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During 2015, Improv Conspiracy member Mike Brown is going to have a chat to every single member of the Conspiracy - about life, about improv, and everything in between. This is: You're Going To Meet Some People.
As part of this series, we ask for questions from the Improv Conspiracy student group on Facebook. Today, well respected Conspiracy alumni Dan Pavatich takes nothing but questions from the students, in a special edition of YGTMSP. See Dan in Bear Attack, Thursday through Saturday, 11pm at the Victoria Hotel; or in his solo show Please Stay, 8:30 Tuesday through Saturday at Highlander Bar.
Mike Brown: These are all from the student group.
Dan Pavatich: Oh great.
So Daniel asks: What’s the oldest piece of technology that you own?
Oh wow. I own a tarot deck that I've owned for maybe fifteen, twenty years. It’s certainly much older than that. I think that’s the oldest thing that I own, yeah. I would call it technology.
Do you use it in a technical fashion? It doesn’t read your e-mail, does it?
It reads my future Mike.
Which I guess is a kind of e-mail [laughs].
Yeah. Future e-mails, I guess. Yeah, [laughs]. The future is largely technical I feel, and therefore…
Technical more than technology.
Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know how technical it is. Look, I don’t know how tarot works. Alright, underneath the covers I don’t know. But what I do know is that I get a lot of technical information out of it. What I’m going to be doing, what my love life is going to be like.
How did you come into possession of the tarot deck?
I was given it by a family member who’s my aunt Agnes who has a lazy eye, ultimately became a glass eye. She’s believed to be psychic by most of my family but she’s really just a weird old woman. I don’t know if she had any powers, she didn't like technology, I know that. I caught her once hitting a VCR in my grandparents’ home. So that’s aunt Agnes, she gave it to me because you’re not meant to buy one for yourself, you’re meant to be given them. That’s the superstition from Scotland. So yeah, that’s where I got them from.
Another question from the student group. Danny asks: You’re corn from the cob. Why you not pop when boiled champ?
Is this my own question? [laughs] I think I asked this but my answer is ‘cause I have thought about this, is that you know like sometimes you gotta be you, alright? Not every caterpillar has to turn into a butterfly. Sometimes you just gotta be corn yo, if that’s your game.
Corn. That’s how it’s gonna be.
Sometimes you gotta corn out. You know? Particularly if that’s who you are. If you’re corn, be corn man! Don’t pop just ‘cause some flames telling you to change.
Because you have some expectation to. Because all your other corn bros have already popped.
Yeah look and that’s something that’s been present my whole life, there’s a lot of peer pressure in my school, I did not succomb to that, and I'm not going to pop cause, yeah my corn bros are on deck.
Who were your friends in school?
[laughs] Luke Bannon, who was a liar.
He’d just lie about anything, and there’s no stakes to it. He told us his dad had a Mercedes [-Benz car] that was red.
[laughs] So it was a Ferrari Mercedes!
Yeah, and they don’t come in red.
[laughs] That’s right! Because it would be a Ferrari!
Or a Lambo [Lamborghini] at worst!
Also we know his family doesn't have a Mercedes! They had a Toyota Corolla. And to add to that, we were at his house at the time, so he made us walk out to check. There was not a red Mercedes there. And when we called him on it he’s like “well yeah, it’s out at the moment”. Dude, why are you…
Out for detailing.
Yeah yeah. He’s actually, he went to Afghanistan about three, four years ago.
As part of the Australian Army?
Yeah yeah, not of his own accord!
He just wanted to go on a holiday.
"I'll just get involved at a grass roots level" [laughs]. He was there for a long time and hated it. Has since come back and [laughs], he’s a really interesting guy, he’s changed a lot. I've been going back and researching people who I used to know who had a big effect on me. Luke did certainly. Luke’s his name. And he said you know, he was really angry as a kid and that’s why he lied all the time. He’s adopted which is not particularly angering I think.
But not pleasant either.
It’s challenging, which I think is the word.
Yeah that’s actually better than my word.
[laughs] It’s hard man, it’s super hard. Yeah he found it really hard, but he went to Afghanistan, had a great experience there. He told me about, he was in… hey buddy.
[One of Dan’s neighbours walks by]
Neighbour: It was a great night last night.
Neighbour: Did you ring the number?
Neighbour: I was messaging whoever wrote that number on that balloon.
Dan: Ohhhh there were three of four people. We were writing “Do you love Midori? Call this number” on balloons, and then throwing them out the window.
Neighbour: Oh are you in the middle of an interview?
Dan: Yeah yeah.
Neighbour: Sorry man.
It’s alright! You'll be in the interview.
Neighbour: Have a good afternoon!
Dan: You too man! Eddie is the best. Eddie was asleep next to a speaker last night listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album and randomly you’d wake him up and he’d say “man these beats”. And then he’d fall back asleep, and that cycle happened for about three hours. [laughs]
That’s fantastic. Alright another question here from the student group.
DP asks: How many times have you heard someone or have you compared to improv to a cult or a fight club? Is it very annoying or just hugely irritating?
[laughs] I think it’s hugely irritating and upsetting. I don’t know why it’s such a cool thing to do! I think it’s because the community is so strong, and because it’s all built on support, that we sort of get to this point. But I don’t like the cult angle because that ends in suicide, because that shouldn't be the ultimate goal for us as improvisers I think.
Do you think it’s something related to that story in Jeff Griggs’ book Guru [My Life with Del Close], where Del [Close, man responsible for the Harold] tells him the story of meeting L. Ron Hubbard at an comic book/art auction in St. Louis and giving him the seed idea for an organised religion?
Do I think there’s something to that? Like Del carried that forward?
[laughs] I think to a certain extent. Certainly if you read a lot about Del, and I'm sure we all do, very much he was an evangelist more than a professor about it. Also I think that there’s something to be said to really committing mind and soul to improv. Like I think there’s a positive element to it that helps you rise above to sort of baseline self-loathing and judgement that can really hurt your work. So I think that’s where it’s come from as well, yeah, if you really get into it wholly, it will be easier.
Another question from the student group. Mr. Pavatich asks: You’re sugar from cappuccino. Why can’t you penetrate the froth?
You just gotta chill the whole time.
[laughs] Again, I think I asked this! And here’s the thing right, just ‘cuz I'm sugar doesn't mean I have to go into the coffee, right. This is much like the corn thing in many ways. Right. I'm sure there’s a scientific reason, but philosophically I have to go into the coffee man. I might be a cake sugar, I might be you know, sugar that goes into a doughnut. I could be lots of things.
Cinnamon sugar! That’s what I could be. Cinna-sugar. So, I'm going to do what I want to do man. If I want to chill on the foam I'm going to do that. And if you drink that foam you’re going to get a face full of sugar straight up. And then bitterness, which, that’s how I like it. That’s how I like my coffee. So I feel like-
Just licking foam off your face.
Sugar encrusted foam. [laughs]
Just smearing it all over your face. [laughs]
Well I have, see I order my coffee based on how far I have to walk with it. Ok.
This is your coffee scheme.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s really important so. If I have to go quite a long way and it’s quite a rigorous walk, I'm going to get a cappuccino. Because I'm going to need that thick foam to keep it in check. Then from there you drop it down to a latte. If I'm going to go a couple of doors down, I’m going to go a latte. Small amount of thickness, it’s going to look after itself. Then after that flat white, which we just had, right, ‘cause we’re staying there.
Here’s my thing. I'm a recent convert to drinking coffee without milk. For about six months now I'm straight into the long blacks and expresso. Like the downside to milk coffee, is that the milk cools it down. Surely if you’re going to be walking far with it, the solution is to be drinking black coffee right?
I don’t know if you've ever walked around with a takeaway cup of black coffee.
I'll do one better – I've walked around with a searing hot cup of that Azteca hot chocolate from like a San Churro type place. That stuff, you pour some on your skin and you'll be getting second degree burns I'm pretty sure.
Yeah they've been taken to court about that I think.
I believe so, yeah. I believe that’s the major reason for loss of skin in Melbourne, but I could be wrong.
Azteca hot chocolate with a little bit of chilli.
Yeah yeah yeah. It’s the chilli that makes it worse because that’s infection. But I think like if you've walked around with a black coffee you know, you just get black coffee everywhere. Like for some reason a coffee just wants to come out, and it’s because it’s basically because it’s water man. You’re walking around with a cup of water and it’s not thick, it’s loose, it’s hot so it’s steaming stuff, it’s moving around. You’re going to wear it. I've worn it many times, that’s why I came up with this system.
Stick to the Dan Coffee System.
It’s just safer.
Soon to be seen in an infomercial near you.
Yeah I've been posting about it online and people have really been getting into it. Get in on the ground floor, it could be the next cult or fight club.
I think what you need is an infographic.
Yeah I might pay on Fiver to get one. Why not.
I'm buying a lot on Fiver at the moment.
What have you been buying?
Recommendations for my show, basically. [laughs] So I just pay random people around the world five bucks to talk up my show, and post it online.
Yeah, you’re welcome to do it. You’re welcome to get ‘em out there. I need the help.
Another question from the student group. Pan Davatich asks: How frequently do you offend people under the pretence of comedy?
How frequently do I offend people under the pretence of comedy? I think, almost 100% of the time.
I think at work, I frequently I have to say “oh I don’t mean that in offence, I’m trying to help”. [laughs] So I’m often called on that. I know Tim Quabba has called me on that as well, just my general attitude/level of sarcasm is sometimes offensive to others. What would you say Mike? What’s your own opinion on this?
On how often you offend? Umm, I don’t know. You’re a pretty straight guy, a straight shooter in how you approach things. If something upsets you, you'll be like “this is shit, I'm going to say it”. I haven’t felt personally offended that you've said or done. I think like if there’s been a time when you've been short with me, I've thought “well that comes from a fair place.”
“I'm being a shit. I have to calm down.”
That sounds like a nice way of saying frequently you offend me but not without due cause. [laughs]
Yeah I'm the result of how this has come to pass, it’s like “I don’t think has come from an unfair place.”
Well I've tried to use melody more in my speech. ‘Cause that comes across as less offensive.
So if you’re going to be offensive, if it’s in a sing-song way it’s ok for most people to take? [laughs]
Yeah I think songs in general make things easier to take. A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down.
So Taylor Swift should be moving her music to being incredibly offensive but because it’s in her bright, chirpy way people will be OK with it.
I think if you actually listen to the lyrics of Shake It Off, she tells you to fuck off a lot.
It’s there man, look it up online.
We'll put links to the lyrics of Shake It Off in this interview as well.
Yeah please do because there is a lot of subtle imagery there that is outright offensive to men. Outright offensive.
We've got two more questions from the student group.
Dan the Man asks: What’s the kindest thing you've seen an improviser do – in or out of a scene?
That’s a fascinating question. I think the kindest thing I've seen an improviser do… that’s a really good question. Did I ask that?
Yeah. Great Dan question. I think the kindest thing anyone has done for me, and it was an improviser, it was Jason Chin, he saw me do a scene and said “I'm going to give you a note that Del gave me.” Jason had done a scene with a female improviser where she was breaking up with him, and he basically agreed with her that it was a good idea. And Del got really upset with him and asked “Would you really do that in real life?” And Jason said “Yeah, yeah of course I would. If I really was that kind of person why should I think she should stay with me?” And Del said to him that emotion is the only real way we know each other. If you’re not expressing that, no-one really knows who you are. We’re allowed to want things that maybe we don’t deserve, and maybe it’s up to the world to know us and make a decision. And that, that was a real gift to me, that was one of the things that was so true when I heard it. Yeah, it upset me to hear it, but it changed everything from that point on what I thought improv was and I really changed my life because of that one thing, so I thought that was incredibly kind.
I have to ask – for the better?
Yeah, absolutely. I'm definitely more open with people, you know the other thing Jason Chin would say is “your life on stage would be equal to about a third, if you’re lucky, to the time you spend in your total life. So the easiest way to solve a problem in your improv is to solve it in your real life.” And for the most part I think I've become a better improviser, absolutely in my real life I'm closer to the people around me, and people know me better now, which is good.
Ok one last question. Anonymous asks: What’s the best?
The best. I think even though we should never admit to this, having someone laugh at something you didn't intend to be funny. I think if you've ever had an audience, oh I won’t say a line but react to something that you just thought was obvious. I remember I did a scene with Lucy [Horan] and I think I just sighed at something she said and it just got a massive reaction. It’s such an amazing thing, we think our intelligence is our words but clearly it’s more than that. And I know I did a show in Perth Fringe World last year with Andrew Strano where we were a couple, I think I was a women which was often the case, and we were just having a discussion in the kitchen, and it was a bit of an argument about how to care about our son, and the smallest comment got a big gasp from the audience. Andrew had said something in character offensively to my character, and it got the hugest reaction, and people were saying “She needs to do something about that.”
When it’s real, when it seems like what you’re doing is real to the audience – that’s the best.
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