Amy JordanWe sat down for a chat with Amy Jordan of the New Movement Theater in Austin, TX.

Amy can be found teaching, directing, writing, performing, and generally doing it all at numerous venues in Austin. We covered a lot of ground in this interview from specifics about her teaching philosophy to asking her to reflect back to when we were improv students, and what questions we had at that time…

Also remember to check out our Comedy Nerd-out featuring 13 speeches from some great local comedy minds.

Featured song in this episode Carbonation By Enon

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September 24, 2015 Podcast Episodes

biosandbailing

In the midst of a summer project KC and I sat down for a quick episode about what’s been on my mind this week. Namely, bios and bailing.

As the artistic director of ColdTowne I am blessed with the task of reviewing submissions for stage time, and I wanted to share some opinions about the tendencies I’ve noticed. 

We also take a few minutes in this episode to talk about bailing in improv. Worse than a mere lack of commitment, giving up entirely is not at all uncommon in improv…and so we had a brief conversation about bailing and where the impulse comes from.

We’re excited to tease some big news in this episode as well, but that will have to wait until it is ready to give you the full scoop. So for now, a vague reference is all we can offer.

Have a good summer, and get those backs.

Featured song in this episode is Lipstick Tree by Tipsy.

Listen to this episode:
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or streaming below

 

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August 3, 2015 Podcast Episodes

annoyanceEvery summer improvisers from around the world spread their wings and flock to the many summer intensives offered by theaters like IO, UCB, and Second City.

This summer a dozen improvisers from Austin are all headed to the Annoyance Theater’s week long summer intensive in Chicago, IL. 

We sat down with Brian May, Matt Needles, Cortnie Jones, Lance Nealy, Frank Netscher, and Got Your Back’s own KC Harvey-Taylor to talk about the upcoming trip. We cover what they’re excited about, what they’re nervous about, what they think they could use work on as improvisers, and we even were able to convince them to make some wild predictions about what might happen along the way. 

The episode was fun, silly, honest and revealing. 

If you would like to support this group they are hosting a fundraiser party where your donations will help cover their travel expenses. In exchange you can enjoy a live surf rock band, and enter to win some amazing prizes in a raffle (including headshots or a voice over demo reel): https://www.facebook.com/events/476620439175845/

Featured song in this episode by

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July 4, 2015 Podcast Episodes

ValerieFor as long as I’ve been involved with improv in Austin I’ve known Valerie Ward. She’s a talented teacher of many levels and ages at the Hideout where she also can be found being a talented director, performer, and (as is a theme for our show) an all around wonderful person. 

We talked with Valerie about the variety of things she’s involved with, from being co-owner of the delicious (and highly recommended) vegan ice cream parlor, Sweet Ritual, to touring the world with her long running troupe P-graph. We also discuss her experience improvising for 41 consecutive hours in the Hideout’s improv marathon, as well as the upcoming murder ballad inspired show she’ll be directer there, A Deed So Dark. 

Through all this we were able to cover a number of facets of Valerie’s improv philosophy, and we can’t thank her enough for taking time to be on our show.

Her group P-graph can be seen performing every Friday at 10pm at the Hideout Theatre.

The featured song this episode is Two Dolphins by The Sea and Cake

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June 18, 2015 Podcast Episodes

Not ListeningThe sass is on full blast in this episode of Got Your Back podcast! 

I (Cody) asked KC if he’d like to do an episode called “you aren’t listening” after becoming frustrated with some common patterns I’ve noticed in the improv I’ve been watching recently.

So, we sat down for what was intended to be a short discussion on not listening…and it turned into one of our longer episodes.

From not listening on-stage, to not listening off-stage, to not listening after the show at the bar/yogurt shop we covered the gamut of how this common problem manifests itself and how that effects a group/show/performer.

Then we gave our advice and opinions on some possible solutions and exercises. 

Many thanks are due to KC (as always) for keeping the episode positive and on track while I used the show as a platform to publicly grieve about some peeves. 

The featured song this episode is “It’s Up to You” By KVHW.

Listen to this episode:
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or streaming below

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June 4, 2015 Podcast Episodes

head vs heartIn this live episode we invited fellow ColdTowne instructor, Will Cleveland, to discuss the matter of improvising from your head vs improvising from your heart.

We talk about the pros and cons of each play style as well as what we feel the balance between the two might look like.

Then we end the show by taking a few questions from the audience.

Join us on June 7th at 7pm at ColdTowne Theater for our next live show!

Featured Song from the Menahan Street Band

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May 29, 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:
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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
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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:
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January 8, 2015 Podcast Episodes