The Improv Life: Just Be a Big Dumb Clown

The Improv Life: Just Be a Big Dumb Clown

Yeah, man, I’m a goof. I like to do bits and play dumb. If I see an opportunity for a joke, I’m going to throw one in there. If I can throw in some biting satire to comment on my surroundings, I will. If I see a sad person, I want to make them laugh. I don’t know why I do it; this is just me. Making people laugh is a calling, and I don’t question it. I’m a big dumb clown because, hey, life is short and we got to squeeze the joy out of it. And for me there is no higher joy than laughter.

#improv #sketch #clown #idiot #comedy #performer #shows #theater #joy #laugh #laughter

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The Improv Life: I Love LA

The Improv Life: I Love LA

LA has a magic to it that is hard to describe.

I started coming here to do improv, as the thousands before me, so many now being my friends.

I drive these streets and get inspired creatively.

I feel the history around me in LA’s weird angles. An American City grid on top of a Spanish City outline in what used to be Mexico and native land before that. If that’s not improv, I don’t know what that is.

The one advantage is I didn’t have to live here. I can take what I need from it and return to my fortress of decaying suburbia just beyond the Orange Curtain.

But even then, I don’t escape LA’s grip. From the Grapevine to end of the 405, it’s all just one huge quilt of urban development, with LA being the pulsating heart driving the constant progress and expansion. This is Megacity 2.

And you see LA’s cultural reach in TV as well. You watch a TV show and you notice that key creative leads got their training at UCB, Groundlings, Second City, Pack, and a bunch of other improv schools and communities with people cutting their teeth in the LA comedy scene.

Of all the places to find my life – to find myself – LA has become an integral part of my journey, past, present, and future.

Love you LA,

Fernando
Son of Juan and Alicia

#improv #la #losangeles #comedy #ucb #groundlings #packtheater #secondcity #djwaldie #holyland #essay #city #cityscape #megacity2 #immigrant #journey #border

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The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

I’m a big believer that everything you consume informs and contributes to your art.

You don’t know how it’s going to manifest in your art.

Unless your making a conscious effort to channel specific themes and references from a work of art that inspires you – which a lot of artists do in other kinds of mediums (but not usually improv) – you’re just going to go out there and see what comes out.

Improv is spontaneous and unplanned – there’s no way you can go into a scene knowing what’s going to inspire you in the moment.

Yes, you get a suggestion, but that’s just the starting point, not the whole scene.

You’re mind/gut sends you an impulse, you hold onto it, and use it to build a character, or to explore the scene while you figure out what’s going on.

But what is that impulse? It’s probably an idea for a character, or a vague feeling pushing you in a certain direction, with every move giving you more handles for you to grip your character.

But where does that idea come from? Well,  that probably depends on you. For me, and I don’t know how this developed, I’ll think back to some random thing I read, watched, listened to, remembered – and I totally have no control over this; it just arrives on its own, prompted by the moment and its unfolding action – and I use that for inspiration.

And you can create some wild stuff when you take what your mind gives you to cobble a character together. Some characters feel like they’ve been waiting to come out fully formed, and others feel like a mosaic I’m slowly piecing together with every choice. But the point is this: my subconscious is processing everything; the more I give it, the more it will give me for my art; I don’t control how it manifests, but I embrace whatever it gives me because I know there is gold there waiting for me to uncover it.

And that’s why you have to go read books, watch movies, and listen to music – you don’t know how it’s going to inspire you, but you can bet it will.

#improv #character #books #writer #director #books #art #creative #inspiration

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The Improv Life: My Freedom is Found in Improv

The Improv Life: My Freedom is Found in Improv


I’ve never felt more free than when I’m on stage in the middle of a fire improv show, doing a bonkers set that everyone on stage and in the audience is invested in, following every single move, adding, building, ooooing, aweing, laughing, clapping, and just hanging on to every moment because you don’t know where it’s going, but you want to see it get there.

You don’t get to experience that kind of freedom in your everyday life. If anything, that kind of freedom is stifled by your responsibilities, roles, and obligations.

You wear various masks to experience life through in order to a). stay accountable to the promises you have made to the world like taking care of your family and paying your rent, and b). to protect the authentic self you need to draw on when you’re on stage.

There’s a reason superheroes have alter egos. They need a mundane personality to manage all the day to day things required of living. Bruce Wayne pays the bills, but Batman has all the fun.

That’s a theme with superheroes too – that the alter ego is the real mask, and that the masked crusader in full costume is the true expression of the hero’s face.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when I’m doing improv, that’s my true face, the face that reflects what’s inside of me, the inner truth I want to share with the world.

#improv #performer #face #mask #superhero #costume #truth

I’ve never felt more free than when I’m on stage in the middle of a fire improv show, doing a bonkers set that everyone on stage and in the audience is invested in, following every single move, adding, building, ooooing, aweing, laughing, clapping, and just hanging on to every moment because you don’t know where it’s going, but you want to see it get there.

You don’t get to experience that kind of freedom in your everyday life. If anything, that kind of freedom is stifled by your responsibilities, roles, and obligations.

You wear various masks to experience life through in order to a). stay accountable to the promises you have made to the world like taking care of your family and paying your rent, and b). to protect the authentic self you need to draw on when you’re on stage.

There’s a reason superheroes have alter egos. They need a mundane personality to manage all the day to day things required of living. Bruce Wayne pays the bills, but Batman has all the fun.

That’s a theme with superheroes too – that the alter ego is the real mask, and that the masked crusader in full costume is the true expression of the hero’s face.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when I’m doing improv, that’s my true face, the face that reflects what’s inside of me, the inner truth I want to share with the world.

#improv #performer #face #mask #superhero #costume #truth

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The Improv Life: What I Learned About Editing from Rich Sohn

The Improv Life: What I Learned About Editing from Rich Sohn

I studied with Rich Sohn online this past year for his Pack Theater Level 2 improv class.

It’s a 4-week session, but you get a lot, and you get a close look at Rich’s improv philosophy, shaped by his years studying, performing, and teaching improv in Chicago, the mecca of our art form.

I liked the class so much I took it twice. And I want to take it a third time. I’m at a point in my journey where Rich’s philosophy and teaching style vibes with me well.

I learned a lot, but I learned about the importance of editing. Scene edits are the invisible fabric of a good show. A good scene depends on how well it’s edited. If you have enough good scenes stringed together, you got yourself a show you can hang your hat on at the end of it.

Pop quiz hot shot: you’re on the sidelines and your team is dying on stage, begging to be edited, but you don’t have an idea for a new scene – what do you do?

You get your teammates the hell out of there, and you trust yourself and your new teammate on stage to make a new scene and figure it out from there. Getting your teammates out of danger is more important than having some hot shot idea for an amazing scene.

A scene that goes on too long is risky. It affects the energy of the overall show. Teammates get insecure, feeling like their sinking in quicksand and being abandoned by their teammates, and the audience is weirded out by uncomfortable scenes that seemingly never end but feel like they should. Good editing solves all these problems and increases the likelihood of good scenes and good shows.

Basically, good editing saves the day.

Knowing how to edit is one of the most important skills an improviser could ever develop. This under appreciated ability can be one of the difference makers between an amazing, out-of-this-world show and a “Meh” show that leaves everyone feeling weird afterwards.

Thank you, Rich. Because of you, I know the importance and power of editing (and how to do it). I encourage all of you to go study with Rich Sohn ASAP.

Let’s talk tomorrow,

Fernando

#improv #edit #editor #cut #packtheater #teacher #class #team

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