Improv

Follow Your Feet by Evey McKellar

Follow Your Feet by Evey McKellar

Editing is a crucial tool for a lively and energetic improv show: the well-timed edit secures a joke in infamy; the strong edit leaves the audience at the height of their laughter, thirsty for more.

When we first learn editing in improv, our instincts are brand new. As we practice and progress, a phenomenon occurs. Watching our teammates play out their scenes, our feet begin to communicate their own message. Our teachers encourage us: follow your feet. They seem to have a wisdom of their own; we lurch forward as if about to fall off a ledge. Coming up to our toes and then back down to our heels, something within us had an idea, something within us felt that the scene could end here; together we found a height of connection and comedy.

The History of the Improvised Horror Movie

It’s the 6th year of the Improvised Horror Movie and with the 10-year birthaversary for DCH just around the corner, I wanted to share what makes the show so special to me. Directing, producing, and performing in this show, striving to make it better each year, is my way of honoring a great friend and keeping his memory alive.

I moved back to Dallas in 2013 after living in Chicago for the better part of a decade. I learned a lot about performing, directing, writing, and tech while I was there. One of my teachers and mentors was Jason Chin, a constant and bright light in the Chicago improv scene.

Minimalism and Improv: Two Birds of a Feather?

It’s an ancient practice of self-discipline, yet in our consumer-driven society, it has become trendy again. I’m talking about minimalism – it’s used in design, art and even some folks’ everyday lifestyles. Minimalism could even be used to describe the art form that you and I love - improvisation.

On the surface, they couldn’t be more unrelated. One’s a solitary practice of self-restraint, while the other one is… Well, letting it all loose in front of an audience. I’m honored to explain how the heart of improv shares the same key elements as minimalism.  

Creating Belonging by Evey McKellar

Creating Belonging by Evey McKellar

One of my favorite warm-up games in improv classes is called “7 things”. Each person gets a turn around the circle. When it is their turn the person lists 7 things about the topic they have been given.  (For example: 7 songs you love to sing in the shower) After each thing they list, we count off, and collectively yell “yes!” to their suggestion.(Africa by Toto - yes!, Easy by Lionel Richie - yes!, Take On Me by a-ha - yes!, Beat It by Michael Jackson - yes!, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green - yes!, Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard - yes!, The Sweater Song by Weezer - yes!)

I have seen this game played a handful of times. Sometimes, 7 very hilarious things emerge, and we marvel at the quickness and cleverness of the player. Other times, the list of 7 involves grunts and random noises, and we celebrate witnessing a person being brave and contributing. The game teaches the individual to be present to themselves and say the first thing that pops into their head without getting stuck in thinking and planning. It teaches the rest of the group to stretch the muscle of saying ‘yes’ to each other.


New Troupe/Old Troupe: Middle-Aged Southern Women/STAN

Back when I was a level 1 student – I don’t remember exactly when that was; probably the 80s – our teachers espoused us to watch STAN shows, and with good reason. They are a DCH institution like few other troupes can boast to be, and their shows are “part play, part movie, all fun,” replete with an “improvised soundtrack.” It’s made up of Anthony Bowling, Nick Scott, Shawn Frambach, Tabitha Parker, & Timmy Mayse, and scored by Raye Maddox .

They have a lot of knowledge to share too, and so even experienced improvisers like Kent Wicklander and Houston Hardaway stand to benefit from their knowledge – especially when they are forming a new troupe.

That new troupe is Middle-Aged Southern Women, where Kent and Houston perform a “stream of consciousness monoscene and drink tea as middle-aged southern women.” The guest, in the case of the picture, is Haley Armstrong.