There’s a new business-world trend that has a direct relation to improv: Asking why. Business leaders are asking themselves why they’re doing something, rather than asking what they do or how they do it. It’s a great trend, and I hope it sticks. For improv, stating why (or attaching the world “because”) will also help you during your scene work.
“Emotions are always great for improvising scenes, but you have to be specific,” said Dina Facklis, a Chicago-based improviser who was recently named Improviser of the Year at iO Chicago. “For example, ‘I hate that you got the last cheeseburger; I’m so happy that I don’t have to get married now.’ These are just teasers, but they start giving insight into who we are by being more specific. When I say emotions, people just want to say ‘I’m so happy’ or ‘I’m so excited.’ That does nothing. Specifics are key.”
Facklis and her improv partner, Andy St. Clair, will be coming to the DCH March 2-4 for a show and a series of workshops focusing on initiating scenes, monologues, writing, and remembering to have fun while performing.
Monologues can be tricky, because you don’t want to be considered a scene hog.
“Economy is key,” Facklis said. “A monologue can be three sentences long, if it gets to the point.”
An example, Facklis says, could be a guy with a Southern accent entering a scene with a girl.
“‘Mama wanted me to come and apologize,’ the guy says. ‘She knows I don’t like saying sorry, so she also made me bring this casserole. She said you liked casserole--which seems stupid to me.’ That sets up a multitude of stuff right away.
“The secret to improv, I believe, is saying the least possible and showing the most possible,” Facklis continued. “Maybe your character is long-winded, but I would never want that to be someone’s go-to. Think of comedy’s best characters and how they communicate who they are--Kramer on Seinfeld, for example. He walks into a room, and you immediately get a feeling off of him before he says a word.”
Even though adding specifics and being economical with language are good guides, your overall strategy should be to have fun. Isn’t that why we perform improv, because it’s fun?
“I don’t do anything that I’m not inspired by,” Facklis said. “Even if that means taking an extra second to respond. I also perform with people who make me laugh and make me want to be better.”
A sure way to make yourself better on stage is to take one (or all) of Facklis and St. Clair’s workshops. You’ll get to work with some of the best country’s improvisers and perform with new people you may have never met. Taking their workshops should be a no-brainer answer to “why.”
Scene Intensive with Dina Facklis
|Believe it or not, starting a great scene is easier than you think--you’re the only thing getting in its way. This intensive will get you out of your head and into a place where successful scenes can’t help but happen. Get ready for an early evening of effortless scenework that will help you figure it all out! (14 person maximum)||Register|
Finding the Comedy Gold in Your Improvisation with Andy St. Clair
|The No. 1 rule of improv: have fun! How many times do you forget that little gem? From personal experience, my guess would be A LOT. Hell, with all the rules and nuances of improv, who wouldn't forget? This workshop will show improvisers how to make the rules work for them while having a ton of funso that you have a ball while mining every single piece of comedy gold you can from a scene! (14 person maximum)||Register|
|March 3 & 4
Monologue Development with Andy St. Clair
|You can count on this: You have more characters in yourself than you think. And this workshop is not only about finding them, it's also about developing a written piece from them that is carefully structured with perfect timing. This workshop will conclude with a showcase of these monologues on that Sunday night at DCH. (14 person maximum)||Register|
|March 3 & 4
Writing Scenes from Improv with Dina Facklis
|How many scenes do you have in your improvisation past that you wish you had written down? I personally have ABOUT ONE MILLION. This workshop will allow you to either bring in beat outlines for a scene that you've already improvised or find your scene with a partner through improvisation. You will then work with me to write this scene as to maximize its potential in terms of timing, character development and story arc. This workshop will also conclude with a showcase of these monologues that Sunday night at DCH. (14 person maximum, please feel free to sign up in pairs)||Register|