Jason Mantzoukas is a god

Not the god. But a god. To quote the great Bill Murray.

And not just because of his godly beard.

In any event. I just saw Jason Mantzoukas do a one-man, silent monoscene.

That’s right. 20 minutes. On the UCB LA stage. By himself. And it was genius. Pure, hilarious, genius.

For one night only, Skinny Business Will Not Apologize became Jason Mantzoukas Will Never Apologize.

As a UCB devotee, this was one of those moments where I can say, “I was there.” You know, when a Londoner in 1969 looked at the sky and saw the Beatles playing on the rooftop, or when a young White House intern sees George Bush choke on a pretzel. In one of those shocking moments of glorious serendipity, I can say, “I was there.”

I usually save hyperbole for screaming matches with my television during American Idol performance nights, and this is no exception, as there is no hyperbole when I say his performance was pure genius.

The suggestion from the crowd was “hermit,” like a smile from a god. He looked nervous, as if he genuinely didn’t know what he was going to do, and there was an energy in the crowd, as we didn’t know either.

Then he pulled up a chair, and resumed the usual position: hands at 7 and 5 o’clock, cutting a steak. HUGE laugh. A genuine break in tension, as an entire room realizes we’re in good hands.

He spends the early part of his twenty minute set in elaborate spacework, which isn’t usually what he does, but it’s hilarious. He games the ordinary. The game becomes, “How monotonous will this be?” Per his usual style, it’s a meta-game, where the audience is simultaneously in the moment and aware of the moment.

Microwaving his food. Eating some more. Flipping channels on his tv. Microwaving his food again. Waiting. Microwaving it again. Waiting. Flipping channels. Remote not working. Changing the batteries. Utter monotony. Which doesn’t sound hilarious, but in the moment it kills

We’re all right there with him. We’re rooting for him. We want it to kill, and he plays off the moment itself and feeds off the audience, course-correcting in real time, extending the moments and repeating the spacework as needed, milking each moment for maximum impact.

He moves on to the meat of his scene soon thereafter: a phone call he needs to make, but he’s afraid to make. He dials. Hangs up. Dials hangs up. At first, it seems like he’s gaming the monotony, as before, but his character is actually being revealed. It’s a call he has to make but can’t. We develop empathy for him.

From then on, everything is in place to ride the last ten minutes to greatness. He begins composing a suicide note. Washes his dishes. Cries. Watches some TV. Goes back to the note. Cries some more. Watches some TV. Watches some porn. Cleans up. He wants to make the call again but can’t.

Until finally, it’s the last moment… and he puts a gun in his mouth and kills himself.

20 minutes. Not a single word spoken. One man, alone on a stage. Silent. Completely improvised.

HUGE APPLAUSE. Standing O was inevitable, but he runs off stage before the crowd can fully rise to their feet.

FUCK YEAH.

-Sean London

Watch Me Perform | Follow me on Twitter!

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Commitment at all Levels

Jason Mantzoukas on improv4humans

Is there a danger in catering an indie team’s form to what works best in rehearsals? I’m on a team that practices weekly, and we happened to try a monoscene in a session and it generally went better than the montages the group was originally doing - the hesitancy to edit and initiate (two of our biggest issues) were now non-factors, given the method of the form. The only thing is, we’re all 401 level students - are we avoiding problems that need to be confronted in doing monoscenes instead?

Not at all! Cater your form to your strengths. Your indie team is your chance to grow as a group and do what’s best for you.

There’s this weird tendency in improv to hamstring ourselves - either by running away from our natural impulses, sticking with coaches who insist on pulling us in an undesirable direction, or by just forcing a lot of headiness for no real reason - and I don’t get it and would love to stamp that out.

Anyway, it’s interesting because you still have to initiate and edit in a Monoscene. It’s just a slightly different way of molding the clay. (See Billy Merritt’s post on the Monoscene) When you master that, you could see how it works in every other form.

I would say it’s wise, however, to be aware of your initiating/editing issues in class or a practice group. Or, maybe, spend a group rehearsal just focusing on those skills.

But by all means, if the Monoscene feels good/right/fun/natural for your group, then keep exploring it!

(And if this was asked by someone I coached on Monday, you know what I’m talking about and you’re great. If you’re not in that group, I’d love to do a workshop on this subject.)

Ask improv-is-easy a question!

The Scene - Every Thursday in July!

You can catch me at the PIT every single Thursday in July performing with an assortment of amazing hulks of improv comedy. 

Show starts at 9:30 PM and is 5 smackers. 

Have you been to the new PIT yet?  Well, you should! It’s lovely!

The PIT is located at 123 E 24th Street - Map it!

The Manifesto Show is proud to announcement

The Last Shamrock Bar Monoscene Night on March 29th 2013.

A night of monoscenes in one location and with several special bartenders!

Each performing team will have their monoscene set in a fictional bar called The Last Shamrock and each team will be rewarded a very special UCB regular performer as their bartender.

Very Special Bartenders: Alex Fernie, Becky Drysdale, Dave Thuene, Mary Holland, Casey Feigh, Marcy Jarreau, Joe Hartzler

8pm

Lonnie and Friends

Paparazzi

Mom’s New Boyfriend

Team Lottery Slot

9pm

The Weather with Chip Van Der Dyke

Skyballs!

All Your Friends

The Divorcees

10:30 pm

BAR JAM!!!

We are located at:

The Clubhouse [theclubhouseimprov.com]
1107 N El Centro Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Remember, there’s a team lottery AND a jam every night, so everyone in the audience will have a chance to play.

We are improv for the people so admission is free, but we urge performers and audience alike to throw a few rubles in the donation bucket. There will also be beer and water available with donation.

— Team Info —

Lonnie and Friends: Jake Goldman, Danny Cohen, Taylor Orci, Jared Nigro, Ryan Hitchcock, Lonnie Donogan, Carmen Angelica

Paparazzi: A.J. Berna, Cole Fremed, Danny Jordan, Chase McCown, Sarah Stoecker, Ben Wells, Katie Willert

Mom’s new Boyfriend: Dan Amerman, Courtney Hawkins, Joshua Joy Kamensky, Cody Kopp, Thomas Ochoa, Kristie Rohwedder

Lottery Slot: Bring one or more friends and throw your team name in the hat at the top of the hour for the chance to play!!!

The Weather with Chip Van Der Dyke: Beth Alexandroff, Nina Concepcion, Mike Diaz, Cole Fremed, Chase McCown, Ashley Phillips

Skyballs!: Timm Sharp, John Paliferro, Josh Kaplan, Joe Kardon

All Your Friends: Kathy Yamamoto, Kathryn Molloy, Natalie Curfman, Mark McColey, Marissa Gallant

The Divorcees: Katie Nathan, Kevin Anderson, Daniel Landroche

Watch on arc315.tumblr.com

Death by Roo Roo - monoscene - suggestion Karl Marx (by Nate Dern)

Watch on ghostfightimprov.tumblr.com

Ghost Fight improv ~18 May 2012~ “electricity”

Watch on billdipiero.tumblr.com

This past Saturday, Season Six headlined the FIST Finals. This is one of those monoscene shows where everything goes crazy and all of the crazy goes right.


Enjoy.

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