This is so exciting! Right after our first acceptance comes number two. We're so happy to announce we'll be screening at the 2015 Muskoka Independent Film Festival in Rosseau, Ontario.
Only a few hours north of Toronto this is a beautiful area and a great opportunity to see the film in a wonderful nature filled environment.
Find all the details at their website below.
A lot of time in improv you get way too far into your head. It happens to new improvisers AND veteran improvisers. You’re thinking “If I suck - no one will want to work with me!”, “How can I work my pineapple joke into this scene?”, “But, I don’t know anything about robotics!”, or simply “What do I do next?” It’s good to think before you make an offer, but not to the point where the audience can see you thinking (or see the drool start coming out of your blank-staring-face-hole). You’re judging yourself. You’re not sure of what the “right choice” is. SPOILER ALERT: there is no “right choice”. Sure there are “good choices” and there are “better choices”, but at the end of the day any choice is better than Drooly McGee.
So with that in mind, here is a quick warm-up you and your improv team can use to get the brain sap flowing. Gross.
I’m sure there are a million names for it, but I call this one Don’t Break The Chain! The exercise focuses on lightning-fast free-association.
Don’t Break The Chain:
-Stand in a circle! (Or right across from one another if there are only two of you, OR a triangle if there are three of you … Look you get it: MAKE A “CHAIN”!).
-One person chooses a word and says it aloud. (Any word is fine! The more generic the better!)
-Then, the person to left of the first person says the first word that comes to his or her mind. (ANYTHING! SERIOUSLY! EVEN THE SAME WORD, IF YOU HAVE TO – but try not to! JUST FREE ASSOCIATE!)
-Now, the next person in the chain says the first word that comes to his or her mind. (After hearing the second person’s word said. Don’t break the chain!)
-Feel free to get as far away from the first word as possible!
-Continue until the group naturally comes back to the first word said. (I stress naturally, because it is very tempting to jump from “pineapple” to “apartheid” just to get back on track. I’m sure there is an argument for the connection, but trust me: it feels better when you don’t force it.
-Now, start again with a new word and continue until you’re speeding through it! (DON’T BREAK THIS AWESOME CHAIN!)
-FOR BONUS POINTS: Play the game elimination style! If someone pauses before speaking or repeats a word they are eliminated. Play until all but two players are eliminated!)
And that’s it.
So, get out of your head and onto the stage!
Until next time, DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN!
So for those of you not aware of the cinematic masterpiece that is 1999’s Galaxy Quest, it is a sci-fi-parody-meta-documentary, and it is awesome. There’s even a BuzzFeed articlte to back up this opinion. They don’t just write BuzzFeed articles about anything you know! (Yeah, not anything… they write them for EVERYTHING!) But, this post is not about Galaxy Quest. This post only borrows a line from the movie, “Never give up, never surrender!” It was an intentionally cheesy tagline, but I use it here didactically.
In improv it is easy to slow down. You stop playing in so many shows. You stop attending shows you’re not in. You stop taking classes. You just simply stop. You’ve all but given up.
You become complacent. You think you’re garbage, so why bother. You think bar shows are a waste of time. You think you’ve learned it all OR you think that you are the worst and no classes will help. You’ve given up prioritizing improv. Improv has taken a back seat to other things in life. I understand that. We’ve all been there. We all have a life outside improv. (WHAT!?!?! A life outside improv?!? It is a thought too crazy to really conceive of!)
But here’s the thing: if you want to get better (or even just maintain what improv skill you’ve got now) you have got to keep going (#NeverSurrender). In another post I describe a game I call “Don’t Break the Chain”, which is essentially a game where you’ve got to keep the momentum going in order to not break the “chain”. The same rule applies to the art of improv itself. Don’t slow down or you will lose momentum in your improv! Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
Be signed up for your next class before the one you’re in concludes. Have another show booked before the one you’re on happens. Join another team – or better yet form your own improv team with all those people you’ve always wanted to! It’s tough, but constantly having classes, a show or being on an omnipresent team, makes it harder to slack on your improv. It limits your excuses.
Look, I know we all get down on ourselves and have a million things on the go. So I’ll end by saying: it’s okay to take a break from improv . But if improv is what you love, (after enough time has passed) keep doing it. The more you do, the better you will get, and the more rewarding it will become.
How To … Never Give Up, Never Surrender:
· Make it a rule to improvise (in a class, in a show, at a bar!) at least once a week
· Just keep improvising any chance you can
· Did I mention improv!
· Never Give Up (unless it’s drugs)
· Never Surrender (unless you’ve been kidnapped by pirates)
And that is really it! To suggest future topics comment below or tweet us @Improv4Life
Toronto is an improv hot-spot, but sometimes it is tough to know which show to hit up! So here are my TOP 5 SHOWS to hit up THIS WEEK!
1) We Happy Few presents: Shakespeare Forgive Us V
April 24th at 8PM Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West,TO)
This show is put on by an improv troupe chock-full of talented improvisers, aptly named We Happy Few. The troupe will be doing a completely improvised play! But, here’s the kicker: they are doing it all in the classic Shakespearean style! So get ready for sonnets, pathetic fallacy, and dialogue like: “forsooth that is mine pineapple”, “what ho, Beef Jerky”, and “thine Nickelback concert bequeaths trepidatious musicality to the masses”. The show also features stand-up comedy and live music!
2) BRAIN HUGS hosted by Kate Noyes
April 24th at 9:30PM Baltic Avenue (875 Bloor Street West,TO)
Brain Hugs is a brand new comedy show in Toronto that ALSO focuses on crushing the stigma around mental health issues. The show has got some of the best improvisers and performers in Toronto talking honestly about their personal experiences with mental health in their lives AND also doing some kick-ass improv! The best part: all proceeds are going to the Gerstein Centre (a crisis intervention centre for those experiencing mental health issues).
3) Improv Hero
April 25th at 9PM John Candy Box Theatre (70 Peter Street,TO)
Improv Hero is one of the best ideas for an improv show in maybe forever. The gist of the show is that a lot of new improvisers have a certain “hero” in improv (someone they aspire to be like or admire). Improv Hero allows these new improvisers to submit the names of these aforementioned admirable improvisers and then if all the stars align, they get to do an improv set with their IMPROV HERO (hence the show name)! It’s a great show put on at The Second City Training Centre!
BeerProv: April 25th at 10:30 Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West,TO)
Basically the idea behind them is top-notch improvisers do a pretty regular improv show, EXCEPT ALL THE PERFORMERS GET DRUNK IN THE PROCESS! That’s right: the performers do a good ol’ fashioned improv show, but are drinking onstage the whole time. It makes for a pretty ridiculous show! And to top it all off: it’s a competition. The audience votes (and drinks) for their favourite improviser until the BeerProv champion is crowned! It is deservingly one of the most successful improv shows in Toronto!
4.5) BEERPROV presents the Draft
The Draft: April 24th at 9:30PM Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West,TO)
Not only does this show have a PUN for a title, but it also works as a training ground for BeerProv. It is essentially the same format as BeerProv, but stars “rookie” improvisers! The winner of this show moves on to compete in the next BeerProv show!
5) GOOD NEWS, TORONTO!
April 25th at 8PM at Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West, TO)
Good News, Toronto! is a comedy-news-variety show. Think like The Daily Show … but Canadian so more polite and drunken! Good News, Toronto features some of the most talented performers in Toronto updating you on the news items you didn’t even know about! The show features a variety of acts from sketch to live music to puppetry, but one of the mainstays is improvisation! That’s right, you tell a troupe what news story you want to hear and they will tell it like they see it! This month’s show is hosted by two improvisers Moniquea Marion and yours truly, Korri Birch! Additionally this month has an unprecedented 3 improv acts! HOLY COW! MUST SEE IMPROV! NOW!!!
And that’s all she wrote folks (she being me, Korri, who is actually a “he” despite the spelling of my name)!
If you’d like to suggest a show for a future blog tweet us @Improv4Life
1. How did you get started in the improv community?
In high school, all our drama club did was improv. We didn't have the organization or teacher support to actually put on a play, so we did improv games every lunch we could. We only performed for an audience at most once a year, but it was a fun way to spend our lunch and I made a lot of friends. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure all our scenes were cringeworthily terrible by standards I now hold myself to.
Later, after university when I moved to Toronto, I started taken courses at Second City and that really got me into the Toronto improv scene.
2. You've now starred in one improvised feature film and made 2 completely improvised web series, what got you excited in being a part of these projects?
I'm always looking for more projects, but sometimes I get worried jumping into indie projects that they'll be terrible and I won't find out until I'm already committed. With improvised films I got to be part actor and part writer. I had more agency over where the story went and how it turned out. As director on the web-series, I just wanted to give improvisers I knew were funny a chance to show their best work. I just wanted to show the whole internet what these talented people could do given a fair chance.
3. What is the biggest challenge of making these improvised projects?
Editing, or as actor waiting for editing to be done. Editing is already a very hard job but with improv you really are deciding what the story is. Also, we always shoot way more than gets released. Often you could have used those same pieces to tell a completely different story. It can be overwhelming to even start sometimes.
4. Can you tell us your favorite on set story from the improvised projects you've worked on?
I think my favorite moment was during Memes in Motions shoot "Nintendo Bed," Joanna Haughton was trying to figure out if there were any video game related impressions she could do. Someone suggests she try Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2, and someone else yells, "get her an egg." In moments we had Joanna spitting out a whole egg from her mouth. It was a great moment of the whole crew working together to create some something equal parts genius and incredibly stupid.
5. What is coming up next for the incomparable Maddox Campbell?
I'm just going to keep at it. Wheelhouse will be filming a second season this fall and I'll be coming back as the character Arcane. My sketch troupe "Interrobang" has been getting more and more gigs around Toronto. I'm also in early stages on a new project for my own Youtube channel, "Kicks and Giggles". But of course, if the Weekenders Present need me for anything in the meantime, I'm sure I'll be able to work it into my schedule.
You can check out Maddox in Wheelhouse here.
After a 9 week season, my first improvised web series with Weekenders Present has come to a close.
During filming, it was incredibly exciting to watch the actors work in front of the camera, because you were never sure what the actors would do or say. The improvisation didn't end there however. Wheelhouse was uniquely a 'choose everyone's adventure' web series, meaning that the audience would determine the nature of each week's episode.
Each week the audience was given three options from which to choose, and I would have in stock 3 edits of the film that corresponded to each choice. The one the majority chose would be released.
Some of these choices only changed a portion of the episode but they would still affect the rest of the episodes and even the next season. Other choices led to 3 very different scenes. I may release these other realities as part of a download of a more exhaustive Wheelhouse film experience, since only a small fraction of it was used in the final product.
Well, preparations for the second season are already underway, and I am also preparing a cut of Wheelhouse that will be completely silent, encouraging viewers to supply another soundtrack to play over the film. Hopefully this will provide another opportunity for audience sway and expression. Stay tuned and thanks for your viewership.
See you out there!
(Check out all of the season 1 episodes in the playlist below)
All this week, our program directors Julian Frid and Korri Birch will be running IMPROV 4 LIFE workshops at iLITE student leadership conference events across the GTA.
Even better? We're going to be giving away a free workshop to one lucky class. Just have your teacher sign up, and you may be the lucky class that gets to take a break from homework to learn IMPROV 4 LIFE!
See you all at iLITE!
Our newest web series, directed by Maddox Campbell is now live. It's Misunderstandings, a hilarious new series featuring two performers each episode that just aren't on the same page.
You can see episode 1 below!
This coming March one of the biggest improv festivals the world over is back, and better than ever!
Arriving March 13th to April 6th, the festival features some on the best improv talent the world over, and has hosted performances from former Weekenders. So if you're feeling like a belly full of laughter,