I’m going to be a haughty asshole and talk about “game” like I understand it. Sorry.
The game in the scene is equivalent to the chorus in a song.
The chorus of a song is what the crowd gets excited about when you come back to it. You’re glad to hear it twice. You’re probably thrilled to hear it a third time.
When I use this analogy in class, I always use “Sympathy For The Devil” by the Rolling Stones as an example. The core of that song is the confrontation with the devil. Everyone gets excited when Mick Jagger belts out, “Pleased to meet you! I hope you guessed my name!”
But as great as that classic piece of rock poetry is, it’d be pretty dull if they just repeated that chorus over and over again for 5 minutes, right? “But whats puzzling you is just the nature of my game….Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name…” I’m already bored. You have to take a break, but still keep the audience’s engagement in the scene.
This is where you let the game rest and fill in the scene with all kinds of other great elements. Committed acting, visually badass object work, sub-games and other fun bits of business. This is where you talk about Anastasia screaming in pain, every cop being a criminal and how all sinners are saints. Or just a solo from Keith. The “woo-woos” are a sub-game.
A student once asked me for a comprehensive list of games possible in an improv scene. Fair question. How many types of choruses are there in a song? I guess you have various basic genres/archetypes, but it’s infinite. The saxophone solos in “Baker Street” are completely different than the chorus in “Sympathy” but it serves the same purposes - it’s the game of the song. It’s what I as a listener, consciously or not, want more of.
Game isn’t about filling in the blank. It’s not looking for a single correct response and being “wrong” if you don’t fill the blank in correctly. What’s the part of your scene/song YOU find rewarding to revisit?
I will probably (and fraudulently!) not be able to do any of this the next time I perform, but it sounds decent on paper and I think it’s helped some students in class, so here it is.
And here’s a killer version of “Sympathy For The Devil” to enjoy as a bonus to my self-aggrandizing advice.
“BA-HA! BETH APPEL: HILARIOUS ALWAYS!”
Yep, pretty much.
If you spend any time at the UCB Training Center, then you’ve probably been tempted by the terrible pizza place across the street. It seems so close. You only have a few minutes before class. It’s cheap.
The pizza-like product they serve barely meets the quality standards of a middle school roller rink birthday party, and I cannot abide people consuming it, when some of city’s truly elite pie lives a mere block away.
Find some self-respect, and walk one avenue west and one street north to New York Pizza Suprema. Suprema is one of the finest functional pizzerias in the city. There’s no phantasmagorical allure of a grandfathered in coal oven. There are no celebrity photos. At lunchtime most customers have either a hard hat on their head or a radio clipped to their belt.
This isn’t a “destination pizzeria” like Grimaldi’s, but the food is every bit as good. Above you’ll see a fresh mozz slice, “upside down” slice and a small root beer. Perfection on every level, and I think all together like 6-7 bucks? Oh, and the fresh-out-of-the-oven plain slices make both of these look like reheated dog shit. They’re that good.
Family owned. Everyone behind the counter could not give more of a damn about the pizza, and it shows.
I hope I don’t catch you across the street. There are no excuses.