Improv vs Sketch vs. Stand-Up; Whats the dif? Part II

The major difference between Improv and Stand up is team vs individual.  Improv is a team sport (if you’ve ever seen an improv show where this is not realized it is PAINFUL) while stand-up is a solo sport. Improv is soccer, stand-up is boxing.  Improv is hockey, Stand-up is surfing. Improv is Jai alai, Stand-up is motocross. Improv is Mahjong,  Stand-up is… still reading?  I’m sure you get the point which was actually made back when I called Improv a team sport and Stand-up an individual sport. Continue reading

Improv vs Sketch vs. Stand-Up; Whats the dif?

I am surprised by the number of actors who are confused by my saying come check out my improv show.
First response is usually something in the area of, “So you’re doing Stand-up at the Improv?”
No, I’m doing an improv show?
Their response, “So, like sketches then…?”

Many actors who aren’t in the comedy world seem to see all three of these very different forms of comedy as one.
I’ll try to make a bit of a distinction here for you.

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Getting comfortable in front of a mic.

So you wanna loop, but you aren’t comfortable in front of a mic. Or you want some practice. What can you do? I have a few thoughts…

Improv is one of the BEST things a looper can have in their back pocket. You will be asked to get “up” and watch the screen in front of you while you talk. It’s no different than on camera EXCEPT you need to remember the mic is in FRONT of you AND don’t make ANY noise except your voice (no jewelry smacking or clothing friction noise please). Many times if it’s a “specific cue” (the actor’s mouth is seen ON camera and has specific dialogue…example…”Here’s your change sir”) the dialogue will be written out for you. Other times it’s not and you will literally make up the entire conversation.

Watch TV with the sound off and practice putting dialogue in the actor’s mouths you see walk by, etc.  Sometimes these actors will be “on camera” (you SEE their mouths move) and other times they will just be passing by the principal actors or sitting in the background.

Another thing you can practice is changing up your voice. You will need to sound like MANY different REAL people (no cartoonish characters unless you are voicing a TV in the background). If you have access to a mic, record yourself and practice saying the same thing different ways. Listen to other people and try to match their voice cadence and sound. Try to mimic what you hear. If you think you can match a celebrity all the better….make note of it so you can say you could voice match them if the opportunity comes up. Dialects and accents are also fun but remember to keep it real.

Taking a class is also a great way to get comfortable in front of a mic. If you’ve never taken a voice class, any intro level will do. I also think an improv class is a great idea for ANY actor. Ask your fellow actor friends and look around town for the best one for YOU. Have fun & practice, practice practice!!!!!

Why am I doing this?

Lately, I’ve been looking at things that serve me personally and things that serve my career.

Since this is not about me and my personal stuff we’ll focus on the career part. As I’m culling out projects, people, and general distraction from my career (I didn’t move here to surf), I’ve had to take a look at why I’m doing a weekly improv show.

Does this serve me?

I had to think about it. There have been groups I’ve left because it was simply a case of doing a show for your friends. This serves nothing but your ego and hookup percentage. Nothing wrong with serving either of those categories but it does not serve the career (unless one of the hookups is connected). Continue reading

What the- What are they doing?

If you are new to the improv world you may find yourself at different shows thinking, “What are they doing? This is completely different than the last show I caught.”

There are many different distinctions in improv. The most basic of the genres breaks down into two camps; Short form, also referred to as games and Long form. Continue reading

Which is the best improv theatre to take classes?

Several times a month I am asked, “Who has the best improv classes?” or “Where should I go for improv training?”. Here is the answer I always honestly give, “I don’t know.”
I hear you asking why does this joker have a blog, yet no answers.
The reason I can’t give a definitive-one-right-answer to this question is because it is a personal question, hence different for each. The most basic catalyst question you need to answer is, “Why am I taking an improv classes?” Continue reading