I booked Red Door at the Glendale Room, and they crushed it!
Pro-tip: you gotta watch great improv if you want to be a great improviser. And every time I watch Red Door I feel like I learn something new and unknown while being wildly entertained and engaged the whole time – that’s a standard we should all aspire too.
Every show is a masterclass in character work, space object work, transitions, editing, how to throw in jabs and pimps to throw your scene partner off but you low key know they can do it, and the power of having fun playing with someone you just really like fucking with.
Red Door rocks!
I encourage you all to go watch them ASAP!
And remember: you gotta study your craft if you want to master it.
Got to study with Rebecca Sohn for the first time at Camp Improv Utopia West!
It was a real treat for me as I’ve been studying with Rich Sohn for the past year and a half on Zoom through the Pack Theater, and to be honest, I’ve been a fan of his since he and Rebecca first arrived in LA.
Rebecca’s workshop was amazing! She taught us to deescalate the pressure we as improvisers put on ourselves to have amazing scene starts, and to just go out there connect with our scene partner and have fun.
Here are some nuggets of Rebecca’s Wisdom:
The scene that is happening is the most important moment.
Just because someone steps out to support doesn’t mean they have an idea.
We have to be tricked into not getting into our heads.
The person who took the risk just wants someone to show up for them.
Free yourselves of what constitutes a good initiation.
A good initiation: someone starts talking
Remember: we’re the only ones who care about the form and suggestion (the audience doesn’t).
No pressure is permission to make any choice.
As improvisers, we are most powerful when we stick to the first choice.
Beginning a scene is like rowing a boat: you’re moving forward but always looking back to what’s happened before.
One more takeaway:
I loved that we had a workshop on this micro-skill. It’s little things like this that actually make a big difference in becoming a balanced improviser.
Also, I was humbled by Rebecca’s confession that this is something’s she’s still dealing with; therefore, this is something we’ll all deal with for the rest of our improv journeys. It’s good to know there’s always more to learn. Now go study with Rebecca, y’all! And go to Camp Improv Utopia!
So Much Freaking Improv-Sketch-Comedy Wisdom Right Here
Here are some quotes from the Epic AMA Brian James O’Connell did a few weeks ago to promote his upcoming All Improv class starting on Saturday, April 2nd at 12pm to 2pm
“We’re all just searching for something that works, but also for something that works better.”
“You know you’re ready to teach when you’re able to demonstrate the lesson without embarrassing the student.” (Eric Honeycut actually)
“Anything you have more than three books on that is who you are as an improviser.”
“There are nothing but positive outcomes when you treat other people like human beings.”
“People use the term guru to hold power over people.”
“Improv is the first thing that taught me that I am enough.”
“If you have a successful theater, you should be integrating vertically.”
“Theater politics will never make you feel valid.”
“Improv is like golf because you can keep doing it forever.”
“You can mine your pain, but this isn’t therapy. It’s helpful, it can be therapeutic, but it’s not therapy.”
“Hit-Hit-Backoff-Hit: Play the game, play the game, take a break, and then play the game again.”
“When a man lies he murders a part of himself.”
“When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them – Maya Angelou”
“You know you’re ready to coach when someone asks you – Miles Stroth.”
“Learn your value.”
“Never apologize for being yourself.”
BOC is teaching an All Improv class Saturdays in April from 12pm to 2pm where you get to work on a specific thing you’re working on. It’s a $100 for 4 weeks, so it’s only $25 per class, and that’s a freaking deal – a steal quite frankly.
I know his class is almost sold out, and who knows when he’s going to teach it again, so I highly recommend you take it if you want to work with this improv-sketch-comedy madman genius.
To sign up, just hit up BOC or the All Improv page.
The Improv Life: My First Comedy Teacher, Norm Macdonald
You learn comedy by mimicking the people you look up to, the people who make you laugh the most.
In my early forays into comedy as a teenager, I was just ripping off Norm Macdonald bits and tried to pass them off as my own.
I learned to say outrageous things, just flat out lies, in the most straight man way possible, just like he did in Weekend Update.
I guess you would call it deadpan, but I never leaned into the punchline, or hinted that I was doing a bit. I just said bizarre, absurd things in a very matter of fact way to whoever was around.
My friends knew I was doing a bit, but other people would just continue talking to me as normal with me being an emotionless ass.
I would always say, “Note to Self,” pantomime a tape recorder, and record some absurd sentence that I thought was funny. “Note to Self: create secret language for my friends and I to talk about that thing we all do in private when no one is watching, but people know what we’re doing.”
I always used “Note to Self” to make a zinger about whatever was happening around me while the thing was still relevant. I guess I was learning timing from Norm.
Or even now, I still do his fake shock. In Dirty Work, or Weekend Update, he would say a joke with some surprising piece of information, act a wee bit shocked (but not really) to drive home how insane or absurd is the joke he just delivered.
Like he would say a joke with a little bit of shock, expect the audience to get it, hold for a moment, and then either address if the person got it or moved on.
Dirty Work taught me how to fish for funny people in life. If you’re working with someone and you softball them a joke with a light delivery, and wait for them to get it or not, their response (going along with your bit or going over their head) will reveal if they’re cool or not.
Out in the wild comedians have to sniff each other out. Bits are a way for us to find each other and seek refuge in each other’s company.
You always gave me refuge, Norm. And you taught me more than I ever knew. RIP, brother.
This blog post will be antithetical to the goal of this larger writing project (30 blog posts about comedy in 30 days).
Basically, you have to rest if you want to be creative.
I know sounds crazy, especially in our work obsessed, production focused, rinse and repeat comedy *entrepreneur culture.
*Like basically you got to be out there hustling, doing as many shows and side projects as possible. That’s why I use this term.
Don’t get me wrong; I encourage everyone to go out there and get it because no one is going to give it to you.
But you also have to rest. Sometimes it feels like if I’m not consuming content, creating it, or thinking about it, I’m not doing anything else, and that’s not healthy.
And here’s why that’s bad: my best ideas come to me when I’m not thinking. My mind is at ease, and I’m open and vulnerable to whatever my subconscious wants to present me.
This is a proven thing (I wish I had some sources right now).
Go wash some dishes and see if you get any cool ideas. Or like go for a walk and relax, and then see what comes up from that.
Or sometime you just need to sleep. Like a lot. Or just need to cruise with some good music on. Whatever rest means for you, do that.
It’s a parodox. If you want to do a lot, do nothing. Bear with me on this one. Your mind needs to process things. To do that, it needs time and space. You give it time and space by not constantly being busy. Being busy clouds your mind, blocking ideas from getting through.
So don’t be busy and your mind will process things. And as rest, ideas, insights, and revelations will arrive. And at that point, it’s up to you what to do with them. But at least you set the stage for them to show themselves.