Get Out And Watch Improv

Sticks Author: Steve

I think it was Franklin Roosevelt who said “The best way to learn stuff is to get it taught to you or by buying a book about it or by watching a DVD.  You could also consider watching other people do the thing that you want to learn.  If you want.  You know, if you have time for that kind of thing and like to watch people doing things.  Sicko.”

He was a good Prime Minister of England, no question about it.  And he could turn a phrase and end it in a judgement of your morals just like that.  A lickety-split judger was ol’ Prime Minister Roosevelt.  Well you know what your highness?  Maybe I do like watching other people do things and maybe it is a good way to learn everything from juggling to loving.  Get off your high horse Mr. Rough Rider!

By now, all of our regular readers (which is us, we’re insular AND provincial… take that Prince Roosevelt) know our story.

  1. There are 12 of us.
  2. Our average age is 38.
  3. Ages range from 25 to 50.
  4. Two of us have no children and the rest have 14 children. (Not each! Man. In total.)
  5. 5 couples, 4 of them married.
  6. We live in “The Sticks” of CT.  Kind of.  It’s not like banjo time, but we’re in a smallish town.
  7. We have corporate jobs, banky jobs, kid raising jobs, teachery jobs.

So, we aren’t in a position to take regular classes even though we’re only a couple of hours outside of NY/Boston.  We rehearse now only once per week and we are self directed (i.e. we drink a lot at rehearsal).

Teaching ourselves has been fun, audacious and sometimes bodacious.  There are resources for learning improv, but we are often struck at the opportunity that some of the larger improv theaters are missing.  I’d shell out many of my corporate job dollars to buy better instructional books (perhaps I expect too much, but Truth In Comedy just isn’t that well constructed) and instructional DVDs.  Heck, we just want to see clean, solid video examples of full Harolds.  Tough to find even on the internet and the internet has lots of things in it.

We need to get out and see more improv.

Last night, every member of The Sticks (except Thom who was being a Father for goodness sake) got out to see the 2-year anniversary show of Sea Tea Improv.  Improv circles I think are tight and we’ve been learning about Sea Tea via Twitter, Facebook and other cool webbish devices for a while.  They seem like good people and we like good people more than we like bad people except when we want somebody to do something bad to/for us.

Not only was it a fun night out for The Sticks (plus my wife went too!) with adult drinks adult food adult conversation and adult bookstores, but it was a treat to watch an improv group perform.  We learned a lot.  It was a short form show, but we love short form.  There is plenty to be applied to the shorter bits of our longer form Harolds.  The truth is, we’re not really having a hard time any longer with the structure of The Harold – but we have plenty of room to get better at many of the things that are on display in short form.

The game structure is something that we need to apply to our intermezzo (yes I speak Italian… please form an orderly line ladies) group games.  Sea Tea is particularly skilled it seems at listening to one another – again something that any improv group needs.  There was a calm cleverness to the delivery that was right on also.  You never saw somebody making a joke just to make a joke.  Things were true to their characters and relationships.  We laughed a lot which is good since it was a comedy show.  One of us cried, but it was because we almost didn’t have enough seats.  That one of us was me because I had planned the little field trip.  Okay?  Are you happy now making me admit that I cried?

So, yes!  Mr. Roosevelt.  You were right about the going-and-seeing-things-to-learn-about-them theory.  Good for you!  But let’s face it.  You were way off on a bunch of other things.  Still, we’ll keep following your advice.  It’s time for us to see more improv whenever and wherever we can.

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10 Comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for the write-up! It was great seeing you guys there, and it’s too bad we couldn’t talk more. Hopefully, we can change that in the future. Sea Tea Improv loves long form as well: 3 of our members have completed UCB’s 101-401 (and one is now taking an advanced class), 2 have completed 101-301, 2 others have completed 101-201, and we have lots of other long form training & experience. We don’t perform them as often, as we save those for our coffee shop shows at Jitters in Southington or La Paloma Sabanera in Hartford, as we find the artsy tolerance to be higher amongst slow roasted beans than amongst beers in a comedy club.

    Not to turn this in to a marketing comment, but we do offer house-call workshops if you’re ever interested.

    I really hope to hang out with you guys or perform with you in the future. Sea Tea Improv is dedicated to advancing the whole CT improv community, and we love what you’re undertaking! Go Sticks!

    =Dan

    Reply
    • Thanks Dan! Only one of us (Chris M) has done classes at UCB or Magnet. We’re having a lot of fun doing this together as we have been friends (and performers) for more than 20 years in many cases.

      We really enjoyed the show and I’m sure we’ll see you guys more. We’ll be at one of the mixers some day if kids/jobs etc. allow.

      Reply
  2. Kevin P

     /  April 4, 2011

    I don’t know any Harold performances on DVD but you can buy ASSSCAT on DVD which is a long form show.

    Maybe nobody films it because then it would no longer be one night and one night only.

    Or maybe it is hard to film in a professional way?

    Then again, they made reality TV work.

    Reply
    • Oh heck yeah we’ve got ASSSSCAT. Love it. We also have a decent compilation of some long form from the Truth In Comedy follow up Art By Committee. (That one is worth it for the Beer Shark Mice alone… so funny.)

      I don’t know. I just think that one of these theaters could make some money off of groups like us by having some kind of DVD curriculum and some unedited examples. It couldn’t replace a real class or doing it, but I’d shell out some money for it. Get a couple of HD Cameras, some lighting that’s not quite theater, some decent mikes and go to town. Heck, couldn’t Rabbit Ears Media make that happen? Yes! I believe so.

      Reply
      • Did I hear my name? Heck yes, I would love to make this happen! Just let me know when and where and how we can do it. We’ve already got the equipment and platforms to do this. Perhaps, Danielsan1701, we can sit down, you can set up a list of things to do, and we can make some videos!

      • I knew it Helder!

  3. Oh, and as far as online Harolds, dig Trophy Wife: http://www.trophywifeimprov.com/ They post full videos of great Harolds online (and they’re available as a video podcast!)

    =Dan

    Reply
    • See now? You’ve earned your keep Dan! There’ll be a little something extra in your pay this week for the tophywife find. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Greg L

     /  April 5, 2011

    Hey, Steve! Thanks so much for coming out to the improv show on Sunday. I hope you had fun, and I 100% agree about getting out and seeing improv.

    The members of Sea Tea Improv make a point of seeing both improv and live theater as a group on a regular basis. Regardless of whether the show is good or bad, we always walk away with new wisdom and ideas to incorporate into our improv.

    Please let me know when your next Harold performance is. I’d love to return the favor and come support you!

    All my best,
    Greg

    P.S. I was tempted to call you Stevie Sticks. I’m sorry.

    Reply
    • I like Stevie Sticks! I will now have an affair with our drummer.

      Thanks for the comment Greg. We enjoyed the show. We’ve all been theater nerd types for a long, long time and have seen or done a lot of traditional theater. Most of us have decent experience in short form, but just decided to learn long form last fall. I think we need to get out and see more whether its short or long form. It’s all helpful.

      We haven’t performed a public Harold yet, but we will certainly announce it when it happens!

      Reply

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