Tim Yager

Troupe Talk: Samurai Drunk

Samurai Drunk Samurai [sam-oo-rahy] noun, plural samurai. Japanese History 1. a member of the hereditary warrior class in feudal Japan.

Drunk [druhngk] adjective 1. being in a temporary state in which one's physical and mental faculties are impaired by an excess of alcoholic drink; intoxicated.

Samurai Drunk [sam-oo-rahy druhngk] noun, plural funny dudes. Dallas Comedy House History 1. a team of seven hilarious dudes who do what they want

Want to meet them? Well, It’s your lucky day. Up this week on Troupe Talk is none other than Samurai Drunk!

Hey Guys. Thanks for bringing me a beverage to get Samurai drunk on while we talk—tell our readers what you brought me. Nathan: Brown Rice Sake…well, it’s a cup of vodka with brown rice in it. It’s really gross. Don’t drink it. Daniel: Rice wine vinegar. That’s Samurai-y right? Tommy: I brought you a Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Derek: Sake mixed with gasoline. Tim: I didn’t. You never said what you wanted, and I can’t take that kind of pressure. I brought myself a PBR and a shot of Jameson. You can have the shot if you want. Colten: Well, I brought Tim a PBR and a shot of Jameson. You can have them now, I guess. Tyler: A six pack of my current favorites (in no particular order) 1. Community's Witbier 2. Adelbert's Tripel B 3. Revolver's Blood & Honey 4. Live Oak's Hefeweizen 5. Real Ale's White 6. uh... sorry, I already drank that one on the walk over.

Thanks, dudes. Speaking of dudes, you’re an all-dude group, which is kind of like a boy band. What boy band do you most relate to? Nathan: 2ge+her. I know they’re not real, but that makes them ever more real. Daniel: Does Hall and Oates count? No? Oh. Tommy: Boyz II Men. Because we range from Derek to Tyler. Derek: I don't know why, but when I try to answer this question the only thing that comes to mind are the Ninja Turtles. And I know they aren't a boy band, and I know they don't exist. Tim: Wu-Tang Clan comes to mind. I know that if we all had microphones a lot of us would walk around the stage holding up our pants and at the right times saying things like "Yo" and "Yeah.” Colten: What do you think about the Back Street Beach Boys? It would be a cross-over cover band. Tyler: The Grateful Dead.

According to your Facebook page (yeah that’s right, I stalked you on the book), you follow The Drunk Samurai format that you invented as a group. Tell us about the elements and structure of your form. Nathan: The whole point was to NOT have structure or form and to play fast and loose. Much like a samurai, you have to adapt to what is happening in front of you, that way your first reaction is true and usually fun! Daniel: Hop on stage with some dudes and aggressively play make-believe. Tommy: What drew me to Samurai Drunk was that the format could be anything anytime. Nothing is set in stone, not even the testosterone and energy people attribute to us. Derek: It's a stretch to call it a form, because part of the charm is that our shows aren't meant to be rigid. The overriding theme is to bring energy and have fun, but beyond that we try not to limit ourselves. The most standard element is the group scene up top, then occasional organic edits throughout. Tim: I can give no other information aside from it being a blast to put up our "form.” Colten: In our form, a group scene/game becomes the heart of a yet undetermined animal. Then whatever animal it is does whatever that animal do. Tyler: It's really a "form" that leads the actors. We aren't limited by worrying about the "form." We tend to get into trouble when we stand and talk. It's something that other troupes do way too much so I strive to be active so we aren't ever comfortable.

Which accomplishment are you more proud of and why: Being the first DCH team to live stream a show to the entire world? Or winning the DCF 2013 Flip Cup championship? Nathan: Actually, I really liked our Kickstarter for the live stream event. It was well made and funny. I think it really showed off what we can do. Daniel: I wasn't in Samurai Drunk at those times. But I got the Espirit de Corps my first year in High School Marching Band. Tommy: I wasn't in Samurai Drunk at those times. But I got a certificate for being a good restaurant manager when I worked for Taco Cabana. Derek: Live-streaming was fun, but so was our massive Murder in the Dark event. One of the best weekends ever was when we performed at the Out of Bounds festival in Austin, but literally spent the majority of our time playing Murder in the Dark in a rented house (while Tyler slept). Tim: I was in Samurai at that time, and I can say that if I had to choose it would absolutely be the live-stream, otherwise, the tagline for DCH would just be "the famous Dallas Comedy House." Conversely my least proud moment is still not having our pilot finished—although we are probably a month or two away from the final thing. God fucking willing. Colten: I wasn't on the team that won the Flip Cup championship, despite being in Samurai Drunk at the time. So you leave me no choice but to choose the live-stream, which was super fun to be a part of. Tyler: I wasn't a part of either one. I'm most proud (non performance) of our Murder in the Dark past show experiment.

Samurais were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. Back in the day, what happened when they got drunk? Nathan: According to the thousands of hours of anime I watch, they usually pass out or a lady with large breasts show up and everyone gets a nose bleed. Daniel: They got even. Tommy: They would be victorious in battle or they would die in battle. There was no other option. Derek: I'm not sure if this is what you're asking, but it seems like a good segue to explain what our name means. If I remember correctly, Colten is the one who came up with the name Samurai Drunk. We were a little confused until he explained that samurai used to practice sword fighting while inebriated, so that they would be that much better when sober. That kind of crazy logic seemed perfect for us, and so it stuck. Tim: Probably a shit-ton of karaoke. Colten: They forgot about the stressful day they had and were able to relax a little. Tyler: Geishas, sake, and gambling… probably.

DON'T MISS Samurai Drunk at the Dallas Comedy House!

Tori Oman is a Level Four student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.

*Definition sources from Dictionary.com. Except for the Samurai Drunk one. I made that up.

Troupe Talk: Kool Aid

Kool Aid It's a pretty neat day at Troupe Talk! I just discovered that Kool Aid is more than a talking pitcher of liquid with a face on it or a package of powder that makes a tasty, refreshing summer drink—they are also a funny team of six that plays TONIGHT at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH)! Feeling a little shy about going to see a team you hardly know? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Check out Kool Aid in this week's installment of Troupe Talk.

I wanted to play some tunes while we chat. You’ve all brought me the first CD you ever purchased—what is it?

Mitch: The Good Burger soundtrack. Terry: Grease motion picture soundtrack. Tim: Beastie Boys - Ill Communication. Mike: Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger. Cameron: Ace of Bass. Tyler: I don’t remember, but I do remember my first music purchase was Kenny Rogers' 8-track album entitled Gideon.

Sweet tunes gang, thanks. Where are you guys from, and what’s a fun fact about that place?

Mitch: Rhonesboro, Texas, is the possum capital of the world. Terry: Garland, Texas. Walker, Texas Ranger, the famous TV series starring Chuck Norris, were filmed in this city. Tim: Garland, Texas. It was the inspiration for Arland, the town King of the Hill was set in, and it was featured by name in Zombieland. It’s also home to a superior public water system. Mike: We're from New York City. It's not actually an apple. Cameron: San Marcos is among the oldest, continually inhabited places in North America. Tyler: Denison, Texas. Birthplace of Dwight David Eisenhower. Yes, THE Dwight David Eishenower!

SO what is Kool Aid’s comedy flavor?

Mitch: Good Burgery. Terry: Equal parts organic, manic, and panic. Tim: Our flavor is very organic and tends be more thematic. Our style reminds me a lot of the type of improv you see in Chicago in that we thrive in group scenes, follow the fun, and often the show as a whole centers around a main theme. Mike: Fast and furious minus the Vin Diesel. Cameron: Ecto cooler. Tyler: Fun, organic, and unafraid.

DCH has some new digs! Why should people come check them out?

Mitch: I haven't been yet, but I'm curious—are the bathrooms bigger? I guess I haven't been sent any emails firmly declaring that one way or the other. Terry: The old place is closed. Tim: Because Kool Aid isn’t performing at the old place! Mike: The ceiling is so high! Cameron: More snacks than before. Tyler: Craft beer (finally!!!), the best improv in Dallas - Ft. Worth, and better parking choices.

So we all know the Kool-Aid man has more to say than his classic tagline, “Oh Yeah.”Finish his thought for us!

Mitch: "Look this is just a job, all right? I like other stuff. Have you see The Wire?" Terry: "I am unnecessarily destructive!" Tim: “… oh wait, wrong wall. My apologies.” *scampers off* Mike: “…Do NOT go in there!” *waves hand over nose* Cameron: “…I guess you could make me with Splenda.” Tyler: “... sorry I’m late.”

Kool Aid performs at DCH tonight, May 15. You can also see them perform May 30, June 5, and June 13. 

Tori Oman is a level four student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.

Q&A With Harold Teacher Tim Yager

Del Close is a genius. Or a jerk. Depends on who's telling the tale. What's undeniable, though, is that he created an improv form that's continually talked about and performed: The Harold. Tim YagerWe here are offering a special advanced class on The Harold. And to you get you excited about it, we asked teacher Tim Yager about the course, the form, and his experience with it.

How long have you been performing The Harold? How did you get interested in it?

I was learning or performing The Harold for most of my three years in Chicago. I went through the training center at the iO (formerly Improv Olympic) where The Harold is their signature form put together by the crazed and allured Del Close. When I moved back to Dallas, I got involved with DCH's FIAD, which was coached by my buddy Cody Dearing. I got interested in The Harold when I read about it in Truth in Comedy while I was taking classes at 4 Day Weekend in 2004.

What makes The Harold unique to improv?

Probably the fact that it's so fucking hard. It's incredibly simple to screw up and difficult to master. Its success is due in part to what improvisers call group mind. It does have a structure to it, but that can be messed with. Ultimately it depends on everyone in the group being on the same page, and that ain't easy.

Aside from that, I'd have to say the group games set it apart from other forms. There's a group opening at the top and then group games throughout, articulating each "movement" of the piece. People either love 'em or hate 'em, but it's definitely a big part of what makes Harold unique as most forms don't incorporate these unless they happen organically.

What skills from The Harold can performers learn that they can apply to other forms of improv?

This is precisely what I love about The Harold: it's an amalgamation of everything you've ever learned in improv and then some.

Probably the biggest skill one has to hone is listening. Loads of people think they listen, but for Harold to work, everyone has to be listening extremely carefully--superhuman listening. Listening for small bits of information, understanding deeper meanings behind initiations, watching for some interesting physicality or sound and having the gumption to bring things back.

The second biggest skill is: TAKE A FUCKING RISK!

Both of those will go a long way in any show you're doing.

Who are some Harold troupes that you recommend as great examples of the form?

The Reckoning, hands down. Carl & The Passions, Bullet Lounge, Cook County Social Club and Revolver. All Chicago teams at iO.

The Reckoning is truly inspirational to watch when they're all together, or even when they're not. They elevated the form and really enjoy fucking with it, making it their own.

What's the most difficult thing about the form and how do you overcome it?

For me, it was thinking thematically. Harold is a form that strives to find meaning in the suggestion. If the suggestion is monkey, we don't want to see a boatload of scenes about monkeys, we want to see scenes about evolution, animal testing or being 96 percent identical to some superior person and just not quite being "good enough." It's about taking an idea and exploding outward. To overcome that, you have to train your brain to be thinking this way. Luckily, it already does this, but we have to train it to be even more alert.

For others that I've taught Harold to, I feel like their biggest hang-ups are understanding that the structure of Harold is malleable and not as rigid as they think. Often people will be on the sidelines wondering what part of the show we're in and not paying attention to what's happening in that moment.

Thank you, Tim, for taking the time to answer our questions. Registration is still open for The Harold course for improvisers who have graduated from the DCH Training Center. The seven-week, three-hour course begins this Saturday, January 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Ear Candy: The Improvised Podcast

You know what's just as fun as watching improv? Talking about it. That's right, you can learn a brickton about the improvisational arts by hearing war stories and best practices from other performers. While there are several good podcasts about improv available online, we're partial to one in particular: The Improvised Podcast. It's hosted by DCH teachers and performers Chad Haught, Landon Kirksey, and Tim Yager. Each week they bring in a guest improviser and talk about improv. It's a great podcast and a wonderful way to get some extra improv education.

For your eardrums, check out the most recent podcast that features Molly Erdman.