recommended reading

We’re going book wild in this episode, “Books Two Ways!”

Listen to the audio for a detailed breakdown of why each of these books made our list of recommended reading for improvisers.

We also explain the Austin born warm-up “books”, and why we love it.

Recommended Reading for Improvisers

Aerodynamics of Yes – by Christian Capozzoli

Art by Committee: A guide to Advanced Improvisation – by Charna Halpern

Bill Arnett’s Improv Blog – blog by Bill Arnett

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art – by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Guru: My Days with Del Close – by Jeff Griggs

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai – by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre – by Keith Johnstone

Impro for Storytellers – by Keith Johnstone

Improv Nonsense – blog by Will Hines

Improv Octopus – blog by Alex Berg

Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book – by Tj Jagodowski, David Pasquesi, & Pam Victor

Improvise: Scene From The Inside Out – by Mick Napier

Improvising Better: A Guide for the Working Improviser – by Jimmy Carrane & Liz Allen

Jill Bernard’s Small Cute Book of Improv – by Jill Bernard

Long-Form Improvisation & The Art of Zen: A Manual For Advanced Performers – by Jason Chin

The Inner Game Of Tennis – by W. Timothy Gallwey

Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation – by Charna Halpern, Del Close & Kim Howard Johnson

Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual – by Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts & Matt Besser

Zen in the Art of Archery – by Eugen Herrigel

Listen to the episode:
here on itunes
here for direct download & android
or streaming below

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March 25, 2015 Podcast Episodes

Stage timeOne of the most common questions I receive as the artistic director at ColdTowne is “How do I get stage time in Austin?”.

Whether you’re new to improv, or just new to Austin, in this episode KC and I have you covered. We discuss how to put together a group or show, and how get that show on stage. Even if you don’t live in Austin, the general ideas explained in this episode likely apply to the city you live in as well.

Simply put, if you want to perform somewhere you need to find the right person at that venue to talk about performing there. This post and episode (listen below) details that process for Austin, but for any city if you think you’d like to perform somewhere just ask. If you look on the venue’s website they likely have information posted about how to perform, or who to contact about submissions. This question is a welcome one.

We’ll get into more detail about how to submit in Austin specifically, but first…it’s time to have that talk.

Where do shows come from?

Most shows/groups happen because someone wants to do a show. They then either invite people to play with them or hold auditions. So, if you’re wanting to get started and no one is asking you to play then you can always start asking other people to play.

Austin regularly has auditions for improv, and sketch shows. Announcements about these auditions are typically sent out in the theater’s emails to their mailing lists which you can subscribe to on their websites:

ColdTowne GreenRoom (sign up on the right)
The Hideout Theatre

The Institution Theater
The New Movement

or you can stay up to date by joining the appropriate performer facebook groups listed below:

ColdTowne Students and Performers
The Hideout Performers, Students and Alumni
The Institution Theater Students, Alumni, and Staff

The Austin Improv Forums are also a great resource for finding other people’s audition notices or posting your own.

If you’re putting a group together you then need to decide whether or not you want to work with a coach. If you want to work with a coach but aren’t sure whom to ask, your improv teachers are a good resource who can likely direct you to some reputable coaches in town. There’s also a website,  austin.improvcoaches.comwhere coaches list their availability.

So, that’s it. Either someone asks you directly, or indirectly via audition, or you ask someone else. Take the plunge! Don’t be afraid to ask people to join your group. It’s typically a flattering thing. Try to be respectful if someone says no for whatever reason, be it that they don’t have time, or just aren’t interested. You can’t force it, and don’t want to play with someone who doesn’t want to be there. If you’re having trouble finding people ask your classmates, or go to one of the weekly jams. There is a jam on Tuesdays at ColdTowne at 9:45pm, every other Wednesday at the Hideout at 7pm, on Sundays at the Institution at 8pm just to name a few. Going to a jam is a great way to get some stage time as well as a way to meet possible like minded performers.

Once your group is ready to perform then you need to submit for stage time by filling out the appropriate form, or talking to the head of the show you want to perform with.

We detail the process in this episode which you can listen to at the bottom of this post, but every theater in town has a different process. ColdTowne and the Hideout take submissions every two months for some general spots. Many of these spots are half hour improv shows, but there are spots at all theaters for longer sketch, improv, stand-up or whatever high concept shows someone might want to put up. To sign up for regular ColdTowne submissions join the mailing list on the right of our student greenroom page, and talk to performers who headline regular shows about opening for them. On Mondays at ColdTowne there is an open mic for stand up comedians hosted by Maggie Maye, and on Fridays at 10pm Live at ColdTowne puts together a currated stand up set.

For info on how to receive the hideout’s submission form email Roy Janik, or again join the facebook groups for audition announcements and other stage time opportunities.

Several performance opportunities in Austin are also cast by the groups that headline a regular weekly slot. Again, joining the above facebook groups is a great way to make sure you see announcements by groups looking to schedule their own opening acts. For example, Jeff Whitaker schedules the openers for Good Fight at the New Movement. Sam Malcolm helps determine the opening acts for Bad Boys at ColdTowne.

So, to submit to these shows you’ll need to talk to a different person at each theater. This can seem a little daunting, but its actually a blessing in disguise. Its a chance to get to meet a lot of great new people, and make helpful connections.

The common thread seems to be that if you want to perform you just need to find the right person, and doing so is usually as easy as asking. Improvisers in Austin are very friendly in my experience, and will likely guide you to the right person if you just ask. A lot of stage time is given out in advance so people can’t just give it to you on short notice, but if you find your way into the loop the process should become clear to you.

At the Institution Theater if you want to perform you can talk to the people in charge of the shows you’re interested in and they can give you info on submissions, or you can contact the theater directly.

At the New Movement, the same thing goes. Several people run their own show. You can talk to Rob Gagnon about stand-up, or Megan Simon or Chris Trew if you have an idea for a show that doesn’t exist yet. Their contact info can be found on their website as well.

Zach Theater’s students perform a graduation show after completing level 3, and otherwise they invite performers to join their troupes or shows. However, anyone wanting to pitch an idea for stage time still can by emailing classes@merlin-works.com.

That’s how it works for Austin at those 5 theaters. Establish a good relationship with the time slot’s director, or the person at the venue who handles submissions. Be respectful, detailed and punctual with your requests.

and if you end up being told no by everyone, or can’t find a space then just do a show in someone’s backyard or basement or somewhere. If you’ve read this far you’re likely motivated, and chances are good that things will work out for you if you keep at it.

Listen to the full episode on how to get stage time in Austin:
here on itunes
here for direct download and android

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January 23, 2015 Podcast Episodes

KareemOn this episode of Got Your Back we were joined by Kareem Badr.

Kareem is a co-owner of the Hideout Theater in Austin, TX where he also teaches and performs regularly in a number of shows including the Big Bash on Friday evenings as well as with his long running and world touring group of 9 years, Parallelogramophonograph.

Kareem was kind enough to stop by the studio and spend some time talking with KC and myself about a number of topics ranging from the nitty gritty of his approach to narrative improv to the parallels between improv and the way of the samurai.

Also in this episode we continue our conversation from the previous episode regarding process vs. product in improv. Again, Kareem had a tremendous amount of thoughtful insight to offer on the subject, and ultimately left me questioning where the boundaries of each are.

In the final part of this episode we do our best to help out the community at large and “let go” of some characters we feel may be showing up too frequently in recent improv scenes.

Kareem can be seem performing weekly with his group P-graph on Fridays at 10pm at The Hideout Theatre.

Featured song in this episode Joshua Tree by local artist and recent ColdTowne graduate, Leah Nobel. Visit her website and follow her on facebook.

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

January 15, 2015 Podcast Episodes

John RatliffWe’re blowing the doors off of this show, and starting 2015 with a bang by interviewing one of Austin’s great improvisers, teachers, & directors, Mr.John Ratliff.

One of the things I most admire about Ratliff is how deeply thoughtful and passionate he is about improv. I think more than anyone else he has changed how I think about performing.

Full disclosure, I will often have moments of uncertainty in which I will do a test where I imagine what Ratliff’s reaction to my choice might be because I so highly regard his opinion of improv to be “pure” in a way that it gives me reassurance to think he might agree with me.
So, that is all to say when we started this show we couldn’t wait to conduct this interview with Ratliff.

In the initial portion of the show we spoke at length about the project he is currently directing, The Church of Indeterminate Divinity, that is an incredible and loving mash-up of religious services with the (often alluded to) religion of improv. We also discuss his reputation as a teacher who doesn’t bullshit his students, along with a discussion on some of the challenges, perceived challenges, and benefits of starting improv at an older age.

After the break we have a deep dive conversation into process vs. product in improv. We’ll dig further into this topic throughout January, but Ratliff had some very thought provoking points on the balance between the process of improvising vs the end product of the show.

In our final segment we hear and deconstruct a story from John about an ill-fated series of dates.

Ratliff teaches and performs regularly at ColdTowne Theater in Austin, TX.

Featured song at the end of this episode: Ever Since the Turn by The Paper Chase.

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

January 8, 2015 Podcast Episodes

AIC Potluck 3In this episode, we brought the GYB studio to the AIC (Austin Improv Community) annual potluck. We sat down with various groups of talented improvisers throughout the day and we picked their brains about some of their favorite moments of last year.Plus, we got to play games and give some shout outs and love notes!

Throughout the three episodes we speak with performers, teachers, tudents, and more from: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theatre , The Institution Theater, Merlin Works Improv at the Zach Theatre, and The New Movement.

In this Episode we spoke with:

Jericho Thorp
Lance Gilstrap
Addison J. Billingsley

Camille Euritt
Mark Major
Kathleen McFerren
Sarah Hutchins
Jillian Besemer
Chris R McKeever
Drew Wesely
Seth Johnson
E
mma Holder
Douglas Alan Eaton-Landis

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

January 2, 2015 Podcast Episodes

AIC Potluck 2In this episode, we brought the GYB studio to the AIC (Austin Improv Community) annual potluck. We sat down with various groups of talented improvisers throughout the day and we picked their brains about some of their favorite moments of last year. Plus, we got to play games and give some shout outs and love notes!

Throughout the three episodes we speak with performers, teachers, students, and more from: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theatre , The Institution TheaterMerlin Works Improv at the Zach Theatre, and The New Movement.

In this Episode we spoke with:

Joseph Dailey
Will Cleveland
Brandon Martin
Ted Meredith
Alejandro Garcia
Clifton Highfield
Nathan Sowell
Kevin Miller
Frank Netscher
Chelsea Bunn
Kim Lowery
Justin Soileau
Kareem Badr

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

December 19, 2014 Podcast Episodes

AIC Potluck 1

“The AIC Potluck Sessions” Part 1 of 3-

In this episode, we brought the GYB studio to the AIC (Austin Improv Community) annual potluck. We sat down with various groups of talented improvisers throughout the day and we picked their brains about some of their favorite moments of last year.Plus, we got to play games and give some shout outs and love notes! Throughout the three episodes we speak with performers, teachers, students, and more from: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theatre , The The Institution Theater, Merlin Works Improv at the Zach Theatre, and The New Movement.

In this Episode we spoke with:

Scott Hearne
Matt Needles
Chaz Formichella
Kenny Madison
Alex Baia
Ella Gale
Nicole Beckley
Bryan ‘Lubu’ Roberts
Quinn Buckner
Victoria Vlach
Arthur Simone
Brian Boyko

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

 

Play

December 3, 2014 Podcast Episodes

Roy 2Roy Janik wears oh so many hats at the Hideout Theatre in Austin, TX. He is simultaneously co-owner, operator, artistic director, teacher, show director, performer, and more.

Which is why we were so pleased that Roy was kind enough to find time to stop by GYB studios to answer some in depth questions about his approach to improv, acting, and much much more.

We talked about Keith Johnstone, narrative improv, labels, fear…too much to name here, and even more was left on the table that we weren’t able to get to (for now?).

Also in this episode, we played a round of Name That Novelty Tune to draw on Roy’s early days running a novelty music college radio show.

For more info about shows, classes, or to see Roy performing in groups like the long running and international touring Parallelogramophonograph visit the Hideout Theatre’s Website.

This episode’s featured song is “Half Time At The Proper Name Spelling Bee” by Fish Boy.

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Photo Credit to Steve Rogers

 

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November 11, 2014 Podcast Episodes

Patio Talk

Patio Talk is an improv trio comprised of the extremely talented and funny Kasey Borger, Juliet Prather, and Amy Wright, who  stopped by the podcast studio to talk about attending the IO Summer Intensive at the IO Theater in Chicago, IL this past summer.

Patio Talk (Winner of Coldtowne’s Best New Troupe) is an improv troupe based in Austin, Texas. Each show begins with a source scene featuring a tipsy conversation between long time friends which then inspires a high energy run of scenes.

In talking about some of the high points of their time in Chicago, we hear about memorable onstage moments, thoughts and ideas from their training, and what they gained from the experience.

We discuss the performance styles of each of the players in Patio talk and we learn about their approach to their dynamic form.

Also, back by popular demand we play a round of “Keep it Togeather”.

Follow Patio Talk (in a non-creep way, weirdo) on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/patiotalk

This week’s featured song is White Trash Fast Food by local Austin band White Ghost Shivers.

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

October 28, 2014 Podcast Episodes

Carlos web

Carlos LaRotta is an Austin improviser who brings a certain magic to everything he touches. He exudes a genuine love of comedy, and is a joy to watch on stage. He performs regularly with Movie Riot every Friday at 7pm at ColdTowne Theater.

In this episode we talk with Carlos about a host of issue from how improv helped unlock his natural comedic ability, the importance of confidence and trust in improv, and the balance of one’s pursuit of comedy with personal relationships and family.

We also took a chance to make some predictions about shows we might see in 2015 in the AIC…and beyond…

Carlos indulged us in utilizing his movie skills to help pitch the ultimate film in a much loved genre, and he ends the show by sharing a shocking story about a tragic accident during his childhood.

The featured song at the end of this episode is Interstellar Hardrive by Earth’s greatest surf rock band Man or Astro-Man?
Check their website for more music and tour dates: http://astroman.com/

Listen to the episode below or:
Here on Itunes
Here for Direct Download and Android.

Play

October 14, 2014 Podcast Episodes

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