Improv Corner – Mega Improv Month Special – Teaching Improv

This month we are very excited to be able to sit down with David Escobedo of The Improv Boost to talk everything about the comedy art form! Over the next few weeks we will talk about everything from performance to writing impro books! As an added bonus this month we have also dedicated Improv Corner to Dave as well and over the next few weeks there are some really interesting topics that are being highlighted. Today we speak to Dave about teaching improv.

Hi David You teach improv, what are some of your favourite lessons to teach?

I *love* teaching “Coming in with Nothing.”  I think it offers a pretty diverse way to improv with lots of different styles.  It also encourages listening and authenticity first, before being funny and punchy. 

What is the most challenging topic to teach?

I have lesson on The Forces of Nature. It’s cognitively easy to understand but difficult to make a workshop about:

– A character believes in their world as much as the player believes in the world around them.  When you touch a fire in real life, it will be hot.  If you close your eyes, it will be dark.  These things we don’t even have to TEST because we know it will always be true.  When the pivot in the scene happens, whatever that “game” or “first weird thing” happens the characters have to believe in it’s cost just as much as you believe … when you touch a fire it will be hot.  If you are doing a show, where cats can talk, the players have to believe that cats can really talk!  Not the players being “performative” about what the characters reacting. They embody the characters as they react to cats talking.

In doing so the scene has “physics.”  The characters are bound by the physics of the scene, created by the players.

And just like the Forces of Nature:

And this is a metaphor.  The characters bounce off these forces of nature.

Magnetism – is how two entities are attracted to or repel from each other. This is a metaphor for relationships, dynamics or status between the characters. 

Gravity – is the force that holds us to the earth. This is a metaphor for the environment or context that the characters are placed in.

Nuclear – is a chemical reaction that creates heat or energy.  This is the “yes and”, game, or heightening of a scene. It’s the fission, fusion or decay of the scene that keeps going and creates energy for the scene.

It’s easy to explain. But hard to express in a workshop.

For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?

I think my advice would be take classes with these teachers:
Jay Sukow
Chris Mead
Michelle Gilliam
Liz Allen
Ti Campbell
Jon Nguyen
Monica Gaga
Lauren Baumbauer

I think that is real, practical advice. Those teachers would be fantastic first teachers. 

First teachers have such an honor in improv.  They start people out on their journey.  They can invoke a sense of wonder and curiosity. 

Another piece of advice – I say this all the time – words won’t save you.  Don’t worry about being funny.  Focus on being truthful with your partner not as an individual.

More Next Week

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