Tag Archives: funny

Switch Committee’s final show at iO!!!

The final show of Switch Committee’s year long run at the famous iO Theater in Chicago.

Thank you to everyone who came out and thank you to Adam Kurschat for filming!

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Warming Up For An Improv Show

warming up for a show

How do you warm up for a show? Every improv , sketch, theater, or team in general (ex: sports)   does something before a show to get themselves mentally or physically prepared. It is entirely different for everyone. It’s even different on an individual level. For improvisers, groups typically do a warm up of some kind to get their brains working or to untangle their tongues so to say. Like saying, “tip of the tongue, teeth, and lips.”  It’s the same process for the beginning of a class or a rehearsal. At a basic level, it’s something as simple as Zip, Zap, Zop and it can ramp up to a Beastie Boys rap. For this post, we thought we’d share what exactly Switch Committee does before a show to get ready. If you’ve ever performed with us or been at iO in the alley prior to our Thursday night shows, you’d know it’s pure and utter insanity. There’s a lot of screaming and jumping all over the place and all over each other. It looks like a bunch of wild animals in ties running around aimlessly without any plan or action. However, there is somewhat of a game plan going on. Specifically, this is what we do:

1. We immediately start killing each other once we step into the alley. No joke. We start slaying each other left and right in every possible way imaginable. Why? Because it’s hilarious. Really why? Because it’s big and physical. It’s a fun way to get out of your head. Getting to strap a  rocket on Schwartzbaum’s back and firing him into the dumpsters or stabbing Ryan with a Katana sword and throwing him under a tank that Dave’s joyriding while Collin snipes Alan who’s juggling molotov cocktails is…glorious. We beat the living hell out of each other yet we love the living hell out of each other. The fun here is that anything is possible (duh it’s improv). Really though, if I wanna have panda hands (literally hands that are snarling pandas) than I’m going to do it. More importantly, I’m going to kill my friends with my panda hands and they’re going to love it. In short, find the people you can kill with panda hands before you go on stage and you’re set for life.

2. We pass some patterns around after everyone is good and dead. We do the word association game or theme association through patterns. So with word association, for example, if I point at you and say “Holidays” you may say “Christmas” and then the next person may say “Santa” and then the next person may say, “Gifts!” and the person after that may say, “Birthdays.” You see what we did there? Yes, us too, it was magic. So, we do that, and we try to do at least 3 patterns. That’s the minimum. The more you do it the better you get at it though (just like anything in life). At the moment, we can do 5 patterns without all hell breaking loose. It’s tough, but it can be done. Tip: Try to increase the number of patterns you do. Not only is it fun, but it’s also challenging. It’s tough as hell but hilarious when everyone is rapid fire throwing patterns at your face. If you don’t keep the pattern going, the game is over and all the patterns will be waiting on you. You fail. You die. You’re a disgrace to the group and your family back home. Just kidding, it’s not that serious. It’s just a fun way to get your brain ready for anything that is thrown at you and the ability to juggle multiple mental balls at once. It helps you focus on what’s important at the moment.

3. We find out what’s up our butts…  (LONG DRAMATIC PAUSE FOR THE NON-IMPROVISERS WHO HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY JUST READ). Well, ‘up your butt’ is a rhyming game and it goes as such:

Ryan: I’ve got a bat up my butt

Dave: I’ve got a cat up my butt

David: I’ve got a hat up my butt

Alan: I’ve got a thermoSTAT up my butt (this one actually makes sense)

Collin: I’ve got an aristoCRAT up my butt

Ryan: I’ve got a diploMAT up my butt!

We got around in a circle and everyone starts and finishes a rhyme. So, as you can see from the above, Ryan started and ended that sequence. You get it. Duh. Why are we explaining this? You’re probably sitting there thinking, “I’m getting too old for this shit” with the voice of Roger Murtaugh in your head. Right? Nope? Just us?

Tips for your Pre-Show Activities: 

  • Do something. Anything. Seriously do anything to prepare yourself for a show. It doesn’t matter what and you shouldn’t be worried about people judging you.  If you wanna lay down on the floor and kick your feet into the air like you’re riding a unicycle, go right ahead, that’s your thing. The hell with anyone who think’s that’s ridiculous. If you wanna sit in the green room and watch inspirational or motivational speech videos like this on YouTube than do it. If that’s what gets you ready for your show than by all means do it. The important part is that you’re mentally prepared. The green room is the calm before the storm.
  • Be physical. We’re not saying run a marathon and make the stage your finish line, but get your legs, arms, and groin (especially your groin, wink wink) moving so you don’t end up walking on stage later that night and just standing there like a scarecrow the whole show. Talking heads…the worst. For us, we kill each other. That’s our thing. If you wanna do that too go right ahead. Whatever you need to do to get your blood pumping. Then, pump your friends….wait what?
  • Connect. Right before we get on stage we huddle up like we’re the Permian Panthers. We each look into eachother’s eyes, touch each other’s backs and simply say, “I’ve got your back.” So simple. So basic. Yet this is ESSENTIAL. It might even be more important than everything else we’ve done prior to that moment. It’s the time where we all know that we’re on the same page together and that no matter what we’re going to support one another. You need to connect with your partners before you step on stage. Even if you’re on stage and just got a suggestion, take a second to look into your partners eyes to express “we’re in this together.” Too many times (usually during auditions), Wally Wackadoo will just run onto the stage without connecting with his partners and just start doing his own thing without even acknowledging or listening to anyone. He’s just sitting in all the seats, breaking the fourth wall, and throwing out one-liners galore. Don’t be that asshole. Connect with your partner. It will change the entire way your partner and you work together (stress work together) to create art.

Thank you to the Detroit Improv Festival!!!

2013-08-09 20.15.39We went to our first ever festival this past weekend and it was an absolute blast. We went to the Detroit Improv Festival in Ferndale, Michigan and had the time of our lives. Personally (you have no idea who’s writing this but you can guess), I think we became even closer as a group after doing this festival. I know what you’re thinking, “how can you guys get any closer? You slap each other in the dicks on stage?!” Sure, we’re real close, but when you’re running around jumping off of hotel beds in your boxers screaming the Blurred Lines lyric, “WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE WORK”, it takes your friendship to a whole new level.

For starters, the ride down there was filled with screaming, singing, sleeping, and snap-chatting.  If you didn’t notice, every one of those things started with an S. Completely coincidental or was it? Queue dramatic Inception music. We didn’t know what to expect going to this festival. You never know how things are going to go when you’re away from home. However, oddly, we collectively agreed that we weren’t nervous. It was weird. We just felt like we fit in there. Our hats (if we wore them) go off to the people who helped run the festival as they were very kind and supportive and never made us feel like we were outsiders. As soon as we got there, we felt right at home. It didn’t feel like we were doing a show in another state, it just felt like another show.

We had the amazing opportunity to open up for TJ & Dave. A show that one of the heads of the festival said, “sold out 4 days ago.” Needless to say, the place was packed to the gills. As for the show, it was explosive. We were physical. We were silly. But most importantly, we were having fun. Right from the start, we could feel a warm and inviting presence from the audience. They were there to have a good time. They weren’t just sitting at a bar and happened to catch a comedy show on their way to the bathroom. They had left their house to go and see a comedy festival. They were there to laugh. And it was our job to make them laugh. We played fast and we didn’t miss a beat. Some of the characters we played included a boy with a worm arm (who was coincidentally a baseball pitcher), a Mormon hell bent on selling Christ (chasing people on a roller-coaster), an umpire that had no control over his arms and was trapped in a house of mirrors (everyone flailed their arms on stage), and an alien girl with octopus phalanges sent down to Earth by her father to repopulate her species. Yes. We know. Absolutely insane. Yet absolutely necessary.

When we walked back stage, TJ & Dave were standing there to say two words. “Great show.” Together we melted into a puddle of slime. After the show, we were approached by audience members and other groups that had nothing but nice things to say about our show and about the way we play. We were and are so grateful. The support from the crowd, the inviting “right at home” feeling we got from the people who ran the festival and the groups that attended, and those two words made this trip an experience that we will never forget. It brought us closer together as a group and more importantly as friends.

Thank you Detroit. Thank you Ferndale. Thank you to everyone who was a part of the DIF.

You’re awesome.

–          The Boys

The Work of Play

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For this installment of our ‘interviewing members of the group”, we sit down with Dave to discuss his history with improv, what keeps him motivated, and advice he has for improvisers who feel like they’re in a slump.

1. Hello Dave! How are you doing?
I’m great! How YOU doin’? (wink)

2. You’re currently in a pretty good place improv-wise. Have there been any times in your life when you felt you were struggling to make any progress?

Oh absolutely. I think I feel myself going through lulls and plateaus every so often. I think as artists, we’ll always find ourselves in these situations. We are generating so much creative output, we need to remember to recharge and have some input, and as Uhlir says, “Fill our heads with stuff.” I actually feel like I’m in a current lull at the moment, so I find myself evaluating what I’m doing or not doing.

3. What keeps you motivated and working?
Seeing shows is incredibly motivating. It can be the best show ever, or just a complete disaster. They both have their own way of motivating me and driving me to work harder.  The friends I work and perform with are also amazingly motivating who keep things fresh and feeling new. Excitement is contagious, and once an idea or a sense of play enters the room, it’s the best thing in the world, and everything else gets blocked out. Focusing intensely on a project with people you love being around doesn’t feel like work – it’s like fun playtime.
I honestly can’t picture my life without theatre. This is something that I absolutely love and when I’ve tried to picture it not being there, I honestly get really sad – and that, in turn, motivates me to work harder so that I don’t ever lose it.
4. Any advice for improvisers who feel like they are struggling or are currently in a slump?
We are our own worst critics, and though that can be a good thing, we also need to learn how to give ourselves a break. I think it’s great to analyze rehearsals and shows to figure out what’s going on, but after a while, you just need to just put it down and walk away.
When I’m in a slump, I like doing non-theatre related things – tinkering with and riding my bike; writing, reading; working out, playing music…I’m a huge movie buff, so either throwing one on or going to see one. I find simply stepping away for even a day or two can be a nice reset. Also, just getting away from all the distractions of life and over-stimulation of being a creative person is important. I love taking some “Dave Time” and just holing away for a few hours, or just being silly with friends. Also, it’s important to surround yourself with strong, supportive, and understanding family and friends that will help you get through the trying times.
5. Anything else you want to add?
 I feel that this is a life-long journey and lifestyle. You should do this because you love the work, the people you’re working with and admire, and absolutely can’t see yourself without it. This can be a viciously draining and mentally painful life to have… to be an artist. We’re constantly rejected and told we’re not good enough, or not what they’re looking for… But at the same time, it is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing in the world. We should treat it, and our fellow artists, as such.

Support Within the Improv Community

We recently sat down with Switch Member Alan Linic to discuss a topic of support within the improv community. Us improvisers work together and see each other night after night at different venues, but do we actually support one another’s efforts? Alan chimes in on this. trust-fall

1. Howdy

G’day sir. 

2. Lets get it. How do you feel about the improv community?

It is certainly a strange place, but nothing else really compares. It is a collection of individuals driven by
love and compulsion—we love each other and the art form, and feel compelled to do the work of play.

3. Do you feel supported by your peers?

Like all of us who have gone through training programs and/or are on independent/house teams
in Chicago, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented improvisers in the
world. These folks have made me a better improviser, a better person, and have given me a million
opportunities. Of course, the relationships I’ve built are not all equal with each other, but overall I feel
very lucky and supported.

4. Why do you think some people (improvisers) are unsupportive?

I don’t think people are unsupportive, but I do think that sometimes the “eye on the prize” mentality
can blind us to some degree. There are times when I feel like it’s easy to feel competitive with each
other, but I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to allow that to get in the way of remembering that the
people we compete with are also all people we play with, and that playing well with others comes first
and foremost in terms of being a good performer.

Another thing I sometimes see is people avoiding seeing shows or playing with specific people if they
feel that they are inexperienced or not as strong. First of all, I strongly believe that everyone we meet
has something to teach us one way or another. Secondly, none of us would be wherever we are now if
not for people around us—stronger than us, more experienced than us, with different perspectives than
us—helping out. They could be anything from a coach to a teammate to a favorite performer. Seeking to
elevate others is a powerful way of working muscles in yourself that would otherwise be neglected.

5. What are your suggestions on strengthening the community we belong to?

I think it’s important to remember that since we’re all in this together; taking care of each other extends
beyond what we do in our scenes. First and foremost, I would suggest going to your peers’ shows
whenever you can, and go with the mindset that you’re in the show. Want your friends to succeed, and
celebrate when they do. Fail with them from your seat when they fail. I believe we learn more easily
from watching and being there for each other when we are watching our teammates and friends.

Also, whenever you have a positive thought about someone as a person or as a player share it with
them! I feel like we keep our complimentary thoughts to ourselves too often—it feels good and brings
us all closer together if we know that our fellow improvisers are watching us and appreciating our styles
and moves. It takes almost no time or energy to tell someone that the character they did or the callback
they made or the scene they initiated made you laugh/surprised you/taught you something.

6. Check ya later home slice?

G’bye.