The Groundlings School – Hollywood, CA – Level One: Basic – Day Four

This has been the most frustrating class I’ve had so far at Groundlings, most likely because I kept focusing on all the mistakes I made and the corrections from the instructor. A friend of mine who has been through and passed Basic at Groundlings told me that she felt the experience was definitely an improv boot camp where blunt constructive criticism could push you to tears, and I hope I’m not speaking too soon by saying I almost was pushed to that point. I repeatedly kept on not emotionally investing in my character, not committing to my character, not making realistic offers in response to my partner’s dialogue, not zeroing in on one main idea in a scene, and not raising the stakes/escalating scenes high enough. I don’t blame Ian for my frustration, I was just angry with myself for not being funny and taking things too seriously. Sometimes I think I place too much of my self-worth on how funny I can be, and when I don’t get that instant validation from laughter or praise, I let it get to me when I should just learn from it and not get pissed off about it. With all that said, here’s an outline of what we did and learned in class:

– Emotion walk exercise

– Middle word exercise

– Changes exercise

  • 3 players (1 on stage, 2 entering together later on)
  • POINT OF EXERCISE: The emotion during a line determine its meaning. Changing the emotion and keeping a line can alter its meaning.
  • Adjustments will be made.
  • Neutral to adjustments.
  • CHOICES: Love it, hate it, fight it, or fuck it.
  • Don’t apologize for side-coaching.
  • Match emotion when it changes.
  • Don’t always go. (I don’t know what I meant to say here.)

– Who/What, Who/Where, Why exercise

  • Again, COMMIT.
  • Bigger emotion.
  • Believe what’s going on and in what you are saying.

– 2 relationships exercise

  • Be characters, not ourselves.
  • You can be uncomfortable and still like the other person, so react truthfully by suffering.
  • You have 3 beats to raise the stakes.
  • Zero in on one main idea.
  • Reasonable people are NOT FUN TO WATCH.
  • Get even more charged up about the main idea.
  • You have to react emotionally to gifts.
  • Establish relationship and backstory.
  • Audience is a barometer of what works by their reactions, such as laughter.
  • Sense what’s funny about what induces laughter.
  • Big emotion (losing your shit) has audience more emotionally invested.
  • Trust your info. Don’t think too hard everything.
  • Get out of your head.
  • Don’t verbally point out when you’ve made a mistake in continuity, such as “I lost my accent.”
  • Raise the stakes!

I’m pumped to do better in class and to reach my comedic potential. Although it did at first, I won’t let one bad class discourage me.

– Angelie


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