Tag Archives: TJ and Dave

What I’ve been doing…

Sorry I’ve been so frightening busy that I haven’t had time to post lately, so here’s a catch-up on a couple of fun things.

Python class shoot 1I spent last Sunday with a gaggle of my Python Process students at the iO Chicago, filming one of the sketches written during the last session. I’ll be posting the link here as soon as we get it edited. From left to right in the photo, it was written by Iris Kohler (with Justin Sikes), and features Sarah Wisterman, Vickie Eisenstein, and Matthew Ephraim, with camerawork by Adam Kurschat. This is the kind of silliness we’ve been up to in the class, and I can’t wait to show it to you, and tell you why we filmed it! BTW, sorry about all the moss in the writing room…

tj and dave book cover

And last night, I was proud to host a panel celebrating the book release of a terrific volume by David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski, with Pam Victor. Improvisation at the Speed of Life tells how they do the incredible improvisation they do every week, for years, and years, and years. Personally, I think their secret is mental telepathy, but they’re so good it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying this because I’ve known Dave since his first improvisation class with Del Close (I haven;’t known TJ nearly as long–it just feels that way). Great guys, great book. Order it. You will not regret it.


iO Class 10-14
I spent the weekend substitute teaching for Michael McCarthy's writing classes at the iO. Here, I'm showing the Sketch-writing class Monty Python's Joke Warfare/Funniest Joke in the World Sketch as we study editing (an appropriate choice on the Python anniversary weekend, I thought). 
This was my first time teaching in the new building, and I'm still amazed just walking into the place. I always have to think back to the crumbling, barely building-code legal Crosscurrents cabaret, where the iO (then ImprovOlympic) first started; to say it's come a long way is hugely underestimating it.
I highly recommend anyone in the Chicago area stop by for first-class improvisation (or, in the case of Dave and TJ's Mission Theatre, first-class sketch comedy), and stick around for drinks and dinner as well. It's only been a couple of months in the new building, but it's fast becoming a landmark. In fact, it's the Great Wall of China of Improvisation. Go now and thank me later.

I’m in the middle of writing a longtime project that will pay tribute to The Committee, the legendary San Francisco improvisational theatre. (More about this later. A LOT more.)

Some of the members that I’ve interviewed have been quick to correct me, ever so gently, when I use the word “improv.” So much so that they’ve pretty well trained me not to use it (at least in front of them), and so I’m always careful to say “improvisation” around any of them. Hey, I figure they’ve earned the right to call it what they want. After all, that’s where The Harold was developed and named.

One of the guys I talked to this week preferred the term “improvisational theatre,” at least for what they were doing in the 1960s. He discussed the development of what they were doing as developing and polishing scenes which would be repeated every night, and were good enough to be transcribed and published, which has always been Second City’s bread and butter. He differentiated it from iO shows, for example, in that scenes performed during a Harold at the iO were forgotten immediately after and never performed again. (Fireworks, as Del Close always described them.) And, I realized that it was another example of the Del Close/Bernie Sahlins argument–whether improvisation was an art form in itself, or just a tool for developing scenes.

Del used to say we should be able to perform at such a high level that we could improvise in the evening, transcribe it overnight, and send it off to Samuel French to be published in the morning.

Have longform scenes been transcribed in that way? If not, is it because the quality or longevity isn’t there? Or because no one has bothered? He seemed to feel it was the former, but I offered up T.J. and Dave as an example of the quality that he was referring to. He hadn’t seen them, so it pretty much ended our disagreement.

But how about it? Is there an example of this that I wasn’t aware of?