ComedySportz 202 with Mel Evans

I am finding that my Saturdays are the day that I do my writing up of my notes. I say that after only a fortnight, so that may be an over identification of the game within my life! However, today is again Saturday, and again I am writing up my notes. I have got the same number of pages to write up as I did last week, but I don’t feel the same pressure. Which is a little bizarre as last week I didn’t finish until 3 am and didn’t even finish them. Oh well, let’s carry on…

There was a great deal of fun to be had in the past week. One part of it was my level 202 class with Mel Evans. I have started noting my classmates; one day, without a doubt one of two of them will will have their names in lights, but also it is good to note these things down to try to remember, I am meeting so many people here in Chicago. And that is fine, however it does mean that I don’t have the tight knit group that people on a month long intensive have to fall back on, so it is slightly isolating. If I were less busy I might be lonely!

I am, however, not lonely (well, maybe on the odd occasion, but man up Cowie!); and I am certainly enjoying my classes. I am finding that ComedySportz, being such a family-like school and the classes being such a difference from the long form improv, is a great foil to the other, a nice way to relax and play in a different way.

The second class with Mel started, as usual, discussing the shows watched. This is a nice way to start the class and get us thinking about what it is that we like to see in other shows. Poor Mel is preparing for a marathon, so was in bits. However, she still put on a fine class, with loads of energy to prepare me for a seriously hectic week!

Mel mentioned that she had been in a show where they had played 4 Square, but there had been a baby in the audience, so, with its father to prop it up, it became one of the corners in the game, apparently to wonderful success and thundering applause, it sounded huge fun.
Mel suggested that I might enjoy watching “World News Tonight” at the iO, so something to check out…

Then we went into the warm up exercises. We started with a sound and a noise, so each of us made a sound and a noise, and then everyone else tried to copy it as accurately as possible. We did is several times, the accuracy being important. Then the next person would do it, all around the circle.

Then, standing in the centre of the circle, we asked for a noun and an adjective and created a character based on this, which we showed off to the group.

Finally, still in the circle, we asked for a pop song and a character, and tried to imitate that person singing that song. Much hilarity, and not just thanks to my lack of  musical acumen!

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We did an exercise where we came into the room trying to silently convey a character, an occupation, an animal, fictional character or celebrity.

We looked at physicality.
An intellectual character moves forward with his head
An emotional character moves forward with his chest
A sexual character moves forward with his crotch

Try to move your centre of gravity when you walk. Feel the change, feel the character inhabiting you.
Mirror your partner. Or juxtapose. Mirroring is better, and is always a good choice. It is pleasing to watch.

We then did 2 person scenes with the body led by a different part of it to see what emerged.
It is important to really accentuate this. It is like an accent, you are not showing it without really showing it way beyond what it feels like is showing it. Make it cartoon like.

Think through the different parts of the body you can lead with – maybe wrists, bum, shoulder blade.
Imagine a piece of string attached to a part of the body, pulling that part in a direction.
Think about weight in different parts of the body. Move the weight around.
Think about the amount of give the different joints have. Play with being stiffer or more fluid.

The cartoon is very easy to identify. The cartoon of a celebrity will also donate character to you.

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Tag team monologue game
Here, as a team, we told a monologue, each tagging in to tell the next few words, starting mid word if necessary. We had to take on the character, physicality, vocal tone and energy of the person who started, mimic them as accurately as possible, make it seem as if there is just a single person there…
The more accurate the copying, the more interesting and funnier it is for the audience.
Concentrate particularly on the eyes, the smile and the physicality.

***
Watch someone whilst out and about, really try to get them, then go home and write a monologue from their perspective, feel their physicality.

Practice copying, practice identifying the details. Try to be as accurate as possible.

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Replay
This is a game where we played a scene, then replayed it 3 times, each time differently. Firstly with a specific genre, then an accent, then a high school clique.
The key to this was particularly to remember points and beats of the scene and to repeat them.

Finally, Replay Pile-On
Here, we added each thing as a layer onto the top of the scene with each replay.

Think cliches in all of this. Stereotyping is good, make it recognisable.

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Jamie Campbell, who runs ComedySportz mentioned a fun game in stand up when there were not enough audience, he would get them to give him a punchline and he would come up with the most convoluted story to get to there. Fun!

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My classmates:
Leeta Aulet, Chris Condren, Valerie Burrelle, James Zubowicz, Bridget Brown, Ben Vettraino, Stephanie Sheridan

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One thought on “ComedySportz 202 with Mel Evans”

  1. Hi Al! Hope everything’s going great in London and you’re showing them all your new improv skills! I’m sorry we didn’t get to hang out more. I hope we meet again sometime. London! =)

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