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I have a very obsessive mindset when it comes to the things I love, including improvised comedy. I'd like to share some recent lessons I've learnt regarding being overcommitted as an improviser, and the importance of taking time off for your health.
Over the past couple of months I have delved headfirst into training and performing with The Improv Conspiracy, trying to do and see as much improv as I can. This is not because I have to, but rather because I want to. Trying to improve and do as many shows as you can is what will make you a better improviser, but this can also be dangerous when you overcommit.
In the past four weeks I have come to the realisation that my whole life has started to revolve around The Improv Conspiracy and acting school. I haven’t done something social like seeing a movie or hanging out with friends for a very long time. I have not been sleeping well or eating properly. I have just been plain exhausted and a little blue all the time trying to commit to as many things as possible. Doing this has affected my performances on stage too: I realised that I wasn’t listening very properly in some improv shows, and I struggled with heightening in my scenes, which then made me want to do even more improv so that I could overcome my issues, which then made me more tired… it’s a never-ending cycle!Continue Reading
In the beginning there was the Yes. And the Yes was good. The Yes yessed, and from within that yessing was beget an And. And that And anded the Yes, for anding was its own yessing. And so the And begat the Yes which begat the And, and so on until the Edit. —The Book of Improv 1:1-5
People often joke about the improv world being a cult. That’s an easy dig and not always unwarranted. If the Training Centre replaces the cooler water with Kool-Aid I will concede the point. After a year and a half with The Improv Conspiracy as a student, performer, and now assistant teacher, though, I’m more inclined to call improv a religion or philosophy instead.
If that leaves you throwing up in your mouth a bit, stay with me! Do you sometimes cringe when your teachers or friends said things like “Good improv advice is good life advice?” Is that too reminiscent of things like smarmy self-help books and snake-charming mega-churches in Texas? Instead of pushing that notion aside, let’s go to church for a minute.Continue Reading
Jayden Masciulli is an Improv Conspiracy student currently in our Level 5 Intermediate Harold class. He previously blogged for us back in January after he finished his Level 1 Intensive course.
I get nervous.
Not only when I step out to do an improv scene, but pretty much every day, in some way. I get nervous before I visit my grandmother, because I’m not sure if I can carry a conversation with her on my own. I get nervous around my little cousins because I honestly don’t know how to act around children. I get nervous ordering food at a restaurant because I’m worried I’ll pronounce "biryani" wrong and the waiter will laugh and make me repeat it again and again until I’ve offended everybody in the room. I realise now as I write this that these are all highly specific social situations, and are ridiculous. Not even my good friend Dr. Google has any idea what to call this condition.
Naturally, I’m easily petrified when I do improv. It’s one of the many reasons why I started taking classes in the first place – to bust out of my self-constructed, albeit very comfy, shell. I know nerves are a bit of an ‘everyone’ problem, but for me it’s always been my biggest pitfall. They stop me from committing to characters, they block my listening of other scenes and they make me go completely, utterly blank. I’ll always remember fumbling my way through my first Jam to an audience of roughly seven people and coming off stage with a dizzying head rush as if I’d just stepped off of a rollercoaster.Continue Reading
On Saturday night The Improv Conspiracy Theatre hosted Everything Must Go, a show I was fortunate enough to produce. It was my take on all improv-All Tomorrow's Parties festival - I asked a bunch of my favourite teams to perform, had a little play myself, and added all the MB trademark flair (baked goods and dumb bits) to put my signature on the evening. The turnout was great, the performances were spectacular, and the people who spoke to me seemed to really enjoy the night. All in all, good times.
Here's the confession: I can't take credit for it.
I've been with The Improv Conspiracy for just over two years. Now I'm off, to go chase some dreams that I've had before improv even came into my life. I'm excited but it's a bittersweet excitement, because I have to give up being a part of the community that gives me so much ongoing joy.Continue Reading
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.
Today, Mike chats with his iO Theatre Summer intensive classmate Damien Vosk. Damien currently plays on Harold Night team Shake-A-Stick, performs stand-up around Melbourne, and will be teaching introductory improv class Level 1: Basic Scenework from Saturday, June 6, which is on sale now.
Mike Brown: Hey Damo.
Damien Vosk: Hello Mike.
How did you find The Improv Conspiracy, how'd you get involved?
I got involved in a roundabout way, where I went on a gap year in the middle of my degree. I did Arts/Law at Monash, and I was pretty uninspired by the law aspect, generally I just tried to subvert the law at every opportunity.
How can I get away with this?
Yeah, law wasn't the best choice for me, I was hating it basically. So I went overseas to see what I wanted to do, and I did a couple of acting courses in New York that really inspired me. A couple of people in my class dragged me along to an improv group their school had. I had a lot of fun in there, I was just sort of awestruck by it – how are these people doing this, it is amazing, there’s gotta be some sort of trick to it, it just blew my mind.
From there I went through and researched my favourite actors and it was like – I'm clearly not going to be a lawyer. I went through all my favourite actors and I found that one thing they all had in common was that they all did improv. So I did a few drop-in classes with the improv group at that university, but I knew nothing of iO or Second City or UCB or whatever.
What kind of improv were they doing? Was it short form?
They were doing a mix – they were doing some short form and some long form. It was in New York so they had both influences. So I came back to Melbourne and enrolled in Impro Melbourne. I did that for a while, that was entertaining me for a little bit. But it’s sort of short form, I see people get away with a lot, and it’s not as challenging. So when Improv Conspiracy started up, I thought I wanted more stage time, so I jumped over there. Aside from run our own indie group, which we did as well.
Tell us about your indie group.
It was Impro Chimps, and it started off with a couple of guys who rocked up to The Clyde, which is a bar in Carlton at the end of each month and we’d do free shows. Then the guy who organised it moved to Sydney, and it was April [Seymore], me, Dan [Pavatich], Tim [Quabba], Marcus [Willis], and a couple of others who aren't involved with Conspiracy. We started getting some really good crowds, it was a lot of fun, did half short from, half long form.
Then you joined the Conspiracy fairly early on, right?
Yeah. Just ended up on a Harold team and went on.Continue Reading
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