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23 July 2013
Sign up to take a Level 1 workshop with The Improv Conspiracy. I figure it would be a good way to get more comfortable interacting with strangers - I'm good with my close friends, but quite timid once that circle expands. At worst, I'll run into someone I can talk comedy podcasts to - surely someone else listens to improv4humans?
27 July 2013
First L1 class has just finished. Andrew, the teacher is jovial, energetic, and in-your-face. I'm really nervous before, during, and after class. We do this activity called Alien Soul-Mate where one person jumps into a circle performing an action and a noise. A second person joins them taking on action and noise, then transforming them into a new action and noise. People in the class were laughing but I'm not sure what they're laughing at. We do a bunch of other activities, the names of which I forget but it's clear that there are two groups of people in class - the actors and the act-nots. I'm in the latter.
19 August 2013
Still getting nervous before class, but when we get in we "shake it out" and those nerves dissipate. Do a scene with James based off the suggestion salt. I'm eating a meal and James is a waiter. I ask the waiter for a drinks menu and he recommends the salt scotch. I struggle not to laugh at the absurdity of salt scotch. The scene ends up being about my character's struggle with a heart problem and ends up being the first scene where I come away thinking "I'm not completely horrible at this." [Postscript Note: Almost a year later, "salt scotch" still makes me laugh].
26 August 2013
Andrew urges us to all go down to the pub after class, and a few of us make it along. I find out that I'm the only person without a performance background - everyone else has either taking previous improv courses elsewhere or acting training. I have no performance ambitions - I am curious about how improv works because I enjoy comedy, but that's about it. The last time I performed was when I took drama in Year 8. Blerk. But that doesn't matter - the people in my class are warm and welcoming and I enjoy the experience.
9 September 2013
We're getting close to the end of the course, and the graduation show is coming up. I'm feeling VERY nervous about it. We are coming up with team names, and I suggest "Jumping Spiders", based off an obstacle from Ninja Warrior. Everyone else agrees that it's a good name! It's a small victory, but a victory none the less.
23 September 2013
The graduation show is over. I stay out of it for the most part, but Tim brings me into a scene where we discuss who is wearing the most hip-hop pair of shoes. I insult his character which gets a laugh. At the pub after the show, a tall handsome stranger [Note: Vaughn] comes by and congratulates me about the scene. I feel weird.
30 September 2013
The first class of Level 2 with Charlie has just finished. I was on the fence for a while on whether I was going to continue learning improv, but decided to. I like the people I'm learning with and figure that it will take some more time for me to get entirely comfortable on stage, let alone be half-way good at this stuff.
21 October 2013
Stop feeling nervous before class. Is this a sign of growth?
22 October 2013
Purchase a copy of the Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisational Manual.
8 November 2013
I'm doing Marcus and Dan's Longform Workshop on Saturday afternoons and being made to do things that are way out of my comfort zone. I'm made to play a Spanish Lothario and literally become lost for words, so I start dancing with my scene partner instead. Lauren, a quiet yet sassy lady from Jumping Spiders is doing the workshop as well, and we start bonding over Saturday Night Live after classes.
22 November 2013
The Level 2 graduation show is over. We have a really energetic warm-up. Show time. I'm in a scene which gets wiped, but my brain doesn't process this. Instead, I'm now in a scene that involves me pointing and yelling "FIRE!". The rest of the team creates a scene painting demonstrating the burning buildings. I make a noticeable mistake and the rest of the group saves me. This is amazing. At the pub after the show, pretty much the entire team decides to do the Level 3 intensive in January and ask if I'm joining them. I should, but I don't feel ready.
26 November 2013
Screw it. I have applied for the Level 3 intensive.
19 December 2013
Adam, the Conspiracy's artistic director sends out an e-mail asking that if we are interested in being on teams provided we pass L3. I'm really torn about this. Being on a team would be really fun, but there's no way I'm ready to be on a team - I mean, remember "FIRE"? I figure that if I say no, there's probably no point in doing Level 3 - I'll stop doing improv on a regular basis once the classes are over and have no way of getting better. So I say yes, and decide to retake the Level 2 intensive.
10 January 2014
Retaking Level 2 has been a revelation. Something has clicked in my brain - topics are making more sense, I'm having more fun. I had some fears with the pace - that if I did L3 on it's own it would go by too quickly for me to keep up with. Those fears are dashed, and I can't wait for next week to come around.
12 January 2014
A bunch of people from Jumping Spiders have been getting together to have practice sessions over the summer break. We've practiced at the media centre in my building, at Trades Hall where James used to work, and now at Mordialloc Beach - beach-prov. Lauren claims that she lives close to the beach but it's a good 90 to 120 minute walk from her house. Super fun session, and I'm excited to be doing Level 3 with them next week.
16 January 2014
Where as Level 2 was focused work, Level 3 is straight up crazy. The weather is really warm, but we are all happy to hang out with plenty of side conversation running before and after scenes. Adam and Andrew, running the sessions struggle to keep us under control, which leads Richard to show everyone how his primary school teacher led his class. The teacher would say "Snakes Up!" and the class would raise their arms at the elbow, making a cobra's head with their hand whilst going quiet. We must have done that a good 20 times today. We end up deciding to call the team Snakes Up - we be snakes now.
17 January 2014
It's a warm January evening for the graduation show. The warm-up with L1 and L2 - we play a big round of Show Me How To Get Down where at least 25 people bust out dance moves. The L2 show is fun, knock out a couple of scenes. But the L3 show is nuts! The suggestion is Ice Cream. Courtney bumps and grinds on Lauren at a Strip Club, and Richard and James knock out another father and son scene in something which is becoming a trademark of theirs. Tess initiates a news report group game about a pleasurable ice cream shop where in the background, I fall to the ground in absolute delight. [Note: Yes, I wank off an ice cream cone]. After the show we go to the hotel, eat icy poles, and find out that we've all passed! Good show.
20 January 2014
First Harold team training. I'm feeling those old nerves I used to feel before Level 1. We shake it out and I'm fine. I've been placed on a team called Your Elected King, and am with Lauren and Tim from Snakes Up, and we train with another team - Skeleton Kisses. We do a warm-up activity where we all have to say a line as Fred Schneider from the B-52s. I learn that I do a passible Fred Schenider.
29 January 2014
First show with YEK. The warm-ups go by but I'm really nervous and in my head. The suggestion is penguin. As a result I don't get involved much - I'm in a second beat tag run and that's about it. Justin, the team's coach asks for me to get involved more. I am a work in progress.
10 February 2014
Following training, a bunch of us from YEK and Skeleton Kisses go to the pub. Mario tells us that he's going to fly to Chicago to do a five week intensive at the iO Theatre. He turns to me and tells me that I should go, and I say no, maybe next year once I have a handle on things.
17 February 2014
Lauren gives me a lift home after training. In the conversation home, I tell her that I think I'm going to go to Chicago for the iO training because I can afford it, and that it would be a fun party.
26 February 2014
In the show, I initiate a group game as a stereotypical nerd showing photos from his time at cool kids camp. The team supports me and the whole thing is pretty bizarre but also funny. Feel good!
27 February 2014
I get a text message from Lauren. She's booked in for Chicago. "Now it's your turn!"
28 February 2014
Book in for the iO Chicago Summer Intensive.
12 March 2014
In the show, I initiate a group game where we are all playing with our phones. I tell the audience that I've played so many games of snake that I'm now legally blind, which get a laugh. After the show a member of the public comes over to wish me a job well done! Oh my god what is this?
2 April 2014
Anthony from my team and I have started a pre-show tradition where we both talk about our visits to the toilet in precise detail. It's our first show during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, so there's a booming crowd (free show) and I'm pumped up (Comedy Festival). I end up initiating a scene with Anthony where we're playing tennis while discussing various ways of attracting women. The scene is so much fun to play and I come off stage feeling confident in my choices, my skillset, and my team. This is progress, baby!
28 April 2014
Adam is looking for producers for a couple of new shows the Conspiracy is adding to it's schedule. I stick up my hand for Cage Match, a late night competitive improv show that will take place following Harold Night. [Note: I now produce it!]
6 May 2014
Start reading the copy of the Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisational Manual that's been sitting under my bed for some time.
28 May 2014
Cage Match number one happens. There are a few small tweaks to make but otherwise a successful show!
18 June 2014
Shows have been on the up and up. Play is getting looser and more free. There are times in shows where I surprise myself with what I do on stage - how am I doing this? YEK is becoming a unit and I love it!
13 July 2014
I'm at a warehouse in Keningston with Lauren and Kay. We are drinking Champagne and wearing suits for photos for an upcoming Fringe Festival project.
16 July 2014
Final show before I go away. I paint Tim as a rapper (Papa H) who got slaughtered in a rap battle. The scene is awesome - Tim runs the gauntlet of his rap knowledge, and I talk about our history together - how I found him as Young H, a boy spray-painting trains and wanting more from life. It's taken almost a year, but I think I am comfortable on stage now!
26 July 2014
It's Saturday afternoon in Chicago and I'm kicking back with an Old Style and my laptop. Week 1 of iO training is done, I've seen a bunch of improv shows, and spent a lot of money at Whole Foods. The people in my class come from varied backgrounds and all bring awesome things to the stage and the pub after class. It really was a crazy fun week, and I can't wait to see what comes next.
If you told me a year ago that I'd be pursuing a hobby in a foreign country with a group of people that I hadn't met before last year, I wouldn't believe you. If you told me a year ago that I'd get to perform as part of a festival which is my yearly highlight, I wouldn't believe you. Hell, if you said that I would be confident enough to perform full stop, I wouldn't believe you.
It's easy to go into the whole "improv is a cult" mindset - from reading the above, you could come to the conclusion that improv has taken over my life. But the lessons I have learnt in the last year - to listen, to play, to try new things regardless of how others may judge you; have improved me massively everywhere else - be it at work, with my family, or at a party with those strangers from earlier.
I can't wait to find out what happens in year two.
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