By Alyce Wilson
November 1, 2006 - Talking in Tongues
In improv class, we worked some more on scene work but expanded it to include other things. When we first gathered in a circle, I asked what we did last week, and they said that they talked about me and my blog.
We started out with some Psycho Circle. Everyone was there this week except for Lori and Megan.
First, we got into pairs and did "What Are You Doing?" Surprisingly, it's getting easier than it was when we first started. Mary started us out easy by just giving us some suggestions to go off of, such as a sailboat. Then she gave us an initial letter. Finally, she gave us two letters, "S" and "V". That was hard, because of the "V."
Then she had us all get up on the stage to do short scenes based on a suggestion, each being 30 seconds long. I got up with Carol, and our suggestion was bowling alley snack bar. She handed me a beer, and I drank it right away and then said, "Give me another, Mommy."
She responded that I was supposed to take it to my father. She gave me a hot dog, but I declined it and demanded another beer instead. Afterwards, Mary suggested that I could made a fun game out of it, by quickly consuming everything she gave me.
Colleen and Geoff were mechanics arguing over a wrench and then, as it turned out, they really were competing over a woman.
This week we had a lot of fun working with gibberish. This is something we'd enjoyed before. First we paired up and talked in gibberish, doing things like telling each other stories. Then she had us line up on the stage and had us say the Pledge of Allegiance in gibberish. That didn't work out so well, so she had us break it down into phrases. I think the point she was getting at was that we should try as much as possible to be saying an actual thing and to have the number of syllables match up.
That's definitely something I'll have to work on.
We'd done gibberish games in the past that were a lot more structured than what we did in class this week. We got up on stage in pairs. One person was an expert in a subject. They would talk in gibberish while the other person would translate. In beginner's class, we'd had a third person involved, who would ask questions that the expert would answer.
First up were Boris and Liza. The suggestion was wood carving. Liza introduced Boris and created a more elaborate setup, saying that he was someone who created large phallic sculptures. Boris did some demonstrations of her technique, and she translated that he got involved in this because of impotence problems. He began carving these sculptures because of an impotence problem. To carve them, he would imagine his ex-wife and then make slashing motions with a scalpel.
Mary warned her that she was venturing close to "brown bag territory." ComedySportz does all-ages shows, so if anyone in the audience or on-stage says something you'd be embarrassed to say in front of your grandmother, they have to wear a brown paper bag on their head for the rest of the game.
So, while Liza said that normally she works blue, she cleaned it up for the rest of the sketch. Of course, there was that last line, where she said he knew it was finished when he put the final dimple on top.
Next up were Carol and Colleen. Carol was an Egyptologist, and Colleen did a great job with the translation. She came up with stuff that was very entertaining and also made sense with what Carol was communicating. Through the course of the conversation, we learned that Carol created a pyramid in her home out of sand and then had her children worship it. Aman Ra came down and joined them for tea and "made a big fuss about the location of the doilies."
Last up were me and Geoff. Our subject was quilting. I was the expert, and he was the translator. I made a big show of greeting him and being very excited about it. Then I cut a square out of my sweater and held it up. I waited for him to translate. We got into an interesting pattern where he kind of gave me an indication of what I should demonstrate next. So I ended up shearing a sheep, spinning wool and then finally sewing together the squares.
Sometimes, I forgot to talk gibberish, and was making sound effects instead. Mary reminded me, "Sound effects aren't gibberish." This was a common mistake everyone made.
When I had a finished quilted item, I tied it around my head like a babushka. Then I tied one over his head, as well.
We moved on to a challenging game whose name I forget. It was similar to the game Telephone, where you relay a message down the line. By the end, it's usually not the same. This one is done through mime.
This is played with four people. Three leave the room, and the first person gets suggestions from the audience for a place, an occupation and an unusual weapon. Their job is to use gibberish and mime to convey that to the next person. When they think they understand, they "kill" the first person with the object and then the next person is called in. You get more points if you manage to convey all three things properly.
The first round, Boris was the first and I was the second one up. I could tell exactly what he was doing. The place was a bathroom, and he was standing at a urinal. Second thing was an occupation. For this, you weren't allowed to be the occupation; you had to get the person to be that occupation. He acted like he had a little child with a temperature and then called somebody. At first, I thought he meant a baby-sitter, but then I realized that it was a pediatrician.
Finally, the object was a football, which he conveyed quite clearly by holding something football shaped and throwing it.
This might have been easier, except we weren't supposed to give the clues to the second person the same way that we received them. So I had to find a slightly different way to indicate a bathroom. I started with a sink and then brushed my teeth and finally flushed a toilet, so she got it.
For the pediatrician, I got down on my knees like a little kid and threw up. She patted me on the shoulder, and I kind of thought she might not know what she was supposed to be, but I let it go.
For the football, I tried to act like a place kicker, but then decided to kick it myself, which I think just confused her.
So she passed on what she understood, which was bathroom, teacher and volleyball. That's what the final person, Carol, got out of it. Mary told her, "Don't worry. It's not your fault."
Since there were six people, we played the game three times and everyone got a chance to do it twice. The second time, I was the person to get the clues, which were easier. It was Laundromat, hairdresser and toothbrush. For Laundromat, I took off my shirt and pants and put them in a machine, which went around. Carol seemed to get that pretty easily.
For hairdresser, I acted like I was very upset about my hair and went up to them and she started cutting it. Toothbrush, I couldn't come up with anything else and just brushed my teeth with it.
Actually, we managed to do convey all three things. I was pretty happy about that.
The final time, Mary joined in and was the first person up. The three things were skating rink, mechanic and engagement ring. For the location, she took Liza by the arm and showed her the people going around in a circle on the floor. Then she bought them two tickets and got them skates, which they put on. When she indicated there was something sharp on the bottom of the shoes, Liza got where they were.
For mechanic, she rode in on a motorcycle, which started dying on her. Liza got that right away. For engagement ring, she made a big fuss over a ring on Liza's finger and then served her champagne for a toast. The funniest part was when, in gibberish, she said, "Kill me with it."
Mary had gone with somewhat less obvious ways of indicating the three things so that other people could go for the more obvious methods. And I think it was actually Colleen who got down on her knee and proposed with the ring. They managed to convey all three things, too.
For a change of piece (pun intended), we played a game called Quick Change, which is where you do a scene and when the referee says "Change," you have to change what you just said to something entirely different. The referee can say "change" as many times as she wants. That was interested.
Liza and Carol were in a library, and Liza wanted to research same-sex marriages, since they were a couple. Carol kept evading the subject and backing out of it. The interesting thing about what happened when Mary said "Change" was that often they came up with something that was either more outrageous or was closer to what the character was actually thinking. So at the end of the scene, when Carol was trying to break up with Liza and Mary kept making Liza change what she said, she finally said, "You can't leave!" End scene.
Boris and Colleen did an interesting scene where Boris was a baseball player and Colleen was his first base coach. But he didn't want to take her advice, because he was deferring to his grandfather, who had played in the minor leagues. Colleen then revealed that the grandfather was a woman. I kept waiting for it to come out, "Yes, and so are you," but that didn't happen.
Then I got up with Geoff. The suggestion was grocery store. We started with me examining some eggs and complaining they were rotten. He said we should get them anyway because they were on sale. But then it turned out that I was frustrated we had to cut corners because he'd lost his job. He'd been slacking off, wearing his underwear and watching TV, and he was a bus driver! What's more, he'd run over some people.
Mary stopped us and asked what the scene was really about. So Geoff said he wanted a divorce. We started fighting over the dog, but Mary kept making me change until finally I said, "I have a reunion next week and I need a husband!" End scene.
She commented that the great thing about this game is it makes people come up with unexpected, unrehearsed things. To get out of your head, so to speak, and to fly by the seat of your pants.
I think it would help if I do more thinking about point-of-view before I go on-stage, even something as simple as deciding, "I like this person" or "I think I'm superior to this person".
Afterwards, we hung out for a little while. Colleen told us about her Halloween costume, Wonder Woman. She told us she got some really cool boots and everything. Since she's already tall with dark hair, I bet that costume will really work for her.
I talked outside with Colleen and Geoff and Carol. They brought up the blog again, and mostly just seemed amazed that I remember so much. But I've been doing this sort of thing for a long time. I remember when I was a kid, writing in my journal at night. I would just retrace the entire day, often remembering whole conversations.
In case they were worried, I told them about my policy never to write anything I think anyone would be embarrassed to see in public. While I do use their first names for clarity's sake, I don't use last names to protect privacy. But they didn't seem upset at all. In fact, they just seemed amused and entertained, which is, of course, the purpose!
So if any
of my classmates are reading this entry, let me just say, you guys rock!
2006 by Alyce Wilson