Sunday, April 27, 2014

#improv me some games, QUICKLY!

Quickly, now ... short form
  • Speed + Wit
  • Scene
  • Guessing
  • Stand in line / Rotation
Save-the-date for Sunday evening, May 11 at 8:00 PM, for a FREE improv show at Made Up Theatre.

  • WHERE: Made Up Theatre - 3392 Seldon Court, which is off of Osgood Road (near Fry's).
  • SEATING: Door opens at 7:45 pm.
  • STARTING: Show begins at 8:00 pm 

Some of The Games We Play

With many games to choose from, since March 23, our short form troupe has learned several games - some that involve fun improvised scenework while others involving quick wit, one-liners, miming, and gibberish language. Come to our show for a sweet variety of the games we play!

Here is "PART 1 of 2" of the games we have learned for our upcoming show. (Note: there are other resources on-line including Improv EncyclopediaWho's Line games list, and Learn Improv, to name a few.)

Speed + Wit

Fun, quick, one-liner witty tidbits (sometimes referred to as punchlines) based on an audience suggestion ... these games go something like this -
  • ONE EIGHTY FIVE (185) ... Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "185 *BLANKS* walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve *BLANKS* here," so the 185 *BLANKS* say ... (witty punchline)
  • I KISSED A ... This game also includes some audience involvement. Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "I kissed a *BLANK* last night." Then the audience and other back line players say, "Oh no you didn't!" And the player says, "Yeah, and (witty punchline)."
  • BACK IN MY DAY ... Given an audience suggestion, a player his/her experience without the suggested item - "Back in my day, we didn't have *BLANKS*, if we wanted *BLANKS*, we would (witty punchline). 
  • SEX WITH ME IS LIKE A ... This game also includes some audience involvement. Given an audience suggestion, a player says - "Sex with me is like a *BLANK*." Then the audience and other back line players say, "How's that?!" And the player says a (witty punchline).
  • LAST ACTION JOKE ... Given an audience suggestion, a player faces the audience armed with the suggestion and then gestures to "kill" someone with that suggestion, along with stating a witty action hero punch line.
  • MORNING COMMUTE ... Given a suggestion, the player mimics driving a car and yells out a "morning commuter" statement involving and/or inspired by the suggestion. 
  • HEY WAITER, THERE'S A ... This game includes an audience member. Given a suggestion, an audience member is seated on-stage as a customer, and each player comes up to him/her. The audience member says, "Hey Waiter, there's a *BLANK* in my soup." The player responds with a (witty punchline). (Each player is responding by using the same suggestion with a new punchline.)


  • BLIND LINE ... Based on audience suggestions, lines of dialogue are collected and written on pieces of paper; these lines are collected without the performers hearing the suggestions. The pieces of paper are randomly strewn on stage. The performers come back in and do a scene. every so often, a performer picks up a line of dialogue, reads it, and incorporates it into their scene.
  • DIME STORE NOVEL ... One performer is at a typewriter/computer and starts to type/narrate a story based on a title given by the audience. after a set-up, the other performers start to act out the story and occasionally the focus and dialogue goes entirely to them. this game is all about Give and take of focus. go back and forth between narration and action. 
  • SAY IT DIFFERENTLY ... (next blog post)
  • FORWARD / REVERSE ... (next blog post)

Guessing Games

  • CHAIN MURDER - with gibberish, miming, and timing ... This is like Clue and Telephone. Everyone but 1 person leaves. The one person remaining gets "L.O.W." - a LOCATION, OCCUPATION, and WEAPON.

    The others who left will ultimately be the guessers (who later become clue-givers). One-by-One, each guesser comes in and receive the clues (in the L.O.W. order) through gibberish and pantomime. Once the weapon is conveyed, the guesser will kill the clue-giver with whatever s/he thinks it is. The game continues until the last person comes in and kills the last clue-giver. Everyone is brought back from the dead, and the host goes down the line and sees how far the clues made it.
  • 5 THINGS - with gibberish, miming, and timing ... One person leaves the room. 5 activities are collected. Each activity gets one or two changes, i.e., for baseball, the bat is a jigsaw puzzle and the ball is a chihuahua. The clue-givers use gibberish and pantomime to convey the clues. Clue-givers must get the guesser to do the activity before they can do it.
  • HOME SHOPPING NETWORK - with miming and timing ... (next blog post)
  • PLAYGROUND INSULTS - with miming and timing ... (next blog post)

Stand in Line / Rotation

  • BEASTIE RAP - rotation game ... The performers are split into two teams. A rap track (such as this over here) is played with two people who are up front from each team with the other performers behind them. A NAME will be taken from the audience, and going with the beat, the person up front - the lead rapper - will deliver a rap line intending to have the name as the last word in the rap line - - - it is the other players behind the lead rapper that will say the last word - the NAME.

    The other team's lead rapper will respond with another line, ending with a word that RHYMES with the name - again, the people behind the front person must say the rhyme so the set-up has to lead them to say that word together. The game continues - goes back and forth between teams - and the front person is rotated if s/he goes off beat, the back people say the wrong word, or any mess-up that the host sees.
  • LOVE SONG - stand in line ... Players sing a song (ABCB) to an audience member based on the person's name, occupation, and hobby.
  • PICK-UP LINES / CASANOVA- stand in line ... Two "teams" (of 4-5 players) are formed - each representing a team that delivers a pick-up line. An audience member will be brought onstage, and the first team will deliver a pick-up line one word at a time, based on a suggestion. After the end of the pick-up line, the first team members, together, celebrates and exclaims "YEAAHHH!!!!!!" Then, the second team creates a new pick-up line, repeating the same process. After both lines have been delivered, the audience member will then give a thumbs up to the team for the better pick-up line.
  • TALK RADIO ... (next blog post)
  • ADVICE PANEL / EXPERTS ... (next blog post)

next post with other games 
will be posted later this week

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

unfamiliar #iquitmyjob

Familiar #improv.
Last week Friday morning was the first time I felt something - an unfamiliar feeling. That's the best I can do to describe the feeling. 

Coffee and Tea

Familiar to me most mornings? The smell of coffee and tea. Unfamiliar to me in the morning? Not knowing exactly what day it is. Familiar - the time of day from my phone or or my wall clock in the distance. Unfamiliar - whether I have a commitment on whatever day it is. Familiar - a hangover. Unfamiliar - the consequences of a hangover WITHOUT having a hangover.

The Night Before

Improv. (Seriously, what else?) In addition to hanging out with Janice before the Endgames Improv's Harold Night, we stayed through the Endgames Improv's Up 'Til Midnight Jam. As part of improv team The Letters ('LIKE' us on Facebook), this was our second time performing - and this time with the full team. (Woohoo!)

"Oh Maple Tree ..."  
"Oh Blanket ..."
(photo credit: Michael Fox Manziello)

Familiar - Improv

The day after a fun night with improv friends - TOTALLY worth the unfamiliar feeling of quitting my job. That is, I did not have to go into cubeopolis the next day after a late night of improv fun.

L-R: Avi, Shirlnutkin, Krish, Megan, Matt
(awesome photobomb: Lacey)

(photo credit: Harpsie Ð Etat)

Thanks, The Letters,
for a morning of unfamiliar feelings.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#improv debut: the.saurus & MUTer

Last Friday, several the.saurus and MUTer improvisers and friends (from the East Bay, South Bay, Peninsula) spent an evening in San Francisco with many other Bay Area improvisers.  

the.saurus debuted at an improv jam. My memorable moment (because of the neck-kink I am still stretching out) - I was a tumbleweed in the desert.
Translation: I did a forward roll across the stage. 

Likewise MUTer debuted at the same improv jam. A collection of improvisers who met through Made Up Theatre (on web) jammed in San Francisco.

We attended Improv LUV: Leela's Free Improv Jam last Friday and hung out afterwards for drinks and chats at nearby bar Club 93.

the.saurus + Friends Post-Jam
In our post-jam photo, we have (L-R): Omer, Dean, Carolyn, Marcus, Amit, Joanna, and shirlnutkin (atop what is a couch). Friends Marcus (host of the evening's Leela's Improv LUV) and Joanna (ukulele protector) giving us some luvin'. And THANKS MUCH to Joanna of MUTer, who jump-started getting a crew of us to the jam.

Faucet & Doppleganger ... Thanks to the lovely audience for these suggestions that inspired our short form pun game - "I kissed a ..." and ultimately our montage set. 

the.saurus holding the fort* ... Several other members of the.saurus (the.sauri?) were not available Friday night to make it out to the improv jam. Meet a few other folks ... the rest of the the.saurus motley crew includes: Theresa, Alan, Jennifer, and Rachel Marie. And actually, we have had others drop by to hang out with us during practice.

MUTer Generations 
Those in the photo include a person who took Made Up Theatre's (MUT's) first ever improv class and a person who recently completed MUT's Level A class ... amidst others in-between. In fact, some folks met each other for the first time last Friday! We have (L-R): Carolyn, Arturo, Shelly, Dean, shirlnutkin, Omer, and Joanna - the ukulele protector. In our post-jam MUTer photo, the ukulele was not harmed, thanks to Joanna.

Thanks Leela 
(on Facebook, on web, on twitter), 
and we look forward to next time.

*because as we have learned,  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

f|break: on the english language

You had me even more so at ...
"Look. Observe this graph." 
Thank you! This evening I was very thankful to hear a friend comment on my proper use of irrespective. And similarly, neither of us use the f$#king make-believe-word irregardless.

Sure, the word irregardless appears in various dictionaries. Irregardless* is even in - properly defined (IMO), albeit a source of other make-believe-words, but still. Really people?

Nevertheless, this evening, I believe I was among several who feel likewise about the non-word, despite its being in existence as early as 1795 (per wikipedia). And this evening, I also learned about David Mitchell's Soapbox (on Facebook, on YouTube), otherwise also known as "i-am-going-to-binge-watch-soapbox" (because I'm still not employed).

Enjoy this fiber break with David Mitchell (over here)
for nearly 3:30 min on Dear America ...

"I could care less."

*after typing this non-word out as many times as I have done so, 
I must scrub my hands and do penance.

calendar makeover

Recall that I quit.
And recall even farther back, in 2006 my love affair with Quo Vadis planners began

I have always been consistent with making sure my weekly calendar was up-to-date - so diligent that I have meetings penciled in through July 2014.

Well, well, well ... 
I fixed that nonsense today.

What are you 
making room for 
in your life?

Friday, April 11, 2014

day 4 also meant #improv

Thanks @MadeUpTheatre ... MUT's Playground - improv jam - is the stay-on-the-East-Bay-side kind of evening that I needed - that and a good dose of Facebook Blind Lines with this nifty group of peeps. The daytime wasn't too shabby either. Art, food, improv.

Day 4

On days 1, 2, and 3 of my first week unemployed, one of my former clients from my way-back business was texting me to check-in on how my official first week of unemployment was going. Each day, I had a fun stuff to report. He didn't text me yesterday. So here's my little report.

Collage 2014

Short version - Given a children's book of your choice, engage in an artistic expression that you share with one another, e.g., collage, poetry, etc. With 12 of us participating (where we rotate/share books) throughout the United States, each month, we are given a theme that inspires our one-of-a-kind creation.

(I will write more about this year-round project.) 
(Thanks, Jen, for your patience. Thanks, Theresa, for your patience and nudging.)

In theory - here is how Collage 2014 works ... In January, we started out with our own book - creating a collage of sorts (or whatever artistic expression we chose). We then mailed it to the next person on a prescribed list - and around the same time, we received a book from someone else. Given another theme for February, we once again created another one-of-a-kind artwork. Lather - Rinse - Repeat.

Collage 2014
from my starter book, my initial offering to
"The Smash! Smash! Truck"

Yes, I got a LATE(!) start getting my book over to the next person  The quitting of the job kind of started to cramp my keeping things on track. Anyway, next thing you know, I had three books. Well, yesterday was the day I mailed out all three books. Now I get to wait for my next book!

And after mailing the books out, I dropped by my fave Niles Pie Company (on Facebook, on yelp, on web).

Food, Friends, Fun, and Fluevog

Just as I mentioned Wednesday about STILL heading into SF, Thursday was no different. Bridge toll, there I went. Having lunch with friends was a great highlight. Dishing about shoes was a bonus.

At Piccino in Dogpatch with Denny and Marisol

What else but improv

And so we come full circle. Improv class on Wednesday night in SF ... improv jam on Thursday night in the East Bay/Fremont. Circle up improvisers!

What do you 
enjoy repeating
throughout the week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

new #cubeopolis wednesdays + ice cream

Former routine ... Commute, workspace, hug, weekly mtg, hug, lunch, and after-work optional ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in SF's Dogpatch.

New routine ... discovering options, creating activities, and optional ice cream. Not the old Wednesday routine.

First Wednesday unemployed

Reality has set in. I DO NOT have a weekly meeting. I am not going to ice cream. Wait?

That last thing ... 
I can STILL (and want to) do.

Wednesdays of the past 

This week, after a read a Facebook post (by a fellow improviser) about going to ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous in Dogpatch (on yelp, on Facebook) for the first time, I was reminded of my after-work jaunt with fellow cubesters.

Wednesday marks the beginning of hump day - that day in the middile of the traditional work week - half-way through, half-way over, often a sigh of relief for some. For me, in former cubeopolis, it also marked a weekly morning office meeting. Suffice to say, that's not happening now.

Meanwhile, on the occasional late-in-the-day when the timing was just right for two of my friends/fellow cubesters, we would gauge the likelihood of making it to ice cream - and specifically, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.  

Every once in awhile, ice cream happened after work - as shared in this previous blog post. TOO LAZY to read the previous blog post? YOU SHOULD. There is a nifty picture of their handwritten list of flavors/flavor ideas - back in 2011. Here's a blog post excerpt describing the after-work ice cream routine -
the routine-ish ... on weekdays, if i've driven into work, mr. and mrs. miscellaneous - which is about 2.5 miles on surface streets from work - is ALWAYS a possible after-work ice cream treat, as long as i leave the parking area by -
  • 5:20 (or much sooner) if traffic near my work is congested, or
  • 5:35 if traffic is near non-existent, or
  • 5:40 if traffic is near non-existent and there is little to no talking in the car (shiny penny andy and pho queen les lie know what that means)
upon arrival ... if we've looked on facebook prior to driving over to see if/what the flavors are posted, we do a combo of the following -
  • lament that there may be a "sold out" sign on a fave flavor,
  • cheer because the flavor we want to try is still available,
  • sample flavors that we may normally not try or no nothing about
  • negotiate amongst ourselves which flavors to enjoy, and
  • pray to the goddess asphalta that there is parking nearby enough, AND IF NOT, i push out the car while it's moving make whomever is/are my passenger(s) get in the door comfortably before closing at 6 pm,
  • scoop ice cream and making orgasmic noises while doing so,
  • chat with ann or ian

Re-imagining Wednesday

Choices, choices, choices. I'm still figuring out what's next, and I have realized one thing ...

... I can drive to ice cream and go it solo ...

... I can meet a friend for ice cream ...

... or I can pick up my friends and have a little ice cream social!

What is/would be 
your re-imagined Wednesday routine?
(P.S. I miss the morning hugs.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

unemployed at #improv jam

Photo credit: Stacy Beckley | Location: Studio 210
My first unemployed work day - Monday - and I still went into SF. I spent my evening at a fun improv jam. 

Thanks Other People's Children for the monthly jam, and THANKS(!) Dwayne McDaniel for leading a fun group game!

Yes, I quit my job. And when I ran the post-employment numbers for my budget, I estimated I would save money on daily bridge toll, gas, and parking. Today, I saved money on parking.

And so it turns out after years of heading into SF for work, my first week of being unemployed includes going into SF at least 4 days this week - AT LEAST 4 days this week. Why? Improv, food, and friends.

Note to Self:
Budget for 
Improv, Food, and Friends 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

#iquitmyjob What's next?

After nearly 7 years, Friday, April 4 was my last day at work.

What's next?
My answer to the what's next? frequently asked question -
"As far as what is next, I do not yet have anything specific. I am still considering various options yet to be created. Some of you may be aware that prior to joining EPA in 2007, I had my own consulting practice for nearly 13 years. And more recently, I have been engaged in the self-study and practice of behavior design, servant leadership, and improvisation, as well as serving as a coach and mentor. With that said, potential endeavors are likely to involve these areas in some fashion."
- so, yeah. That's my answer. In fact, this is an excerpt from my Wednesday, March 19, email announcement.

For some, answering the question the first time didn't stop some folks from asking it again. Therefore, as I've responded in similar situations -
"Asking the question a second time
isn't going to change the answer from the first time.
Nevertheless, here's a deconstruction of the what's next? - if it helps. Key words -
  • yet ... I'm still in the creating and imagining mode, so stay tuned
  • options ... I'm casting a wide net, while also seeing what's outside of that net
  • consulting ... I've had my own consulting practice, so consulting is in my line of sight
  • behavior design ... From the teachings of BJ Fogg, my June 2012 Boot Camp experience continues to shape how I interact in and with life
  • servant leadership ... From the teachings of Robert K. Greenleaf, through the former certificate program of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, I have learned that my natural inclination is that of a servant leader
  • improvisation ... I'm entering my fourth year, and I love it - the people, the community, the different philosophies.
  • coach ... Dovetailing with behavior design, having completed BJ Fogg's Masterclass in Tiny Habits, I am a Tiny Habits® Certified Coach
  • mentor ... I have been and continue to be a mentor to those transitioning into and navigating around the workplace (or workspace), for which I especially enjoy working not only with college students but also lifelong learners
  • potential ... perhaps best described via a quote from Paulo Coelho 
"Everybody has a creative potential 
and from the moment you can express this creative potential, 
you can start changing the world."

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