I showed up late for my first class at iO. I’m an ass hole.
They’re in the middle of introducing themselves, it sounds like they’re saying where they’re from, who their last teacher at iO was, and what they want out of this class. It’s my turn to introduce myself, “I’m Stephen Perlstein, I’m from Northern California originally. I have actually never taken a class at iO…” My classmates stare blankly at me. “… and uh.. you know what, I’m not really looking for anything specific from this class, just looking forward to getting whatever I get.” More blank faces. Shit… I should know what I want. I shouldn’t be in this class. I’m an ass hole. I should just go back to UCB. Craig makes me feel welcome, “Just happy to be here, thank you, Stephen.”
We move on. First exercise bad scenes. Craig, “We’re gonna all do some bad scenes so let’s just do them all now.” The class laughs. We do bad scenes, it’s oddly enjoyable. Just like doing bad scenes always is. Craig makes the point that we’re still having fun, and agreeing to do the same thing, a bad scene. He says that’s the bare minimum for having a watchable scene.
I already forgot the order of things we did, but I wrote down a bunch of stuff Craig said that I found insightful.
“Comedy is a byproduct of doing improv right.”
“You’re supposed to be funny, not try to be funny.”
“Cleverness and wit are only going to account for 5% of all your laughs.”
“The scene in your head is probably not the one you’re having.”
“Come out with a performance, and build a scene around it. I find it harder to come out with a scene and then build a performance.”
“Choose to know… it will always benefit the scene to know. It will always be funnier to know.”
“You may get a laugh for calling out something as wrong, but you’ve effectively stopped the scene.”
“Most lines of dialogue in improv end in elipses or dashes. Elipses meaning you ran out of words to say. Dash meaning you got cut off.” Be more deliberate in your lines, make the lines important and concise.
“Don’t describe your behavior. If you’re mad, don’t say I’m mad at you, be mad.”
“We say words in improv to buy ourselves time to get to the important thing we say, but we’re left with a bunch of extraneous information.”
“You can treat what you’re doing in a scene like bullshit, but the audience will expect you to deliver jokes every 5 to 10 seconds for them to watch it.”