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"Happy Valentine’s Day to Improv"

- The Backline
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I had a week till the first class started, and a bunch of random paper with exercise ideas, goals for the school, concepts, thoughts…but no outline for class yet.

Every exercise I picked, I reminded myself of Matt Walsh’s advice to me, ‘Focus on the basics, and give them something to walk away with.’

Everything I scheduled, including warm-ups, were designed to work on some aspect to help them understand improv more. I wanted their first show to at least be decent, anything but terrible. Even though most Level 1 shows are terrible.

I believe it’s a teacher’s job to make what they teach seem as easy to understand as possible. I scrapped everything from what I knew of Level 1s, and put in what I wanted.

This included advanced exercises like Meisner and Dramatic Displacement. In the first week of class too, obviously.

We had a little experience in the class, Doug did improv in KC for years, and Will took a class at iO in Chicago, but they were just killing the exercises I picked.

I did run into one snag the first day though. How do you give notes on 3 Line Openers the first week? My advice was random and weird.

Since I wanted to do 3LO’s each week, I created a system to help me cheat. Each week, there was a different focus for them, like 1 word for the second line, or start with an emotion. That aspect would be all I would give notes on. It also helped me utilize each moment.

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Three years ago, I wanted to get started right away when I moved here, Jan. 3rd of 2011. I scheduled class for the first week in February.

I offered free classes to a handful of very talented actors I knew from Wayne State College. Adam Nathan, Denise Chevalier, Eric Green, Max Mentzer, and Meganne Horrocks. From there, a few students were found on Craigslist, Doug Rothgeb, Tom Smaldone and a couple others I can’t remember now. This was all before even moving.

Max had a friend named Will Meinen who co-owned an art studio and they were looking to put on more shows there. It was called Studio Gallery. I dug it before walking to the basement. Once I saw the brick walls, though, I was sold.

I didn’t even look at another place, especially because it was super cheap. I was also spending $20 and 2 hours each time I drove from Lincoln.

Will joined the class and brought on Nick Rowley. We now had a place to hold class, and enough money to pay for it. Classes were just $75 for 7 weeks.

Now it all depended on how well I could actually teach.

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"Comedy is like quick sand. Stop panicking and you’ll survive longer."

- Improv Etiquette
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"Keep your head up."

- Improv Etiquette
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Inspiration Station! » National Improv Network

Make sure to check out some great quotes by improv legends.

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Rachel Ware, one of the three new directors of Backline, will be teaching her first Level 1 Improv Class for Adults. She is the only instructor at BIT to teach the Level 1 Improv Class for Teens so far.

There are still a few slots available, and this will be one of the last few Level 1s at $100 before the price goes up again.

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One of the best improv teams to perform at Backline returns tonight bigger than ever! The Sitcom now has a cast of 7 and will rock the last hour of the night. If you haven’t seen them, they create a brand new sitcom on the spot, complete with theme song and commercial breaks.

Fans of improv will appreciate that it’s a Harold.

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When I was starting to really consider moving back, I researched Omaha Improv and Omaha Comedy. Didn’t find much besides the Funny Bone and two improv teams, 88improv and The Weisenheimers. I’d like to state that my time doing long-form in LA made me have no interest in short-form, however The Weisenheimers are really talented and I now like their shows. At the time, though, the name Weisenheimers really bothered me. It was like places called the Chuckle Factory, or the Funny Bone… (Which I also now support.)

While stand-up was growing in LA, I still felt really pretentious about it in general and never tried it once. There was a common mindset that the only way to be a respectable comedian was to do improv back then. I heard of a few friends who did it, but never supported it. I also dabble in that these days, and now I like watching stand-up every once in a while. There are a lot of funny stand-ups in Omaha.

88improv had a website, and they were the only long-form team in Omaha. They performed at a place called Pizza Shoppe, which I didn’t know about, but I knew it wasn’t an actual theatre.

To be honest, the video I saw wasn’t that impressive to me. I wanted to make peace with them, though, so I invited them to do a show shortly after moving back, once we started having weekly shows. They did amazing. I’ve been a huge fan of them since, and my respect grows with each show.

Seeing as I respect them all so much now, I feel shitty judging them the same way most people probably still do when comedy comes from Omaha, but I’m glad I did. I wouldn’t have been so cocky coming out here if the videos I watched all killed it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that if you can make people laugh, who cares how you do it.

My searches for Lincoln, NE comedy came up empty…(even though it turns out they have a huge Open Mic.)

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sketchplanations:

The improv attitude.
Fail cheerfully. Be obvious. It’s not about you. Dan Klein is my improv guru having had the fortune to learn from him a couple of times. Thanks Dan. And, as usual, improv tips tend to extend as good practice beyond improv.

sketchplanations:

The improv attitude.

Fail cheerfully. Be obvious. It’s not about you. Dan Klein is my improv guru having had the fortune to learn from him a couple of times. Thanks Dan. And, as usual, improv tips tend to extend as good practice beyond improv.

Source: sketchplanations