Caleb and Katy McEwen, the artistic directors at Minneapolis’ legendary Brave New Workshop comedy theater and I discuss the challenges of running a comedy theater. The ongoing struggle to strike the balance between challenging material and filling seats. Additionally, Caleb’s definition of good improv feels an awful lot like a good podcast.
You might want to know: there is some cursing in this episode.
Tonight’s performance was definitely so:
- Straight From Uranus started off rough and quickly got their stride. Knowing when to end a scene, improv or otherwise is the biggest gift a performer can offer their audience. This young group knew when to end a scene and they were funny.
- Resist Butch! answered 2 questions. First, can jumping from dramatic to comedic improv be done well? Yes. Second, can 2 performers pull off playing 3 characters, often switching back and forth, in the same scene? Yes.
- Perhaps it’s something in the air, some ‘Spy’ meme that’s going around. Late last week, I laughed all the way through Little Gray Book lecture #2 – Secrets of the Secret Agents and tonight the Brave New Workshop provided episode two of their sketch “Spies are Everywhere.” A brilliant idea, take a normally banal scene and put spies in it. Almost as funny as Superheros doing banal things, or people in animal costumes acting normal. I love that stuff.
- I knew something was fishy when 3 players get on stage, ask for suggestions, proclaim “We’re off to improv, we’ll be back”, and leave. Um. Sure, I’ll play along. An hour and 45 minutes later, Regrettable Breakfast returns with a recording of a dramatic improv far more uncomfortable than watching Eyes Wide Shut with your grandmother. Yes, watching an improv scene unfold in a kitchen is an interesting idea, that’s still no reason to mic the cupboard doors, nor is it a reason to videotape it, inherently disconnecting the players from the audience. Thereby not knowing when to cut the scene.
For a dollar, I’ll be back. It’s far more entertaining than not winning the lottery.