Tag Archives: iO

My pal Homer

image
Honored to join the ranks of The Simpsons pop culture references last night!

Thanks for the shout-out, Homer (and the whole Simpsons gang)!

Advertisement

PythonProv Rising!

…You may recall that I’ve been teaching PythonProv–where Monty Python and Improv come together–at the iO Chicago theatre recently. My Level 2 class is wrapping things up in a big way–with a free show this Friday night at 7 pm in the Jason Chin Cabaret at the iO.

This one is going to be fun, folks, and a great way for the class to go out in a blaze of glory. You’re all invited. End of commercial.

Remembering Del…

Del Close died 17 years ago today, March 4, 1999, less than 24 hours after his farewell party.

He taught us a better way of life through improvisation, he showed us how to die, and he certainly knew how to edit.

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think of something Del said or did, or that I don’t share something with my students.

Just last weekend, after they did a scene about a living person at his own wake, I had to tell my PythonProv class that Del had done it first. Coincidentally, they will be on stage tonight at the Chris Farley Cabaret at the iO, doing work that I taught them to do because Del taught me to do it first.

If you’re an improviser and were lucky enough to know Del, tell someone a Del story. If you didn’t, then find someone who knew Del and ask them. (And if you can’t do either, then I would opportunistically suggest you look through a copy of The Funniest One in the Room.)

If Del was still here, he would be very happy–though probably not surprised–at the way that long form improvisation has continued to grow, and very proud of the way that Charna and so many others have carried on his work.

#delclose #iochicago #improvimage

More Python Classes

Graham Colonel

I’m sorry I’ve been posting less often lately (most of my posts seem to begin this way), but, among other things, I’ve been devoting a lot of my formerly free time to my Python classes at the iO Chicago. And it’s been a blast. To paraphrase something that Graham Chapman once told me, “I don’t let them know how much fun I’m having or they won’t want to pay me.”
Both sessions are winding up; my writing class, The Python Process, will be wrapping up with a staged reading on February 21 at 7 pm at the Chris Farley Theatre at the iO. This group has been turning out some incredibly funny material, week after week, and the audience is going to have a great time. My improv class, PythonProv, will be performing beginning at 7 pm February 26 in the same space, and this one will be just as funny.
Improvising in the style of @montypython is not the easiest thing in the world, and we may be the first group that’s made a serious attempt at it. And it’s going so well that we’re not going to let it drop after this session ends. And that’s why we’re going to continue on to a second level of PythonProv with the same group.
So why am I telling you all this if you aren’t in the group? Because we’re launching another session of PythonProv Level One classes beginning on Sunday, February 28. I don’t want to tell you how we do it, but I’ll give you one hint: while doing a long form improvisation, we chip away at everything that doesn’t look like #montypython. And it’s working!
If you’re interested, contact the iO Chicago. If you like Monty Python and improvising, you’re going to have a blast.

Good news, Cleese news…

The bad news is when your phone rings right in the middle of your Python Process class at the iO Chicago.

The good news is when it’s John Cleese calling, and he offers to talk to your students on speakerphone.

He answered questions about writing, and delighted and inspired the whole group. All classes should be like this. Thanks, John!

PPclass1-16

PythonProv

It could have been a disastrous afternoon.

I was going to be teaching the very first PythonProv workshop at the iO Chicago, at the intersection of Monty Python and improvisation. I’m sure I was more nervous than my students. After all, how do you teach someone to improvise in the style of Monty Python?

I had a few reasons for optimism. If you can improvise Shakespeare, surely you can improvise Monty Python, and Improvised Shakespeare is one of the iO’s most successful shows. And, all modesty aside, I don’t know anyone who knows more about Monty Python and improvisation. (The glorious results of a misspent youth.)

But then, even the Pythons don’t improvise. They are meticulous writers, but the only improvisation they do is in the writing room.

So I had to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew, promising these students I could teach them how to improvise in the style of Monty Python.

And as I headed to the theatre this morning, I further realized that these students were part of the iO’s annual summer intensive, so I would be facing students from all across the country who had never improvised together before.

But when they started to arrive, I realized that I was wrong. True, they had never improvised together. But they were not from around the country. They were from around the world. So in addition to students from Pittsburgh and San Diego and Savannah, there were also students from England and Norway and Australia and Scotland. One of my students helped start the first improv group in Bulgaria!

But then we got down to it. It reminded me of one of my early classes with my pal Del Close. Del didn’t always know how things were going to work, but with the Baron’s Barracudas and his other students as his lab rats, he managed to figure it out. And, more often than not, he was right.

This time, I had a whole group of international lab rats to help me find our way through the process. We didn’t succeed with every scene, but more often than not, we managed to figure it out and learn how to keep improving. Even the students who weren’t as familiar with Monty Python were happy with the techniques they learned that could be applied to their more mainstream improvisation.

And by the end of the three hours, they were doing some excellent work, and I was starting to see the pathway to developing real PythonProv for performance.

And so, PythonProv is a thing, and not a disaster. Keep watching for more–I’ll be scheduling some full-length 8-week classes soon with the iO Chicago.

This is the beginning.

Personal Python Process…

Big thanks to dear Terry Jones for saying hello (via long-distance) to my Python Process class at the iO today. Nothing motivates a group of young writers (and Python fans) like a word of encouragement from Mr. Creosote, Brian’s mum, and Sir Bedevere!

Mandy

Python Process Redux…

I’m always a little uncomfortable blowing my own horn here, but I’m about to start another session of iO Chicago classes. The ever-popular Python Process class, gets under way Sunday, May 3 at 12 noon, and spots in the class are disappearing faster than…well you can insert your own joke here. Students will learn about the Monty Python approach to sketch writing, with a heavy emphasis on re-writing and collaborating. But if you’re a Python fan–or even if you don’t think you are–you’ll enjoy watching classic videos, rare pre-Python clips, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes stories . Want to know what it was like backstage when the Pythons played the Hollywood Bowl? What a visit from Graham Chapman was like? What I learned from years working for John Cleese? I’ll tell you what I remember (and that’s going to be getting less and less as the years go by, so this is a good time to find out). This class sells out every time, so if you haven’t signed up yet, I wouldn’t wait.

And then, I’m going to be teaching a brand new class, also on May 3, starting at 3 pm. If you’ve taken The Python Process or the iO’s great SNL sketch-writing class, I hope you’ll consider my Sketch to Video Process class. This is aimed at people who have experience writing sketches, but then want to take it to the next level by recording them. Want to learn how to shoot and edit videos with your smartphone (or more sophisticated equipment) edit the results, and post them on-line–or compile your own video portfolio? This is the place! Get in on the ground floor by signing up here for the¬†Sketch to Video Process!