Improv: Catch 23’s Next Act, people-watching

Hat-tip to Taylor for telling me about Catch 23‘s improv event at the Comedy Bar last night. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot!

Here’s what I picked up:

  • The singular of words often pluralized (“Timbit” versus “Timbits”) is funny because it’s unexpected. In the context of the improvised scene, it was also endearingly pathetic.
  • Group reactions make scenes come alive. In one of the scenes, a character was (Chuck Norris-ly?) weight-lifting the whole floor. We could see that because everyone else raised a leg in sync with the character’s motion.
  • Creative analogies win crowds. There was a rather vivid analogy involving taxes and accountants, which made lots of people laugh.
  • Twitter can be a source of inspiration, particularly with quotes taken out of context and with the translation of written conventions (ex: “Wowwww”) to spoken language.
  • Breaking the illusion can work quite effectively. “I want to see a montage of how you captured those monkeys!” We’d never say that in real life, but it made sense as a humorous edit / prompt.
  • Mess up math? No problem, just call back to it and make it a running joke.
  • One of the presenters (Kayla Lorette) was great at conveying subtle emotions through very quick, quirky facial expressions and silences. I was also impressed by the way she used aggression, an accent, and smooth delivery all together.

I wonder what studying people’s expressions will reveal… =) Our homework was to study people. People-watching!

On the subway ride back, I noticed a couple clearly having a tiff. They seemed to be in their twenties. The woman had curly hair with a pouf secured by butterfly clips. She wore a brown floral blouse, white slacks, and ruffled black three-inch heels. The man had short hair, a slight beard, and eyebrows that seemed to always be slanted in a sad look. He wore cargo shorts and canvas shoes. They stood waiting for the train, bodies angled away from each other, yet still standing close enough to be identified as a couple. As the train lit up the tunnel, the woman quickly walked forward until she was near the yellow line marking the edge of the platform. After a short pause, the man slowly walked forward as well.

I boarded the same car and continued watching them from under the brim of my hat. They sat together. She crossed her legs at the knees, angling away from him. Her hands were clasped on the side away from him as well, and she kept her eyes in that direction. His arms were casually crossed, and his legs were crossed at the ankles. He looked away, too. His knee extended into her space, but they didn’t touch. Still, no words.

They didn’t speak throughout my part of the trip, but over time, the woman started glancing over at the man’s side. Not directly at him, but in that general direction. Her arms also loosened slightly, although she still leaned away. Interesting, indeed…

(I studied other people as well, but they were the most interesting folks for that trip.)

More as I learn about people and improv!

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