop. He was an art cop.

Now, art police don’t usually have jurisdiction over prostitution, but because the bulk of this particular solicitation, which was part performance piece and part pathetic plea for sex pro quo, took place on a mural (or a copy of a mural), the art cops are the only authorities with the creds to do the job. (Or to do the job to a knob who was offering to do a job on another knob who lost his job in the revolution.)

What terrible luck the iO West Popcorn has! ¡Una suerte horrible!

Along with the iO West Popcorn was Natalia, whose real name is Ned, and who is also an ex-pat, and who was reported to have reported, “I can’t believe we got caught almost doing what el diós intended, which was to love. Or at least to pretend to love. And pretend to swallow and stomach and repeat that love for a paltry price, which is really nothing more than an exchange of energy...” (Natalia/Ned pontificated more but was then bludgeoned.)

So, what was TMZ doing in Guanajuato, you wonder, and you wouldn’t be the first. It turns out that executive producer Harvey Levin has a town in México. Not a house but a town. And he visits the neighboring towns to make sure that his town is winning on all counts.

In fact, when he and his crew were in Guanajuato to count all the colorful houses to make sure that his town, which is rumored to have been named Soy Abogado Alegre has more of them, he stumbled upon the Diego and voila!

So, what does the future hold for the iO West popcorn now that he is in the hands of the art police?

Well, if his relatives in the U.S. – either his brother at the Roosevelt or his kin at the iO West bar, don’t bark up enough bite to have him extradited (and Mr. Levin might be poised to help expedite the extradite), then it might be Mexican prison for the popcorn star.

And Mexican prison could prove to be dangerous. Have you seen what Mexicans do to popcorn?

Disclaimer: Harvey Levin doesn't own a town in México named Soy Abogado Alegre. Yet.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Perform on the iO West Main Stage tonight...yes, I mean you

Tonight at 10pm on the iO West Main Stage enjoy Cherry Pick during which students, alum and teachers all perform together on the same stage.

Challenge yourself to practice in front of an audience what you have been learing in class.

Bring your student or alum ID (from any improv school), drop it in the hat, and, if your name is called...

Feel the adrenaline rush of playing an angry roommate scene with Artistic Director James Grace or instructors Aaron Krebs and Craig Cackowski.

And enjoy, during the same hour, two additional cherries on top: Cherry Crush and Cherry.

Tonight's Main Stage line-up:

8:30 - Fahey Follows - featuring stand-up comics and musicians that Damien Fahey follows on Twitter

10:00 - Cherry Crush, Cherry and the Cherry Pick

11:30 - Cage Match

See you tonight at iO West!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The iO West Popcorn spotted in Ensenada

Word on the street (or calle) is that the iO West Popcorn was seen (visto) eating a fish enchilada and drinking Mogor Badán from a plastic cup in a tranquil zócalo near the Port of Ensenada.

Did the iO West Popcorn arrive by boat (barco) or second class bus (autobús) or by taxi (taxi) Los Angeles improvisers want to know.

The iO West Popcorn was, according to one witness, easy to recognize, despite donning glasses and a floppy hat with holes (not brave enough to wear a Dodgers cap in México?) because of his distinctive shoes, which to many appear fit for bowling, but to others more for clowning around the town.

Once scoped and approached, the iO West Popcorn dropped his comida and split.

He ran around the corner, flagged down a passing El Camino and careened out of sight.

Due to the persistence of one witness who followed the iO West Popcorn across town through a neighboring town and up into Rosarito, “He was like Speedy Gonzales, man, Pinche!” we know that he is safe. For now.

Either he really is on the lamb or he is shooting a Robert Rodriguez movie, and all this worry is for nought.

Maybe this whole thing has just been a ruse and his rehab stint a publicity ploy and his interview with me just damned good acting. íChingón! Who knows?!

But no matter, improvisers are clamoring for the iO West Popcorn’s return to his rightful home at the iO West taverna in whatever hat and shoes and with whatever souvenirs (guitar case full of ammo?) from his recent payasadas he decides.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Instructor Molly Erdman in brief

A cursory glance at iO West instructor Molly Erdman's website is enough to exhaust the unsuspecting visitor. 

This experienced and versatile actor is busy

In addition to Molly's many stage performances, commercials and TV guest appearances, she also writes an extremely popular blog entitled Catalog Living, which takes a humorous look at the people who live inside home furnishing catalogs and was named one of Time Magazine’s "Top 25 Blogs of 2011," and her book, Decorating Takes (Wicker) Balls, is due out in the summer of 2012.

It's a wonder Molly had time to this week to teach the Weekly Workout and to share her improv insights, in brief, with me.

SKK:  What was the moment when you first discovered you loved performing improv?

ME:  Back in high school, we'd do improv games in our theater class, and it was my favorite thing in the world.  I spent a summer at a theater camp in Boston and learned the Harold, and I went back for my senior year and started an improv group at my school.  This was back in the Dark Ages when high school improv groups were unheard of.  That sound you just heard was me patting myself on the back.

SKK:  What has been your favorite onstage experience so far?

ME:  Geez, there have been a lot. Some that stick out in my mind probably aren't the best or funniest moments, but are just memorable for some reason.

For instance, on my first Harold team at iO Chicago – Genealogy – in the late 90s, I was doing a scene where I was a bratty kid getting a haircut.  I said to the barber, played by the hilarious Dave Peggs, "I cut out a picture from a magazine of how I want my hair to look." Dave took the picture, looked at it, and said "It's Lily Tomlin."  I lost it. 

To me, that was the funniest person he could have picked for me to want my hair to look like, because I was playing a kid, and because what magazine would I have been reading that had a picture of Lily Tomlin in it? 

It was one of those great lines – two words, even – that gave a ton of information about the character I was playing. But mainly it just made me laugh, and still does today when I think about it.

SKK:  What led you to begin teaching improv? 

ME:  At first I was just curious if I would be any good at it.  I don't think improv ability or talent and teaching prowess necessarily go hand-in-hand.  Now that I feel like I've got my teaching groove, my main goal is to simplify improv and what makes a successful improv scene. 

Sometimes students – and all improvisers – think too much and get so bogged down in rules that we lose sight of the fact that everything we need to make a good scene is right there in front of us.  We just have to slow down enough to recognize it.   

SKK:  What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching for you?

ME:  When a specific exercise or note clicks for a student.  I love that feeling of diagnosing a problem area and being able to find a solution.

SKK:  What has been your favorite in-class experience so far?  This experience could also be "as a result of class."

ME:  I loved the last day of the Level 4 I taught a couple months back.  I asked the class "what do we love about X's improv" for each student, and I just sort of sat there and beamed as everyone offered up all these great insights and compliments about every single person in that class.  I really believe that being able to see and appreciate other people's strengths is an important part of being a good improviser.

SKK:  Lastly, for everyone reading this blog who is trying to figure out what shows to see first, which are a few Harold teams you think are particularly successful, and why do they work so well?  You can include your own.

ME:  I enjoy my current team, Spirit Cat, and my former team, Sweeterhouse, because they're both filled with veteran improvisers who are playful and just plain funny (more back-patting).  I've also always been a fan of Local132 - they have a good blend of comedically diverse players, and their shows are technically solid while also being funny and playful.

Molly Erdman's bio:

Molly Erdman spent eleven years performing at iO Chicago with groups including Genealogy, Valhalla, The Armando Diaz Experience, and the Lindbergh Babies (directed by Del Close). She was a member of Second City’s National Touring Company and created and performed in three Mainstage shows at the Second City Chicago. For four years, she played the quietly suffering wife in the minivan in Sonic commercials. Molly moved to LA in 2007, and she currently performs at iO in The Armando Show.

Molly is also currently teaching Level 2.

 - Shawn Kathryn Kane


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Drew Droege one of '10 Comedy Acts to Watch' performs at iO West tomorrow

Tomorrow, Monday, January 9, 2012, sharply at 8:30pm, at iO West, as part of the Comedy TapiOca show, Drew Droege, who was just named by the LA Weekly as one of 10 Comedy Acts to Watch, will perform with Rebecca Corry, Brooks McBeth, Murray Valeriano, Adam Paul, Renee Gauthier and Carrie Clifford.

If you think that laughter might cure your malaise or gout or extreme obesity, or that it might resurrect you from death, you should attend for $10 and save the money you might otherwise spend on costly health or life insurance.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The iO West Popcorn gone missing, investigators looking for leads

As tenacious fate would have it, after reading my interview with the iO West Popcorn Thursday night, the iO West Popcorn, shamed and visibly upset, fled Cliffside Malibu by taxi, was dropped at Ocean and Pacific Terrace in Santa Monica, according to a witness staying at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and has since not been seen by anyone.

A senior staff member at Cliffside said the iO West Popcorn left at approximately 11:25pm Thursday wearing cotton pajamas, a Dodgers cap with a missing “A,” and a pair of oversized shoes that resembled, at least in color scheme, bowling shoes.

The staff member said the iO West Popcorn dashed out the front door and hopped into a cab, which zoomed speedily down the narrow, winding drive. Because the iO West Popcorn was technically a resident at Cliffside Malibu rehabilitation facility of his own volition, there was no authority to call in to stymie his departure.

The iO West Popcorn’s closest sibling, Popcorn with Truffles and Parmesan, has expected that the iO West Popcorn would contact him but has so far received no calls.

Residents of the Greater Los Angeles Area are asked to keep their eyes peeled for the iO West Popcorn. He is not considered to be dangerous. He is in fact quite beloved. There are many, many friends, relatives and fans from all over the Los Angeles area who eagerly await his return.

If you have any knowledge of the iO West Popcorn’s whereabouts, you are asked to contact authorities at the iO West bar – preferably in person.

Please do not instead go to the Roosevelt Hotel to speak with his brother Popcorn with Truffles and Parmesan for he is simply too choked up.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interview with the iO West Popcorn

Popcorn with Truffles and Parmesan at the Roosevelt Hotel

It has been quite awhile since the last sighting of the iO West Popcorn at the iO West bar.

One improviser, an acquaintance of the iO West Popcorn, who is considered to be mostly credible, said he thought he caught wind of the iO West Popcorn on a Harold night two weeks ago Tuesday.

Another improviser, whose credibility is on occasion called into question, said he was relatively certain he saw the iO West Popcorn either before, during or after a Sunday night sketch show.

More recently, and perhaps even less reliably, the buzz around the bar and surrounding areas is that the iO West Popcorn has been on location, shooting a feature in Brazil – a dramedy-martial arts-thriller set in the favelas somewhat high above Rio.

Whether that is fact or rumor has not been substantiated – until now.

I was fortunate enough to have a sit-down with the up-start yesterday at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, where his brother Popcorn with Truffles and Parmesan enjoys a lush, full-time gig.

It turns out that the rumor of a reel in Rio is patently false.

The iO West Popcorn has actually been enjoying (if ‘enjoying’ is the right verb) a life-changing stint in rehab.

In fact, our meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel was the first unaccompanied outing since the iO West Popcorn was admitted to Cliffside Malibu several weeks ago (his sojourn there paid for by his generous sibling) and, truth be told, I was a bit apprehensive about how he would respond to all the drinking around us, and at our table thanks to my own penchant for swilling criminal quantities of Veuve Clicquot. (Veuve is the perfect complement to salty finger food.)

“When will you be back at the iO West bar?” I inquired.

The iO West Popcorn just couldn’t say.

“Would you like to come back?”

“Absolutely!” he cried like a young actor who has just been asked if he would like to star in a dramedy-martial arts-thriller set in Brazil.

“How are you faring?”

He confided that he’s doing well, considering all he’s been up against. There have been so many transitions at iO West, what with new staff, new performers, reconfigured Harold teams, new bar management, new paint...

So much change to handle in such a short span of time.

And the counselors at Cliffside Malibu have implored him to take it easy and to just take life one bite-sized increment at a time.

And, ultimately, the iO West Popcorn did say that he misses everyone immensely. He longs to be back soon in the hands and gullets (and stuck to the back side of the uvula) of performers and staff, past and present, enabling their consumption of thirst-quenching beverages and assuaging their poor-actor hunger, as soon as his counselors, family and the man who spear-headed his intervention – bar manager Brandon Sornberger – says he is fit to do so.

We can only hope it is soon. Very, very soon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Level 1 classes start this week...be present

Perform without rehearsals.

"...Soon, though, I became a little bored. Not with the performing, but with the rehearsing. I felt like rehearsals were the same thing over and over. I was pretty selfish back then; I wanted the feeling I got when I performed without the repeititious work of the rehearsals. Performing without rehearsals, was there such a thing?" - Mick Napier in his book Improvise. Scene from the Inside Out

Have everything you say matter.

"...A player knows that anything he says on stage will be immediately accepted by his fellow players and treated as if it were the most scintillating idea ever offered to maknind. His partner then adds on to his idea, and moment by moment the two of them have created a scene that neither of them had planned..." Charna Halpern in her book Truth in Comedy.

Undo indoctrination.

"...You have to be a pretty stubborn person to remain an artist in this culture. It's easy to play the role of 'artist,' but actually to create something means going against one's education..." Keith Johnstone in Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre

Live without fear.

"...The essential cause of our suffering and anxiety is ignorance of the nature of reality and craving and clinging to something illusory. That is referred to as ego, and the gasoline in the vehicle of ego is fear..." Judith Lief for the Shambala Sun

Whether you are an actor or simply a person who wants to become more effective in matters of the head and heart, improvisation is a terrific way to open up, hone listenting and verbal skills and be fully present.

Level 1 classes start this week. Register by phone (323) 962-7560 and get a $50 discount.