Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It. Will. Be. Epic.

So I’m coaching Scriptease as they prepare for Improv Thunderdome. Coaching. Not directing. These guys are coming up with the genius, and I’m just helping them show it to the audience.

And their piece—which I will say nothing about, because this is a competition, people—is going to be some SERIOUS genre work. I’m not just talking about throwing thees and thous and eths in Shakespearean dialogue, either. They've researched, discussed and evaluated. They're like pretentious film majors—and I was one, so I know. 

Again, without showing their hand, here’s their process:
  • They picked a familiar, beloved, easy-to-recognize, packed-with-games genre. 
  • We talked about what we already knew about it. 
  • They watched a shitload of it. (I should remind them their Blockbuster fees are deductible…then again, I doubt they’re reporting their meager improv earnings.)
  • We talked about character archetypes and games, story arcs and standard scenes. 
  • We decided where to start (exposition sucks—and if George Lucas hasn’t proved that, I will eat my car). 
  • We assigned characters (once they know the game, they can play them any way they want). 
  • We mapped out our key scenes. 
And now we’re ready. We can plug in any situtation, and run with it. The game moves will keep the players from getting plotty—though I warned them the temptation will be, after we get the first suggestion, to let their brains go to the ending. We’ll get suggestions throughout to throw them off track.

I’ve done genre work before, but never to this level. Clay and Drew (and Lauren, who got sucked into the madness because she has a car and is a freaky-fun improviser herself) mapped the whole thing out. We've stereotyped them horribly and gloriously. Am I proud? Like a mama cat. (Which is perpetuating a myth they will never let me live down. There are only two,  kids, and I DO NOT dress them up.) 

This is going to kick some serious ass. 

Oh, and speaking of proud: Tim Mason starts in the cast of Second City etc. this weekend. I met Tim (and his best friend, Dan Walsh) in the audience of a ComedySportz show a looooooong time ago. They were making fun of a very bad perm I had just gotten (really bad—pyramid shaped). I dared them to bring their funny to our high school leagues, and they, with a couple of friends, formed the Pez Junkies. Later, I wrote Tim's parents a letter to convince them to let him play with Lighten Up—and thank goodness they did. I was incredibly lucky to get a chance to play with someone as talented as Tim—his sense of humor, smarts, generosity and incredible stage presence have shown since he was 16. He's proof that nice guys win. So if you talk to him, congratulate him great big. 


  1. Scriptease was pretty awesome tonight, FYI, Friday should be a great matchup! :-)

  2. Totally agree. I can't wait. It was a blast getting to see everyone...gonna be a great show.


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