Tips One

Here are some tips for an improviser in Chicago. Some things to think about or do or consider:

(this was first posted in an Annoyance Newsletter in 2013)

1. It doesn’t matter which school of improvisation you go into first or at the same time or whatever. There are sound reasons for any order or any degree of simultaneity.

2. Don’t be seduced by being on a team. It seems like it’s enough and that you are going along just fine. It’s not really enough, and it’s not really a mark of evolution. It just seems like it is.

3. Character work isn’t bad, particularly if you want to do sketch comedy. Don’t listen to false affirmation that character work or broader acting has a lack of integrity, it is just different. And that’s just true. Character range is a skill set that is not attained by continuously denouncing character range. It’s not something you can magically turn on at, say, a Second City audition. Believe you me.

4. Write. For absolutely no fucking reason, write.

5. Make it o.k. with yourself that you admit that you would want to be on the mainstage or on a house team or in an Annoyance show or on television or SNL. It really is o.k. Just don’t be an asshole about it. You won’t be, anyway. It really is o.k.

6. Do solo work. Find a way to feature yourself.

7. One person shows are fucking boring. Find a reason they’re not. Do that.

8. Don’t wait for stuff. It not only drains your power, but actually has you be perceived as less powerful. You will have plenty of time to wait with great stakes for absolutely nothing when you move to Los Angeles. DO things here. Get a group. Create videos, write even more.

9. Here’s two boring things: Headshots. Resumes. And don’t lie. This has happened: “We put this guy (someone holds up headshot) in the ‘yes’ pile. Anybody remember him? No? O.K.” (headshot goes in ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ pile) Because his headshot didn’t look like him, and his photo ironically worked against him. Look like your headshot, that is what they are for. Look like your headshot. Don’t lie on your resume. Man, you will get caught and you will look like an asshole. And even if you don’t get caught, you are that kind of person.

10. Talent is everything. Just kidding. How you are to work with is as important. Your character shows up everywhere. Whether you are at S.C. or Playground or Ale House or a class or Corcoran’s or I.O. or Skybox or Annoyance or in the middle of the ocean:

  • everything counts.
  • everyone hears about everything.
  • everyone talks about everyone all of the time.

Your behavior could affect whether you work here or there for the bad or the good.

11. Take a break occasionally. From it all. For perspective, sanity, life. You and what you bring to the stage will benefit from your actual life experience. My own life has been a series of wonderful hobbies.

12. Study acting. You won’t, but you ought to. You won’t because you think you are SO fucking funny, and don’t need it. But you do. You really do. I tell people that, and they say “yeah, yeah, but what do I need to DO to get an edge?” I say it. No one does it. It’s such an easy edge.

Twelve, just like the 12 points of the Scout Law.

Oh well, all of this is true. So there. And that, is as simple, as that.

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