So last night i took my first class in a series of at UCB. For those of you who do not know, the Upright Citizens Brigade is an improv and comedy theatre that was started in Chicago, went to New York, began a training program there and is now in LA. They practice what is known as long form improv, or “Harold.” Long form just means that the scene you are creating lacks a joke or gimmick and the scenes are longer than in short form. Basically, you don’t have to be funny. You draw the situations from real life and create characters and situations from what you know. This is what hooked me last night because my biggest fear about improv is the pressure to be funny. Of course there are people in class who are funnier than others, but it isn’t a requirement to do long form improv well. Things you do have to do well is listen and think fast. These skills are good for any actor and i hope to gain them as this workshop goes on. We played some basic name games and did an excercise where everyone walks around the room and someone randomly stops, you stop with them, and they tell a fact about themselves. What was interesting is that with every new fact, the following facts given by others tended to follow a pattern or have a common thread with the one before. For example someone said “the first time i got drunk i was 15.” Then “I was drunk on the empire state building when I was 15,” was said. After that “I’m from the Empire state,” this might be followed by “The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie.” See the trend? So you learn to listen and pick up on threads that begin to form so that you can carry on with a scene or moment. It was a simple excercise but it made so much sense to me. I can’t wait to see where the class goes. Overall, I wasn’t scared once. I even volunteered once or twice instead of waiting until the end to go as I have done every time in the past with improv. The room was full of great people from all around the country and I am already beginning to trust them in class, which is so important for this kind of work.
On the agenda today, crashing an on camera techniques class at the foundation. Well, not exactly crashing. I am on a waitlist. But, I figured I’d have the highest chances of getting in if I just go on down there and wait to see if someone on the list doesn’t show up. Can’t hurt right. Meanwhile I have to go buy some small notebooks to log my miles in my car and log my spending, in order to begin my long term budget plan. Still haven’t received my first unemployment check. I finally got someone on the phone yesterday and they said that they are investigating my employment history because they have an employer on their list that I worked for, that i didn’t list. I have gone through my W-2 forms and cannot find who they might be talking about. Overall this entire experience has been a nightmare. My advice to anyone who is filing for unemployment is to BE THOROUGH. I thought I was being so but it has still taken almost a month to see a check, and it still isn’t over.