Inspiration came in many forms today, largely from seeing and talking with improviser friends who had moved from San Francisco to Chicago. All of us have been improvising for just under three years, and it doesn’t take much for our conversations to veer heavily into improv.
It started this afternoon when Megan, Matt, and I were talking about improv, and Megan explained a concept that helped me better understand one of my favorite bits. The bit in question comes in an episode of Blackadder III, in which Blackadder invites two actors to see the prince, both of whom are superstitious about mentions of the Scottish play. When Blackadder inadvertently mentions the Scottish play, he watches them undertake a painful ritual, and the discovery causes him to start dropping mentions of the play whenever he talks. There’s a general concept here about realizing what drives a character and using that to push the button that drives the character. According to Megan, Bill Arnett has a name for it: pinch pinch ouch.
Later that evening, I went to see a show Damien was in called Fugue, where the form is arguably a generalization of a mono-scene. Damien described modifications he wanted to do to the form, and it gave me an idea for a new form based on the Harold. When I mentioned it to him, his response was, “Do it!”
The night ended at a nearby bar and pizzeria, where Damien started narrating an impressive move he saw at a recent “Stolen House” show:
Yeah, and John Lutz is shuffling this deck of cards, and he only counts 51, so he starts saying the ghost must have taken one of the cards. Then Scott Adsit gets angry, says there’s no ghost, and throws the cards out into the audience. Then he runs into the fourth wall and falls back, so the cards went through the fourth wall as if taken by a ghost.*
* This is how I remember the quote, and I may be confusing who was doing what in the scene.