The Improv Diaries – The Return To Music and French Accents… [ Case study: James, Punderstandably]

Musical Improv 

This week was the return of a course that I have missed being part of my life – Musical Improv! That’s right, i am back doing musical based improv with Phil Lunn although this time it is the advanced class! It was interesting to see the difference in the class this time – when I did beginners their was mainly women and would say it was a 70 / 30 percent split in relation to women. However, in the advanced class it is a 80% male class and 20% women – this is going to be really interesting to see what happens throughout the course.

We started the lesson with the warm up games that we used to play with Phil such as Zip Zap Boing which was really fun with the amount of people that we had because we all knew different rules and trying to work out what you do for all of them was really good fun. We then did a variety of voice warm ups as well which got us ready to dive right in.

We went round the cirlce as the first game doing the song ‘ I Got the Shivers’ where you have to rhyme a line with the person before. We then went into the game called something like ‘Circle of Joy’ this is when Phil plays the piano, and one by one people walk across the cricle and build up a melody that eventually becomes a song that is really good fun to do.

The first game of the night was one that we didn’t get a chance to play in the Beginners and that was the Whose Line Is It Anyway favourite the Irish Jig. Four of you take it in turns to sing an Irish Jig about a topic that you are given and you go round two times for each verse. There are four verses in total. It was a lot of fun.

We then went onto one of my favourite short form musical games – the Hoe Down – i missed playing this game sooooo much! It was so so fun to be doing it again. Our Topic this week was the Spa – we only had time to do one but I really hope we get to do more in the weeks to come.

The game in which we finished the first week off was doing scenes that lead into musical numbers. You ask the audience for a scenario then they put their hand up when they hear a song title. I was in a scene where I was given the scenario of being on a romantic trip to Paris – the first thing that came to my mind was fellow Punders James and his French Girlfriend and decided to play on that, exaggerate and cahnge it and and spun the situation on its head where I was a French Girlfriend / wife who was moaning she had been taken to her home town for their anniversay even though to most people it is the city of love. I decided to do the whole scene in a ‘French’ accent including the song and itn got a lot of laughs ( I tried to add the odd french word here and there as well). It got laughs and that is what I love – the adrenaline and the music and the laughter all combined – it feels so great to be back.

Punderstandably Rehearsal

This week in rehearsals it was all about getting the games ready for the show next week – we started off with our favourite warm up games and it is funny – we are becoming so seriously competitive about Thunder Dome that it is less of a game these days and more of a war. It got very tense this week with a round of Monopoly Squares and naming Quality Street chocolates – the chocolate one was an absolute war by the time that we finished it.

We then played a game that I remember doing in Newcastle to get used to naturally building relationships in a scene. Four people in the scene decide secretly which person they are going to be in love with, who they are going to find hilarious and who they hate and then they play a scene. I always enjoy watching this because you never know what the story is going to lead to and it always has a fun result at the end.

We then went onto focussing on games that we were playing for our set in March, James has had an interesting concept to bring to the show idea and so we are going to test it out in the next show to see how it goes.

It has been a fun week and I am sure the next eight are going to be a lot of improv fun!

Case Study – James Barrass-Banks, Punderstandably

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 16.47.51Now, It is not every week that I will use a fellow Punder as a case study but this week I felt it was very relevant. It is only since coming back to Musical Improv this week that I realise how much my troupe influence me as an Improviser – I find it crazy and also quite cool that when I am in a completely different lesson I have them in the back of my mind and can use them to influence my improv somewhere else.

The group at Punders are such a supportive and great group that they really do feel like family, and I really have a lot of fun with them. When I was put into a scene this week that I felt someone chose as a scenario to ‘freak us out’ my first instinct was to think ‘what would Punders do’ and James instantly popped into my head. The main reason is because he has just got back with his French girlfriend to Paris, but thinking of that one tiny speck of information pushed me into creating a scene that got a lot of laughs as it was unexpected.

That is one thing I really like about Punderstandably, we really actually do enjoy each others company and we really do have a real laugh. To me at times they act a little bit like a comfort blanket as proven this week with automatically thinking of them at my time of need.

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