I recently finished reading “Art By Committee: A Guide To Advanced Improvisation” by Charna Halpern. Here’s the quotes I found useful/interesting.
“All the characters that we play are really subsets of ourselves. It’s ourselves in slightly different moods – ourselves carrying a little more emotional freight.” (9)
“Your job is to take that suggestion and discover a theme for the piece.” (17)
“You will find your relationship in the first three lines of your scene. Pay close attention ot those lines – it’s always there.” (19)
“When the players forget the focus of the scene and begin new relationship in every beat, the Harold tends to peter out at the end.” (19)
Del’s General Principles for the Harold
1. You are all supporting actors
2. Always check your impulses
3. Never enter a scene unless you are needed!
4. Save your fellow actor, don’t worry about the piece.
5. Your prime responsibility is to support.
6. Work at the top of your brains at all times.
7. Never underestimate or condescend to your audience.
8. No jokes (unless it is tipped in front that it is a joke).
9. Trust… trust your fellow actors to support you:
a) Trust them to come through if you lay something heavy on them.
b) Trust yourself.
10. Avoid judging what is going down except in terms of whether it needs help (either by entering or cutting), what can best follow, or how you can support imaginatively if your support is called for.
“The only real mistake is to ignore the mistakes in their work.” (31)
“Watch the news, familiarize yourself with the classics, find your voice, and form an opinion. If you don’t have anything to say, what is there to be funny about?” (40)
“Confidence brings about calmness. With that comes the ability to think and take the time to come up with the best response possible, rather than quick silly joke.” (41)
“The worst thing that might happen if you look stupid is that people might laugh, and, since we are doing comedy, that’s not a bad thing.” (46)
“Being nervous is great! How often do we get nervous on a daily basis? Being slightly nervous means you care, and you’re alive, and you’re taking some kind of risk. Hooray for being nervous! A friend told me to substitute the word ‘excitement’ for ‘nervous.’ That was you acknowledge the physical feelings without putting a negative spin on things. So to answer your question, sometimes I still get so excited about ‘Weekend Update’ that I want to throw up.” –Amy Poehler (46)
“The audience comes to enjoy a show and escape their own lives for a couple of hours. They don’t want to see you argue and be reminded of how miserable they sometimes are in their everyday existence.” (50)
“People don’t pay good money to watch us judge ourselves.” (65)
“When you indicate that something is funny, it really isn’t.” (67)
“The more you wait to add to the group, the more the jump rope turns into a large steel cable.” (69)
“The people who loved the work were the ones who were noticed.” (81)
“Del used to say that the people who come here with tunnel vision to be stars usually end up in community theater somewhere.” (81)
“Just be devoted to the work, take the time to get good, and the rest will take care of itself.” (81)
“All of you must remember that you will never have done it all. Do not stop creating. The excitement is in the work.” (82)
If you liked the quotes, please buy and read the whole book.