Improv Conspiracy Blog

The latest news, opinions and more!

  July 27, 2014

Conspiracy Member Mike Brown (center) has been improvising with The Improv Conspiracy for exactly one year. He kept a diary of his experiences and would like to share it with you.

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.       

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Conspirator Hayley Tantau runs a blog over at TheTheatricalJournalist.com where she has been posting some great content about her continuing adventures with improv. With her permission, we'll be republishing some of her best posts in their entirety. Today's post: Not Sure If: Improv Notes or Life Advice (part 2)

This new edition of ‘Not Sure If: Improv Notes or Life Advice’ is brought to you by the help of Heal Yourself, Skeletor - a meme featuring He-Man’s Skeletor and positive life affirmations. Since I found it, it has become my favourite thing as it combines humour with annoying-yet-true life affirmations. Also, I can relate every single image and quote to improvisation. Also-also, I really just wanted an excuse to use this meme.


Life affirmation: “My mind is open to new ideas”
Improv: Before you step into training or a performance, or even before you take improv classes, you need to open your mind and prepare it for the forthcoming possibilities of which you can’t control. Planning out an entire scene in your head is toxic! If you initiate a scene idea, you need to know that you’re not solely responsible for how the scene is going to go, nor are you entitled to own the scene. It’s a collaborative process.

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Conspirator Hayley Tantau runs a blog over at TheTheatricalJournalist.com where she has been posting some great content about her continuing adventures with improv. With her permission, we'll be republishing some of her best posts in their entirety. Today's post: Not Sure If: Improv Notes or Life Advice (part 1)


Performing with my current improv team, Foggy Windows

“When an improviser lets go and trusts his or her fellow performers, it’s a wonderful, liberating experience that stems from group support,”
- Charna Halpern, Del Close, Kim Johnson in Truth In Comedy

The most important thing I have ever learnt about improvising (thus far) is also the most simple: listen and react.

“Well, DUH” – said a chorus of people who still say ‘duh’/are aware that listening and reacting is straight-up common sense and human instinct. To listen to something and then react like a human being is what being a functioning member of society is all about.

Alas, to an up-and-coming improviser this lesson takes a while to show itself. I remember the exact moment I learnt this lesson, it wasn’t on stage and it wasn’t in class…

It was before my last show with my first Harold team, The Reluctant Sergeants (who were indeed as reluctant as our name suggested). Before these shows I would get nervous three hours beforehand (this seems absurd to me now, but hey, that’s personal growth for ya!), sometimes I’d even wake up nervous on show-day. My anxiety came from a place of “what if my brain stops working on stage?” “what if I can’t pump out witty one-liners?” and “what if no one laughs at me?” – none of which are really relevant to good scenework.

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  March 16, 2014

It’s the 16th of March. I have exactly ten nights of good sleep ahead of me, ten chances to cook and eat healthy home-cooked meals, and ten days to act as a normal, functioning member of society. What’s happening in ten days, you ask? No, I’m not dying or facing deportation (sorry to disappoint)… I’m producing, directing and performing in two shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival!

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  February 3, 2014

I recently read “The Power Of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle, and I’m all over it like a rash. Eckhart is a cute little Swiss gnome that knows everything, and he says that we should aim to be “mindful”, “present”, and “in the now”. Our thoughts, he says, are mostly unhelpful and even harmful, as they take us out of a very precious thing – the “now”. This “now” idea is associated with many spiritual practices like Buddhism as well as being popular with psychologists and cute little self-help gnomes.

This idea is nothing new to improvisers, who go on a lot about being present and listening, not being in your head. However, in a moment of non-presence, I had a thought: perhaps after the honeymoon stage of improv-love, when we pore over Johnstone and Close and so on, we may forget what being present on stage really means. I want to talk about it here. Though let me be the first to say, who knows if I have ever been truly present on stage?  I don’t have the answers. Nevertheless, for the purposes of discussion, and maybe a free beer, I want to theorise on how the now Tolle talks about, may help us to improvise in a more joyful and rewarding way.

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