Tag Archive: improv comedy


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played out a western as former Marshall, Sheriff Marshall Coltson, last night [yes, Colt Son as in son of a gun – with my memory it helps to have some kind of word association going so i can remember my own name, although Megan did call me Cranston at one stage which was particularly [Breaking] bad, but that happens…] at the Kalk Bay theatre as part of the ongoing Improguise Festival…

it was my last show personally as i am about to jump on a plane to head back to Americaland, but the festival continues through Saturday and you should really give it a watch if you can – some magical stuff happening on that stage…

in March, we [they] are going to be running the next TheatreSports course [which i am convinced in my headbrain that everyone should do at least once] which is an excellent way to set free your creative juices, to experience amazing teamwork and to conquer [or at least push back to the fringes] any inhibitions you may have. i highly recommend the experience. only a few people are invited afterwards to join our crazy crew, but each person walks away having learnt and experienced some incredible lessons which they can apply to all areas of life…

Yes, Lets.

one of the first lessons you learn when doing improvisation is the concept of ‘Yes, lets,’ something we could all use more of.

if i start a story with the line, ‘Hey do you want to go to the beach’ and your response is ‘No, thanks,’ then the story has died. One of us has to come up with a new offer of a story and we have wasted a lot of time. So it is important to say “Yes, lets” and then work together on how we can make a great story.

this is such a beautiful lesson and it would really be amazing if we could all embrace that generally in life.

Yes, and…

the second one is like it. even if i am not such a big fan of your offer of us going to the beach because we’ve done so many scenes on the beach and it feels like a bit of a boring story to me, i can invite the philosophy of ‘Yes, and…’ which means giving your idea a big “Yes” and then adding something that will add to your idea… So, “Yes, let’s go to the beach. I heard that Professor Klugelman just dug up the bones of a mammoth there last night.” suddenly the beach story is not the typical one we are used to – the “And…” has given it new life and direction and together we have a more exciting story.

taking someone’s suggestion or idea and adding something to it is another way we could live bigger lives – i get super amped when i see how creative people are on Facebook and You Tube with photography and music and art and so much more and it is often done with an eye on a laugh or a good feeling or creating for the sake of creating. i get triply superstoked when people start using that same kind of creativity towards things like poverty and AIDS and homelessness and come up with creative “Yes, and…” ideas for seeing new endings to boring and sad old stories that we have grown used to and often just accepted as the norm.

This is not for my laugh

one of the hardest lessons i learnt playing TheatreSports [or to be honest am still very much in the process of learning] was that of realising that it is a team game and my job is to make the team look good, to give someone else the best laugh – we are selfish creatures [especially when comedy is concerned] and grabbing the biggest laugh for ourselves is always a huge temptation [for me anyways].

i feel like i really did well at this in the three shows i performed with the festival this year. but suddenly i started noticing when others were not doing the same thing. and it made me both irritated and frustrated. but the worst part was recognising myself in there – knowing that it used to always be me going for the cheap or easy [or at times clever] laugh often at the expense of story or the team. and so i have come to see the value of playing for the team – if i look particularly good, then the rest of the team starts to look bad by comparison and that is not fun [i have done that and i have received that].

again, such a powerful less0n that would be well applied to life – working for the team, the group and then extending that to the family, the neighborhood and the community.

so, go and watch an Improguise festival show before it ends on Saturday, sign up to do the March TheatreSports course, and let’s all try and live life with a little more “Yes, lets,” “Yes, and” and “Playing for the whole team” in our stories…

for more information on any of the improv stuff and how to get watching or even be involved, go and visit our website

so last nite A-Ron and i joined Steve and Kristin and friends for a 10pm showing [what a great time!] of Comedysportz, Philadelphia’s longest running [similiar to us, 18 years i think they said] improv show.

and had a really good time.

Kind of a cross between Whose Line Is It Anyway?, TheatreSports and Stellenbosch’s Ad Lib show and with a little more emphasis on the sports than we have the show starts with the Voice [one of the players who does voiceovers, some announcements and friendly banter with the ref] welcoming the ref [in full ref gear] who did a great job of mc’ing the show, making sure everyone knew what was happening all the time, collecting suggestions and enforcing penalties.

They began with a familiar game of what we call story, story die altho every time the person pointed at could not continue the story exactly, it prompted a double clap and reverse hitch-hike [two thumbs backwards over your shoulder] ‘he’s/she’s outta here’ – a lot more intense than ours normally are with the ref making some brutal switches and with the players literally taking up words mid-syllable – getting a movie someone had recently seen [Die Hard] and a book someone had just read [Anna Karenina] the story they told was called ‘Die Karenina’ and an audience member was nominated to shout out the title every time he was pointed at and so every time a player was “outta here” the ref would move the story forward a few chapters to chapter 7 of [point at audience member] “Die Karenina” and so you would be reminded of the title the whole way through which was nice… as a whole they were really brilliant at this game.

Two teams of four players were brought on to stage with a hand clap that started at 0 [hands moving toward each other but not touching] to 3 [little bit of clapping] to 7 [lots of clappin g] to 10 [clapping, foot-stamping and screaming] and ran around high-fiving audience players and just generally being energetic until they were introduced one by one [as they were introduced they came to a painted square front centre stage and did some mimed action so a huge golf drive or a stage roll or award receive or whatever] with a lot of fun and energy.

the two ref penalties they introduced last nite were the groaner for when someone makes a really awful lame pun or joke on stage and the ref throws a fluffy thing type piece of material on stage and they keep playing the game til the end, but then the offending player has to stand in the square at the front of the mat and apologise to the audience and if the apology is not received their team loses a point [sadly we didn’t see this] and the other one is the brown paper bag over the head for a player or audience member who says something foul [sexual innuendo, something racist or sexist or otherwise inappropriate] and an audience member who suggested sex as a sporting activity got the treatment while the ref continued the explanation of the game – all done with much fun and a tsk, tsk type “shame shame” from the audience…

one thing this show had that was a bit different to ours back home was a lot more audience participation – not on stage playing games so much [altho they brought a rather mute chap on for a game of sound effects which the players handled really brilliantly] but a lot of call and response so when the ref says “loyal” the audience responds with “fans” and the ref often called for a 5 or 10 count clap to welcome the captains or the teams to the front to hear what game they are going to play – a variety of suggestions for game elements were taken from different sections of the audience [left hand side, back two rows etc] and it was a pretty suggestion-filled show with a prize of two free tickets to the best suggestion of the nite [well the one they thought was best cos i didn’t win – possibly cos they didn’t use my golf dimple ball guy or noose tester when they were asking for unusual jobs during intermission]

yes, intermission, cos that was a different thing to our show but it completely worked – they had a half time halfway through the show where you could go buy snacks or merch and sign up for the lucky draw comp [slash get email addresses for the database scam, the winner got a water bottle with comedysportz on it, great idea cos they got thirty to forty entries] and then all the ads we try sneak in at the end happen here [school shows, improv classes, upcoming auditions, corporate events etc etc] before the players return once again with high energy high fiving and performing until the serious competition continues…

A new game [to me] called four corners where the four players stood on the four corners of the mat and each pair [front two] got a suggestion [a country, relationship, mystical place like Narnia or Hogwarts – they got Istanbul – etc] and then the front two start a scene and whenever the ref feels like it she buzzes and calls rotate and everyone moves one corner across and starts or continues that scene – so each person is involved in two different scenes and the four scenes keep switching clockwise – much fun…

Then came historical replay where they asked for a historical event [civil war] and played a scene [some poetic licence as they made the whole war about race, but a running race] and then replayed it in two of the three suggestions of tarentino, romance and hate that they got.

Joyride saw four chairs set out and the teams alternated – they got the initials JO from the audience and then one team sat in the car and the other team would shout the line “hey those [insert word starting with J for the one team and O for the other team] have stolen our car” and then the team would do a couple of lines as whatever they had been endowed and then the buzzer would go and the other team would take the car – we saw Jalopy dealers, Old people, Jonas Brothers, Jurassic Park scientists and Olive oil salespeople among others – quick and fun and a little hit-and-miss…

5 things was a crazy energy game that kinda combined our long chain murder with environment and possible scandal… one guy leaves the room and a five to ten minute suggestion taking time happened [altho didn’t feel long and boring cos of the energy of the ref and taking suggestions from different parts of the room and the voice involvement] they got 5 sporting activities so rugby, american football, surfing the net, jiujitsu and kayaking and then made each one weird by adding two elements so for example there was playing rugby on meatsteak with the muppets [they actually used the real muppet band name which is Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem which i have never heard of and which the dude guessed exactly] or kayaking on cream wearing google [yes the internet search engine, they did not make it easy] and jiujitsu in the circus against johnny cash…

an audience member went out with the player to make sure he could not hear any of the suggestions and when he came back the team had to get him to guess all five things [made it through three and a half but they were really tough] in four minutes [timed by the ref] – only thing is the whole thing is done in gibberish and the players can’t act out the actions but have to get the guy to do it… the team could choose the order they did the suggestions in and both teams had them written down on whiteboards so every time he went to the next suggestions they would write it out and show the audience to remind them… very fast paced frenetic game and as i said he only got three out of five but got a bonus point for knowing the muppet band name and it was a fun game to watch…

during the intermission the voice came and got some suggestions for events, occupations and products from various people around the audience which they used in some of the later games – one of the coolest things of the show was the energy and the variety – so they had three judges with a blue card and a red card [blue and red team] and after three of the game rounds they held up blue or red and team with the most got five points [which they scored on an electronic scoreboard behind them] and for two other games the ref got the whole audience to clap for which team they thought did better and scored them on her clapometer… for the last game the voice tallied the good jokes from each team and added them in afterwards…

after the intermission the teams returned and sang an impromptu song to the people whose birthdays it was [if it’s your birthday month and you’re on the mailing list you get a free ticket to the show] and then continued with the ‘fierce competition’.

They played a game called Laugh Out which is like our corpse challenge and our stand-in-a-line exercises we do in class – so a player from each team starts a serious game [they did a funeral for a pet] and anytime someone laughs they get “laughed out” with the buzzer and someone else takes their place – team with least laugh outs wins the points…

They they played the sound effects game and took a team photo with the volunteer after the game which was really cool – hand held point and shoot, quick pose and photo for the web.

Then thay played what i’m sure will cause eyes to roll back home but which i thort was pretty cool a game called spit take which is like double take excepting that each of the four team members had a bottle of water and at any point of the game would take a swig of water and someone else on stage would say something like “i have pictures of you” at which the person would spit take [oh yes!] – was very funny cos the one dude filled his mouth with water and then looked up and saw that his team member had already filled his mouth and so did an actual spit take which wasn’t intended – very cool – and the audience got a “don’t worry, it’s only water” if they got sprayed during the game…

Last up was a game of world’s worst like they play on Whose Line? as Scenes from a hat. So the ref reads a world’s worst suggestion “things to say at a Christening” “events to compete in at the olympics” and when someone has an idea they step forward and give a one liner and get either a whistle for good laughs or a honk for dead silence vibes and score points for the whistles…

the show ran for 90 minutes but with the intermission and a lot of ref/audience banter and some longer games or explanations it seemed about the length of our shows back home, if not shorter [no long game to end off with, most games 4 min on the clock] and ended with everyone on stage just vibing [sword fights, high fives, wrestling, rolling on ground, celebrating victory etc] in slow motion and as their names were announced they would come to the front and wave and head out until just the two captains were left and finally the ref – really cool way to end the show

no light person [so constant lights], no music [except played by the voice in between games or occasional sound effects] and yet it didn’t feel empty and the endings to games didn’t feel forced… very much looking forward to auditioning end of the month [not sure i’ll be able to play schedule/time-wise but would be nice to know if i can] – got a special deal 8.50 for this show but normally $15 or $12 for students so don’t know how often i’ll be able to go as we don’t have a lot of extra cash… but definitely a worthwhile evenings entertainment…

all of the actor peoples were decent with four of the eight standing out for me as really good/fun to watch…

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