I talk about my friend John Combs in the post, so here’s a pic from way back.
Notes from 04/19/19
Two weeks ago, I taught everyone how to edit scenes in terms of ending. For the following week, I wanted to teach students how to edit in terms of tagging.
Tagging is the second tool you have in your tool belt when doing long form improv. Along with ending scenes through a swipe or clap, tagging is a way to move a long form set along and discover new things in your show.
What is tagging?
Tagging is a way of transporting interesting characters to new and different settings to see how they would react in those situations.
How do you actually physically do that?
Person A and Person B are doing a scene.
Person C on the sidelines finds Person A’s character interesting for some reason.
Person C taps Person B on the shoulder.
Person B exits the scene and Person C takes the position Person B was in.
Person C begins a brand new scene with Person A.
Person A remains the same character as before; they are just in a new situation with a new character, but their character remains the same.
Person A and Person C then do a brand new scene together.
Person D is watching from the sidelines, and they are also fascinated with Person A. Therefore, they tap Person C and start a brand new scene with Person A, who remains the character they were before?
Is there a shorter way of saying all that?
Sure! If you’re on the sideline watching two performers play, and if there is one performer who has an interesting character you want to play with or have a good idea for them, you tag the other person (the shoulder tap) they are playing with and start a brand new scene with that interesting character, and you take it from there.
Other people then have free reign to do the same or to edit the scene once they feel that character has said all they can say. Hope that is easier to understand!
Can you give an example then?
A few years ago, I was doing a show with my sweetheart team, Big Selfie.
Inspired by a monologue of mine where I talked about a man who I thought was my dad’s best friend but realized during the story that he was not, Big Selfie member John Combs came out and did a scene with me. Here is how it went.
Fernando: Dude, you’re my best friend.
John Combs: Dude, you’re my best friend too…Well…”
That last “Well….” John dropped got a huge response from the audience. He took a small pause in between, lifted his finger up as if he was going to say something, and the inflection in his voice communicated obvious doubt. There were so many elements to his character .
Brandon Thresher then tagged me out and did a scene with John.
Brandon: Wasn’t that an amazing breakfast?
John Combs: It was an amazing breakfast…Well…
Again, the audience got a huge reaction out of John just being this interesting character who always second guessed things in such an obvious manner.
Finally, Liam O’Mahoney or Dustyn Willoughby tagged Brandon out and did one final scene with John where he was forced to backtrack on a statement and go “Well…”
There have been a million examples and this is the one that comes to mind.
Why did you guys tag out each other so many times to do scenes with John Combs?
As soon as the audience responded in uproarious laughter at John’s “Well…” character, and because we all knew where that character was inspired from — my monologue about my dad — it was easy to play with John’s character.
We were all on the same page about who this character was and how they responded to things; all we needed to do was put this character in new situations where he could respond the way the rest of us (Big Selfie and audience) expected him too. And that’s exactly what John did.
That tag run — what we call a series of tag outs followed one by the other — is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of — thank you, Big Selfie and John Combs.
That sounds like fun!
It is fun! Once you find an interesting character or situation that everyone is on agreement on — team and audience — the possibilities are endless.
Tag outs are a great way to go on a journey with a character or to build a universe.
Sometimes tags get crazy and you end up being ina fleshed out world that has different rules than the one we currently live in.
What’s amazing is that the audience is with you the whole way. They are watching, observing, and listening as much as you are.
Believe me, an excellent tag run where everyone is on board and in agreement on what is happening, and what could potentially occur/exist, is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have on stage.
I hope you enjoyed these notes and see you at a drop-in class sooner than later!
Fernando A. Funes
Spectacles Improv Engine host drop-in Improv Classes every Friday from 12pm to 2pm and every Sunday from 11am to 1pm at STAGES Theater in Fullerton. Classes are $10, and every class is different from the other. Check it out!
One more pic with John Combs just because I love the guy and miss him.