September 4, 2016

"There’s also a twelve-step aspect to improv’s appeal..."

"... the notion that, at the end of all the regimentation and rule-following, you may be not only a funnier performer but also a better person. U.C.B. alumni I spoke with likened the effects of classes to immersion therapy, meditation, and 'creative cross-training.' Others credited improv with helping them to overcome shyness and writer’s block, learn how to listen, and hone their skills in hitting on women."

From "HOW THE UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE IMPROVISED A COMEDY EMPIRE," by Emma Allen in The New Yorker — which I also just cited at the end of the previous post, the one about the dipshit revolution at Burning Man.

44 comments:

mikee said...

Is honing skills for hitting on women different from scoring chicks more often?

Because even the drummer and the roadies in a rock & roll band get the chicks.
So I'd guess an improv comedian in a bar full of drunk women should do OK, at least.

Is it the improv skills, the number of drinks imbibed by the horny women, or the mere celebrity aura of being on stage that hones these women-hitting-upon skills?

Further study is obviously required.

Bob Ellison said...

mikee, think of it as like a martial arts school.

If your goal is to find and hit on that one perfect woman, and do so perfectly, then you'd want to hone your skills.

If you goal is to find and bang as many chicks as possible, then you'd also want to hone your skills.

Different goals, served by similar skills.

Kinda like shooting guns, perhaps.

Bob Ellison said...

Most karate schools stress defense more than offense. Maybe that's why the fertility rate throughout Asia is so low.

RE: "improv"-- my own experience with that is in music, where in many genres you have to leap over that fear of failure to play or sing something that might be worth hearing. The great performers have such confidence! And that confidence is self-reinforcing until Simon Cowell tells you that you suck.

The leap itself is invigorating, though. You got over that hurdle, even if you knocked it down and face-planted.

chrisnavin.com said...

Comedy shall give our lives meaning!

Discover the comic within. Become One with the comic.

Cartoons can help bodies juxtaposed in space become aware of dominant narratives...

Rob said...

It's dangerous to confuse improv with a twelve-step program. Before you know it, there'll be heckling at AA meetings.

Laslo Spatula said...

I guess I improv off of Althouse posts.

She sets a subject and I start writing and see where it can go.

Chicks dig it.

I am Laslo.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

UCB founding member Matt Besser has a podcast called Improv4Humans. As you might expect they vary quite a bit in terms of how funny the end up being, but Besser is always terrific and he gets good guests.

I thought the UCB motto was "Don't Think." Maybe that's just for their TV show.

Oh, I also recommend all the UCB show DVDs (good extras) which I'm sure can be purchased through Prof. Althouse's Amazon portal. You can also get Del Close's "Truth in Comedy."

Laslo Spatula said...

Larry, the Improv Comic with No Skills:

"Larry, I was flying on an airplane..."

"Airplane, yes."

"And you wouldn't believe the guy I had to sit by."

"You were sitting by a guy."

"Uh: yes. I bet you know the type. Big. I mean REAL Big."

"Real Big. I've seen people like that."

"Yeah. And -- uh -- he was wearing a kilt. So I asked him if he was Scottish. You want to make a guess as to what he said?"

"No, I'm no good at guessing. Why don't you tell me."

"Dammit Larry, this is why no one in the Group wants to do Improv with you. You're supposed to keep the story going."

"I thought I was."

"No: no you're not."

"Okay: ask me about the guy in the kilt again."

"So the guy in the seat next to me: he was wearing a kilt. So I asked him if he was Scottish. You want to make a guess as to what he said?"

"He said he WAS Scottish."

"Dammit Larry!"

"How about he said he was Scottish and that was why he was wearing a kilt."

"This isn't working..."

"And he said he wasn't wearing anything under his kilt."

"Wow -- Larry! That was helpful!"

"Yeah, yeah! And he said if he lifted up his kilt you would see his cock and balls. Because he was wearing nothing beneath his kilt. Because he was Scottish."

"Uh..."

"Then he asked you if you wanted to see his cock and balls."

"Larry..."

"What? You can't riff off cock and balls? What if he said he had REALLY big balls?"

"All right. So I asked him if having such big balls ever was a problem. You know what he said?"

"No, I don't. You tell me."

"Dammit Larry!"

"Okay, okay. He said his balls sometimes got in the way of his cock."

"What does that even mean?"

"I'm not sure, but it's your turn..."


I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

You'd think improv would make things better.

AReasonableMan said...

Althouse said...
the dipshit revolution at Burning Man


Creators create a certain aesthetic. It is fabulously successful. People with no core beyond a desire to party wish to attend but not participate. The creators get pissed. This is a dipshit revolution?

How would Althouse feel if a group of students decided that participating in her class was beneath them and hired some little people to perform that labor? Do they still get an 'A'?

rhhardin said...

I can do classical piano improv, but it's just cliches strung together.

rhhardin said...

Burning Man is stings when you pee. Burping Man is gluttony.

Opportunities exist for all venial and mortal sins.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There was some TV show where comics competed at improv.

One of them was a fat guy with eyeglasses and a lousy haircut.

I tried to watch, once, but the whole thing made me wince.

rhhardin said...

Kids can do thunderstorms on the piano.

rhhardin said...

Thunderstorms needed to wait for the invention of the piano. Harpsichords couldn't do it.

Clavichords sound like pins dropping, no good at all, even though the volume isn't fixed. Very soft and softer.

rhhardin said...

Then there's horror improv. Scream of consciousness.

rhhardin said...

There's the boy scount improv merit badge. Semper paratus.

Ann Althouse said...

"Creators create a certain aesthetic. It is fabulously successful. People with no core beyond a desire to party wish to attend but not participate. The creators get pissed. This is a dipshit revolution? "

Read the previous post.

I'm referring to the vandalism inflicted on the luxury camp.

AReasonableMan said...

Ann Althouse said...
Read the previous post.


I did. But you also referred to Burning Man in this post, in derogatory terms.

rhhardin said...

Improv paid by the word isn't great.

rhhardin said...

The New Yorker beats the life out of anything. I wonder when that changed. There used to be White and Thurber.

Probably after Harold Ross.

Bob Ellison said...

They do improv every week on the Sunday morning political shows. This morning, Martha Raddatz, ABC's host, laughed merrily along with the rest of the cast when one guy suggested that Trump doesn't read.

Raddatz is one of the chosen debate moderators.

Bob Ellison said...

Trump should say, "Hillary, you 'n' me, on stage, no moderator, let's dance. Let's debate. I'll pay for it. You set the rules. Prime-time gold!"

veni vidi vici said...

Bob Ellison, wouldn't that be the greatest thing ever?

rhhardin said...

Nobody's figured out morse code improv.

Movie scenes calling for morse code have to decide on two unworkable paths

1. The Walter Winchell fake morse code, instantly identifiable as not real.

2. Find a ham on the crew and get him to send some real morse code. The problem is that he has to say something, which never makes sense because the director can't read morse code.

The latter path's improv would have to decide what to say, which turns it into ordinary improv.

Art improv, sketching, actually does the latter while pretending not to, but perhaps asking for the rules to be relaxed.

Real improv doesn't relax the rules.

rhhardin said...

There's improve for women voters, like dropping "folks" into sentences.

veni vidi vici said...

Look at television comedy shows now: even the posters advertising the upcoming new series like that apparent atrocity-in-waiting featuring Ted Danson looking like his smile is being pulled by wires, and you can almost taste that it's ALL "therapy humor" and has been for awhile. Every hack writer in Hollywood and every one better than a hack has a therapist, and they're long out of good ideas so the navel-gazing has gone native. Even kids movies are prone: Took my daughter to see "Nine Lives" and "Secret Life of Pets (which were both far more charming than the reviews gave credit) but in the trailers there were no fewer than 3 instances per sitting where the characters were all using the same tired "sports-therapy" cliche "You got this" and bullshit phrasing like that. It's like a conspiracy to make everyone dumber. I'm not usually the type of person that thinks in terms of that sort of conspiracy but it's really quite difficult to escape the idea when you're full-frontal'd with it at just about every turn.

Bob Ellison said...

rhhardin said, "I can do classical piano improv, but it's just cliches strung together."

Yes, it's difficult to get out of the ruts.

There are techniques, though. One of my favorites is to close my eyes, keep playing with my right hand, and cross over with my left hand with one finger and hit the first key available. Then figure out how to resolve it or to turn it into a melodic complement.

Similarly, get a small child on the keys and figure out how to make sense of it. You might end up with Bartok.

David Begley said...

Someone is making a killing on Burning Man. I suspect it is incorporated in Ireland. Low taxes.

David Begley said...

Laslo

Per The Daily Mail there is an orgy tent at Burning Man. Improvise.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

An improv class years ago gave me a case of stage-fright I haven't been able to lose after ten years.

Hagar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

If I am entitled to vandalize the property of people whose existence I resent, I must also accept that people who resent me - and there are those who do - are entitled to vandalize my property.

P.S.
America is a very democratic place where even the de Rohtschilds are entitled to hold garden parties, just like you and I.

Laslo Spatula said...

David Begley said...
"Laslo
Per The Daily Mail there is an orgy tent at Burning Man. Improvise."

I usually don't do 'requests' but what the hell...


"Dude, this is the Orgy Tent. Why are you so uptight?"

"I just have a particular kind I'm drawn to, I guess."

"Well, Burning Man is the perfect time to free yourself from such self-imposed restrictions. Join us."

"It's just that I like... clean people."

"Clean people, dude?"

"Yeah. Everyone here is dirty. Dusty. Grimy. Sweaty. The smell is making me dizzy."

"Dude, we are one with the Earth, now: Dirt is Life."

"I like Water. Water is Clean. Water cleans things. Is there anyone here that might consider washing first?"

"We're here to get away from such civilization conventions."

"I feel like I need penicillin just looking at all of this."

"Dude, if you're going to be such a downer, maybe you should leave."

"I guess that one girl in the corner is cute..."

"There you go..."

"Do you think she has brushed her teeth? Like, recently?"

"Clean Teeth is just the Power of Advertising Oppressing Us."

"Woah!"

"What?"

"The Cute Girl: some guy is now pissing on her."

"We're Free, man. The Body is Natural."

"But now she's all wet with piss. That's NOT sexy..."

"It's only 'not sexy' because you have let Media define 'sexy' for you."

"No, I don't think that's it, really."

"Dude, I don't think this is the place for you..."

"Is there a Tent somewhere where clean people are having sex?"

"This is Burning Man, dude. There ain't clean around anywhere."

"I am realizing that."

"Dude: YOU'RE the one who came to the desert wearing a tie and walked in an Orgy Tent during 'Messy Hour'."

"Messy Hour?"

"Yeah, we let it get a little more loose for this session..."

"So that is why that girl with the snake tattoo just shit on that guy's chest?"

"Freedom, man: we don't judge."

"Is there a tent where people DO judge? I might be more comfortable there..."

"Dude, The Man has killed Your Soul."

"Maybe, but at least The Man would wash his hands afterward...


I am Laslo.

Darrell said...

Here's a little secret--improv is a polished routine made to look like it's spontaneous. See multiple performances of the same improv actors and you will be able to say the lines with them.

Ann Althouse said...

"I did. But you also referred to Burning Man in this post, in derogatory terms."

I referred to the vandalism of the luxury camp with a derogatory term, the same derogatory term I used in the previous post.

I thought the reference was clear, and I don't understand how even after I clarified it it doesn't seem clear to you.

I wasn't saying Burning Man itself is a revolution. It's a long-running event. Something bad happened that was in today's news. It think vandalizing the luxury camp was class-based violence of a revolutionary type, but the dimension and significance of the thing was puny.

Why would you disagree with that?!

Adamsunderground said...

Here's a little secret--improv is a polished routine made to look like it's spontaneous.

That's more the limitations of memory.

Adamsunderground said...

An improv class years ago gave me a case of stage-fright I haven't been able to lose after ten years.

Just think of hot Piper Laurie was in Carrie. They're all going to laugh at you!

Dave said...

Comment from a 37-yr-old, married father of 3, finance professional...

Been taking improv classes since January (not at UCB but rather in Florida) and have to say although much of what's stated in the article sounds too good to be true, I'm telling you it's not.

Improv has been great for my professional life, great for my personal life, great all around. Could go into more detail but won't. Just try it.

Dave said...

@Darrell said...

"Here's a little secret--improv is a polished routine made to look like it's spontaneous. See multiple performances of the same improv actors and you will be able to say the lines with them."

Curious where that's been your experience, as that's definitely not the case at the theater I attend in Florida.

AReasonableMan said...

Ann Althouse said...
Something bad happened that was in today's news. It think vandalizing the luxury camp was class-based violence of a revolutionary type, but the dimension and significance of the thing was puny.

Why would you disagree with that?!


Self-evidently, I don't agree it is bad. I considered going to Burning Man when I was younger. But, I couldn't be bothered doing the large amount of creative work required to make a contribution to match those contributions made by others. I could have still gone, but only as a free-loader. Clearly if everyone free loads or tries to buy their way into the event the essence of the event is lost. That, self-evidently, is a bad thing.

This is not class based violence - there was no violence. Quite clearly this is creators rebelling against takers. Who could be against that?

Darrell said...

Second City, Dave.
And others. Professional comedians are always going to go with material that works. The other option is maybe I'm psychic. I can recite lines that are being created right in front of me on the spot.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Adamsunderground said... Just think of hot Piper Laurie was in Carrie. They're all going to laugh at you!
9/4/16, 12:46 PM

LOL! Except they didn't laugh- and they were supposed to!