Improv Obsession

This is Stephen Perlstein's thoughts, tips, discussions, and reviews about improv. I'm pretending I know everything about improv. I don't. I'm just writing this stuff as an outlet for my improv obsession in hopes that it will help me and any improvisors out there reading this. Feel free to disagree, or tell me what you think in the comments. Donations keep the show going. MODEST DONATIONS ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. $5 is great. $10 is amazing. $20, I don't even know what to do with that.
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Try these exercises at your next improv practice.

Exercise 1: Have Richer Source Material

  1. Two people up.
  2. Leave the practice and go see a movie.
  3. Talk about it together afterwards at a coffee shop.

Alternate versions: read a book, see a play, watch a concert. Something neither of your have…

Kid Grift is back doing a show this Tuesday! Everyone knows Kid Grift is one of the most lovable teams of all time, and they do amazing improv, so why don’t you go. 


A while ago I worked on a post for Splitsider that sought to reconcile the differences in game philosophy between UCB and iO. As someone who had been trained at both theaters, I never agreed with the characterization that “UCB is all about game; iO is about the relationship.”

After gathering…

I get asked quite a bit about the differences between UCB and iO. This is one of the best characterizations I’ve ever read. 

I got to see Improvised Shakespeare last year, and it was one of the best improvised shows I have ever seen. Impressive, funny, innovative. It was really a break from the everyday improv in Los Angeles.

Hey guys, there’s a new website that helps you find the precious commodity of an improv coach! You can also rate coaches, and other coaching related stuff. Also I’m a coach on there. Book your coach today!

And, also I just realized I accidentally left like three people off this list. Whoops. Well, these and maybe a few more not on the list, or maybe no one on the list. Let’s play down this whole list thing, yeah?

Hopefully we can get a lot of cool episodes done, and have a big 2014. 

I don’t know all these people, so I’m not positive I can get them on. If anyone’s got the Amy Poehler hook up, let me know.

My goal is to get 100 guests by the end of the year. This would be my busiest year ever.

These are some people I’m aiming to get on on the podcast this year.?

These were supposed to be a gif. I couldn’t figure it out. How do computers work?

"It’s a modified Harold, you’ve never seen it before."


A lot of my good friends are either on UCB Harold teams or auditioned this year. Many of them got callbacks. 

Tomorrow, many people will be getting emails saying they did not make it. And they will be disappointed.

Some people will get amazing phone calls that their dream has come true and they are the newest member of a house team.

Some will breath a sigh of relief to find out that their team is remaining intact, or at the very least, that they have been reassigned to a new team and will continue to perform.

And then, there are the few, the unlucky few, who will be cut entirely.

That call feels like a punch in the fucking gut. I should know. I received it a year ago.

Even though callbacks are still going on and nobody knows what the new Harold line-up will look like, the fact remains that tomorrow, a handful of amazingly talented and wonderful people, some who may be some of my best friends, will get that call. And it breaks my heart. 

So, as someone who has been lucky enough to be added to the Harold machine, then unlucky enough to be replaced for newer, shinier parts, I have one thing to say.




For one, congratulations on making a Harold team and getting to do this amazing thing you love for a full year. That committee’s decision this weekend is not a reflection of you as a performer. It is a reflection of a group of people who have a job to do. And not an enviable job. The hard work you put into getting on a team. The hard work you put into becoming a better improvisor while being on a team. The audience cheering you on as you made funny choices, bold moves, and crazy characters. The incredible bond that has formed between you and seven other hilarious people. That’s the reflection of you. And not being on a team anymore does NOT take that away. 

And two, congratulations on all that extra time you have now! What’s that? Like 6 hours a week? Great! Use it. Create something. Lemons into lemonade and all that. When Scandal! got dismantled, I told myself I was going to make the following year really matter. I was going to make getting cut the BEST thing that ever happened to me by working harder, faster, and stronger at my career. And I did. (Well, not at first. At first I dwelled and cried and holed up in my room refusing to talk to most people because all I wanted to do was complain and let out these completely legitimate emotions but couldn’t because what if I came across as bitter?! But eventually, I did). I wrote a pilot. I made videos. I got a manager. I got an agent. I’m auditioning and submitting for more stuff than ever before. So yes. Congratulations, because if you so choose, getting taken off Harold night could be a great, great thing for you. Even if it doesn’t seem that way now.

And of course it doesn’t seem that way now. Right now it just. Plain. Sucks. So first things first, get through this initial shock and disappointment using whatever coping mechanism works best for you. Cry. Call your mom. Write in your journal. Fill a kettle with boiling water and throw it at the stray cats in your driveway. Let it out. You’re allowed to be disappointed and you’re allowed to be upset. Just don’t make any long ranty Facebook posts about how UCB sucks because you KNOW the  community gets a real boner out of reading those to each other. And if you need to take a minute to breath, step away from the scene, go for it. We all understand. And we’ll be so excited to greet you when you return.


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Stephen Perlstein,
Improv Obsession Podcast

Jacob Womack is on the show! He’s the long time host of the soon to be finished Crashbar Improv! He’s also on the wonderful harold team John Velvet. Jacob and I talk about the one thing I always talk about, BICYCLING. We also talk about improv, where we’re at in the whole process, how to make more out of it. It’s all pretty great. Also, sorry about the hiatus guys. I got laid off of my job and my schedule’s been bananas as a result. I’m gonna try and lock back in and get more done. Happy improvising!

Don’t Blink: Harold Audition Tips from UCBTLA Artistic Director Alex Berg. Good luck