Putting Zest in the Fest - Guest Blog by Young Kalbarri Performer Grace Crogan
Three Weeks In!
By Guest Blogger: Grace Crogan (15yr)
Last Sunday (13th of August) was the 3rd official Kalbarri Comedy Crew workshop leading up to the Zest Fest. With the performance date approaching fast, everyone from KCC has been working hard in order to make good progress developing the comedy skit. With the guidance of comedians Julian Canny and Jody Quadrio from The Comedy Emporium, as well as Zest Festival Director Rebecca Millar, we’ve been doing just that.
The workshops usually start with a few improvisation games to get our minds moving. There’s a lot of laughs, usually at the expense of those who are performing, but it’s okay, everyone gets a turn to embarrass themselves!!
These games are really fun: they usually start out with a couple people as performers, and then a subject or topic is pitched at them. Then, depending on what game we are playing, the performers have to develop a scene based on the suggestion. Some games like Insert line and Tag in (you could probably google the games and it would come up with a better description than what I have written here) involves either writing down absurd lines and excerpts from books or movies to use within the scene, without the performers actually knowing what is written down, or tagging another person to take the place of performer and take the scene somewhere else based on their ideas
Some scenes can go absolutely anywhere, and have the whole room rolling with laughter within a minute or so. I have gathered that there are a few basic rules or ‘guidelines’ that should be followed when improvising in order to keep the scene alive and interesting:
First Rule of Improvisation – Just go with it: You might have started the scene off by supposedly getting ready to go skiing with your best friend, but guess what! Now you are two annoying sisters trying to push each other off a cliff! Or, at least that’s what you think…
Something beautiful about these improvisation games is that, no matter how carefully you structure your lines, a scene can completely change direction in a matter of seconds, based on the reaction of your partner. This puts you on the spot, forcing you to say the first thing that comes to your head! This generally means you could also send the scene spiralling in a completely different direction to before. There is no way to predict how a scene is going to play out when you are doing improv, and that is what makes it so hilarious!
Second Rule of Improvisation – Never say ‘No’: Would you like to hold the dissected frog?? Of course you would! Because you are on TV, on a channel that doesn’t actually exist yet…
Saying ‘yes’ to just about anything that is thrown at you, in one way or another, is the only way to keep the scene alive. Sometimes that means, yes, you are in fact, a squirrel. It gets everyone laughing, usually at your expense, but hey, it’s a comedy act!
Third Rule of Improvisation: make statements: If you simply reply ‘yeah’ or ‘nah’ to everything your partner is saying, it puts a lot of pressure on them, making it hard to keep the scene alive. Instead, ask them a question in return, or make a statement on what they said. It really involves making a strong point or suggestion, and telling your partner, and your viewers, what is going on. This also allows you and your partner to bounce off and work with each other’s ideas throughout the scene. For example, (and this is a really bad example) “I heard it is going to rain today”, a reply could be “but it’s sunny! Those weather people always get it wrong.” Just something to keep the conversation, and scene, alive.
Anyway, after some warm up games, we have been getting into some brainstorming and scene building. Basically, any ideas that we have had over the week, or anything interesting we have come across when researching the VOC (oh, that stands for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie/Dutch East India Company) we will brainstorm in order to see if we can draw some inspiration off that piece of information for ideas for scenes.
Next, we will go off again, and brainstorm ways that we can incorporate our ideas into a funny skit. This, is a LOT harder than you would think. Trying to pitch the idea in a way so that those without much background of the topic will still understand and find the scene funny is quite a challenge. I think I we were doing a more contemporary show, with just some general comedy that anyone can relate to, it would be easier. Trying to incorporate the history of the Dutch and the VOC is the real challenge.
Even so, it’s been lots of fun, and we’ve come up with some good ideas! Julian and Jody, who have been coming up every weekend to work with the crew, have provided heaps of inspiration to everyone participating. Being comedians, they also bring a great vibe to the workshops, and have helped us all tune in our improvisation skills! I think all of us are a lot more confident with doing a small bit of improv and developing a basic comedy skit.
At our last workshop, Julian did a bit of filming on his phone and put it all together in a short film. None of us really thought we were actually being interviewed, so we all look a tiny bit awkward. Either way I think it is a good insight into some of the actually work we are doing for the project.
I know this post has been really long! Sorry… I’ll leave it at that for now and post some more information later. Oh, there is still a spot open to become part of the Comedy Crew though! Come see me if you are interested.
Kalbarri Comedy Crew, workshops and performance is sponsored by Country Arts WA and Healthway to promote the Drug Aware message.