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101 Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore
101 Improv Games for Children and Adults by Utah Improviser and Quick Wits owner Bob Bedore



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Theory Discussion
The longer a business is up for sale

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Jack Diamond


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A Rant  
  Started at Mon Jan 22 18:25:25 2007
I started thinking about this in the Improv Allstars thread, but I thought this should have it's own thread, so as not to detract from what Eb wanted responses on. Cause this should stir some shit.

I'm pissed about something. It makes me so mad, I sometimes don't want to perform with certain people. I wish I could make people do what I wanted, but until then, I'll just vent and rant on an online thread.

First, the disclaimer:

I understand that getting up in front of people and provoking a reaction should be entertaining to those people or you don't have an audience and hence no livelyhood. I also undertand that everyone who performs has the liscense to choose what they create and how they create it.


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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #1 Posted at Mon Jan 22 18:39:51 2007
And now for the rant.

I get sick to death of mediocre improv. By people who are capable of so much more. I suppose I should be grateful, because it gives me an opportunity to create a quality gap between me and others, but what I really want is a group of people dedicated to creating a commercially viable form of profesional comedy improv.

IMPROV, people. Not recycling the same jokes, clever asides to the audience, smiling through and entire scene, ad naseum.

Remember, you can't spell improv without six of the seven letters of improve.

I see a few people in a few places trying to create something bigger than a place for 17 year old kids to hang out, but they're not supported.

I judge an improv troupe by the audience it attracts; if the majority of your audience are 17 year old kids wanting dick and fart jokes, it's because you created a venue where 17 year old kids could hear dick and fart jokes.

Not that there's anything wrong with 17 year old kids, dick, or fart jokes. I just see there being a bigger feast out there and we subsist on bread and water.

Most improvisors are robbing themselves of bigger laughs, more inteligent and discerning audiences, bigger audiences, and a livelyhood by not being a part of a group that wants more.

And here's what really makes me mad. Not the people that admit that that's what they're in it for. Some people only want a hobby, or a place to tell dick and fart jokes; they're not the problem.

It's the improvisors that say that they want to make a career out of it, or get better, but don't do DICK to improve their performance that piss me off.

It's getting to the point where I wince when I play or watch Da do run run.

More often than not, people are just trying to think of words that rhyme with their object word...... and that's it. Not weave a story, take it to a clever place, or even SAY ANYTHING ELSE but the word.

Just that.

Met him on a Monday and his name was Bill

Da do run run run, da do run run.

uh....... fill.

Da do run run run, da do run run.

If that's the best you can consistently do, sit the fuck down.

Maybe we should get together as an improv community and start paying for our coaching.

-Jake


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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #2 Posted at Mon Jan 22 19:00:55 2007
We have too many venues and not enough qualified people to play in all of those spots. Between Off The Top, Off The Wall, and Mission Improvable, I can get at least one show a week, in places that don't require anything more than the commitment to show up to do the show.

No practice or reheasal process. No qualification process. Just, can you show up? Cool, man.

If there was only one comedy improv venue, and everyone in Utah had to fight for one of six spots a week, how good do you think that show would be?

Pretty much the most awesome show ever!!!

Because improvisors wouldn't be taking for granted their play time, they'd be rehearsing and expanding, and there would always be someone just a little hungrier waiting to take their place.

It would be a priviledge, rather than a chore to perform again.

(I consider it a priviledge to play, by the way)

Instead we've got ten spots in Utah which equates to about 70 or so spots to get filled weekly. It's definately a sellers market.

The people that put up these shows can't get attendance to regular practices, cause once they require it, the people that are already doing well at improv, don't think they need to practice and know that they'll get scheduled regardless, or will just go somewhere else.

People scheduling shows are dying for new blood, and they're just getting recycled jokes that seem new to them, cause they've never heard them before.

But what can they do?

I want to find ten or fifteen people who are dedicated to putting on the best IMPROV show they can. Who's egos can stand comments like, "That's funny, sure. But what opportunity did you just take from yourself by destroying the reality of the scene to comment to the audience?

Or, "Please stop wavering around while you're standing in a line. It steals focus and makes you look like your nervous."

In other words, words and phrases designed to challenge every aspect of your performance and create opportunities for you to actually, GROW as an improvisor. Audiences can sense talent and see presence.

Actors all over the world spend all their time and money learning to hone their craft. Why do improvisors in Utah give such short shrift to their trade?

We need an improv center in Utah.

-Jake


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Junie B.


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #3 Posted at Mon Jan 22 19:01:19 2007
Jake,
I feel as if I have heard these thoughts put together previously, albeit the former may have done it less cohesively. However, I 100% agree with you and know where you are coming from. I don't know if you were making any references to me or not(I am going with No because I have been limited in my performance opportunities as of late). You are always welcome to come and do some workshopping at our Wednesday workshops. You have the kind of energy and enthusiasm we are desperately in need of. Our structure is a bit lose right now with hectic schedules and lack of committment from certain participants but with the right people (i.e the people willing to learn and commit to trying new things) I think it would be a great atmosphere or forum for the expansion of improv in Utah. Really, despite what everyone may or may not think of me, I just want Utah Improv to prosper.

Hope that helps,
Kaytlin


When is a reference to suicide not funny? *nudge*nudge*
 
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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #4 Posted at Mon Jan 22 19:10:06 2007
Last Modified at Mon Jan 22 19:10:36 2007 by Jack Diamond

Thanks, K-

They're not directed towards anyone in particular, but everyone in general, because I feel like eveyone who can make a difference and wants to is responsible.

As an improvisor, I need to be slapped down and told no sometimes by a coach, not from fellow players that I only see every few weeks about five minutes before I go on stage with them. That puts undue pressure on me and them.

And MC's- what the fuck is up with MC's?

In my mind an MC is the most intergral part of a shortform improv show. I don't know of many people that MC that have actually taken any training, formalized or not on how to be a great MC.

And part of that training consists of working with the people you're representing on stage; knowing them and how they react.


I need a coach, people who are willing to LISTEN to someone else to get better, and a kick ass MC and tech.

Once I know where those things are, I can answer Eb's previous thread of who the best improvisors in Utah are.

The formulae is so simple, but most people are content with, well.... this is all right. I don't have to work for this.

Shit.

-Jake


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Josh Nufrio


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #5 Posted at Tue Jan 23 11:21:43 2007
LOL jake you crack me up. I tend to agree with your post but laugh at the hipocracy. You, my friend, are either gonna make it to the top or combust on the way up. I love your drive. I just want to say that I enjoy my play time. I know I could do things to improve my improv. I try things all the time. As far as classes go if someone wants to teach em at my house from 7-10 on everyother sunday, I wont miss any of em. I just cant get to the available classes with my current sched. I miss the weekly workshops we had at QW. I yern for a workshop at OTW. That will be great.

There are at least a couple of troupes with directors and coaches. Why do you choose to play for troupes that dont have them. If that is what you need, then go where they are. You cant stand in a burning house and bitch cuz its hot. Go where you need to and do what must be done. I think the reason there are not many "coaches" in utah improv is cuz nobody wants to be the bad guy. Its hard to be a player and a coach. You almost have to stop playing to be taken seriously. Who wants to not only quit playing but also be the guy that nobody likes?

I am sorry if I am one of the people you hate to play with. I move alot in line games. So do you. I re-use some lines and characters. So do you. I even engage the audience. So do you.

We are all in this game with different ideas of what it is to be successful. Its like anything in life. You get out what you put in. I am happy with my returns, if you are not then maybe thats just your problem.


I cut it three times and its still too short..
 
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Bob Bedore

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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #6 Posted at Tue Jan 23 12:34:55 2007
Wow... who is this "Dick" fellow and why are we making so many jokes about him?

 
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Bob Bedore

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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #7 Posted at Tue Jan 23 12:46:17 2007
Okay, now a little more seriously...

I only really know what goes on at a Quick Wits show and I know that we've really worked on what we're doing on stage (though without a coach or any rehearsals -- we just talk a few minutes before a show) and we have increased our audience and have noticed that we have older people and even some children in the crowd... it's great because it makes you broaden what you do.

But... we are still forced to use some lines and characters time and time again. The only way to stop that is to stop playing certain games. It's one thing to say, stop using jokes over, and quite another to be standing there trying to come up with a new "doctor" joke after 13 years of making them.

But I do know what you are saying. Quick Wits is perhaps one of the most "gimmick" filled troupes out there, but don't think for a minute that we aren't thinking about the scene within a gimmick. That is something we stress.

The other big thing is to make a connection with the crowd. And every crowd is going to be different so we have to rush to find it sometimes.

What I'm saying Jake is that it might take a "Come to Jesus" meeting to get everyone at least thinking about doing something different, but you've got to make sure that everyone is feeling the same way.

You don't want to come across like "I"m the only one who wants to do good improv", which is a bit of what your rant sounded like.

Those that have been doing it for a while all know what it takes and those that are new are just trying to find out. There's a big gap between the two and at some point the light just pops on.

I'm super busy with work and a new play right now, but I am free for some classes Saturday's after noon if there is anyone who would like to hear some of my ramblings.

I am also open every other Friday for shows up north so if you'd like someone new to play with please contact me (that goes for any troupe).

As for emcee stuff... It's really a hard thing to teach, because it's either in you or it isn't, but I'd be happy to give a class on that as well. Again, pick a Saturday after noon and I'll be there.

Jake, I'm there for you to help in anyway I can, but keep in mind that less than good improv sometimes is just because it's people trying to find their way, and that takes a leader. Leadership is better when it's through help and example rather than yelling.

It took me a little while to learn that one myself...

Bob

 
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Re: Re: A Rant  
  Reply #8 Posted at Tue Jan 23 15:17:13 2007

On Tue Jan 23 11:21:43 2007, Josh Nufrio wrote: (read quoted post)
There are at least a couple of troupes with directors and coaches.

Name one.

I like that we all are able to talk about ideas here. One day, we'll see some momentum. Hell, we finally got an improvised musical and a showdown between two troupes. Maybe that means we'll one day get a serialized improv show where the story carries from week to week. Or a venue that has no troupes, just teams constantly competing for runs at the prime spots.

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that quality will be a byproduct. I have seen some of the worst possible shit improv in world reknowned theatres, with sycophantic students all applauding the actor and not the work. That's a big reason of why I like to travel. I don't want to play for a home audience and rely on them liking me. I want to put something on stage that is funny to other people as well. The difference between making your friends laugh over lunch and getting up on stage and doing stand-up.

-Jesster


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You never know how you'll act in front of an audience until you get there and they aren't laughing.
 
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Josh Nufrio


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #9 Posted at Tue Jan 23 15:32:16 2007
Wishfull thinking I guess. There is not a director or coach in the whole state? That I did not know.


I cut it three times and its still too short..
 
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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #10 Posted at Tue Jan 23 17:24:15 2007
Yeah, Josh, It probably sounds like hypocrosy. It's not intended to be. I do shit I shouldn't do on stage. I never said I didn't. In fact, I said I did and need a coach to slap me down. I need a coach to give me objective feedback. I need someone outside of the performance to teach me to get better.

That's my frustration. I can play almost anywhere in the state, but nowhere where there's a troupe of people who are dedicated to doing the best comedy improvisation that can be done, and are committed as a troupe to commercially viable fame and fortune.

If there is one, correct me; then try and stop me from joining.

The gauntlet has been thrown. Who among you maintain you have a Comedy Improv troupe committed to quality and can help me make a living?

If there are any who make that claim, step forward.

-Jake


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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #11 Posted at Tue Jan 23 17:42:47 2007
Bob, you had a good point. I don't want to sound like I'm the only one who wants to do good improv. Thanks for pointing that out; after rereading my previous posts, I can see that people would see that.

There's a lot of great improvisors out there. And, twist my arm, I'll even admit that I'm not even in the top twenty in my personal opinion. That's my problem. I can find a place to play, but not to learn.

If there was a way to flood the market with tons of improvisor wanna be's, then maybe we could create a training center where people would have to compete to get on stage. That would drive the quality, and probably also help drive the commercial marketing.

I feel like if there are enough people like me who are looking to learn and make a living at it, then it might be easier for me. At least it would give me a frame work to operate from rather than creating from a vaccum.

Bob, I have a question for you; and if it's too personal, don't answer, but I would love to hear your story on this.

Having made a living doing improv, what made you decide to just turn it into a hobby?

I ran a theatre for a while, which you know, but never really had a position to do more at that time. Looking back, and forward, I think of the things I could do in opening a successful venue, but don't want to get stuck doing something I'll end up hating for whatever reason. It would be great to get your feedback while I'm still in the considering stages. Thanks!

-Jake




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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #12 Posted at Tue Jan 23 17:47:35 2007
I just want to throw this out into the universe...

I'm not a leader.

I work best with processes, not people.

I don't want to run a troupe.

I do want to make a million dollars doing what I love.

I'm funny a lot of the times.

I'm creative.

I want a place where I can be funny and creative and get paid for it.


-Jake



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jesster
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Re: Re: A Rant  
  Reply #13 Posted at Tue Jan 23 18:02:48 2007

On Tue Jan 23 15:32:16 2007, Josh Nufrio wrote: (read quoted post)
Wishfull thinking I guess. There is not a director or coach in the whole state? That I did not know.


Didn't say that. You said there were troupes with coaches or directors.

JoKyR and Jesster use a coach. Troy and Andrew are working on something I might coach. I will probably coach Joe's solo format for Tucson.

However, there are no troupes or regularly performing groups I can think of that have a director or coach and practice. Off the Top used to, but I don't know if they do any more.

-Jesster


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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #14 Posted at Tue Jan 23 18:11:24 2007
Off The Top has an artistic director, but no coach.

They have someone who decides the format, and what games will be played, but not necessarily how they will be played, or any individual feedback.

-Jake


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Josh Nufrio


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #15 Posted at Tue Jan 23 18:12:04 2007
sorry jesse. I wasnt challenging you. I just didnt realize that out of all the troupes we have in utah , none of them use an active coach.


I cut it three times and its still too short..
 
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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #16 Posted at Tue Jan 23 19:31:07 2007
Jake I share the passion.

Calvin


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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #17 Posted at Tue Jan 23 19:36:31 2007
Calvin,
Do you or Kaytlin still have contacts with Weber State?

-Jake


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #18 Posted at Tue Jan 23 19:45:30 2007
yeah katie does.

Calvin


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Re: Re: A Rant  
  Reply #19 Posted at Tue Jan 23 20:48:46 2007

On Tue Jan 23 18:12:04 2007, Josh Nufrio wrote: (read quoted post)
sorry jesse. I wasnt challenging you. I just didnt realize that out of all the troupes we have in utah , none of them use an active coach.


Nah - I didn't see that as a challenge.

Off the Cuff may actually practice. Not sure. Many troupes seem to practice at the beginning and lose that discipline as they progress. KYSOff used to have a 4 hour rehearsal every week. I loved it! I have been to an Off the Top rehearsal, many moons ago. QW Clearfield did rehearsals for a while, or maybe it was just a group class. TBA used to have a mandatory class/rehearsal.

But nowadays there are not many folks who rehearse improv.

-Jesster


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Sanchez Puerto Rico

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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #20 Posted at Wed Jan 24 00:12:28 2007
here we go again


you shut your mouth when you are talking to me
 
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Josh Nufrio


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #21 Posted at Wed Jan 24 09:50:35 2007
I have heard rumblings about a possible Off the Wall workshop starting up soon. I hope it happens. I really believe in the workshop/class idea. What would it take to get a statewide workshop going? That would be fun. It could be a chance to do some networking and experience the style and ways of other players. Maybe Ill talk to Mission Improvable about getting something going. They are semi-central. the odds of me playing a show with some of you southerners is slim but a workshop would give me a chance to pick your brains and leech from your talent. I seem to be on a "statewide" kick as of late. I think its because I have just become involved with the Union at work and Im trying to unify Utah Improv. lol


I cut it three times and its still too short..
 
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Jack Diamond


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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #22 Posted at Wed Jan 24 10:01:45 2007
Last Modified at Wed Jan 24 10:01:59 2007 by Jack Diamond

Improv local 169

Union dues are payable to Josh Nufrio

-Jake


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Bob Bedore

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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #23 Posted at Wed Jan 24 10:33:39 2007
Jake...

To answer your question about why it's just a hobby for me now, I should clarify that I only treat it as a hobby in my mind. I just don't like the pressure that it used to put on me... it lost the fun.

I still owe a fair amount of money because everytime we moved I had to build new stages with sounds and lights. I'm getting close to having most of them paid off, but it's still there now.

When it wasa a business in my mind I worried about everything that was happening. And with the moves it was hard to keep the audiences where I wanted them (where I needed them to be a successful business).

Every little thing used to get me upset. Even when I tried to spread love to all improv and have it come back at me because a reporter called us the longest running troupe (something I never said to him). It was getting too much and I had a lot of things going on in my personal life that many of you are aware of...

Finally I just decided that I wanted to have fun. I NEEDED to have fun. Improv was my best out from the Hell that I wasa in (even though parts of improv were not fun). So I made the decision to make it my hobby instead of my business.

I still have bills but now I look at them in the same way a skiier looks at the cost of their passes and equipment. I don't look at them as something hanging over my head. It is purely a state of mind.

And the off shoot of that is I'm becoming more aggressive in how things are going with Quick Wits. Over the past few months we've built up our crowds again and I'm having more fun than ever. We're also doing more away shows than ever before.

I go into shows only caring about having a good show and having fun... not about the money and the bills.

So in my mind it's a hobby, but deep down I'm thinking a lot more like a business man. I want to find a new place for Quick Wits and for all improv. I want to create the place that Jesse talks about where it's more of a Playground for all players. I want to do the serialized show -- I wanted to do the musical thing like you couldn't believe but Jesse got it done (and I thank him for showing that it can work).

I've done a lot in Utah improv, but there is a lot more that I still want to do. My passion for it is every bit as strong as it has ever been.

In classes I teach that you have to be in the moment and not in your head. I just took that to heart and now when it comes to improv I just want to be on stage and not in the box office... and I'm finding that it's taking care of itself in a much better way.

I hope that long answer explains it for you...

Bob

 
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Bob Bedore

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Re: A Rant  
  Reply #24 Posted at Wed Jan 24 10:50:11 2007
On the subject of coaches, I would have to say that every troupe should haave some type of coach, but I just look at them differently.

I'd say that I'm a coach for Quick Wits, but I do it through ways other than as someone on the side watching and pointing things out.

I do it while on stage and I do it with all the actors who are also like coaches. We talk between scenes and during intermission... we are talking about the show quite a lot. We also coach by example.

Improv is such an "in the moment" thing that you have to always make adjustments to whata is happening in a scene and what the audience is wanting.

I've never been a big fan of having someone with a clip board come up to you after a show and say, "here are all the things you could have done better". That's easy to say after the fact and with the 20/20 vision of someone not having to think, talk, act, move, watch, listen and be funny all at the same time. What is perfect for one person is not for the other because our life experiences and talents are different.

So I like to be with the actors on stage and all of us keep a feel of the pulse of the show from there.

But there are some who need the coaches. New troupes who are trying to get it all together can really benefit from a little objective watching.

It's like the difference between a coach in the pros and one in High School. Pro athletes don't need someone telling them the basics, they've been there and they just want play. But the coach needs to keep them motivated and focused and help them make the adjustments needed during the course of a game. A High School Coach is doing all of that PLUS having to teach them how to play as individuals and as a team.

Now please don't think that I'm calling my group a bunch of pros who don't need teaching... you can never stop learning how to be better, and we're far from being "pros". But we have played together a long time and I know they'd laugh me out off the stage if I ever tried to sit them down for notes.

What I'm trying to say is that everyone of us is a player/coach. We should be communicating on stage at all times and always try to keep it positive.

Jake, you have the passion and soem good experience. Find ways to be that coach on stage and work with the people so that it's a team all going for the same goal. If the troupe knows what the target is it's a lot easier to hit it. Every show is a little different and some times it takes different weapons to hit the target (even dick and fart jokes on occasion), but one person trying to drag the rest of the troupe to the target will only succeed in making them miss it.

Bob

 
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