The Improv Diaries – Lazy Cleaners and Jellyfish…[Case Study Vicar of Dibley and Tom Houghton]

This week was the penultimate lesson of musical improv, which is a shame because I have had so much fun. I have learnt so much and it’s been really good fun. We started the week with the normal routine of warm up games such as Zip Zap Zop, pass the beat and the shivers song game.

We then sat round the piano and went over the song styles that we had learnt over the past 7 weeks. We did a chorus song and verse song about Dolly the Dog and made sure that the song had lyrics that followed a story.

We then went onto do a few opening scenes – one of the Stone Age which was fun as it was completely different to other suggestions we have had and made us have to think about what we can do. Then we did one about under the sea.

From doing the under the sea opening Phil then wanted us to do some mirroring to get used to doing symmetry dancing if the option came up. We got into pairs and then we had to mimic each other as sea creatures. Kevin and I ended up becoming this weird jellyfish thing that would jump in the air turn and do a weird leg dance. It was really good fun.

After this we then went onto putting symmetry into scenes, we did this by doing an opening scene at a dance school and a few of us copying each other to be ballet dancers. When the opening sequence was complete we then went into scenes.

The scenes followed a pattern similar to a Harold. We did a trial one with the dance school where me and Luke were lazy cleaners that Zennith and Carsten wanted to turn into celebrity stars. It went ok and I enjoyed a musical piece Luke and I did because we became these good characters that bounced off each other and even added a bit of talking to the song to create character. We also added symmetry to the scene by copying each other’s dance moves.

The last part of the evening we did a Full half an hour musical. The scene was based on the mountains and we did an opening number the. Went into scenes with two parts and a finale. The first two were about hikers and fixing a bridge and then Cheryl and I came on and did a scene about two old hikers. I liked our scenes because we could make the song comical and bring character to them.

I really enjoyed this week and sad it’s coming to an end but I feel that there will be more musical improv in the future.

Case Study 1 – Vicar of Dibley 

There was one case study that came to mind for this weeks lesson and that was The Vicar of Dibley. I think one of the best examples of symmetry in comedy is in the scene when the Dawn French puts on a talent show and does a mirror ballet dance with Darcy Bussell.

I remember the first time i ever saw this routine – it was so fresh and unique that it made it absolutely hilarious and made it a fantastic comedic routine. Even though it is a scripted comedy, the symmetry of the dance people didn’t expect and it really heightened the comedy. This is a great thing to think about when doing symmetry in a scene –  it doesn’t just look amazing it also can create comedy.

Case Study 2- Tom Houghton

In the last couple of weeks I have found that I have been pushing myself to bring character and emotion to the songs that I am singing and this week I felt different, I felt that I was finally doing it naturally. When I was put into songs and scenes I was naturally becoming a character and not just singing normally – i was doing it either in character or trying to add soul to it as well.

From watching Tom do musical scenes when he was part of the Noise Next Door, I learnt a lot about this. Out of all the Noise members, I do remember seeing both Tom and Sam not just using song in musical pieces but also talking in character and bringing depth to the pieces. I found that when  I was doing the “Lazy Cleaners”  song with Luke I found myself in the chorus thinking to myself “I just realised I am doing a Tom” I was getting into the music and becoming this character and even doing a raspy east end voice to create a comedic effect.

I have learnt a lot about watching Tom and another thing i learnt was about how to do improv and play the guitar. I have been playing the guitar since i was 17 and the keyboard since the age of 3. I want to be able to incorporate my music into my comedy at some point and didn’t really think about it in the sense of using a guitar as everyone uses piano. I don’t want to lug my keyboard around if i do shows and the guitar is a natural fit but the first time i ever saw it being used was when i saw The NND live.

This week I became inspired to start trying to do musical improv with guitar – it is hard. It is hard to play and sing on the spot made up lyrics at the same time. From seeing a couple of sets of NND I remember that they use the same base music for some of their sets so I started to try and take a step back and work out the way to do it. There are songs that I use on a regular basis to warm up when I play (New Divide – Linkin’ Park, Waiting – Green Day, Hero – Chad Kreoger and The A Team – Ed Sheeran). I found playing my guitar I was too in my head, so I was trying to think about how we come out of that when doing Improv.

I decided to use the chords and structure that I use for the song above to use as a base for each improvised song. I changed up the tempo and when the key changes were so it didn’t sound like the songs above but it helped me to start focussing on how to play guitar whilst improvising.

From having past rushes from an edit I did years ago of the Noise Next Doors Fringe show, i have found watching Tom and the way he performs helpful and really inspiring for me to keep pushing myself. I am debating about whether to try and do a solo set next year to test the waters and see how i feel about doing it.

i know I go on about NND alot in this post from time to time, but for me when i find something that inspires me to push myself as a person, i like to praise them. I am always looking for my next challenge and just watching an hour show with a few guitar melodies intertwined have pushed me to my next creative challenge.

 

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