The Improv Diaries – Love and Saucepans [Case Study The Suggestibles ]

This week was another fun lesson with Phil, this week was all about getting used to improvising lyrics to music. We started the lesson with a version of Zip Zap Zop with lots of new rules that Phil had added which actually made it quite fun! It included an action where you had to act like a meerkat – which was really fun. We then did a warm up game where we had to rhyme the words in which were given to us so if someone threw the word a ball at me i had to rhyme it with something you associate with a ball – so for example fall.

We then went on to play a game that I have seen played loads of times its a singing version of Do Ron Ron. You change the lyrics of the song to a one syllable name and then each of the lines have to rhyme with that name – So let me give and example with the name Bill.

I met him on a Monday and his name was Bill,
A do ron ron ron A do ron ron, 

He was scared of death so he wrote a will, 
A do ron ron ron A do ron ron, 
Yeah he always took a pill, 
Yeah so he wouldn’t be ill,
Yeah great is how he always would feel,
A do ron ron ron A do ron ron

You would do this with one name until someone either repeats a word or someone can’t think of anything to rhyme.

The next warm up exercise we did was a rap based one  – we would each say a rhyming couplet to a beat (similar to what we do with Punderstandably and the Kevin game) however, our rhymes had to be about a chosen subject. We had to come up with the last word of the whole two couplets and work backwards. As a poetry writer I found this quite difficult to do as I can usually rhyme words pretty much straight away but working backwards I found quite tricky.

We then went onto a musical game which was all about a Blues song. Phil would play a melody on the piano thats in the theme of a Blues type song and then we had to come up with two lines of rhyme to go in time to the music. In between everyones two lyrics there was a line that went “Oh Yea, He / she’s got the [topic] Blues”. We did this with a variety of topics such as Friendship, travel, food and furniture.

The final exercise of the evening was a duo exercise which was based around a melody and lyrics that make a love song. This is how the structure of the song would go – you would improvise the bits around the top where I have added the word rhyme A and word.

I remember word word word word rhyme A
word word word word word word rhyme A
word word word word word word rhyme B
And that is why I love you

The second person then would use this format and make up their own lyrics using this format – then you both sing your lyrics at the same time for the last verse. Each time a duo came up they were given a different location as to where they met and then would have to improvise lyrics in relation to this spot. All the people that went up before myself and Luke were given really normal locations and we were given the suggestion Space Station and it completely blew me off course. I ended up coming up with a really awful song that went something like this:

I remember when I saw you, you were wearing a pan,
Which I thought was quite strange for a man,
Thats is why i pointed my gun at you,
And that is why I love you. 

I have no idea where this concept came from, I think the suggestion made me lose concentration because I was trying to do the rhyming thing the other was as to what I am used to doing. I found it hard to come up on the spot with a rhyme back to front.

It was a fun lesson and made me think a lot about the way in which I rhyme and made me realise that under pressure of trying to turn a rhyme around I can really come up with some really silly things.

Case Study – The Suggestibles

For this weeks case study only one Improv Troupe came to mind because there was one thing that they do as part of their show in which we covered this week as a warm up exercise and that is the Do Ron song.

Now, that is not the only musical based improvisation they do, they do a spectacular 15 minute musical at the end of their shows but more about that later. Lets focus first on their Do Ron Rons. I went to see The Suggestibles perform a lot when I lived in Newcastle because they were my trainers and also because I really enjoy watching their troupe as they are really good fun to watch as they are really entertaining.

The Do Ron Ron improv version of the song I have always enjoyed watching it and its always been fun watching this troupe perform it as they are so good at it they sometimes speed it up slightly. The thing i like about this game is that its hard not to have a silly little dance to it and also its fun to see what longer words you can rhyme with the long syllable names and from watching The Suggestibles play this more then once i loved it when they thought out of the box.

I used them as inspiration – I tried to challenge myself buy using words or phrases that were outside the box  and were ones that people may not of thought out. This creates more humour and satisfaction to the audience when they realise what you have done.

The other thing I love about this troupe is the musical they do in the secon half of their show. It’s based on the title of the Musical Aspects of Love but every show they change the word love to a broad theme that the audience choose such as Brexit, Unrequainted Love, acting etc etc. One of the best ones I saw was the Aspects of Hypnotism is was so thought out the storyline and the music – it may of all been improv but if someone had just sat me down without knowing that i would of been convinced it was scripted – it was that good!

There musical improv has caused a lot of inspiration to me and it has taught me to not always go for the easy option and try and think of topics in a different angles to the normal because that is what keeps the audience reeling in. One of my favourite songs in musical improv that has lived on and i have told so many people about is a song from the show Aspects of Unrequainted Love. Most of the troupe were focussing on no love between two friends, a infactuation with a friends father etc but Tom went the complete opposite and did a song about unrequainted love for a pigeon.

It was the funniest and so out there song i have ever seen improvised it has stuck with me and ever so often i will hear my self in the back of my mind saying – “think like the pigeon” as a reminder that sometimes being the unique one in a scene really stands out.

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