Thursday, March 29, 2012

A coupla dames walk into a bar...

See two funny women, the Office's Angela Kinsey and Entourage's Constance Zimmer, and additional funny improvisers heat up some hooch-themed hokum on the iO West Main Stage this Saturday night as part of the bar-themed improv show Pub.

And enjoy drinks and $5 valet while you do so.

Comic Book Live! premiere performance on the iO West Main Stage

If you love comic books and/or graphic novels and/or improvisation then you won't want to miss the opening performance of Comedy Book Live! this Friday at 11pm...

Where top improvisers like Patrick Ian Moore, Brandon Barrick, Tommy Bechtold, Dustin Sterling, Zach Huddleston, Chelsea Coleman, Erin McGathy and Julia Wackenheim bring to life an adapted version of a celebrated comic book or graphic novel based on an audience suggestion and with the help of a visiting comic book artist.  

Gifts and prizes (FREE COMIC BOOKS) by Hippy Comix and Brett’s Comic Pile will be gifted at every show.

The special guest for this week's debut show is Anthony Lee Winn co-creator of Stripperella.

If you are a gal or guy who does not like comic books but appreciates being in a room with smart gals and guys who have quirky fashion sense, then come and enjoy the bar and cheap valet and maybe even go home with a prize and a nerd. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Women Aren't Funny podcast this Monday with Bob Odenkirk

If you have ever thought to yourself Damn, women are bland and uninteresting then you should come to iO West this Monday eve to prove yourself either wrong or right. 

At least come to see if the women of the Women Aren't Funny Podcast are at all attractive, because that is what is truly important. 

I mean wit is for uglies. 

Or is it?

Well, to help answer that pressing question this Monday night is Bob Odenkirk. You know, Saul from Breaking Bad.

And if that man isn't ample proof that women are funny (because why would a guy like Saul Goodman want to banter with just any silly twat?) then come to iO for the shows that come beforehand and afterward and of course for the bar that serves boobs of all genders during the show.

Here is the evening's agenda replete with some women who might be funny or unugly or both:

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

11:30: Cage Match

All Main Stage shows are 21 and over. Drinks are cheap and valet is $5 with validation.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Singers, improv veterans and porn stars this Friday at iO West

Where else can you see musical improv, long-form improv and adult star improv all on the same evening? 


Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! starring Matt Jones of Breaking Bad, Derek Miller, HillaryRowe, Norm Thoeming, and Shulie Cowen, under the direction of Shulie Cowen, dazzles Broadway style during the nine-o'clock hour... 

Orpheus Roy, an amalgam of improvisers from key venues such as iO, UCB, Second City and the Groundlings takes the field at 10...

Old Milwaukee, a gang of extremely talented guys from Milwaukee where talent flows like beer, joins in at 10:30... 

The Wild is on at 11, and... 

Glory Stories, an improv show replete with adult star (this week it's Charmane Star!) rounds out the night at 11:30.

There might be no better way to spend your Friday, especially knowing there is a full bar and $5 valet with validation.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring into improv via the Level 1 Intensive

Are you eager to get started and even more eager to finish and join a Harold team?

Then the Level 1 Improv Intensive might be for you. 

Starting March 26th, the Intensive covers Level 1 curriculum in two compact weeks.   

Three-and-a-half-hour-long classes meet seven afternoons over the course of two weeks. 

Students are introduced to the fundamentals of improvising, including listening and building upon other people’s ideas.

Level 1 is a survey of the entire program, exposing students to the elements of basic scene work and to the various skills involved in creating well-acted and comedic improvised theater. 

At the end of two weeks, students are evaluated. Those who have demonstrated improved listening skills and a collaborative spirit will be encouraged to progress to Level 2.

What better way to welcome spring that to welcome a new and more open you?

To register, visit the registration page or call (323) 962-7560.

- Annie Mackay and Andrea Kittelson

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Suspend Lent this weekend at iO West

There is so much going on this weekend at iO West, you might want to request dispensation from all pertinent authorities.

Dan Harmon, creator of the TV show Community, will be a guest on "The Nearlywed Show" where dating, married and platonic couples go head to head in a contest to see who is the most dysfunctional. 

This week's couples? 

Dating couple Dan Harmon of Community and Erin McGathy

Married couple Andy Bouley and Kim Mulligan

Platonic couple John Conroy and Stacy Rumaker

Come at 6:30 to participate in the Happy Hour Challenge and stay for a night of superb shows. 

Your ticket to one show gets you into all subsequent shows on the same night. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

6:30 PM - FREE  
8:00 PM - $10
9:00 PM - $10
10:00 PM - $10
11:00 PM - $5
Midnight - FREE
Saturday, March 17, 2012 - Saint Patrick's Day

8:00 PM - $10
9:00 PM - $10
10:30 PM - $10
11:30 PM - FREE
Sunday, March 18, 2012

 8:00 PM - $5
Life is too short not to laugh and dance and then laugh some more.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Be the music that's missing

Know what's noticeably absent from the improv stages around town? 

Musical improv. 

There is a paltry few musical improv troupes in LA, and while they are all terrific, none has you on it.

What better way to stand out in the improv world than to participate in a style that's beautiful and rare?

There is none.

So, to embark upon that trip, slick your musical improv chops by enrolling in Shulie Cowen's Beginning Musical Improv Workshop.

Shulie Cowen's four-week class covers the basics of musical improv: song structure, rhyme scheme, theme, point of view, and intro to various styles and musical performance games. 

Neither musical ability nor vocal performance experience is required, but openness and a sense of play are critical.

Shulie Cowen, director of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! is a rare and brilliant gem, so who better to launch you into the rare and glorious world of musical improv?   

No one. 

And I know, because I am in one of the paltry few who breaks into song while arriving at an emotional apex within the realm of an improvised melee. 

Not because I'm especially good at improv, but because I know that singing improv is the shipnit.

Cost: $250. 

Rewards: Infinite.

Brian Guest's Audition Intensive

Are you auditioning and not getting callbacks? 

Getting callbacks, but not booking? 

Then Brian Guest's Audition Intensive is perfect for you. 

The goal of Guest's four-week class is to take actors to the next level of auditioning, regardless of where they are currently in their careers. 

Each class is designed to concentrate specifically on a different type of audition and to integrate improv into both audition prep and execution. 

During each class, all students will perform audition sides as if they were auditioning for a specific project. 

Over the four weeks, the class will cover multi-cam sitcom, single-cam sitcom, hour-long drama and film.

Don't miss out on your chance to hone your auditioning technique under the guidance of top acting teacher and booking actor Brian Guest

Brian has been acting professionally for over 10 years, and in the past year alone has booked such shows as Shameless, Torchwood, Hawaii 5-0, Franklin and Bash, CSI: NY, Southland and the SONY film Detention with Josh Hutcherson and Dane Cook. 

He trained at Playhouse West with Jeff Goldblum for several years and at Lesly Kahn's Studio. 

Guest is passionate about mixing the craft of acting with the business of booking the job. 

Throughout his coaching career, Guest has helped up-and-comers and established talent alike find their uniqueness. 

He is continually enthused by the creative process and loves to coach people who are equally excited about their craft.

Here's what people have said about Brian Guest's classes:

“When Brian started working with one of my clients, her feedback improved by leaps and bounds, especially for comedy projects. Being an actor himself, he knows how to give just the right amount of constructive criticism and encouragement. He is the only coach I recommend to my clients.” - Sarah Lum of Leverage Management

“The depth of my work continues to change and grow when I coach with Brian. He has the ability to pull out “my” funny, when I’m not feeling it myself. I respect his knowledge and perspective on breaking down a character, scene and script. And he pushes me to trust myself and my choices. He challenges me to take risks." - Stacey Scowley (Dollhouse, Date Night, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Family Guy)

The prerequisite is through Level 2 at iO West.  

The cost is $250.   

Register here. 

Henceforth book.

 - Annie Mackay

David Pasquesi lights the way

In any field there are luminaries who leave in their wake flares.
In the field of improv, and, in particular, long-form improv, one luminary whose flair burns remarkably brightly and whose example many improvisers would love to emulate, is Dave Pasquesi

What is especially lovely about Pasquesi's approach is the simplicity. Clarity. Lightness.
I recently posed some questions to Dave:
AK: You work as both screen actor and improviser, how has improvising informed your screen acting?

DP: My only training is improvisation, so it informs everything I do concerning performance. It seems to me that the prime job of the actor is to listen to the other actors and behave believably in that situation. You cannot do that without paying attention to it all, which is the most important thing in improvisation, I think.  The training for an improviser is to pay better attention. It helps everything.

AK: How has screen acting informed your improvising?

DP: I think I probably learned that in other media I don’t have to do as much.  Then I realized that I probably don’t need to be doing as much on stage either.  Conversely, every mistake is magnified in film, same as stage.  If I do not have a specific intention, if I’m not really clear on what it is I’m doing, everybody can tell. 

AK: Are you also a writer? If so, how has your improvising informed your writing?

DP: I am somewhat of a writer, and, with rare exception, I write with other improvisers.  Mitch Rouse, Sue Gillan, Pete Burns.  Usually the way we write is to talk through an improvised scene, then transcribe it. 

AK: What do you enjoy about long-form improv that no other life activity provides?

DP: You can dare to be kind without any of the terrible consequences that occur in real life when you’re nice

Also, my brain functions differently when I am improvising on stage in front of people than it does at any other time.  And I like the way it works under those conditions. 

AK: One thing I love about iO compared to other places that emphasize short form or that discourage improvisers from playing against type, gender, race, etc, is that iO is open and free. Every time you get on stage you face a completely blank slate. You, yourself, are a completely blank slate. Do you have a belief or stance about the degree to which improvisers should or should not play different genders, races, animals, etc?

DP: I try to play anything that seems to have been already indicated and what is required in the scene, that the need and usefulness is what determines the character, not me. 

AK: Also, I love the notion that long-form improv is considered an art unto itself. What is your take on that notion?

DP: I do not consider whether or not improvisation is an art, per se.  I definitely think it is an end in itself.  Not merely a means to something else.

AK: What was the moment when you first knew you loved improv?

DP: I have loved it since I first found it.  Since my first class, with Judy Morgan as my teacher.  I was about 20 years old.

AK: What is your most memorable moment you have had on stage?

DP: I can’t narrow it down to a single moment. There are a whole lot. The common feature seems to be that something is happening and nothing else could be occurring at this moment, and it is not my doing. I am participating in it, but I am also a passenger. Some other forces seem to be controlling it, not us. We used to talk about how Harold appeared. I know it’s very corny, but that is still kind of what it’s like when it goes exceptionally well.

AK: Who are improvisers that you admire and strive to emulate if not in style then in deftness?

DP: TJ Jagodowski is pretty good. He agrees with everything. Mike Coleman for his ability to communicate an entire relationship complete with history using very few words. I got to watch Jim Fay and Dan Castelleneta.  Castellenta was always so present, he made every character believable and therefore everything they said was believable. Fay was amazing and had the ability to terrify us youngsters.    

Colin Mocherie, Jeff Michalski, Jane Morris, Scott Adsit, Linda Kash, Deb Theaker, Kevin Crowley, Kevin Dorff, Noah Gregoropoulos,  and Joel Murray

Most, or all of the people I listed have great intellect, fearlessness and the ability to serve the scene rather than merely get laughs. Those are the qualities I admire and attempt to improve. There are many more. And there are many more people that I am not listing. They know who they are. (No they don’t.)

AK: What are additional influences – authors, painters, people in general whom you look to for inspiration?

DP: Del Close, Bernie Sahlins, Fred Kaz, fellow improvisers.  Also JD Salinger, Caravaggio, Bernini, Borromini. Everything and everybody.

AK: You say in Trust Us This is All Made Up that you are influenced heavily by the behavior of passersby – random people on the street.  Can you speak to that? How much time do you spend observing the world, and which aspects do you most like to observe?

DP: I spend a tremendous amount of time watching the world.  It’s great fun. That’s the job of the improviser, I think. To pay attention. That and to do interesting things.    

So I watch things. And when something stands out, I try to figure out why it is a notable event. What about it do I connect with? And I figure I am not unique. If I am affected, others will be too. 

Why do I find that interesting/funny/sad? 

AK: What do you appreciate most about iO West?

DP: It’s the same thing I like about iO Chicago. I like that I get to do stuff. It really feels like a piece of Chicago. A lot of my friends. Chicagoans. There seems to be a sense of community. People preforming, people supporting the shows.

AK: Is there anything else you would like to share with the iO West blog-reading community?

DP: Nope. Nothing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Audition for Top Story! Weekly

"Top Story! Weekly," iO West's Main Stage sketch show based on the week's news, is seeking to round out its cast.

Here's the skinny from Top Story! Weekly 
writer/producer/director/cast member Mike Hughes:

Like SNL?  Love The Daily Show? Want to be part of the longest-running, news-based sketch comedy show in Los Angeles?

"Top Story! Weekly," three-time winner of the Del Close Award for "Best Scripted Show," is holding auditions.

If you're interested, please email a headshot and resume, along with a link to either a reel or other video to no later than Thursday, March 8.

Those contacted to audition will be asked to prepare three impersonations of newsmakers or celebrities and one original character.

Following is a snippet of the talent you'd be joining:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alphabet poem for Scot Robinson of "The Lampshades"

After dark
Before sleep
Calling my name from the warmth of the cold linoleum
Despite my having warned him
Everything will collapse if he drinks
Women, soon to be
"You" he yells, before passing out, raising both my neck hairs and hopes, then...

To fully understand this poem and bad poetry in general or at least cheap Scotch, check out The Lampshades starring Scot Robinson and Kate Flannery this Saturday night at 8 on the iO West Main Stage.

They are sure to stir even burdened blood.

Ode to Kate Flannery

Interactivity and free hooch at the Friday Forty

For those of you smart alecs who enjoy answering questions about pop culture, history, sports, the week's events and/or your own personal life and you savor chugging 40-ouncers like you did back home in the Midwest on your parents' front porch (or on the dew-frosted trampoline during weekend overnights) then you definitely want to participate in the Friday Forty

And, for those of you who don't like to be on stage imbibing free Budweiser like you did back home in the Midwest on your parents' front porch or on the dew-frosted tramp,  then you might like to sit in the audience,  laugh your Midwest butt off and pay meager amounts of dough for a variety of cheap drinks. 

The game show element is interwoven with sketch by some of the most talented sketch comics anywhere. 

There might be no better way to spend a Friday. Not on the West Coast, anyway, unless you have a trampoline, in which case, can I come over?

Leigh Koechner to hold her OWN at this week's Armando

Leigh Koechner, known for her colorful stint on Oprah's Your Own Show, her internet musings on surrogacy and motherhood, and her marriage to The Office's David Koechner, will host the Armando on the iO West Main Stage this Saturday night at 9pm.

If you enjoy funny monologues interspersed with hilarious improv by the improv community's most celebrated improvisers, you won't want to miss it.

And, if you love grocery stores like I do...