Improv Diaries – Spinning Around and Pretending To Be A Different Punder [ Case Study: Jenna Fischer]

This week was another one where we were doing the final rehearsals for our show Improv Towers (which is tomorrow!) We spent the rehearsals doing a lot of run throughs and checking what we need to do in preparation for the show – focussing on the production values and what we need to do for the audience next week. It was a good rehearsal and we are starting to have a show in place that is going to be a lot of fun to play!

Character Course

This week in character course it was all about producing characters out of people that we knew. We started out by doing some basic improv scenes where you are in pairs and focus on the who, what where of a scene. It is always important to do these time and again just to stay focussed in improv. We had to do a few rounds of pretending to be objects as well – note to self and all improvisers out there don’t pretend to be a rotating vinyl for a whole scene you end up feeling incredibly dizzy afterwards, learn from my mistakes!

In this weeks lesson we had to become someone that we know and characterise them and take on their persona. I decided to choose to be our newest Punder Jake for many reasons – the first is because he told me a lot about his job the night before at rehearsal and there was a funny story about the children at half term reacting to some of the fish at his job. I felt that these were really great stories to characterise and really wanted to sort of use them in a comedy environment because I felt they would work well. Also, Jake has a very distinct laugh and is always full of so much energy at rehearsal that it is so infectious that it was hard not to choose someone like that to impersonate.

It was really interesting this exercise and what you learnt from it – we had to enter the stage as this person and act exactly like this person – whilst I tried to envision Jake from rehearsals and the energy that he brings I tried to imagine what that ‘character’ would be in realistic space. How would they react to questions about their life, about themselves about anything. Whilst a lot of the time I tried to answer with truth I also had to imagine how this person would react to questions I did not know the answers to.

The audience reacted really well to this heightened version of ‘Jake’ and liked the fact that I added the quirk of laughter. The one thing that is great about Jake as a person is he has a laugh that is infectious and I wanted to make it a ‘quirk’  that anytime someone laughed at my character I would look at them and laugh with them – it is based on truth but heightened.  It was really fun and interesting to play as a different person and it is definitely something I am going to do in the future.

Case Study: Jenna Fischer

Recently I have been reading Jenna Fischer’s book The Actor’s Life – I have no intention to being an actor but decided to read it firstly because I really enjoyed her character in the Office US and secondly it seemed like an interesting concept for a book.

I enjoy this book because reading about the struggle of actors in America is actually very similar to how the struggle is to become a Video Editor in television in the UK. I feel that I can relate to it a lot because I have been through a lot of the same things and looking at this book I really appreciate the struggle that I went through even though I didn’t at the time.

One thing that this book does is have a chapter about how Jenna prepares for auditions and advice on how you should approach them and how she went about playing Pam when going through auditions.  She always tried to stay true to the character no matter what the scenario, questioning what would Pam do in this situation. I tried to do that this week with this Jake persona – I always tried to stay true to the character and also tried to always keep in character without breaking it. Whenever I wanted to laugh and break character I heightened it and turned it into the quirk laugh. I have learnt a lot from this book and didn’t even realise!

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