improvisation

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Reggie Watts is unlike any musician working today — but they could learn something from him

You may not know the most talented live musician of our generation, and if you did, you might think him a comedian. Reggie Watts  is a comedian, but he’s fundamentally a musician. Specifically, he’s the most talented live performer of our generation.

The reason? Every single thing he does is improvised. And it’s always unbelievably brilliant and catchy.

55 Classic Improv Scene Initiations Featuring Alligators
  1. “Jeremy, there’s an alligator in the kitchen, and I think you know why.”
  2. “Thanks for coming on such short notice, I know you’ve been dealing with an alligator problem.”
  3. “Well, I managed to pick up most of what was left of your alligator.”
  4. “Madam Windocker, are all these paintings of alligators?”
  5. “To be honest, no, this was my first time eating alligator.”
  6. “Gentlemen, I think you all know the esteemed Dr. Alligator.”
  7. “Alligator, alligator, alligator, crocodile, alligator…Hold on just a second!”
  8. “The crone waved her wrinkled fingers and then an alligator tail just started to…grow.”
  9. “I go to work, and clock in, and clock out, and every day I wonder if I was supposed to be an alligator instead.”
  10. “You’ve clamped down on my heart, Riley, like an alligator without a sense of personal boundaries.”
  11. “I’m afraid the alligator will have to wait outside.”
  12. “If we try to swim for it, the alligators will gorge themselves on two of us, but the rest are likely to make it.”
  13. “That alligator-skin clutch — why, that was Mom’s!”
  14. “Relax, Dennis. Be an alligator, floating in the reeds.”
  15. “You know I won’t rest until the partners of this firm make me Senior Alligator.”
  16. “Rutherford and I were just admiring your very old alligator.”
  17. “I’ve never seen a sexy alligator costume before, but you really pull it off!”
  18. “You and I are both crusty alligators in the big old swamp of humanity.”
  19. “Before we start…my safe word will be ‘alligator.’”
  20. “You can’t hide behind that alligator forever, Julius!”
  21. “My friends, you misunderstand! The most dangerous game is, in fact, alligator.”
  22. “Four score and seven years ago, our alligators brought forth on this alligator a new alligator.”
  23. “Is that an alligator on your shirt or are you just happy to see me?”
  24. “Actually I can say that, because my grandfather was one-eighth alligator.”
  25. “Let’s go, Alligators! Eat the other team!”
  26. “I made you a birthday cake, and of course, I shaped it like an alligator.”
  27. “Alligator, honey, baby, sweetie, they’re just bullies. You’re still my precious muffin.”
  28. “Sometimes I feel like you only love me for my alligator impression.”
  29. “And for my third wish, I wish everyone else on Earth was an alligator!”
  30. “I can’t believe that alligators made it to Mars before humans. Maybe it’s time to just give up.”
  31. “The new car? It’s OK, but it’s clear that the last owner was an alligator.”
  32. “Mr. President, the alligator will see you now.”
  33. “Get inside! The plague of alligators will start any minute!”
  34. “Wow, you really did have all your teeth replaced with alligator teeth.”
  35. “If you wade through a swamp, what do you expect? The alligators just let you pass?”
  36. “How many alligators does one person need, Barbara?”
  37. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t realize you were still in here with your alligator.”
  38. “Captain, the sonar blip appears to be an alligator.”
  39. “Becky, your father and I are concerned that you don’t realize you’re dating an alligator.”
  40. “Santa brought me a magic whistle that forces any hidden alligators to reveal themselves.”
  41. “Kensington, why aren’t you dressed yet? Put on your alligator suit!”
  42. “This neighborhood was great until the alligators started moving in.”
  43. “Everything in this meal was made from various disgusting parts of a single alligator, and let me tell you, it was a chore!”
  44. “Gerard, this is the third time this week you’ve shown up handcuffed to an alligator.”
  45. “That was me! I was the voice of the cartoon alligator!”
  46. “I want some alone time with you. Without the alligator.”
  47. “Please forgive my granddad. My family has always had a superstition about alligators.”
  48. “Wowza! I’ve seen alligators with better skin.”
  49. “Oh, no, I hope that alligator outside wasn’t yours.”
  50. “No, honey, those pants don’t make you look like an alligator at all!”
  51. “I’m worried that those fools are going to make that — that alligator the next Pope.”
  52. “Everything I have to say in this arbitration will be delivered via my alligator.”
  53. “Here’s your problem. You’ve got most of an alligator crammed in there!”
  54. “We don’t use polygraphs in this precinct. Bring in the alligator.”
  55. “Alligator Kaszmierski, private eye. I’ve been watching you from a half-submerged position.”
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Alice Coltrane. Journey In Satchidananda. Impulse! ABC Records. 1971.

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We spread all three Monster Management episodes far and wide, but only our YouTube (and Tumblr) friends get a look at this improvised minisode starring Dracula and The Wolfman.

And if you subscribe to Cracked on YouTube, we’ll send you other behind-the-scenes videos, exclusive series, and more for free.

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Amazing Lindsey’s cover of Katy Perry’s song ”Roar” :D

"The fire alarm went off at 3am and now the cute boy next door is standing next to me in his boxers" au

We’re deviating from the prompts a little here but I’ve always been a rebel- rachael

Will fumbled with his apartment keys in his half asleep state. It was quarter ‘til 3 am and he smelled awful, and had a blood stain on his scrubs that he’d rather not talk about. As a surgical intern he was basically a slave of his resident whom they referred to as The Head Bitch behind her back. She’d made him work a 32 hour shift and he could hardly stay awake by the end of it.

Will had just pushed open his apartment door when the fire alarm went off.

"For fucks sakes," he groaned as he tossed his bag back over his shoulder and turned back to the stairwell.

The 9 story apartment building housed 100 people that now flooded the hallways and stairwell. Once he fought his way outside Will crossed the road and stared at the now flaming building with the rest of its residents. Beside him appeared his neighbor who was clothed in only his boxers and shivering in the cold November air.

"God damnit," the boy cursed as he bounced back and forth trying to stay warm. Will wasn’t the kind of person to check people out during fire evacuations but damn his neighbor looked good. His pale skin was marred by a few odd scars that made him curious as to how he got them. The dark hair on his head was sticking out at odd angles but somehow was still quite attractive to Will.

"Got a problem?" His neighbor asked him when he saw him staring.

Will blushed and looked down before mumbling, “No, sorry.”

"Don’t be," the boy smirked, "seriously who the fuck was cooking at 3 am?"

"I have no idea," Will grumbled, "I just got home from work when the alarm sounded."

"Yeah you look ready to fall over. I’m Nico by the way," he said.

"Will. And why have we never met before?"

"You’re shitty hours probably," Nico said. Will nodded before he tossed a jacket out of his bag to Nico.

"Thanks," Nico said with a smile as he pulled the way too big sweatshirt over his tiny frame.

Firefighters ran around hosing the place down with water.

"Aw man. We’re going to have to stay in a hotel for a while huh," Will said as he looked at the charred building.

"Yeah. We should share a room," Nico suggested.

"Wait what?" Will blurted out, surprised.

"It would have plenty of upsides. We could split the cost and the bed," Nico joked.

"Wait, are you serious?" Nico leaned in and kissed Will, which he was pleasantly surprised about.

"What do you think?"

The Hand Thing

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The hand thing is something I’ve been using for years now to explain to classes the importance of clear justifications in scenework. Simply put, if the first unusual thing is the thumb, the justification is the palm, and further instances of the game are the fingers.

Granted, this isn’t necessarily any more illuminating than saying “If this is true, what else is true,” but just being able to see a visual demonstration of the rule is helpful for some people. Beyond that, a visual aid you’ll always have with you in scenes is a nice cheat sheet for those who enjoy such things.

In practice, the purpose of the hand thing is to encourage performers to make strong justifications which justify not only the unusual thing that’s currently being dealt with, but which also justify a whole host of other unusual things which feel consistently unusual with the first.

Here’s an example to pick apart:

"I haven’t had a steak in ages."

"Me neither! Happy birthday, buddy- dig in!"

They cut their steaks. The birthday boy takes a cube of steak on his fork and sticks it down the back of his pants.

"Whoa, buddy- what the hell are you doing?"

Let’s discuss.

The behavior of putting steak in one’s butt is unusual. However, there’s a whole slew of justifications as to why somebody might engage in such behavior, and whichever one of them is chosen by an improviser will drastically affect what happens next in the scene.

Let’s look at a few different justifications:

1) "I’m vegan, so I can’t eat any meat, but there’s a loophole- technically, I’m not eating the steak if I don’t put it in my mouth."

With this justification, we know that the behavior of putting steak in one’s butt is motivated by the character conflict of a) wanting to be a good vegan and b) still wanting steak. It’s like when you hear about super religious high school kids having anal sex, because they think they can do that and still be celibate. And yeah, that’s a thing that happens. Weird, right?

The palm, then, is the act of looking for loopholes. We could very easily play out the entire scene at a meal watching this ersatz vegan put animal byproducts in their butt. However, by correctly identifying looking for loopholes in veganism as an outgrowth (the thumb) of a deeper desire of just looking for loopholes (the palm), we open up options not just for this scene (the fingers), but also clearly illustrate the philosophy we’ll need to bring with us (again, the palm) in order to play this game consistently in future beats (if we’re doing a Harold) or for future scenes (if we’re doing a run).

(Needless parenthetical clause)

2) "The mucosal lining of the intestine actually absorbs vitamins more completely than just chewing and eating food does, and I wanna make sure to get as much nutrition from this steak as I can."

Here, the palm is a desire for maximum nutrition and health. Again, while we could easily watch the rest of this scene play out just by letting the character continue to consume their meal rectally, the audience will get habituated to that pretty quickly, and we want to keep them on their toes. Using the deeper justification of being a health nut will allow us to surprise the audience with the whole panoply of health nut behavior, including but not limited to wearing a FitBit, doing burpees, and talking about how much they love Crossfit. Also, this deeper justification will carry the game beyond the bounds of the current scene and allow us to easily initiate further beats without getting stuck just putting stuff in our butts for the whole show.

3) "I enjoy the sensation of putting steak in my butt."

Ah, the simplest justification of them all. Time to get down to brass tacks, imaginary improviser.

This isn’t a good justification. There’s no palm to it. It’s just explaining the thumb. In that it’s explanatory power is limited to the current set of events and offers us no insight as to what else might happen, it doesn’t illuminate anything about where the scene might go, and in the process it doesn’t even bother to tell us anything interesting about where the scene is. The only moves which this hedonistic justification allows us to make are further iterations of what we’ve already scene. While it’s true that strict repetition can sometimes work as heightening all by itself, it’s a bad strategy to rely on in general.

To recap:

Justifications are an important part of scenework. A good justification not only lets us know why the current scene is happening, but offers us into a glimpse of where future scenes with the same game might go, or what other iterations of the game in this scene might look like.

The goal of a justification ought not be merely to explain what’s happening right now, but to contextualize what’s happening right now in such a way that it feels like one manifestation of a deeper, larger phenomenon.

Getting in the habit of justifying unusual behavior in this way will provide options to extend gameplay well beyond the average length of a scene. Whether or not these options are used in any one scene doesn’t matter. The act of defining what further game moves will look like enables the player to explore the scene freely and to discover game moves organically. Doing so enables the performer and audience to simultaneously be surprised by game moves, and in the process preserves the sense of discovery that made the first game move enticing enough to follow in the first place.

Artist Creates Psychedelic Art By Pouring Paint And Resin Onto A Canvas - http://goo.gl/UAMGs7 Bruce Riley is a talented Chicago-based artist who creates beautifully psychedelic paintings of poured paint and dripping resin. His artworks contain a blinding myriad of details and structures that form surreal creatures or psychedelic mandalas. Riley says that most of his creations are the result of pure improvisation and experimentation. “You can’t have any other intent but moving. You can’t worry about it, you can’t stop, you can’t choke. It’s obvious when it works. It’s obvious when it fails,” poetically explains the Riley. “The paintings aren’t about specific things, they’re all about kind of the same thing. And I’m not really trying to define any ideas, I just let it flow.” Take a look at Riley’s hypnotizing works. More info: bruce-riley.com | Flickr | packergallery.com (h/t: demilkedcolossal)

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I moved to Chicago in the early 1990s and I studied improvisation there. I learned some good rules that I try to apply today: Listen. Say “yes.” Live in the moment. Make sure you play with people who have your back. Make big choices early and often. Don’t start a scene where two people are talking about jumping out of a plane. Start the scene having already jumped. If you are scared, look into your partner’s eyes. You will feel better.