Monthly Archives: May 2014

On Improv

Improv is one of those things like I imagine having a friend with benefits is like.  When it’s good… it’s amazing.  When it’s bad, you just hate every second of it and wish there were better relationships established early on.

Since beginning to perform in 2005, stand-up has been my main focus.  It’s like conducting a symphony.  You write out your notes and ideas and then perform it with all the emotion and intensity you can.  Crescendos, speeding up and slowing down of tempo, all carefully rehearsed until the moment of performance when muscle memory has been established and all of one’s focus simply falls to perfecting the subtleties of the ideas you were trying to communicate.

Improv is more like jazz.  To be sure, I am not an expert on improv comedy.  Local acts such as Plan B and The Pushers have a much better grasp on improv.  However, through my experience, here is what I’ve found.  Instead of having a progression of ideas upon which you extrapolate common themes and make up punchlines for, improv is all about forming a new reality based on a couple of suggestions.

In short form improv, there is a very clear cut game… either a restriction of speech (new choice, accents, speaking in alphabetical order), or a specific scene the audience has already determined.  In long form improv, the game is harder to find, but can produce a more amazing scene if the players have established a good feel of each other’s strengths.

The biggest rules for improv I’ve found so far:

1)  Listen.

My earlier reference to improv being more like jazz is especially true here.  Jazz is made up on the spot, but each player is hunting for their spot in the groove and trying to put down notes that fit in well with what the other players are doing.  So with improv.  If you have a plan for your scene and refuse to deviate from it one bit, your scene will fail.  Which leads us to the next point.

2)  Yes And.

If you are doing an improv scene and a player establishes a fact about your scene, be it something about a relationship or a situation, it should be taken as fact and rolled along with.  Occasionally it can be fun to negate your partner’s suggestion, but improv is all about listening.  If you destroy the ideas your partner(s) have, you’re not going to get anything done and you will not have laughs.  And you will be sad.

3)  Establish a relationship.

This is so simple but people mess it up all the time.  For a scene to work, two people have to have something to talk about.  Who has more of a common conversation?  Two brothers or two guys who don’t know each other but bump into each other while waiting in line for something?

4)  Resist the punchline

As a stand-up comedian, the constant urge is to establish a premise, set up a joke and then kill with a punchline.  The problem is, 9 times out of 10, people don’t have a conversation this way.  So when one person breaks character and looks at the audience and delivers a punchline, it steals all the momentum from the scene.  Are you going to end up saying a sentence that is absolutely hilarious?  Hopefully.  The idea is you don’t want to stray so far from your established premise that it kills the scene.  However, if one makes conscious effort to have fun with the scene and make their fellow players look funnier on stage, EVERYONE looks better.

Like I said, I’m not the best improviser ever.  I do have a blast doing it once a week at Cinema Cafe Pembroke’s once a week Improv Show (Wednesday nights at 9).  When people do the above four things, we have a great show.  The more we stray from these, the worse it is.

 

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Home Maintenance Sucks

Long time since the last post.  I’ve been busy.  My fiancée and I got engaged (hence the second word of this sentence).  Before that we got a house.  At the time we had the typical dreams of home ownership.  No matter how old you are when you buy a house, there is a common sense of teenage independence.  “Finally!  We can play our music as loud as we want!  We can paint the walls and not worry about paying a security deposit!”  And there is a part of you that wonders about it being an investment that you can eventually collect a slight profit on.

Home ownership is not just punk rock turned up to 11 and rainbows.  Nature is trying to destroy your house every single second of every single day in ways you cannot imagine.

Carpenter Bees

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This is a carpenter bee.  Now, you know usual bees.  Black and yellow, make honey, they love eating Cheerios.  Enter carpenter bees.  These are bees that can still sting you, but they don’t make honey, they don’t give a fuck about eating cereal, and oh yea… THEY BURROW HOLES INTO ANY EXPOSED WOOD YOU HAVE ON YOUR HOUSE.

Now these sons of bitches annoying.  Most bees are polite.  They make their honey and mind their business.  No.  Carpenter bees say “Fuck you.”  And you say “Agree to disagree.”  And then carpenter bees say “Fuck your house, bitch!”  And then they burrow holes into your shit.  It’s not as though these guys go to Lowes and borrow a drill and carefully place holes in your deck or fence.  No, these little manic fucks hover up to some wood and then just hover and SHAKE THEIR ENTIRE BODIES AROUND, TWERKING LIKE A METHAMPHETAMINE FUELED MOLLY CYRUS WHILE THEIR JAWS GRIND THE WOOD AWAY.  And they don’t work alone.  For every one of these insane bastards  there’s a guard.  The guards don’t sting.  They just float in the air.  Creeping you out.
Crabgrass

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Crabgrass is one of those organisms that mankind once had a use for and then got bored with.  It’s like a government project that went wrong.  I imagine a lab where crabgrass was genetically engineered and some general being disgusted and saying “the funding’s run out.  Kill it.”  Someone hits it with a flame thrower and then buries the lab under fifty feet of earth.  The next day, crabgrass is outside of the general’s home at 1am.  The next morning the general is dead.  And now crabgrass has gone rogue.

Okay, so it doesn’t kill anyone, but what happens is this.  One day you see crabgrass in your lawn.  The next day there’s a little more.  Then one day in June your entire lawn is covered in the stuff and you don’t know what happened.  Crabgrass produces 150,000 seeds per plant, so if it gets established… you’re fucked.

Ants

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

These 6 legged fucks.  Carpenter bees work in pairs.  Ants work in thousands.  You see one ant?  That means there’s 8 million more.  If you’re in the south, it doesn’t matter what you do.  Boric acid works.  But every spring, they’re in your house looking for something sweet.  Well, that’s if you’re lucky.  Like bees, some of these motherfuckers come in a carpenter variety and THEY DESTROY YOUR FUCKING HOUSE.

Cockroaches

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

You’re thinking “no, Brendan, I don’t know anything about that.  I’m a clean person, you’re nasty bla bla fucking bla.”  If you’re in the south, you have dealt with cockroaches of some sort.  You might say “no, we don’t have cockroaches!  We have had water bugs though.”

 

This is a water bug:

Photo: Wikipedia

This is not:

Here in the south, we have warmth and humidity.  You know what cockroaches love?  WARMTH AND HUMIDITY.  Whenever spring comes back, flowers come in to bloom, it’s time to mow your yard again AND COCKROACHES ARE ALIVE AGAIN.

So yea.  There’s termites too.  Rain will get in your house and warp wood.  Nature hates you and wants to make your house a disgusting filthy place.  You will have to build fences, mow grass, kill bugs, kill bugs, power wash.  You will go to Lowes and Home Depot and just fork portions of your paycheck that will have you needing money several paychecks into your future.  And that’s if you’re LUCKY.  There is plumbing, Chinese drywall, and her getting bored.  Now because DDT is illegal, BED BUGS ARE A THING AGAIN.

And you have to deal with this all by yourself.  There’s no maintenance you can call.  Mom and dad don’t care.  It’s all for you to take care of.  You literally have nightmares about yellow nutsedge.

And you wake up and you spend more money on your god damn house.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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