You Win Some, You Lose Some: Games And Relationships

Sticks Author: Jesse

Remembering the Game, the Relationships, and the Relationships between the Games and Relationships.

As we have grown and learned in this medium we have spent time focusing on finding “games”. Games are the little funnies that crop up during improv that we try to heighten and expand on. They can be as simple as a little slip in dialogue, or as complex as a running gag that gets called back throughout the show. Some of us love games. Appropriately, some of us get chided for overusing games. Some would argue that our games are a good part of what makes us funny, but they can be the cause for us running amuck.

Relationships, on the other hand, are our differentiator. We have all known each other for a long time. There is trust and honest caring between the group. When I look in someone’s eyes and let them know they have a boogie hanging out, they, and the audience have to know it’s a statement based in honest compassion. When they do, it’s deeper than a low brow joke. While lots of groups build relationships, I think we are exceptional in this area. Whenever we lose our way, I find our solution is often in remembering to slow down and let the relationship simmer. Humor is often fermented in surprise. When we let an audience really know some characters, and perhaps even start to care about them, the twists we throw in are what generates surprise and laughter.

No one in the group should be surprised I was disappointed with our last show. More clearly, I was disappointed in myself. I found myself far too often an observer. I felt we lost our way during the show, and I sat paralyzed watching instead of actively contributing to try and improve things. This weekend, my mind has been filled with all the great things I should have tried. They all seem to center around a simple truth that hasn’t occurred to me before. There is, and should be, a balance between games and relationships.

I’ve always compartmentalized them before, considering them separate items that require balance, but not considering how they feed one another. Games add depth. Improv is a short art form, and we don’t necessarily have the time we need to add the depth to characters to make relationships real. Games are an avenue for not only “the funny” but for depth. Games give us a chance to explore and add to characters without them even necessarily even being present. Characters, in turn, are the manure pile for our garden of games. They have faults, quirks, and interesting habits. All things that we can explore with time dashing, parallel scenes, and straight up pimp outs. The richer our relationships, the more fodder for games.

This may seem like just the ramblings of a Monday morning, but they are actually a call to action for all my fellow Sticks. We need to remember when we are on stage to build the relationships. Take it slow and find them in your hearts. Always strive to make them real. The closer to reality a character is, the more the audience can identify with them, and the more surprise we generate when their world changes. Supporting characters need to help the characters build. We need to use our opportunities to come on and make the main characters richer. We need to push each other to add nuance to our characters. Pimp them in unimaginable ways and look for the games that make the main characters twitch just a little. Above all remembering that while big can be good, small is often best.

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2 Comments

  1. mirthinablog

     /  November 5, 2012

    Whoa, Steve! Even Robin Williams screws up! Next show will be bubbling with small greatnesses.

    Reply
    • Ha! True, true. This one was written by Jesse. Wasn’t our best night for sure, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. A good reminder for us to focus on what matters in our scenes.

      Reply

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