Tag Archives: cinema cafe

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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Brendan Kennedy is headlining Cinema Cafe’s Comedy at the Cafe, 9/27 at 9pm

Press Release:

Friday, September 27th, at 9pm, Hampton Roads comic Brendan Kennedy is headlining his own show, “Love is Not The Answer,” at Cinema Cafe’s Independence boulevard location for one night only. The show ties together jokes and storytelling in a unique and hilarious way at one of Hampton Roads’ best comedy venues.

Brendan Kennedy began performing stand-up comedy in 2005. He has performed in colleges and comedy clubs all over the East Coast. In this time, he has developed a stage presence and style that incorporates both simple funny ideas and hilarious experiences from his own life. “Love is Not The Answer” incorporates these skills to paint a picture of Brendan’s life, discussing his triumphs and shortcomings, and the personal connections he’s developed over time. His material is easy to relate to but takes an unexpected refreshing point of view and makes comparisons one might not expect.

Laura Watkins, writer for HamptonRoads.com and AltDaily.com, describes Brendan as having “…a knack for finding that sweet spot between the totally relatable and the utterly absurd. He’s one of the few young comedians who puts his whole presence into his set—armed with a delivery that is energetic, charming and deceptively effortless, Brendan is the kind of comedian who makes it look easy.”

Cinema Cafe, in recent years, thanks to its workshop night and huge local following, has become an integral part of Hampton Roads’ local stand-up comedy scene. What began as one show on Thursday nights with more comics than audience members has transformed into a show that attracts a “standing-room only” crowd and has spawned an additional night of improv comedy on Wednesday nights.

‘Brendan’s show, “Love is Not The Answer” is one night only, at 9pm, September 27th. Tickets are $5.

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“New Choice”

Basically, every time you say something, the MC has the power to shout “New Choice” and you have to make up something new off the top of your head to replace what you just said. The language can get to be a bit much at times, but… you’ll see how much fun it is.

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Improv: Freeze Tag!

This is pretty much my favorite local show, and this is a really fun improv game.  When the performers are having fun, the audience enjoys it too, and something magical happens.

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